How to use pulse surveys for a successful return to work

Anxiety returning to work post-COVID

Though we’re all eager to finally get out of the house, a lot of people are still anxious about the return to work. A Bupa poll of 1000 people found that 65% of British workers feel anxious about their return to the office.

This is bad news. Anxiety and stress are terrible for people’s health. Chronic stress impacts almost every organ in the body, and in 2015 up to 80% of doctors’ appointments in the US were due to stress.

For employers, avoiding this strain on a person’s health is the right thing to do. Yet, there are business benefits too. High levels of stress and anxiety inhibit employees from performing their best. This impacts business productivity and performance.

It is more important than ever to listen, and understand your employees’ concerns.


What can employers do?

For a successful return to work you need to incorporate employees’ feedback. The best way to do this is ask, and start a two-way dialogue about what the ‘new normal’ will look like for your organisation.

Asking may not be enough though. With job security at an all-time low, employees may be reluctant to feed back their true feelings. They may say what they think their employer wants to hear.

This is why we recommend encouraging employees to submit anonymous feedback.

Employers have often done this through long surveys. These can waste time, both to create and fill out, when shorter, more targeted forms of questions would be better.


Introducing pulse surveys

So, what can you use that’s more effective? Pulse surveys.

Pulse surveys are a short form of survey, but are far more targeted and goal-based. They are short, highly-specific and actionable.

Some of their best features are:

  • Recording result in real-time gives you the most up to date pulse check on what your employees think
  • Answers are anonymous so they are completely honest
  • The data is concise and specific – it doesn’t need weeks of excel analysis
  • Employees needn’t leave their inbox. They can convey their thoughts with a quick click
  • No survey fatigue
  • Higher response rates
  • Furthers a culture of continuous improvement
  • Improves employee engagement

The data and metrics pulse surveys provide are perfect for an effective return to work plan. But don’t take our word for it, try it for free yourself.


What questions should I ask?

So how do we get the best out of pulse surveys?

Questions should be actionable, and you should follow up with what you’ll be doing as a result. Examples could be:

  • Do you understand what the company is doing to ensure employee safety in the office?

Action: If people disagree, follow up by explaining what you are doing. Ask for further feedback on this.

  • When would you feel comfortable coming into the office? (a) now (b) autumn (c) next year

Action: Use the data to influence plans to open the office back up and feed back the results.

  • What would be your biggest worry about coming back to work? (a) social distancing in the office (b) getting public transport to work (c) childcare arrangements (d) cleanliness in the office

Action: Create an action plan for the biggest worry and feed back the plan and rationale behind this. E.g. 60% of employees told us getting public transport to work was the biggest worry. To help, we are introducing flexible hours, so employees can avoid busy public transport.


A successful return to work in the current climate has its challenges for all businesses. We are still in unprecedented times, and a post-COVID back to work plan is something none of us has a rule book for.

But you can include your employees in the process by using pulse surveys. This will mean a more informed plan, and an engaged workforce to support you with it.

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