Employee pulse surveys: Best practices and making sense of the data

Checking your pulse is an important method of measuring the body’s heart rate and health, so doesn’t it make sense to frequently check the pulse of your organization? Employee pulse surveys are the most simple, efficient and effective way of backing up those gut feelings and identifying your employees’ true feelings and attitudes towards your company and their roles.


The past year and a half has taught HR professionals that transparency and _over-_communication is a good thing. Employee pulse surveys help to provide a clear view in terms of what is important to your employees.

Unlike annual employee engagement surveys which can be quite lengthy, a drain on both the time of the staff completing them and HR in trying to get them to complete it, employee pulse surveys generally consist of 5 or 6 questions designed to gather an immediate and clear snapshot of an employee’s engagement with their company.

When done well, employee pulse surveys allow HR professionals to instantly understand and analyze many employees’ true sentiments about their employers. This provides an opportunity to address negative behaviors and attitudes, as well as reinforce positive behaviors.

From an employee’s perspective, these light and continuous “check-ins” are a useful way of being heard, communicating any fears, desires or problems they have with their role, and the overall direction of the company.

We’ve got a few tips to share around best practice for employee pulse surveys, as well as the importance of measuring employee engagement and the subsequent use of people data and analytics.

What questions to ask in an employee pulse survey?

Let’s start at the beginning, with employee engagement pulse survey questions. It may seem obvious, but the difference between asking the right and wrong types of questions in an employee pulse survey can have a dramatic effect on HR’s ability to gauge overall employee engagement levels, and take action.

Brevity is key. ”Survey fatigue” can easily set in for employees when faced with either too many questions, or questions that are too complex. And don’t forget to keep it light! A light and conversational tone will also invite more honest and comfortable feedback.

The first survey sent out should establish the baseline engagement and wellness that currently exists in the organization. Some good example questions include:

  • “How likely are you to recommend this organization as a place to work?”

  • “Are you provided with the tools and resources needed to do your job?”

  • “On a scale of 1-10, how happy are you in your role?”

  • “How can we help you?”

HR Team Check-in by intelliHR

Once responses have been collated, analyzed and actioned, each subsequent pulse survey should be tweaked to reflect and acknowledge previous trends and results, as employees will start to feel their voices are being heard, driving higher response rates, but ensure you keep a few fundamental questions the same so that you can measure changes over time.

Actually acting on survey results is vital, as it will create and reinforce trust between employee and employer, an important element in strengthening and improving company culture and engagement levels. intelliHR’s engagement tools provide an easy way to quickly create pulse surveys. The forms are highly flexible, with the ability to ask as many or few questions as you like, as well as completely control what kind of questions are asked.

How often should employee pulse surveys be conducted?

Another vital aspect of employee pulse surveys is that they stress the importance of continuous feedback. Traditionally, organizations ran off of a “gut feeling” approach to employee engagement and wellbeing, with the annual performance review the only opportunity for employees to formally communicate how they feel, in many cases bottling up their thoughts. Recency bias is pervasive in annual reviews and surveys, meaning gaps can emerge when tracking an employee’s progress.

What consistent (e.g. once a month) pulse surveys do is allow employees to feel they can give honest, constructive feedback and criticism freely. In doing so, they can work with their employers to act on any “flagged” items quickly, avoiding the surprise factor of less frequent surveys.

Continuous check-ins also allow both employer and employee to stay on top of critical tasks and projects such as goals, training and development.

RELATED: The ultimate guide to continuous performance management

Once you have your pulse survey structure locked in, a handy intelliHR feature is the ability to schedule (i.e. set and forget”) the timing of it being sent out, reducing the unnecessary scramble that often results from manually sending it a survey each time.

Making sense of your employee engagement data

As an HR professional, knowing where to start to analyze and take action from the data can be confusing.

Data and analytics are now well-established as being HR’s best friend when making these decisions, with employee pulse survey results no exception.

Effectively analyzing and understanding the vast range of responses from engagement surveys is made much easier by setting up analytics to look at the following:

Happiness (Employee satisfaction)

This can be analyzed on both quantitative and qualitative levels, by tracking the trend of average happiness over time, and also by analyzing keywords that consistently pop up in employees’ responses. This is especially key if an employee has personal or health-related issues. intelliHR’s employee satisfaction dashboards are a simple way to monitor the happiness trend over time, and can be broken down into specific teams, geographic locations, pay grades, and more.

In intelliHR, you can easily collect data on employee happiness, loyalty and wellbeing with our feedback tools.

Goal tracking

Monitoring employees’ progress towards their goals is an easy way to determine engagement. Employees who are lagging or not displaying progress towards their goals could signal a certain level of disengagement. Unmotivated and unproductive employees have a direct impact on a company’s revenue and bottom-line, making goal tracking a crucial regular exercise. READ NEXT:


Using AI, the intelliHR sentiment analysis tool is an incredible way of determining the meaning and emotion behind the words used by employees in their responses. It is an extremely handy way of gathering a top-line overview of overall sentiment, especially for managers and HR professionals short of time.

Nailing the employee pulse survey experience is made much easier by utilizing the suite of flexible surveys and engagement tools made available through intelliHR, with industry-leading data and analytics helping tie everything together.