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Engagement or Pulse?

Updated: Mar 2, 2022

Good news. It doesn't have to be either-or. You can do both.

Lately, there has been an overwhelming number of articles out there on why companies should do away with the annual engagement survey. Before you make the move, we suggest you learn the difference between engagement and pulse surveys. You might find that the company is better off at sticking to the annual engagement survey, or run both engagement and pulse surveys in parallel.

Engagement vs. Pulse

Annual engagement surveys are usually between 50 - 60 questions long (sometimes longer!). Questions are grouped into categories such as Job Satisfaction, Culture, Reward and Recognition, Management, and more. It is usually administered annually (some companies run it twice a year) to measure employee satisfaction and engagement. Common complaints from companies that administer these surveys are that it is long, administratively heavy, and provides lag data.

And then came the pulse surveys that are now increasingly popular amongst many organizations. Pulse surveys are short and administered on a more frequent basis. It is less administratively heavy as employees are more inclined to complete a 5-question survey vs. a 50-question survey. Not much time is wasted on following up. Finally, because it is administered on a more frequent basis, pulse surveys provide more real-time lead data measuring employee satisfaction and engagement.

So Engagement or Pulse?

It depends. Let's say your sales department went through a redesign. Pending on the questions you ask, you can use "Engagement" or "Pulse". A sales employee might be asked the following questions:

Annual Engagement Survey Question:

Our organization structure aligns with our company strategy. This question sits better in an engagement survey. Why? It takes time for the new organization design to be adopted by their employees. It makes more sense to ask this question 6 months or 1 year after the redesign.

Pulse Survey Question:

I know how my work contributes to the goals of the Sales organization. This question sits better in a pulse survey. After the redesign of the sales department, you want to do monthly check-ins to ensure employees are provided with role clarity.

Finally, you can run both engagement and pulse surveys in parallel. Companies need to spend the time to understand what they want to measure and truly measure things that matter to avoid survey fatigue.

How Can We Help?

Retainify offers a unified solution that allows employers to track their employees' sentiment throughout their employment life cycle in real-time. From onboarding to exit, our customers can customize and automate their employee surveys and measure what truly matters to them. Find out more at

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