What are open-ended pulse survey questions: Definition, best practices, and examples to try in 2024

Kailash Ganesh
11 min read
What are open-ended pulse survey questions: Definition, best practices, and examples to try in 2024
What are open-ended pulse survey questions: Definition, best practices, and examples to try in 2024

In the symphony of workplace vibes, closed-ended questions are like a catchy pop song; they get the job done, but they don't quite tell the whole story.

That's where open-ended questions step in, turning your employee survey into a rocking jam session, where every employee gets to riff on their thoughts and feelings.

As the wise workplace philosopher once said, "Feedback is like WiFi – you can't see it, but you definitely know when it's not working." So, let's make sure your organizational WiFi is top-notch!

Ever wondered why open-ended questions are the spice of the employee engagement world? Picture this: closed-ended questions are like sending a text with only multiple-choice options.

Boring, right? Now, imagine you're having a conversation with a colleague. You'd want more than just "yes" or "no," wouldn't you?

That's the essence of open-ended pulse surveys – giving your employees the virtual stage to express their thoughts, ideas, and maybe the occasional workplace haiku.

Stick around as we unravel the secrets to making your surveys feel less like paperwork and more like a backstage pass to your team's collective brilliance.

What is a pulse survey?

Employer checking all the boxes in a checklist
What is a pulse survey?

Think of employee pulse surveys as a quick check-in with your team's emotional well-being, a digital thumb on the organizational pulse. Unlike those lengthy annual surveys that feel like a marathon, a pulse survey is more like a sprint – short, frequent bursts of questions aimed at capturing the nuances of your team's experience in real-time.

Imagine you're taking your team's temperature, but instead of a sluggish mercury-filled thermometer, you have a sleek digital device that gives you instant insights. These surveys typically consist of employee survey questions, crafted to gauge employee sentiments, opinions, and overall vibes about their work environment.

Now, why the term "pulse"? Well, just like your heartbeat indicates the vitality of your body, a pulse survey measures the vitality of your workplace. It's about staying in sync with your team's rhythm and understanding their highs, lows, and everything in between.

Here's the beauty: pulse surveys are agile. They adapt to the ever-evolving landscape of your organization. Whether you're navigating through a project launch, celebrating a success, or addressing a challenge, pulse surveys allow you to capture the essence of each moment.

It's not just about collecting data; it's about fostering a continuous dialogue between the leadership and the workforce. In a world where change is the only constant, employee pulse surveys are your reliable compass, helping you navigate the dynamic seas of employee engagement.

Significance of pulse surveys in the modern hybrid workplace

Employees working effectively in the workplace
Significance of pulse surveys in the modern hybrid workplace

In this dynamic setting, the significance of pulse surveys becomes even more pronounced, like the GPS guiding you through the twists and turns of the modern work landscape. Here’s what makes it so important.

1. Real-time insights in a flash

In a hybrid workplace, the ebb and flow of daily work life are as unpredictable as your favorite streaming platform's content recommendations. Pulse surveys offer real-time insights, helping you stay ahead of the curve. It's like having a crystal ball but more scientifically sound.

2. Employee well-being barometer

Balancing the virtual and physical realms, employee well-being becomes a priority. Pulse surveys act as a well-being barometer, detecting stress points, identifying areas of support, and ensuring your team feels heard, no matter where they're working from.

3. Continuous adaptation

The hybrid workplace is a chameleon, constantly changing its colors. Pulse surveys enable organizations to adapt in real time, addressing challenges promptly and embracing opportunities swiftly. It's not just a survey; it's your agility booster.

4. Fostering connection in the digital ether

With teams scattered between home offices and boardrooms, maintaining a sense of connection is vital. Pulse surveys serve as the digital bridge, keeping communication channels open, fostering camaraderie, and ensuring no one feels like a lone astronaut lost in the space of virtual work.

5. Data-driven decision making

In the hybrid workplace, decisions can't afford to be shots in the dark. Pulse surveys provide the flashlight, illuminating the path with data-driven insights. From resource allocation to policy adjustments, decisions are grounded in the real experiences and sentiments of your workforce.

6. Cultivating a culture of listening

In a hybrid setup, the danger of 'out of sight, out of mind' looms large. Pulse surveys break down this barrier by cultivating a culture of listening. They show employees that their opinions matter, creating an inclusive environment where everyone's voice resonates, whether they're logging in from the office or the kitchen table.

How do you do a pulse survey?

How do you do a pulse survey?
How do you do a pulse survey?

Here's your backstage pass to the steps of conducting employee engagement surveys that resonate with the pulse of your organization:

Define Your objectives

Start with a clear vision of what you aim to achieve. Are you focused on gauging overall employee satisfaction, gathering feedback on a recent change, or tracking specific aspects like communication or workload? Defining objectives helps tailor your questions effectively.

Craft thoughtful questions

The heart of any pulse survey lies in its questions. Craft them with care, keeping them clear, concise, and aligned with your company goals and objectives. Mix it up with a combination of closed-ended questions for quantitative data and open-ended questions for qualitative insights – it's like creating a balanced melody.

Determine frequency

Pulse surveys are like the rhythm section of your engagement strategy – they need to be regular but not overwhelming. Determine the frequency of engagement surveys based on your organization's dynamics. Monthly, bi-monthly, or quarterly surveys ensure you capture the ever-changing workplace rhythm.

Choose the right platform

Just like selecting the right instrument for a song, choose a user-friendly survey platform. There are numerous tools available that make survey administration and data analysis a breeze. From Google Forms to specialized employee engagement survey platforms, pick the one that suits your needs.

Communicate clearly

Before you hit that survey send button, set the stage with clear communication. Explain the purpose, emphasize anonymity if applicable, and highlight the importance of honest feedback. A well-communicated survey is like a catchy tune – it gets people humming along.

Analyze and act promptly

The survey results are your sheet music; now it's time to conduct the symphony. Analyze the data promptly, identify trends, and pinpoint areas that need attention. The key here is not just collecting data but turning it into actionable insights.

Share results and take action

Transparency is the encore of a successful employee pulse survey. Share the results with your team, celebrate the wins, and address the concerns. Taking visible action based on the feedback builds trust and shows that your organization isn't just listening but also willing to dance to the employees' tune.

Iterate and improve

The beauty of pulse surveys is their adaptability. After each survey, gather feedback on the survey process itself. What worked well? What could be improved? Use this feedback to fine-tune your approach for the next employee pulse survey questions, ensuring a continuous improvement cycle.

What questions should you ask in a pulse survey?

Employer sitting confused next to a giant question mark sign
What questions should you ask in a pulse survey?

In a pulse survey, the key is to strike a balance between quantitative (closed-ended) and qualitative (open-ended) questions. Here's a breakdown of the types of questions you should include in the engagement survey to get a holistic understanding of your team's pulse:

1. Quantitative (closed-ended) questions

  • Rating scales: Utilize scales (e.g., 1 to 5 or 1 to 10) to measure respondents' perceptions or satisfaction levels. This provides a numerical metric that can be analyzed for trends.
  • Multiple choice: Offer respondents predefined options to choose from. This allows for easy quantification and comparison of responses across different choices.
  • Yes/No questions: Simple binary questions to gauge specific aspects of the work environment. These are quick and straightforward, providing a clear-cut response.

2. Qualitative (open-ended) questions

  • Reflective questions: Encourage respondents to share thoughts, feelings, or experiences in their own words. These questions typically start with phrases like "How" or "What," inviting deeper insights beyond numerical ratings.
  • Feedback and suggestions: Provide a space for employees to express opinions, offer suggestions, or highlight areas that need improvement. This type of question allows for detailed, narrative feedback.
  • Descriptive responses: Invite respondents to describe their experiences, challenges, or successes in more detail. This type of question elicits rich, contextual information that adds depth to the survey data.

Open-ended vs. close-ended questions

Employer confused with two different options
Open-ended vs. close-ended questions

Open-ended and closed-ended questions are two types of inquiries used in communication, interviews, surveys, and various other contexts. They serve different purposes and elicit distinct types of responses. Here's a breakdown of the characteristics and applications of open-ended and closed-ended questions:


Open-ended questions: These questions invite respondents to provide detailed, free-form responses in their own words.

Close-ended questions: Closed-ended questions provide respondents with predetermined answer options, limiting their response to a set of choices.


Open-ended questions: Respondents have the freedom to express their thoughts, feelings, or opinions without constraints.

Close-ended questions: Responses are structured and constrained to predefined categories, such as scales, multiple-choice options, or binary choices (yes/no).

Use cases

Open-ended questions: Ideal for gathering qualitative data, exploring opinions, and uncovering insights that may not be captured by predefined categories.

Close-ended questions: Useful when specific information needs to be categorized or when comparing responses across a standardized set of options.


Open-ended questions: "How would you describe your experience with our recent project?"

Close-ended questions: "Which communication channel do you find most effective: email, team meetings, or chat platforms?"

In a survey strategy, a combination of both open-ended and closed-ended questions is often used to capture a comprehensive view of the subject matter, blending the depth of qualitative insights with the ease of quantitative analysis.

What does a good open-ended question for a survey look like?

What does a good open-ended question for a survey look like?
What does a good open-ended question for a survey look like?

A well-crafted open-ended question in a survey acts as a gateway to the rich tapestry of individual experiences and opinions. It should be designed to elicit thoughtful and detailed responses, providing a deeper understanding of the participant's perspective. To create such a questionaire, it's crucial to consider the following elements.

Firstly, clarity is paramount. The questions should be straightforward and easy to understand. Avoid jargon or complex language that might confuse respondents.

For instance, instead of using convoluted terms, ask a question like, "Can you describe your experience with the new project?" This simplicity ensures that participants grasp the inquiry and can respond meaningfully.

Additionally, a good open-ended question is focused on a specific aspect of interest. It should hone in on the key information you seek without being overly broad.

For instance, instead of asking a general question like, "How is your job?" it might be more effective to ask, "What aspects of your job contribute most to your job satisfaction?" This targeted approach encourages respondents to delve into particular facets, providing more nuanced insights.

Furthermore, a well-constructed open-ended question invites respondents to share their thoughts in their own words. This authenticity is crucial for capturing the diversity of perspectives.

Using language that allows for personal expression, such as, "What factors contribute to your experience?" encourages respondents to articulate their feelings and perceptions without the constraints of predefined options.

Lastly, consider the respondent employee engagement survey questions's comfort. Ensure that the open-ended question is phrased in a way that makes individuals feel at ease sharing their thoughts. Use neutral language and avoid leading or biased statements.

An example could be, "Can you share your thoughts on the recent changes?" This neutral tone encourages honest responses and helps in building trust between the survey participant and the surveyor.

In essence, a good open-ended question is clear, focused, invites personal expression, and respects the respondent's comfort. It serves as a valuable tool for gathering qualitative data, uncovering unique insights, and fostering a more nuanced understanding of the participant's perspective.

Open-ended pulse survey questions, best practices

Employer strategizing company's next goals
Open-ended pulse survey questions, best practices

Here are best practices for crafting effective open-ended employee surveys pulse survey questions:

  1. Keep questions clear and concise to ensure participants understand and respond accurately.
  2. Target specific aspects of interest to gather detailed and actionable insights.
  3. Craft questions that prompt respondents to reflect on their experiences or opinions.
  4. Maintain a neutral tone to avoid leading or biased responses, fostering honest feedback.
  5. Invite personal expression by allowing respondents to share thoughts in their own words.
  6. Phrase questions in a way that makes participants feel comfortable sharing, building trust.
  7. Steer clear of complex language or industry jargon to ensure universal understanding.
  8. When possible, incorporate elements that can be quantified for easier analysis.
  9. Align questions with survey objectives to gather relevant and meaningful data.
  10. Regularly review and refine questions based on feedback and survey outcomes for continuous improvement.

15 Open-ended pulse survey questions examples you should get inspiration from

Employees are giving star rating in a survey
15 Open-ended pulse survey questions examples you should get inspiration from

Here are 15 open-ended employee engagement survey questions to inspire you:

  1. Job satisfaction: Describe a recent moment at work that made you exceptionally satisfied.
  2. Team dynamics: How can the team better collaborate to achieve common goals?
  3. Career growth: What skills or areas would you like to develop further for your career development and growth?
  4. Communication effectiveness: Share an instance where communication positively impacted a project or task.
  5. Managerial support: In what ways can your manager better support your professional development?
  6. Work-life balance: Describe strategies that could improve your work-life balance.
  7. Recognition and feedback: How do you prefer to be recognized for your contributions?
  8. Remote work experience: What challenges do you face while working remotely, and how can they be addressed?
  9. Organizational culture: Share aspects of our company culture that resonate with you the most.
  10. Change management: How can the organization better manage and communicate changes?
  11. Employee well-being: What initiatives or practices could enhance the employee experience and well-being?
  12. Team morale: Describe a team moment that boosted morale and collaboration.
  13. Project engagement: What factors contribute most to your engagement on a project?
  14. Feedback process: How often do you receive constructive feedback, and how can it be improved?
  15. Company values alignment: In what ways do you feel our company values align with your personal values?

Significance of having a pulse survey tool for your organization to sustain and improve engagement in 2024

Employees are responding a pulse survey
Significance of having a pulse survey tool for your organization to sustain and improve engagement in 2024

In a world where change is the only constant, a pulse survey tool equips organizations with the agility to adapt swiftly. Whether it's navigating through the complexities of remote work, implementing new policies, or responding to industry shifts, these tools offer a continuous feedback loop.

This real-time adaptation capability is vital for staying ahead of the curve and ensuring that the organization evolves in harmony with its workforce.

It acts as a compass for gauging the well-being and satisfaction of engaged employees. By regularly assessing factors like workload, work-life balance, and job satisfaction, organizations can proactively address issues and create an environment where employees feel supported, leading to increased employee engagement and retention.

In an era where data reigns supreme, the significance of a pulse survey tool lies in its ability to transform raw employee feedback into actionable insights. Decision-makers can leverage the collected data to identify trends, make informed decisions, and prioritize initiatives that have a direct impact on employee engagement.

This data-driven approach ensures that resources are allocated efficiently, addressing the most critical needs of the workforce.

The significance of a pulse survey tool in 2024 goes beyond mere measurement; it's a strategic imperative for organizational sustenance and growth.

By embracing these tools, organizations foster a culture of responsiveness and improve employee engagement to position themselves as dynamic entities capable of thriving in the ever-evolving landscape of the modern workforce.

Kailash Ganesh

Kailash Ganesh

Kailash is a Product Marketer with 5+ years of experience. He loves story-telling in the simplest way possible and he is an avid reader, movie buff, and likes to travel new places to meet new people.