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Employee Pulse Survey: Real-Time Feedback for Real Action

An employee pulse survey is the ideal tool for getting real-time feedback from your workforce. Here’s how and why they are ultra-important.
Written by: Penny Swift
employee pulse surveys blog post
Published: May 24, 2024

In today’s fast-paced business landscape, a company’s greatest asset is its workforce. But keeping them engaged, motivated, and satisfied can be a constant challenge. Traditional annual engagement surveys, while well-intentioned, can feel like a relic of the past, missing the nuances of employee sentiment shifts throughout the year. Employee pulse surveys are potentially a game-changing tool that provides real-time feedback. This enables organizations to stay attuned to the pulse of their people and respond promptly to concerns, enhancing a positive work environment.

While employee pulse surveys have gained in popularity, they still lag behind traditional engagement surveys in terms of adoption. According to Gallagher’s State of the Sector 2023/24 report, only 47% of organizations use pulse surveys regularly as an employee listening channel, compared to 75% that rely on engagement surveys. 

47% of organizations use employee pulse surveys

However, it’s intriguing to note that those who do use pulse surveys find them almost equally effective as engagement surveys (75% vs 79%). This suggests that the benefits of real-time feedback and sentiment analysis are not lost on organizations that invest in pulse surveys. In fact, a well-designed pulse survey can provide a more nuanced understanding of employee sentiment, allowing organizations to respond promptly to concerns and make data-driven decisions that drive business outcomes. By leveraging pulse surveys, organizations can create a culture of continuous improvement, foster a sense of trust and transparency, and ultimately, drive business growth and success.

We’re going to explore employee pulse surveys in this post so that you can see for yourself how they generate real-time feedback. We’ll discuss what employee pulse surveys are and how its benefits differ from those of the traditional employee engagement survey. We’ll show you how to design an effective employee pulse survey — including suggestions for survey questions. Then we’ll discuss ways to launch and promote your survey. 

What is an Employee Pulse Survey?

An employee pulse survey is a short questionnaire that is designed to quickly and regularly gauge the opinions, attitudes, and sentiments of employees within an organization. The purpose of an employee pulse survey is to provide a snapshot of the current state of employee engagement, satisfaction, and well-being, as well as identify areas for improvement.

Unlike lengthy annual surveys that are often conducted annually or bi-annually, employee pulse surveys are:

  • Shorter and more focused on specific areas of interest at a particular time.
  • More frequent than other types of surveys. They are conducted regularly, often quarterly or bi-monthly. 
  • Actionable, providing timely data so that organizations can address emerging issues and implement improvements.

Typically, they include a mix of questions that assess:

  • Job satisfaction and employee engagement
  • Communication and feedback
  • Leadership and management
  • Work-life balance and well-being
  • Recognition and rewards
  • Professional development and growth opportunities
  • Company culture and values alignment

Employee pulse survey answers empower organizations to:

  • Monitor trends and changes in employee sentiment over time
  • Identify and address issues quickly, before they become major problems
  • Make data-driven decisions to improve employee engagement and overall organizational performance
  • Identify areas for improvement
  • Develop targeted initiatives to address employee concerns
  • Track progress and measure the effectiveness of initiatives
  • Inform strategic decision-making and organizational planning

Overall, employee pulse surveys provide a powerful tool for organizations to listen to their employees, understand their needs, and make data-driven decisions to drive employee engagement, retention, and overall business success.

Benefits of Pulse Surveys vs. Traditional Engagement Surveys

Traditional annual engagement surveys can offer valuable insights, but they often lack the immediacy needed to capture the ever-evolving dynamics of a workplace. Enter pulse surveys: shorter, more frequent surveys that provide a real-time snapshot of employee sentiment on specific topics. Here is how they differ:

employee pulse suveys vs traditional engagement surveys

How to Design an Effective Employee Pulse Survey

Crafting an effective pulse survey requires careful planning. Here’s what you need to consider:

  • Define your goals and objectives: What specific aspects of employee sentiment do you want to understand?
  • Choose the right questions: Mix multiple-choice, Likert scale, and open-ended questions for a well-rounded view.
  • Keep it short and engaging: Aim for 5-10 minutes to maximize participation.
  • Ensure anonymity and confidentiality: Build trust by guaranteeing employee privacy.
how to design an effective employee survey

Check out our FREE Employee pulse survey template that provides everything in one place.

What Should Your Employee Pulse Survey Tool Include?

When selecting an employee pulse survey tool, consider the following essential features to ensure you’re getting the most out of your surveys:

  • You want employee pulse surveys to be easy to create. They should also be mobile-friendly. Look for a tool that allows you to quickly build surveys and access them on any device, ensuring seamless participation from your employees.
  • Aim for clear analytics and allow anonymous responses. Choose a tool that provides easy-to-understand data visualizations and guarantees the anonymity of employee responses, fostering a safe and honest feedback environment.
  • Multiple-question formats work well. Opt for a tool that offers a variety of question types, such as multiple-choice, open-ended, and rating scales, to gather a comprehensive understanding of employee sentiment and provide a comprehensive data view.
  • Action planning and integration are essential. Select a tool that enables you to turn insights into actionable plans. Make sure it integrates with your existing HR systems, allowing you to track progress and make data-driven decisions.

Additionally, consider the following features to further enhance your employee pulse survey tool:

  • Automated reporting: A tool that provides automated reporting will save you time and effort in analyzing and presenting survey results.
  • Customization options: Choose a tool that allows you to customize your survey questions, layout, and branding to fit your organization’s unique needs.
  • Real-time Feedback: A tool that provides real-time feedback and analytics will enable you to quickly address employee concerns and make data-driven decisions.
  • Integration with other tools: Consider a tool that integrates with other HR systems, such as HRIS, LMS, or performance management software. This will help you to streamline your workflow and improve employee engagement.

Employee Pulse Survey Questions

It’s important to realize that pulse survey questions are short and used to gauge employee sentiment on specific aspects of the workplace. Typically, they consist of a small set of questions, often 5-10, that are designed to be quick and easy to answer. They may include:

  1. Multiple-choice questions
  2. Rating scales (e.g. 1-5)
  3. Open-ended questions
  4. Net promoter score (NPS) questions
  5. Agree or disagree

Here are some sample questions you can adapt to your specific needs:

  • How satisfied are you with your current role? (Scale of 1-5)
  • I feel invigorated by the tasks I undertake daily. (Agree/Disagree)
  • Do you feel you have a good work-life balance? (Yes/No)
  • Overall, how would you rate your experience working here? (Scale of 1-5)
  • Is there anything we can do to improve your work experience? (Open-ended)

Download our FREE employee survey template, which you can use and edit according to your needs. 

Launching and Promoting Your Survey

Before sending out your survey, think about these key factors:

  • Timing is everything: Decide how often you want to send out your survey (e.g. every month or twice a month) and choose the best times for people to participate.
  • Choose the right platform: Pick a user-friendly platform like Cerkl to streamline and simplify the process.
  • Encourage participation: Make sure people understand the purpose of the survey, and that their responses will be kept anonymous. You can also consider offering a little something extra to incentivize and motivate people to take part.

Analyzing and Interpreting Results

The true value of an employee pulse survey lies in taking action based on the results. Despite advances in employee listening technology, many organizations aren’t harnessing the opportunities presented by valuable employee feedback. 

According to the Qualtrics Employee Experience Trends 2024 report, although the numbers have improved since the 2023 report was compiled, a lack of viable action remains a problem. According to the 2024 report, only 49% of employees have discussed or seen positive changes as a result of previous employee surveys. Matt Evans, Qualtrics, Head of EX Product Science, confirms that frontline employees lack the support they need to do a great job and a voice to drive improvements.

 “The most common gap I see in survey follow-up is not in inaction, but in a lack of communication. Leaders must be intentional about communicating to frontline workers so they know their voices have been heard.”

Matt Evans

Here are some tips on how to translate insights into improvements:

  • Analyze and interpret results: Identify trends, patterns, and areas requiring attention.
  • Benchmark against industry standards: Understand how your employee sentiment compares to similar companies.
  • Utilize open-ended responses: Gain a deeper understanding of employee concerns and suggestions.
  • Develop action plans: Prioritize issues, assign ownership, and establish timelines for improvement.
  • Communicate and demonstrate progress: Keep employees informed of actions taken based on their feedback.
translating employee pulse survey insights into improvements

Building a Culture of Continuous Improvement with Cerkl

Employee pulse surveys are a powerful tool for fostering a culture of continuous improvement within your organization. By regularly gauging employee sentiment and taking action based on feedback, you can create a more engaged and productive workforce.

Cerkl Broadcast Pulse Survey solution makes it easy to design, launch, analyze, and take action on your pulse surveys. Just be aware that you have only one Pulse Survey question available for each Broadcast Email Blast you send. For this reason, instead of sending employee pulse surveys weekly or monthly, it works to continue the survey over five days to a week. The benefit is that you can improve employee engagement because the questions will be part of a single theme. Still, if you do this, it’s important to plan your questions in the same way you would for any other pulse survey.   

We asked members of the Cerkl Customer Services (CS) team to provide insights into how Cerkl Broadcast clients use pulse surveys.

How Do Organizations Use Cerkl Broadcast Pulse Surveys? 

Typically, Cerkl clients use Broadcast Pulse Surveys at the bottom of the Email Blasts for quick feedback. They also use them to encourage ideas and employee engagement. 

Questions might include:

  • How would you rate your onboarding experience?
  • How are you feeling about your job today?
  • Have you heard about our new feature?
  • How likely are you to recommend our company to a friend?

It might even simply ask if the email Blast was helpful.

Employee Pulse Survey: Real-Time Feedback for Real Action

Sometimes they include an invitation for employees to add something further. For example, the Pulse Survey question might ask if they enjoyed this week’s Broadcast News Digest. This is followed by a request for more ideas to be emailed or added to a collaboration channel like Teams or Slack.

write for the newsletter

Another idea some Cerkl clients love is to use the Pulse Survey for a question of the week. They can be trivia questions about the company or feedback/questions on timely topics. Then, they’ll put the responses from the previous week in each newsletter.

What’s Next?

When you create Cerkl Broadcast employee pulse surveys, the questions you ask are pivotal. Our free employee engagement survey template will give you significant insight into how to create a survey. It also shows what formats you can use for questions.

Just remember that any employee engagement pulse survey should be considerably shorter than our template. Also, it should be focused on one specific area of interest. The key is for it to be short and quick for employees to complete. 


What is an employee pulse survey?

An employee pulse survey is a short, frequent, and informal survey that measures the sentiment and opinions of employees on specific topics, providing a snapshot of their feelings and attitudes toward their work, organization, and leadership. It is typically used to gauge employee sentiment and identify trends and areas for improvement.

What are questions for a pulse survey?

Questions for a pulse survey can vary depending on the organization’s goals and objectives, but common examples include questions about employee satisfaction, engagement, communication, leadership, teamwork, and job satisfaction. Some examples of pulse survey questions include “How would you rate your overall job satisfaction?” or “Do you feel valued and recognized by your manager?”

What is the difference between pulse survey and employee engagement survey?

The main difference between a pulse survey and an employee engagement survey is the frequency and scope of the survey. Pulse surveys are typically shorter, more frequent, and focused on specific topics or issues, while employee engagement surveys are longer, less frequent, and more comprehensive, aiming to measure overall employee engagement and satisfaction.

Why do employees do pulse surveys?

Employees participate in pulse surveys because they want to be heard and have their voices amplified, allowing them to provide feedback and input on issues that matter to them. By participating in pulse surveys, employees feel more connected to their organization and more likely to feel valued and recognized, which can lead to increased job satisfaction and reduced turnover.

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