On the pulse

The importance of employee engagement

Recruitment and retention are a major challenge for most employers, meaning it is vital to measure the level of engagement of your current workforce. One of the best ways to do this is through an employee engagement survey. Two of the main types currently in use are the ‘always on’ and the ‘pulse’ survey, but when – and which one – should be used to ensure highest levels of employee retention?

Gary Cattermole, director of The Survey Initiative, says that whichever type of employee engagement survey a retail destination uses, it should always provide you with meaningful, actionable data, which will allow you to implement positive change to help you to retain your current employees and recruit new ones, and that the key to collecting meaningful data is clearly a high response rate.

Always-on surveys are designed to give continuous, real-time feedback that can be quickly deployed and reviewed. Cattermole says that whilst it might seem logical to assume that an always on survey will amass more data because of its permanent availability, but the reality is that they are often neglected by large groups of employees.

“Always on surveys often suffer from diminishing organisation-wide response rates,” he explains. “They are often well taken up by particular parts of an organisation, but ignored by others. This usually means that their results won’t provide a clear overall picture, becoming instead representative of a particular group or groups of people.”

Pulse surveys, by contrast, occur at regular, usually planned intervals to gauge employee attitudes to specific issues or subjects at specific times for specific reasons. These, says Cattermole, will invariably achieve a higher response rate across the board. “Pulse surveys can be run at regular intervals, often monthly or quarterly, their frequency being determined by what you want to find out,” he says. “We recommend four or five skilfully drafted questions, which generally yield us response rates of around 84% across an entire organisation.”

He suggests conducting Pulse surveys strategically, for example when integrating a new team, or addressing an emerging issue – such as the post-Covid return to the office or increased homeworking. “Results will often provide essential data on which you can implement change, or base further surveys in order to dig deeper into a particular issue,” he tells.  

Tailoring the pulse survey to fit the organisation is equally important, Cattermole advises. This does not always mean drafting unique questions, and in fact may involve asking some identical questions to similar organisations in order to compare results with industry data and benchmark your responses.

He adds that the primary considerations for every employee engagement survey are that it must be quick and easy to complete, apt for your organisation, and relevant to the employees that you are surveying: “Not only does the well-tailored pulse survey help effect positive change, it also clearly conveys to employees the message that they are listened to and valued. In the current climate, that has to be good.”

This was first published in Retail Destination Fortnightly. Click here to subscribe.

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