Pulse survey vs engagement survey: 8 key differences

According to 2021 Gallup research, only 20% of the global workforce is engaged in the workplace. And studies suggest that disengaged employees cost their employers around $500 billion annually in the US alone.


According to 2021 Gallup research, only 20% of the global workforce is engaged in the workplace. And studies suggest that disengaged employees cost their employers around $500 billion annually in the US alone.

That’s why measuring employee engagement and finding ways to increase it is one of the key factors in organizational growth.

But what is the right way to measure employee engagement? Is it pulse surveys or employee engagement surveys?

Let’s understand their differences and settle the pulse survey vs engagement survey debate once and for all.

What are pulse surveys?

Pulse surveys are a quick yet effective approach to measure employee sentiments and contentment with the company.

Unlike detailed surveys, they are concise and focused, with questions that can be answered quickly without spending much time.

In other words, a pulse engagement survey is less daunting for employees to complete.

Pulse surveys offer a quick “pulse check” on various workplace aspects, providing real-time insights into employees:

  • Morale
  • Engagement
  • Satisfaction

The primary benefit of pulse surveys lies in their ability to capture immediate, actionable feedback, that allows organizations to swiftly address any concerns or capitalize on positive trends.

Here are some examples of pulse survey questions companies typically ask:

  • On a scale of 1-10, how satisfied are you with your current role and responsibilities?
  • How likely are you to recommend our workplace to a friend?
  • Are you content with your current work-life balance?

What are employee engagement surveys?

Employee engagement surveys are a form of questionnaire that companies use to measure and understand the level of engagement and commitment of their employees towards their workplace.

These surveys are beneficial as they offer detailed insights into overall employee engagement levels, revealing factors that influence job satisfaction, commitment, and morale.

Through these surveys, organizations can identify strengths and areas that need improvement. They help in shaping strategies to foster a more engaging and productive work environment.

Common questions included in employee engagement surveys are:

  • Do you feel your work here makes a meaningful contribution to the organization’s goals?
  • How well do you believe management supports your professional growth and development?
  • In your opinion, how effective is the communication from leadership about important matters in the company?

Now that you have a clear understanding of pulse and engagement surveys, let’s dive deep into pulse survey vs engagement survey.

Pulse survey vs engagement survey: 8 key differences

Pulse survey vs engagement survey, which one is better?

While both of these survey types play an important role in gauging employee engagement, they differ significantly in their approach, structure, frequency, and duration.

Only after understanding their differences, will you be able to figure out which is the right one for your company. Or is there any?

Let’s break them down.


Companies use pulse surveys for quick real-time assessment. It offers a look into current engagement conditions.

They are concise in nature and are more relevant to ongoing scenarios.

This immediacy minimizes bias and allows for greater contextualization. As a result, it provides insights that are actionable in the present moment.

They are particularly effective for addressing specific, immediate concerns and encouraging peer-to-peer commentary.

In contrast, employee engagement surveys take a more comprehensive and historical approach.

Engagement surveys require significant time to complete for employees and to analyze for employers.

However, they are invaluable for providing detailed insights and understanding long-term trends.

While these surveys offer extensive insights, the actions based on them may take longer to implement and might not always yield immediate results.

The hierarchical nature of feedback in these surveys also contrasts with the peer-to-peer feedback often seen in pulse surveys.

Purpose and focus

Pulse surveys are typically designed to gather quick insights on specific issues within the organization.

Their focus is usually narrow, and they aim to target immediate concerns or reactions.

Engagement Surveys, in contrast, are more strategic in nature.

They cover a wide range of topics, including:

  • Job satisfaction
  • Alignment with company values
  • Career growth
  • Workplace culture
Pulse survey vs engagement survey


The structure of pulse surveys and employee engagement surveys is fundamentally different.

Pulse Surveys are succinct and focused, often containing no more than 10 questions or 15 questions at max.

For instance, a pulse survey might simply ask for quick feedback on a recent company event or change in policy, which allows for rapid collection and analysis of data.

Employee Engagement Surveys, on the other hand, are far more detailed, with typically over 50 questions.

This comprehensive structure enables a deep dive into various aspects of employee experience, from job satisfaction to alignment with company values.

For example, such a survey might include detailed sections on workplace culture, management effectiveness, and career development opportunities.

While this level of detail provides rich insights, the length and complexity are not suitable for conducting them every other week.


The frequency of pulse survey vs engagement survey varies from company to company.

However, generally, pulse surveys can be conducted every other month or week due to their brief and focused nature.

Conversely, since the engagement survey’s extensive nature demands more time for completion, analysis, and implementation, they are generally conducted once/twice a year.

Some companies prefer to conduct them every quarter since research shows quarterly engagement surveys are more beneficial.


In terms of duration, pulse surveys can take anywhere between 50 seconds to 3 minutes. They do not disrupt employee’s workflow and can be completed quickly.

On the other hand, detailed employee engagement surveys usually take between 10-30 minutes to complete, depending on their length.

Companies that conduct engagement surveys once every 2 years could create even longer surveys.  

Actionability of data

Pulse Surveys provide data that is generally more actionable in the short term.

Since their frequency is higher and focus on specific issues, they allow companies to quickly respond and make immediate improvements.

Engagement Surveys, however, provide data that is more strategic and often requires long-term planning and implementation.

Employee perception and response

The streamlined format of pulse surveys makes them less time-consuming, which encourages a higher response rate and there’s usually no survey fatigue.

Employees also tend to give more honest responses in pulse surveys.

On the other hand, engagement surveys are relatively lengthier, and employees usually see it as a chore. This results in lower participation rates or less thoughtful responses.

Analytical depth

Sure, pulse surveys are useful when it comes to getting quick insights into what employees are feeling. But when it comes to complex workplace issues or long-term trends, pulse surveys can’t help.

That’s why for a more nuanced understanding of employee attitudes and behaviors, engagement surveys are suitable. They provide a deeper level of analysis due to their comprehensive nature.

Combine engagement surveys with pulse surveys for better results

When debating a pulse survey vs an engagement survey for your company, it’s important to recognize that choosing one doesn’t preclude the other. In fact, they both go hand in hand.

A pulse survey that takes just a minute or so to complete in an ideal scenario, is great for immediate feedback but lacks the comprehensiveness of an engagement survey.

Similarly, suppose there’s been a recent change in your workplace, such as a new policy implementation, a shift in management, or the introduction of a new work tool.

In this scenario, would you want to wait for the annual or quarterly engagement survey to ask your employees how they feel about this change, or would you prefer to ask them right off the bat? You want their immediate feedback, right?

That’s exactly where pulse surveys come in handy.

In essence, both types of surveys are important, and conducting them in tandem can be more effective in capturing a holistic view of employee experience.

However, finding the right balance is the key.

You can conduct pulse surveys bi-monthly to check in on specific issues and engagement surveys once a year for a comprehensive review.

For example, if a pulse survey indicates a sudden drop in employee morale after a policy change, you can address this immediately. Then, the annual engagement survey can later help you understand the broader impact of that policy change over time.

Let’s now understand how you can create these surveys.

Create engagement and pulse surveys using Formaloo

Creating surveys should be fun and easy, not the other way around.

Whether you’re creating an engagement survey once a year or a pulse survey for employee engagement every other quarter, you can easily create it using Formaloo.

You can either create one from scratch or choose an engagement or pulse survey template from Formaloo’s template library.

Watch this video or read this article to learn how to create engaging surveys in Formaloo without any hassle.

Bridge insights with pulse and engagement surveys

I hope that the debate pulse survey vs engagement survey is settled now.

Both of the survey types have their pros and cons. However, using them together is the best approach because they complement each other to provide a nuanced understanding of employee experiences.

By thoughtfully using engagement and pulse surveys, you can pave the way for a dynamic, and engaged workforce. A workplace where every voice matters and every insight contributes to meaningful progress.

Let’s get surveying, shall we?

Sign up with Formaloo and start building better surveys today! Follow us on our YouTube channel for more useful tips and tricks.

Get productivity tips delivered straight to your inbox
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Get started for free

Formaloo is free to use for teams of any size. We also offer paid plans with additional features and support.

Pulse survey vs engagement survey: 8 key differences