A finger on the pulse of employee feedback

by Miklos Bolza18 Mar 2016
In this fast-paced day and age, employees are becoming increasingly used to regular feedback. Unfortunately, the traditional annual or semi-annual survey doesn’t quite cut it – with staff wanting something a lot more frequent.
 
This has set the stage for the rise of the pulse survey, Annamarie Mann and Jim Harter wrote in a recent article for Gallup.
 
Mann is the company’s global practice manager for employee engagement and wellbeing and Harter is the chief scientist of workplace management and wellbeing. Both believe in the pulse survey’s inherent benefits within the workplace.
 
“A pulse survey is an assessment designed to quickly elicit feedback from employees to address work-related topics and employee needs,” they wrote.
 
These surveys are useful for quickly targeting subsets within the employee population. This can be a particular project team, a cross sample of the workforce, or a specific audience affected by a recent change initiative.
 
“When used strategically and as complementary tools for larger initiatives, pulse surveys provide valuable data to companies that want the ability to respond quickly to change or increase employee feedback as company initiatives evolve,” they wrote.
 
Pulse surveys can be used to monitor crucial people metrics for the following uses:
  • The recalibration of actions, resources and priorities depending on employee feedback
  • Diagnosis of strategic initiatives to focus on areas which may need additional support
  • Monitoring employee mood, experiences and progress towards key performance indicators
  • Creating momentum by improving employee involvement and sparking discussion
However, Mann and Harter warned that using pulse surveys too often could create “excessive amounts of overwhelming or unusable data”.
 
“Use pulse surveys as complementary tools. When administering a pulse survey, it's important to understand that it is a feedback mechanism,” they wrote.
 
“Pulse surveys can provide additional perspectives on existing organisational problems or strategic initiatives, but they can't solve problems or improve performance on their own.”
 
Survey fatigue is another issue to consider, they added.
 
“When companies conduct pulse surveys often, leaders should carefully consider the types of questions to ask and avoid repeatedly asking similar questions.”
 
Staff typically only view pulse surveys as useful if they ask interesting questions which are relevant to the work at hand as well as the organisational objectives, they advised.
 
Related stories:
 
How to optimise HR data collection
 
The corporate “curse”: should you stop giving performance reviews?
 
Three alternatives to scrapping annual reviews

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