Using Pulse Surveys to Engage Your Team: Case Study of a Team Pulse Survey (web version)
Team pulse surveys are short, easy-to-complete sets of questions sent electronically on a regular basis to do a "pulse check" of employees in areas such as engagement, satisfaction, relationships, and the work environment. They are useful for getting feedback from your team members, monitoring team effectiveness, and identifying opportunities for improvement.
This ninth job aid in the series describes how a senior federal public servant used team pulse surveys to monitor the feelings of his growing team. This experience, detailed in the Taking the pulse blog and below, is intended to guide and inspire yours and your team's efforts.
One team's story: Best practices followed
The pulse survey was voluntary and anonymous.
Weekly reports were concise, easy to prepare, and shared with the whole team, in both official languages, at the same time.
Weekly pulse surveys offered a common language and regular prompt for ongoing discussions around team culture and the workplace.
Weekly outreach via the pulse survey helped to close the distance among team members.
Trusted volunteers ran the pulse survey using available software.
The pulse survey took only a few minutes to complete.
Results were discussed as a standing item during team meetings, along with a dedicated MS Teams chat.
Regular discussions and email reminders boosted survey participation rates.
Weekly pulse surveys measuring individual feelings were complemented by monthly pulse surveys targeting workplace issues and areas to improve, thus helping to frame and explain the results.
The pulse survey process evolved based on the team's ideas.
Example: Weekly team pulse survey in Microsoft (MS) Forms
Example: Weekly team pulse survey (SMS text)
Hello, Transferable Skills Team,
This is your friendly bot with your weekly question! Would you like to continue in English or in French?
Great! Noted. Thinking broadly about your work, how do you feel about your job this week? (Please rate how you're feeling from 1 to 7, with 1 being negatively and 7 being positively).
Thanks! Are there any key words you would like to tie to how you're feeling?
Noted. Thank you for participating in this week's survey.
* This team pulse survey was created using the TextIt bot platform and distributed via SMS text to team members using cloud communication services purchased from Twilio.
Example: Weekly team pulse survey SMS logic model
Send message 1 (bilingual): "Hello, Transferable Skills Team. This is your friendly bot with your weekly question! Would you like to continue in English or in French?"
- If the choice is "French," switch exclusively to that language and continue to the next message.
- If the choice is "English," switch exclusively to that language and continue to the next message.
- If the choice is "Other," send a variant of message 1 (bilingual) until "English" or "French" is selected: "I'm sorry, I didn't understand your response. Would you like to continue in English or in French?"
Send message 2: "Great! Noted. Thinking broadly about your work, how do you feel about your job this week? (Please rate how you're feeling from 1 to 7, with 1 being negatively and 7 being positively)."
- If the rating is between 1 and 3, respond with, "Sorry to hear that." Then continue to the next message.
- If the rating is between 4 and 6, respond with "Thanks." Then continue to the next message.
- If the rating is 7, respond with "Great!" Then continue to the next message.
- If the choice is "Other," send a variant of message 2 until a number between 1 and 7 is selected: "I'm sorry, I didn't understand your response. Thinking broadly about your work, how do you feel about your job this week? (Please rate how you're feeling from 1 to 7, with 1 being negatively and 7 being positively)."
Send message 3: "Are there any key words you would like to tie to how you're feeling?"
- Whatever response is submitted, whether a key word or "Other" text, continue to the final message.
Send message 4: "Noted. Thank you for participating in this week's survey."
* This pulse survey was converted to Microsoft 365 using MS Forms. Outlook was used to distribute the survey link via email every week.
Example: Weekly team pulse survey results report
Weekly survey report
How do you feel about your job this week?
Rating: 58% of participating employees responded to the survey this week
Results: 1=0%; 2=0%; 3=14%; 4=6%; 5=36%; 6=21%; 7=21%
(Rating: 1 to 7, 1 being lowest, 7 being highest)
Key words associated with their feelings:
- Happy and supported
- Determined, focused
- Confused and disorganized
- Supported and scattered
Example: Weekly team pulse survey distribution email
Weekly team survey results
Here's the link to our [pulse survey].
Please find attached the results of the Transferable Skills team survey for last week:
[Weekly survey results]
Join our MS Teams chat
Reminder: All of the information you provide is anonymous.
* This reminder email was for the MS Forms version of this team pulse survey.
Example: Reminder message in email calendar
Reminder: Weekly team pulse survey
This is a friendly reminder that the weekly pulse survey awaits—should you wish to take part, of course! These surveys are a quick and easy way for the whole team to share how we are feeling and doing.
If you're interested in discussing either the results or the contents of the weekly survey, feel free to connect to the survey channel in MS Teams or to reach out to your colleagues, your manager, your director general or me.
Example: Monthly pulse survey
Running a team pulse survey can be challenging at times. This was certainly true for the team in this case study. Learn from their experience, and just keep doing your best!
Switching from sending the pulse survey via text message (SMS) to emailing a link to the survey in MS Forms led to the invitations sometimes getting lost in the shuffle of full inboxes. This unintended outcome affected completion rates.
The pulse survey was administered internally using survey software. There were times when the administrator was too busy or absent so the survey was not consistently sent out on time.
Sporadic team discussions
Full agendas sometimes meant no time to discuss survey results and, related to this, the dedicated chat in MS Teams alternated between being active and inactive, depending on the workload of team members.
Enthusiasm for and awareness of the purpose and importance of the pulse surveys could sometimes vary; also, new employees were not always informed of them during the onboarding process.
Disconnect between feedback and follow-up
Weekly pulse surveys measured team members' feelings about aspects of their jobs, while monthly surveys dealt with specific workplace issues that could impact these feelings. Inconsistent timing or delays between sharing survey results, holding follow-up discussions and pursuing improvements could create disconnects.
Occasional technical issues or selecting incorrect software settings affected the delivery or completion of the pulse surveys.
This series of ten job aids explains how to design and administer pulse surveys to support team engagement, positivity, and productivity in the workplace. Each job aid offers background information and covers the key steps in the process of developing team pulse surveys.