Measuring Employee Experience: How the pulse survey is an indicator of company health
Employee engagement and employee experience are related but different. They’re related in the sense they are both employee-focused strategies that are based on the employee activity within the company. The two differ in what activity is measured and when it is measured.
Employee engagement provides a snapshot in time of employees’ moods and feelings about the company and that is often measured after a specific event.
Employee experience, however, is measured over time and often enough to see trends in the data received. In fact, it is something that is measured continuously.
HR analytics can be used to help measure employee experience as ongoing measurements of satisfaction are logged. That data, if there is enough, can relate to employee experience. However, it is not built on a continuous chain of events. How is this solved?
Companies must move the focus away from traditional employee engagement surveys, and place it on the pulse survey model, which provides, in essence, an indicator of the company’s health.
HRDictionary.com defines it this way: As a pulse rate in a human is an indicator of health, the pulse survey model provides an indicator of the company's health. It allows a company to measure their operating climate and overall performance of the workplace.
Pulse surveys are often conducted in regular or periodic intervals. It's up to the company to set the time table. Those surveys are usually conducted online with results available instantly at the end of the survey runtime.
HRDictionary.com provides this roadmap to the conducting of a pulse survey.
Best Practices of Pulse Surveys
Before moving forward with a pulse survey, the company must design it. Best practices include:
- Define goals - Define both short-term and long-term goals employees are asked to meet.
- Short surveys - Surveys do not have to be long. The longer it is, the less likely it will be that employees complete it. Keep it to 5-10 questions in length.
- Be redundant - Pulse surveys are designed to track trends, so repeat questions and topics often. This will help track improvements.
- Share the results - Sharing the results can help increase engagement. Plus, it allows employees transparent access to the results.
- Results should predict decisions - The results are useless if they don't impact future outcomes. Use what you learn to adjust policies and processes. This can shape the future of your business.
A good example of this would be the strategy Nestle has taken in their onboarding process.
The company asks all new hires during the onboarding phase to complete a brief survey. It identifies baseline behaviors, engagement, and personality strengths. Over time, the company continues to gauge the pulse of their employees asking questions about health, engagement, and satisfaction of the team and other employees.
This information translates to Nestle’s ability to support and track their bottom line and progress as well as direct and enhance their employee experience.
Parkland Health and Hospital System also uses pulse surveys to measure their employee experience.
“Our annual engagement survey also provides a variety of demographic data so that we’re able to discern trends by age, tenure, job discipline and other filters,” Chief Experience Officer Vishal Bhalla said. “This helps pinpoint needs in specific areas, thereby giving us the ability to further customize solutions and support needs in those areas as needed.”
One subject Parkland focuses on is the team aspect of the employee experience. Bhalla says it can be a difficult one to measure.
“We may find that ‘working well together’ has different definitions for different teams based on factors such as a team’s sub-culture, the demographic profile of a team, etc. For areas showing demonstrably lower ratings for specific questions compared to the rest of the system, our Talent Management Business Partners and Experience Leaders support the areas to further define what ‘my team works well together’ means for them,’ Bhalla said. “They then discuss what actions they could take to resolve the identified opportunities. Since the solution is formed by the team, they have greater buy-in. In a recent pulse survey asking our teams if they believed in the action plans established for their areas, 96% of the teams participating in these more in-depth, facilitated sessions responded with a resounding yes.”
As with all things, success can lead to complacency. What do I mean by that statement? It’s often HR professionals and the like will see any measure of success, and based on that success, develop a “we go this” mentality. While there is nothing wrong with that in small quantities, if allowed to grow in abundance, it can lead to the possibility that HR departments fall behind on the process of employee experience. It cannot be stressed enough: measurements must be taken regularly and action, when needed, must be taken to further employee the employee experience.