Find the best Employee Pulse Survey Tools

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SAP SuccessFactors HXM Suite

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Dayforce HCM

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CommonOffice HRIS

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Buyers Guide

Last Updated: November 23, 2022

“How's it going?" may seem like a simple pleasantry on the surface, but it's a question that actually has incredible implications for your small or midsize business. As a manager or HR practitioner, understanding how employees feel about their job and what factors are causing any dissatisfaction is vital if you want to retain top performers and keep them engaged in their day-to-day.

Figuring out how employees really feel can be tricky though. Even workers that have great relationships with their manager may be hesitant to say something negative about your company face-to-face for fear of retaliation. Formal annual surveys offer much-needed anonymity, but they have their drawbacks too. Not only are employees torn away from work for a significant amount of time, but annual surveys also fail to capture important shifts in morale throughout the year.

A balance between the informality and frequency of a 1-on-1 conversation and the anonymity and power of a survey provides the best of both worlds, which is why you should consider investing in an employee pulse survey tool.

In this Buyer's Guide, we'll go over everything you need to know about employee pulse survey tools to help you make a more informed purchase decision.

Here's what we'll cover:

What Are Employee Pulse Survey Tools?
Common Employee Pulse Survey Tool Features
Benefits of Employee Pulse Survey Tools
How to Get the Most Out of Employee Pulse Surveys

What Are Employee Pulse Survey Tools?

Employee pulse survey tools are an emerging subcategory of employee engagement software that allow businesses to send out short, informal questionnaires to their workers on a regular basis (usually daily or weekly) in order to gauge workforce morale, engagement and more.

Almost always deployed via the cloud, employee pulse survey tools offer companies a flexible platform to customize the questions they ask, automate the administration of surveys to workers and collect results in real-time.

A three question pulse survey sent to workers in Saba
Employee pulse survey in Saba

Employee pulse survey tools can be purchased standalone (e.g., TINYpulse) or as a feature set within a larger, more comprehensive employee engagement or talent management platform (e.g., Workday).

Common Employee Pulse Survey Tool Features

When evaluating different employee pulse survey tools, you'll find that they share three core features in common:

Pulse survey customization Create pulse survey questions from scratch or use questions from a provided bank of preset options.
Pulse survey administration Automatically send pulse surveys to workers on a regular, predetermined basis (e.g., daily, weekly etc.).
Results tracking & analysis Gather survey results and analyze trends over time through reports and visualizations.

Because these tools tend to offer similar features, vendors will set themselves apart in other ways. Besides functionality, buyers should weigh things like the intuitiveness of the user interface, how in-depth the reports and visualizations are and what support options are offered. Seamless integration with core HR systems should also be a high priority.

Benefits of Employee Pulse Survey Tools

By simply adopting and implementing a pulse survey tool, you're already sending a message to employees that you care about their well-being and what they have to say. That has benefits even before a single result comes back. According to a study by PwC, companies that send out regular employee surveys enjoy 30 percent higher engagement levels than those that don't.

Here are some other benefits that employee pulse survey tools can bring:

  • Lower survey fatigue. Because they're only a few questions long, employees can focus on giving detailed, useful answers in a pulse survey, as opposed to a long-winded annual survey. Response rates are typically higher because of this reason as well.
  • More impactful results. By sending out pulse surveys on a daily or weekly basis, you can better track trends with answers over time to see how strategy changes or new policies are affecting your workforce.
  • Improved HR efficiency. Once you have the questions you want to ask picked out, the tool takes care of the rest. By not having to administer surveys and collect results manually, you save time to focus on other strategic needs.
  • Happier employees. This is the most impactful benefit of all. Using pulse surveys, you can diagnose what issues are causing unhappiness in your workplace and fix them. The result: happier, more productive workers.

How to Get the Most Out of Employee Pulse Surveys

Regardless of what tool you end up purchasing, it's important to know best practices when it comes to crafting questions and administering pulse surveys to workers in order to maximize their effectiveness. Errors or missteps with even the best tools can lead to skewed data and frustrated employees.

With that in mind, here are some final employee pulse survey tips:

  • Communicate surveys ahead of time. A message from your CEO or another prominent company figure letting workers know they'll be receiving regular emails with an anonymous survey asking how they feel about their job will set the right expectations.
  • Keep surveys short. Pulse surveys should be no more than 10 to 15 questions long and should take no longer than five minutes to complete. Employees should be able to answer them quickly and get back to work.
  • Send out surveys daily, weekly or monthly. Beyond a monthly survey, it gets harder to track trends and changes over time. In general, the more often you send out surveys, the shorter they should be.
  • Ask about a wide variety of topics. On a scale of 1-10, how happy are you with your job? Do you feel motivated to do your best work? Are you achieving an ideal work/life balance? How's your relationship with your manager? These are just some examples of the types of questions you should be asking.
  • Don't be afraid to follow-up. If survey results come back and there's one glaring area that employees agree needs to be addressed, send out another survey asking for more specifics with that issue or suggestions to improve.
  • Act on the results. If workers keep saying they have concerns in their pulse surveys, and nothing is done to address them, they'll get frustrated and feel ignored—creating a whole new source of unhappiness with your employees.