Pulse surveys are as close to real-time feedback as you can receive, unless you’re speaking face to face with your employees about their sentiment daily. This is unreasonable and wasteful. However, it’s imperative to give employees the opportunity to voice their concerns and even more important that they feel heard.
Pulse surveys are different than annual or bi-annual engagement surveys which tend to be longer and more tedious. These, are shorter and more frequent check-ins that go out to employees on a consistent schedule. Because these surveys are brief and most likely made up of the same questions each time, employees spend less time taking them. The faster these are taken, the fewer time employees are taken away from their regular work, meaning that it’s cheaper for companies to invest in pulse surveys.
With a survey once or twice a year, you can get big-picture sentiment but it’s more difficult to pinpoint the why over a long period of time. Receiving weekly or monthly “progress reports” from pulse surveys is better for tracking progress over time and will help you pinpoint some possible causes of the results. If you see a large decline in employee happiness during a particular month, finding out why this happened is easier when you can see exactly when the drop occurred. Was it when a co-worker got fired, did winter bring shorter days, was there a new policy in the office? If you can find out what went wrong, you can take action.
Another advantage of pulse surveys is that they give leaders and managers time to react and take action. With an annual survey, you will often find that whatever was going wrong was something fixable but it was known about too late. Since there is less time between pulse surveys, the chances of getting valuable information too late are reduced.
In conclusion, pulse surveys is a valuable way to stay updated with your employees and make them feel heard. Don't let problems build up to the point that employees only have a chance to voice their concerns on the bi-annual or annual surveys. Take "pulse" of employee health with consistent, short, and well-timed feedback.