Pulse Surveys, or Constantly Measuring Employee Opinion

It’s a growing HR trend: employers regularly measure the opinion of their employees with flash opinion polls. Advantages and disadvantages of this method, which is increasingly replacing the good old engagement survey.

If you consult your employees more often, they will feel that they are taken seriously and valued at work – the ingredients for greater motivation and productivity. In a nutshell, this is what motivates many employers to adopt “pulse surveys”, online surveys that employees fill in weekly or monthly.

“It is true that the employee will feel valued to be consulted often and see that his opinion is taken into account,” says Jean-François Bertholet, organizational development consultant with Énergie Mobilisation. “Pulse surveys are therefore a good tool to motivate the troops, but you have to know how to ask the right questions so that they really serve to improve the way things are done. Otherwise, it’s a bluff.”

The flash survey is not itself a revolution. Admittedly, it can be set up quickly thanks to digital tools that also facilitate compilation of data. But, according to the consultant, its real effectiveness does not necessarily depend on its form, however attractive it may be. It all depends on the content!

Avoid being judgemental

“I recommend questions that focus on working methods, team goals to be achieved, improvement of products and services, rather than just questions about employee satisfaction or on his assessment of his superior’s work,” says Jean-François Bertholet. “It’s essential to avoid a employee-king to subject boss relationship. Surveys can quickly instill this kind of unhealthy dynamic, to the detriment of real dialogue.”

In the HR community, there is a growing call to eliminate the annual performance review, which puts to much pressure on the employee and can be counterproductive. “Do not make the mistake of reproducing this pattern in reverse, with pulse surveys that reverse the pressure to put it on the managers, at the alarming pace of an assessment every week!”, points out Jean-François Bertholet. Opinion polls that ask overly judgemental questions about the work of the boss or peers can lead to a climate of intimidation.

To much data is as bad as not enough

Although pulse surveys can help improve the work environment, a weekly pace is not suitable for all companies. Resources are needed to analyze this large amount of data and translate it into recommendations and then action. If you can never take action to respond to the wishes expressed by your employees in the surveys, what good is accumulating all this information? “It will only pile up and remain underused,” concludes Jean-François Bertholet.

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