Surveys are a great tool for getting a pulse on how employees are feeling about their work and the company in general. They can also help employees feel engaged and listened to (as long as proper action plans are put into place post-survey). But how often is too often or maybe not enough? Here we break down cadence strategies and how you decide which frequency might work best for your organization.
Common approaches to survey frequency
Annual Survey (every 12 months)
Conducting an employee survey once a year is the most popular approach. Annual surveys often cover a broad range of topics, and all employees are invited to participate. Many organizational processes are on an annual cycle, such as budgeting or strategic planning, and conducting an annual survey ahead of those things can aid leaders in planning.
A consistent annual survey helps leaders stay organized and know what to expect as they plan for the year ahead.
Pulse Surveys (every 6 months or less)
Pulse surveys are usually shorter and more focused than annual surveys. They may address a single topic of interest related to the employee experience or organizational culture, or they may be sent to smaller segments of the employee population. Pulse surveys are popular when leaders want more up-to-date information on employee sentiment. Sometimes a year can feel like too long between measurement points.
Extended Periods (every 18 to 24 months)
Extended period surveys are often used when an organization experiences a major event or needs a significant cultural intervention. For example, if an organization is going through a merger, a year can feel like insufficient time to carry out action plans and for employees to digest and adjust to changes happening across the company.
3 questions to help determine survey frequency
- How much capacity do you have to act on results?
There are three steps to survey follow-up.
- Share the results with employees.
- Determine if any areas need special attention.
- Create and implement action plans to address problem areas.
Depending on capacity, most organizations can complete these steps in a year. However, without proper planning and attention, it could take longer and decrease the benefits of conducting a survey in the first place. If your organization doesn’t have the capacity to create and conduct a survey AND disseminate and act on results, then perhaps you should consider an extended period cadence.
Ideally, enough time passes for action plans to take effect before the next survey is conducted.
- How much is changing in the business?
Things like restructuring, mergers, or leadership transitions can be disruptive to culture, so it’s nice to have regular measurements on how employees are feeling about things. If you’re going through multiple changes between surveys, you might want to survey more frequently.
It is also important to measure the impact of action plans. Leaders put a lot of effort into developing a meaningful action plan and carrying it out. Shorter pulse surveys can be a useful tool in learning if action plans are on the right track, so leaders can adjust as needed.
- How often are you surprised by the results?
It’s a great feeling to see survey scores rise more than anticipated, but when scores decline, it can be discouraging. Perhaps the survey results were favorable overall, but one area was surprisingly low. In this case, some leaders consider reevaluating survey frequency to get a better understanding of the issue and what they can do to remedy it.
At illumyx, we believe that culture is one of the most important assets to any organization. With that in mind, it’s always better to ask questions and discover areas that need your attention. Hopefully, these survey frequency considerations have helped you decide what approach is best for you. If you need more support, please reach out!