The Importance of Pulse Checks

The Importance of Pulse Checks

by Kurtis Blackburn

They say the best way to stay up to date on things is to keep your finger on the pulse, and what better way to do that than with a pulse check. The term pulse check is relatively new to the HR world, so lets take a look at what that means.

They give your employees a chance to tell you how they are really feeling.

A pulse check is a great, dynamic way to check in every so often and stay up to date with how your employees are feeling, and an even better opportunity to see how what you are doing is being received. A pulse check is a fast and frequent survey that does away with complex questions, designed to be done weekly, or every few weeks. They give a quick insight into the happiness of your employees, and how you are doing in your position.

When is it and isn’t it time for a pulse check?

Have you noticed a change in the attitude of your employees? Is something feeling “Off”. If something feels different, it means it probably is. That’s what makes pulse checks so convenient, they can be done pretty regularly. They are also a fantastic way to prepare for evaluations, or even to plan the coming year. says that some of the best times to conduct pulse checks are:

October/November – For year end evaluations

January- To develop HR action plans for the year.

IN between quarter end months, as you will be able to gather more thoughtful, through responses.

They also say that there are times when a pulse check may be more of a hassle to your employees. Those times include:

December- This is a peak business time for most companies. While a pulse check should be short and sweet, tacking that on top of all the hustle and bustle of the holidays can really be stressful for your employees. When able, always avoid adding more stress to an already stressful time.

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So, why a pulse check?

Now the we have talked about the when, lets talk about the why. Well, for the most part pulse checks are intended to be completely anonymous. They give your employees a chance to tell you how they are really feeling, what they are liking, what they would like to change, all while feeling safe behind their anonymity. It’s not that most employees are scared to voice how they are feeling, but this gives them a curtain to stand behind. They don’t need to worry about being singled out or causing any uncomfortable situations. In turn, this helps you receive honest, un-tainted feedback.

How to conduct a pulse check.

Pulse checks are designed to be quick, easy and informative. You’re not looking to conduct a full interview, just something that helps you get a quick feel for how your employees are feeling right now. While pulse checks should be quick, they should by no means be useless. This is an opportunity to ask the questions you want to ask. Your employees get to remain anonymous, which means this is your chance to ask them the questions you haven’t been able to ask before, and receive a (hopefully) truthful answer. Are you happy here? If you were to quite tomorrow, what would the reason be? Things like that. You get the chance to really learn and grow from some honest, unfiltered feedback. So make sure you are making the most of that. Remember, these pulse checks are for you, and no one else. Don’t use it as a chance to force someone else to improve, but instead as a chance for you to improve.

How often should I be conducting a pulse check?

A pulse check should be quick, easy, and take no longer than five minutes.

Well, that’s really up to you. A pulse check should be quick, easy, and take no longer than five minutes. Some companies are conducting pulse checks weekly, others are doing it monthly, and some even recommend doing it only once a year. Ultimately, it’s up to you. A good rule of thumb is to try and gauge how your employees are feeling as well as how you are feeling when you go to work. If something feels off, then maybe its time to conduct another pulse check. Maybe its something you need to change, or maybe everything is fine, either way pulse checks can provide a much needed piece of mind. And, if you feel like its necessary, feel free to add a question about the pulse checks to see how they are being received. The last thing you want to do is irritate your employees with constant surveys.

Don’t take it personal.

While pulse checks can be incredibly helpful they can, at times, be a little harsh. I’ve heard of one HR employee who tried her own personal pulse check. It took her 3 attempts, and crying twice before she finished working through all of them. While this may seem al little extreme, its always important to be ready for anything. Some of the comments may be incredibly helpful, or flattering, but you do always run the chance of getting back some comments that can be hurtful, or upsetting. Remember, no matter what, you are doing this to ultimately help yourself. Take what you are told, and make the most of it. If you feel that things are getting a little too aggressive, maybe cease the pulse checks for a little bit. Make sure you are in a good, open and accepting mood, welcoming all forms of feedback. The last thing you want to do is go in grumpy. Remember, people are people, they aren’t perfect, and neither are you. If you feel yourself getting upset, take a break. There is nothing to be gained in getting upset. Ultimately, you want to take these pulse checks, and boil them down to identify the real problem, so that you can being working to fix it. Get past the mean comments and see what they are trying to say. I wont tell you that it will always be easy. But if you cant handle some honest, sometimes rough feedback, how can you expect to learn and grow?

So there you have it, pulse checks in a nutshell. Do you feel like you could benefit from a pulse check? Pulse checks can be your secret weapon against constant turnover. For more ideas check out our article “5 Ways To Decrease Turn over

Are you ready to get started on your first pulse check? We have created a helpful list of great questions for your next pulse check, feel free to download it here and get started today. We are always here to help with anything else you may need. Give us a call and get started on your Free 30-Day Trial!

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