Pulse Surveys Vs. Annual Surveys: Which Is a Better Measure of Employee Engagement?

Pulse Surveys Vs. Annual Surveys

Whether using the latest tools and technologies or adopting new methodologies, the HR function has evolved significantly in the past decade.

However, the most critical question remains the same. How to keep your employees engaged and motivated? Measuring employee engagement is the first step and probably the most vital step towards enhancing employee engagement.

Engagement surveys for the workplace must track trends and provide actionable data. Hence, the choice between pulse surveys vs. annual surveys becomes essential.

The employee pulse survey does a lot; it encourages engagement by giving timely, valuable, and actionable data. But does this mean that annual surveys are no good? Not precisely, the traditional annual employee survey still has the edge when it comes to being “Comprehensive and Detailed.”

Hence, most HR departments of top companies across industries still prefer annual surveys to maintain the overall satisfaction of the employees.

The best way to measure employee engagement depends on industry type, size, objectives, and the organization’s goals. Both annual and pulse surveys are good, and the intended benefits should define the choice between the two.

What Are Annual Surveys?

Annual Surveys are traditionally preferred comprehensive employee surveys conducted once every year. It is an excellent tool to understand employees’ behavior and commitment toward the organization. The survey contains fifty or more questions, which can be either binary or option-based.

Annual Survey: What’s Good?

  • Extremely useful for generating historical insights and relevant reports.
  • Involves vast data collection, excellent for understanding the emotional commitment of employees.
  • Provides a sense of ownership to employees, leading to greater trust and bond between employers and employees.

Annual Survey: What’s Not So Good?

  • The yearly cycle makes the data irrelevant; it fails to capture frequent changes and their impact on employees.
  • Annual surveys are more inclined towards appraisals than pulse checks of employee engagement, often leading to bias and causing dissatisfaction among employees.
  • The insights and findings are usually not actionable due to the long gap between surveys.
  • The annual surveys can be long and exhausting, leading to employees filling them up without giving them due attention. Hence the data end up being ambiguous.
  • It doesn’t capture and address real-time events and changes at the workplace. For example, an excellent performance by a colleague is forgotten after a year. Hence a high performer might end up feeling dejected.
  • Annual employee surveys fail to factor in new hires and attrited employees.
  • Yearly surveys typically fail to capture peer-to-peer feedback effectively and only give hierarchical feedback.

Cons of annual surveys easily outweigh the pros, hence the need for an alternative engagement measure like employee engagement pulse surveys.

What Is an Employee Pulse Survey?

Employee Pulse Surveys are short and specific; they typically contain less than ten questions. However, unlike the annual survey, pulse surveys are more frequent. It can be weekly, monthly, or quarterly, depending on the organizational need.

As the name suggests, employee pulse check questions provide an accurate and real-time picture of employee engagement and commitment level.

Pulse Survey: What’s Good?

  • The frequency makes the pulse survey data valuable, relevant, and, most importantly, highly actionable.
  • Pulse is exceptionally efficient in tracking trends throughout the year.
  • Usually, they are not linked with the annual appraisals; the bias-free results encourage employee engagement.
  • Pulse survey supports 360-degree peer-to-peer feedback.
  • Pulse check data is real-time, and the insights provide a quick resolution, making employees feel appreciated by the organization.
  • Frequent pulse check supports employee retention, reducing recruitment and training costs.
  • The short survey with fewer questions focuses on specific aspects of work.
  • A pulse survey doesn’t require a lot of time commitment. Hence employees provide honest and genuine feedback.
  • Real-time feedback is much more accurate—best suited to ever-changing workplace dynamics.
  • Pulse survey questions for remote workers help them feel involved and motivated.

Pulse Survey: What’s Not So Good?

  • Pulse survey doesn’t provide deep historical insights into employee engagement.
  • Pulse surveys are specific and might lead to unnecessary grapevine affecting employees’ performances. One typical pulse survey example is measuring a manager’s leadership and team handling capabilities; employees might misunderstand the purpose and think the manager is ineffective.
  • Employees expect quick change from regular surveys; it can be counterproductive if timely and visible change doesn’t happen.

Wrapping Up

Pulse employee engagement has too many pros and a clear edge over annual surveys. However, choosing the best option between pulse surveys vs. annual surveys depends on many factors, like the size of organizations, the type of industry, the cost, and the resources involved.

Many organizations also use a hybrid approach, doing regular pulse checks through weekly or monthly surveys and keeping the annual engagement survey for performance appraisals. Irrespective of the frequency of the engagement survey, the success depends upon converting the findings into meaningful change leading to higher employee satisfaction and engagement.

Pawan Kumar

I'm a Content Marketer at Springworks. I've been featured in many reputed publications and online magazines! I'm an avid reader and movie buff. Let's connect on Social Media.

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