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How To Use Pulse Surveys To Boost Employee Engagement and Retention

Posted by Cassie Sanchez | Talent Management | No Comments

Like much of the talent management world, we continue to strategize about boosting employee engagement around here. That’s because it’s so important: Engaged employees are more productive, more satisfied, more connected, more dedicated…and more loyal. Yes, it’s entirely expected but noteworthy nonetheless: More employee engagement leads to better employee retention.

In recent weeks, we’ve covered both strategic and tactical ways to address engagement and retention in your organization. They’re all focused, essentially, on providing pathways for growth, as the availability of opportunities to continuously amass experience and knowledge is a major driver of engagement.

From offering stretch projects and internal “gigs” to improving your leadership programs and learning and development resources, down to utilizing capability assessments and implementing talent marketplaces, we’ve covered a lot of ground. We even wrote a whole “everything you need to know and do” guide on employee engagement and retention! But one important tool we haven’t yet done a deep dive into is pulse surveys. Let’s do it.

Pulse Surveys: Defined

Pulse surveys are the antidote to annual employee surveys, which are proving inadequate in an always-on, rapid-change work world. Gallup’s definition sums it up well: “A pulse survey is an assessment designed to quickly elicit feedback from employees to address work-related topics and employee needs.”

Pulse surveys vary in form and formality depending on the organization, but in essence, they are quick assessments conducted on a regular basis for the purposes of … getting into your employees’ heads, in a sense. You can gather all kinds of intel from pulse surveys — are your benefits and salaries up to snuff? Are workspaces inviting optimal productivity? Are managers meeting expectations? Are people stressed out?

And of course, you can source input on your efforts to provide growth opportunities, too. What does that look like? Like this:

Get Ideas for L&D and Leadership Programs

Find out from employees what skills they’re looking to develop. Ask them which learning formats — seminars? tutorials? books? video courses? — they prefer. Do they have ideas for great speakers or programs? Probably! Ask ‘em.

And get feedback on what you’re already doing: Are the resources you’re offering valuable? How could they be better? Anything you should definitely continue or definitely drop? You can find out all of this with pulse surveys.

Get Ideas for Stretch Projects

If you know anything about Ascendify, you know we’re big proponents of enabling stretch projects. They’re such fantastic avenues for employee development — how better to build up and upon your skills than to take on a project that’s just outside of your comfort zone? And while there are surely many existing stretch-project opportunities within your organization, what if you worked to intentionally create them?

Armed with informed ideas from the very people looking to “stretch,” you could work with leaders to develop initiatives that would be mutually beneficial — that would push both the employee and the company forward.

Get Ideas for New Roles and Internal “Gigs”

We envision a future in which instead of fitting people into jobs, we develop jobs inspired by people. That means starting with the employee, assessing their strengths, goals, and interests, and building a job suited to that profile. And eventually, the whole concept of a “job” will have new meaning: Many folks will work more like contractors, their “job” being a series of internal projects and short-term roles (a huge step in the right direction in terms of the opportunities for rapid growth that motivate so much of the workforce).

With the aid of tools like the talent marketplace, this future, in some ways, is already here. But there’s a lot of room to advance, and sourcing feedback and ideas from current employees on how to restructure roles and work arrangements would go a long way in making this long-term vision a reality.


Are you getting all you can out of your pulse surveys? If your organization isn't using them in the ways outlined above, you’re leaving value on the table. Get to it! Let us know if we can help.

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