You don’t need another Pulse Survey

Since Covid hit, our clients are telling us that they’re seeing an influx in Pulse surveys asking how they’re doing. While executives and HR leaders may like the data, we hear from staff and our users that they don’t see benefits from more frequent surveys and they simply don’t want to answer them anymore. 

Levi Goertz
/
September 9, 2020

Since Covid hit, our clients are telling us that they’re seeing an influx in Pulse surveys asking how they’re doing. While executives and HR leaders may like the data, we hear from staff and our users that they don’t see benefits from more frequent surveys and they simply don’t want to answer them anymore. 

But isn’t keeping Pulse on your workforce critical right now?

Though these Pulse surveys are well intentioned and often make leaders feel good for showing they care, employees are often left feeling like the concerns they share just go into a void. When surveys are conducted across a huge number of people, only a small number of broadly shared problems float to the top. Often these are interpreted as needing big interventions - the kind of interventions that are complex to define and slow to deliver - so any improvement takes a long time.

The result: Little action and a sense that leadership doesn’t actually care about the opinions voiced in these surveys. The cost of these actions is surprisingly high - eroded trust in leadership and patience for what is seen as checking boxes. 

So why do companies keep pushing out these surveys if they aren’t working? Admittedly, I get why companies are caught in an endless cycle of Pulsing. Things are changing fast right now. HR leaders feel blind to how people are really feeling - team morale, culture, productivity, burnout and cohesion deeply impact how effective and engaged employees are right now and they want to be able to measure them. And to be frank, a warm blanket of numbers that reassures leadership that everything is okay is rather tempting.

How to fix it?

The first problem is that Pulse results are often consumed in corner offices. Rarely are the results and planned responses reported back to employees. This leaves people with a feeling that their voices don’t actually matter.

There is an easy solution: Everytime you Pulse your employees, share the results, your interpretations, and any plans out broadly and quickly. Don’t let them linger for weeks to scrub and perfect messaging. Next time you Pulse, share an update on progress. 

The second problem is that the onus to solve the problems falls solely on the top of the house. Solving the employee experience is complex and needs to come from all parts of the organization, not just leadership.  

A better approach is to have teams assess their issues and come together to solve them. Most of the employee experience and productivity happens in their team - team interactions, processes and structures profoundly shape their daily experience at work. Teams can enact change on all of these fronts more effectively than an organizational wide solution.

Plus, when you take this approach you uncover other benefits: Empowered employees and a reduced burden on executives.

So what next?

Understanding your employees - how they’re feeling, coping and engaging is not only noble, it’s the right thing to do. But to really get to the heart of how employees are feeling and fundamentally impact the employee experience won’t come from Pulse surveys and executive mandates - it will come from your people. So take a break on Pulse and open the floor for the conversations your people and managers need today.


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