The CEO's Guide to Using Pulsing Surveys to Crush the Competition

4 min read
Aug 16, 2016

The secret sauce to a successful company

CEOs don’t often have opportunities to be involved in an employee’s or even a departments workings on a day-to-day basis. But pulsing surveys can change that, allowing CEOs to always be hooked in. 

The standard annual survey often contains over 50 questions. Employees don’t feel they have time to fill these out. Even if they do, sorting through all that data and making sense of it is a time-consuming process. Plus, you only know how your employees feel at one point during the year. It’s unlikely that they’ll remember problems from several months ago.

This is where pulsing surveys come in. They’re quick, simple, single-question surveys that provide a glimpse into your team’s satisfaction at any given time. They provide clear insight into the questions you want to know the answers to. Pulsing surveys can improve productivity and stimulate innovation. That’s why industry leaders like Microsoft, Amazon, Stitch Fix, and Airbnb have all started using this exciting new tool.


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Why Pulsing Surveys?

Pulsing surveys have numerous advantages over traditional surveys. They give you an edge over the competition when it comes to anticipating turnover, improving employee retention, and generating new ideas.


01. Real-time feedback

What do you want to know about your employees? A pulsing survey gives you near-instantaneous results. These surveys are done weekly or bi-weekly to gain an accurate snapshot of what employees are thinking.


02. More feedback

One chief complaint among employees is about the length of annual surveys. But a pulsing survey involves a single question that you respond to via your phone within seconds. The low-time investment leads to greater participation. Surveys should also be 100% anonymous to encourage honest responses.


03. Fast response

One of the biggest issues with annual surveys is converting all that data into action. The focused nature of pulsing surveys allows you to respond quickly and effectively. If employees are saying that the rigidity of scheduling is a major issue, you can respond with a new flexible work policy immediately.


04. A tool for innovation

Pulsing surveys aren’t just for getting feedback about existing programs. They’re also ideal tools for collecting employees’ ideas. This sort of virtual brainstorming session keeps your company at the cutting edge.


05. Commitment to employee satisfaction

A Deloitte study found that employee engagement is a major concern for 78% of today’s business leaders. And our own research discovered that not even one out of three employees feels valued at their job. Pulsing surveys provide a regular reminder that your organization cares about what employees think. This kind of commitment to employee satisfaction can improve retention.

Employee engagement


Long-Term Benefits

While pulsing surveys are immediate, their benefits extend beyond the temporal.


01. Positive, transparent work culture

Our research has found that culture is the number one driver of employee satisfaction and retention. Surveys that allow employees to provide honest feedback demonstrate that the company is open to criticism. Organizations that are able and willing to change will thrive in the long run.


02. Spot trends and predict turnover

Even with the best programs out there, your company is going to experience turnover. We’ve found that one-quarter of all employees would be willing to leave for a 10% raise. While you can convince some of those employees to stay, others will jump ship no matter what you do. By gauging what employees are thinking on a daily basis, you’ll stay ahead of the curve and spot turnover before it happens.


03. A more engaged team

Demonstrating the company’s investment in open feedback will lead to more satisfied employees. It helps you spot and address the problems that employees care about right now. And engagement has a tangible impact on business — a Gallup poll found that organizations with more engaged employees were more profitable and more productive.

employee engagement

Questions to Ask

Making questions direct and simple is the key to a high-quality pulsing survey. Here are some ideas about how to formulate questions:


01. Use a scale

Rather than asking “agree or disagree” questions, get more specific information by asking employees to rate how well the company is doing.

  • On a scale from 1 to 10, how likely are you to recommend working at our organization to a friend?
  • On a scale from 1 to 10, how valued do you feel at work?


02. Ask open-ended questions

While these won’t provide very specific data, they will alert you to real issues around the workplace that you might previously have been unaware of. Plus, you can go to your employees and demonstrate that you’re addressing their concerns.

  • If you could change one thing about our company today, what would it be?
  • What’s holding you back from reaching your full potential?


03. Ask predictive questions

Spot those engagement trends early on by posing questions that make employees think about the future.

  • Do you think you’ll still be working here a year from now?
  • If you were to quit tomorrow, what would your reasoning be?

How to Use Results

Just as important as using pulsing surveys is addressing the results. Start by sharing survey responses with the team. Immediately discussing these issues shows that the surveys aren’t just lip service. For example, if your team said the biggest issue with productivity is a lack of access to technology, have a forum in which they can discuss solutions.

This is just the kind of thing that could affect “middle of the pack employees.” These employees are neither fully engaged nor disengaged in their jobs. With small regular changes, employees can see the results of their feedback and be involved in organizational change.

Surveys are just the first step in building a comprehensive organizational culture that takes employee engagement seriously. Acting on those results in meaningful ways will have a long-term impact on satisfaction and retention.

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