Pulsing with a purpose

Building an effective employee research program

5 critical questions to consider before you launch an Employee Pulse Survey

In today’s disrupted business environment, there are many reasons to conduct pulse surveys. When well designed, they can generate valuable insights. But without a clearly defined research strategy, frequent pulsing can overwhelm managers and decrease employee engagement. If your organization is currently conducting pulses—or you are about to embark on a pulse survey campaign—it is critical you have a robust research strategy in place. Take a moment to review five critical questions before launching your next survey:


1. What are your strategic priorities? 

If you want to design a powerful employee research program, start by focusing on your business priorities. What are the biggest challenges your organization is facing? What are your main strategic objectives? How efficiently is your organization operating? How effectively is your organization evolving? What are your main people priorities?


2. Given your strategic priorities, what should your research agenda focus on?

Many organizations assume the best approach to pulsing is to conduct a series of brief quarterly engagement surveys. We’ve found this approach often lulls leaders and managers into a false sense of security, mainly because engagement levels are high and stable in many organizations.


3. What research methods are best suited to answer your most critical questions?

“How many questions should we ask? When should we ask them?” These are two common concerns that HR leaders have when designed pulse surveys. While both are critical, these shouldn’t be the first questions to consider.


4. Who should you survey and when?

Determining who should participate in your research—and when—is critical to any successful research campaign. Asking the right questions to the wrong people at the wrong time usually produces little more than low-quality data and a frustrated workforce. For example, asking new employees about their work experience too early (e.g., the end of their first day) or too late (e.g., the end of their first year) can greatly limit what your organization learns about the onboarding process.


5. How will you turn data into insight and action?

Surveys create expectations for change; employees expect something to happen as a result of providing feedback. If surveys don’t lead to insight and action, employees can quickly become disenchanted and disengaged. This means that if employees are asked for their feedback on a regular basis, leaders and managers must be prepared to respond in a timely fashion. Otherwise, your pulse program may backfire, ultimately eroding engagement by heightening expectations for action.


Download the full POV paper to unpack each of these questions and for valuable insights on building your next survey.


Speak to a Mercer consultant about Allegro and/or download Pulsing with a Purpose point of view paper

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