Employee Engagement Series: Micro Surveys

Micro survey

By: Susan Walsh, SHRM-SCP

What’s the best way to identify employees who have a positive relationship with their work, their team, and the organization? In other words, how does a highly engaged employee behave? Gallup identifies several unique behaviors that highly engaged employees do differently:

1. Problems are never an excuse for the inability to perform; rather, they are viewed as challenges to be overcome.

2. By focusing on what they do best, they work to maximize their strengths and recognize what does not come naturally to them.

3. Engagement is planned, intentional and active. They don’t wait for something/someone to engage them.

4. They own their performance and don’t play the “blame game” when things don’t go so well.

Engagement surveys ask questions that get at the core behaviors of a fully engaged employee. They are a good way to get a baseline and build from that point. Often, these annual surveys can be a large undertaking depending on the size and scope of the organization. They help to identify an organization’s strengths and areas for development, as well as to measure an organization’s engagement improvement or decline over time.


If you are looking for a quick dose of engagement and get feedback on a specific topic, try a micro survey. Unlike a full engagement survey, micro surveys, also known as pulse surveys, usually have no more than ten questions and often as few as one or two questions. The questions are targeted, brief, timely, and direct. The goal is to get instant, forward-looking feedback. Often a micro survey is used to further explore a specific issue identified in a more comprehensive engagement survey. It can also be used as a standalone survey that renders quick feedback for the organization, department, or function. The swift result, ease of implementation, and timeliness are making micro surveys a must-have tool in the HR professional’s arsenal.

Benefits of Micro Surveys

● More accurate insights in real-time since the feedback is immediate.

● The feedback is easy to interpret. No mounds of data to cut through and digest.

● More likely positive change takes place since it’s easier for management to take action on specific feedback.

● Employees can make the connection between their feedback and any change taken as a result.

Survey Tools:

The options for survey tools range from simple Google forms, anonymous Zoom or Slack polls, to software designed specifically for micro surveys such as Limeade’s Tiny Pulse, Glint, Lattice, and CultureAmp. Consider who you will be surveying to help define the tool you use. Are you looking to survey the entire organization, a product team, a functional area or department, or a specific employee group?

Use Case

The finance department is experiencing significant turnover and the current market is making it difficult to fill positions with qualified individuals. The HR business partner recommends a micro survey to gather specific data that will assist in forming a solution with the overall goal of increasing employee engagement and retention.

One or two sample survey questions might include:

● How likely are you to refer a friend to work for this company?

Follow up questions might include:

○ If you chose to refer a friend, what is your primary reason? If you chose not to refer a friend, what is your primary reason?

● What is the number one reason you stay in your job?

● To what extent does your manager provide you with the direction and support you need to be successful in your job?

Follow up questions might include:

○ What is the one thing your manager could do to support you in your role?

Conducting the micro survey is just the first step. The data is collected and quickly analyzed to determine actions that will improve retention. Communication about changes can be targeted and tied directly to employee feedback.

All in all, micro surveys are a double dose of employee engagement! Involving employees in a survey that asks for feedback about their experience and making changes designed to improve the employee experience is an all-around win. Consider how your organization might benefit from implementing micro surveys as part of your engagement strategy.

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