What Are Employee Pulse Scores?

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Employee pulse surveys are an important tool in collecting employee feedback, getting insight into corporate culture, employee engagement and so much more. Employee pulse scores are the cumulative results from pulse surveys.

They are calculated by gathering all the responses from the survey and getting an average. These scores will reveal any issues that need to be addressed and even inform strategic decisions. In order to better understand employee pulse scores, we need to understand why employee pulse surveys are important.

Administering employee surveys

Before getting to the pulse score, you need to administer a survey. Pulse surveys are short and happen more regularly. Some organisations do them weekly while others may have them bi monthly or monthly.

Questions you ask will be determined based on the goals the organisation wishes to achieve in the short, medium or long term. They may centre on workplace culture, assessing recent changes in the organisation or morale. They can also be a combination of different areas.

Best practices for carrying out employee pulse surveys

Introduce it to the team first

If pulse surveys are new to your teams, take the time to introduce the initiative first and to explain its benefits.

Keep them brief

The beauty of pulse surveys is that they are brief. This ensures that employees do not have to take much time to fill them in. Keeping them brief will also encourage participation and ensure that full responses are given.

Make them simple

In addition to keeping your surveys brief, keep them simple. A simple survey with a 0 to 5 scale will increase the response rate. At the same time, leave room for employees to add a detailed note if they please.

The survey should be relevant

It shouldn’t be generic. Instead, it should be focused on your organisation and industry. This way, employees will see value in responding.

Share results with employees

After the survey has been conducted, the first thing to do is to thank employees for their participation. Next, after the results have been analysed and you have the employee pulse scores share insights with employees. This not only improves participation, it shows employees that the survey is important.

Repeat the survey

Pulse surveys collect feedback over time so they need to be done periodically. Subsequent surveys may focus on assessing if the changes implemented have had the desired effect. They may also introduce a new area the company wishes to focus on or to collect employee feedback on a new issue.

The benefits of pulse surveys

They drive employee engagement

Pulse surveys are an important tool for engagement. This continuous listening tool demonstrates to employees that their input matters and that the company is concerned about their wellbeing. This can result in increased job satisfaction and engagement.

They give rise to honest feedback

Surveys, especially confidential ones, give employees a chance to be entirely honest without any fear. One on one check in’s are great but employees may leave some things unsaid.

 According to one culture report, 77% of respondents stated that they are more likely to be honest in a survey than in a conversation with their manager. It may be difficult to be fully open with your manager particularly if the topic being discussed is management.

They facilitate real time changes

Unlike yearly surveys, pulse surveys are more frequent. This gives management a chance to adapt in real time. If an action plan is not working, it can be remedied immediately. This can stop problems from escalating, allow for charting of new courses and overall help the company in achieving its objectives.

They foster a culture of communication

Good communication in the workplace aids in better collaboration, team work, morale and improves productivity. If pulse surveys are done right and the feedback shared with staff and acted on, communication can improve.

Employee pulse scores

Now that you have got your responses from the pulse survey, what happens next? Examining the results will help to identify trends, expose strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.

It will also show that you treat employees’ feedback with the necessary consideration. Here’s what to do when you get the results.

Analyse the results

Surveys are conducted with a goal in mind. Keep this goal in mind while determining the pulse scores. At the same time, remain open to learning even more from the results.

Trends can reveal information you had neglected. Remain alert to factors outside of the company that may be affecting the results.

Look a little deeper

When looking at results, don’t just take them at face value. Look out for trends or commonalities by group for instance.

If your female employees are responding the same way to a particular question and if this answer is different from what male employees are saying then there is a need to look deeper into the issue. Another pulse survey may be conducted to shed more light on the matter.

Make a comparison

As pulse surveys are done regularly, you can compare the results you get with those from previous surveys. For instance, if you carry out employee surveys weekly, comparing them after a month will help you arrive at a more comprehensive employee pulse score.

Check the employee participation rate

A high engagement score that comes from responses from only half your staff is nothing to celebrate about. Investigate why people are not participating and employ tactics like offering incentives for participating and having employees who have already bought in act as change agents to influence their peers.

Decide on the priority areas

Your survey may yield a lot of data but you will be able to see which questions had the highest or lowest scores. If these are areas key to achieving organisational goals, then these are the ones that should be prioritised.

Make an action plan

The next step after deciding on priority areas based on the employee pulse scores is to make a plan of action. Make clear steps detailing how and by when these areas will be addressed. This is an important step in ensuring employee participation in subsequent surveys.

In Summary

Pulse surveys are an easy and quick employee listening tool. Effective workplaces carry out periodic employee surveys to determine how engaged employees are and improve levels of engagement. The employee pulse scores that result from these surveys reveal employee sentiments and provide a guide for what the organisation can do in order to achieve its strategic objectives.



The post What Are Employee Pulse Scores? appeared first on The 6Q Blog.

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Distilling step-by-step: Outperforming larger language models with less training data and smaller model sizes

Posted by Cheng-Yu Hsieh, Student Researcher, and Chen-Yu Lee, Research Scientist, Cloud AI Team

Large language models (LLMs) have enabled a new data-efficient learning paradigm wherein they can be used to solve unseen new tasks via zero-shot or few-shot prompting. However, LLMs are challenging to deploy for real-world applications due to their sheer size. For instance, serving a single 175 billion LLM requires at least 350GB of GPU memory using specialized infrastructure, not to mention that today’s state-of-the-art LLMs are composed of over 500 billion parameters. Such computational requirements are inaccessible for many research teams, especially for applications that require low latency performance.

To circumvent these deployment challenges, practitioners often choose to deploy smaller specialized models instead. These smaller models are trained using one of two common paradigms: fine-tuning or distillation. Fine-tuning updates a pre-trained smaller model (e.g., BERT or T5) using downstream manually-annotated data. Distillation trains the same smaller models with labels generated by a larger LLM. Unfortunately, to achieve comparable performance to LLMs, fine-tuning methods require human-generated labels, which are expensive and tedious to obtain, while distillation requires large amounts of unlabeled data, which can also be hard to collect.

In “Distilling Step-by-Step! Outperforming Larger Language Models with Less Training Data and Smaller Model Sizes”, presented at ACL2023, we set out to tackle this trade-off between model size and training data collection cost. We introduce distilling step-by-step, a new simple mechanism that allows us to train smaller task-specific models with much less training data than required by standard fine-tuning or distillation approaches that outperform few-shot prompted LLMs’ performance. We demonstrate that the distilling step-by-step mechanism enables a 770M parameter T5 model to outperform the few-shot prompted 540B PaLM model using only 80% of examples in a benchmark dataset, which demonstrates a more than 700x model size reduction with much less training data required by standard approaches.

While LLMs offer strong zero and few-shot performance, they are challenging to serve in practice. On the other hand, traditional ways of training small task-specific models require a large amount of training data. Distilling step-by-step provides a new paradigm that reduces both the deployed model size as well as the number of data required for training.

Distilling step-by-step

The key idea of distilling step-by-step is to extract informative natural language rationales (i.e., intermediate reasoning steps) from LLMs, which can in turn be used to train small models in a more data-efficient way. Specifically, natural language rationales explain the connections between the input questions and their corresponding outputs. For example, when asked, “Jesse’s room is 11 feet long and 15 feet wide. If she already has 16 square feet of carpet, how much more carpet does she need to cover the whole floor?”, an LLM can be prompted by the few-shot chain-of-thought (CoT) prompting technique to provide intermediate rationales, such as, “Area = length * width. Jesse’s room has 11 * 15 square feet.” That better explains the connection from the input to the final answer, “(11 * 15 ) – 16”. These rationales can contain relevant task knowledge, such as “Area = length * width”, that may originally require many data for small models to learn. We utilize these extracted rationales as additional, richer supervision to train small models, in addition to the standard task labels.

Overview on distilling step-by-step: First, we utilize CoT prompting to extract rationales from an LLM. We then use the generated rationales to train small task-specific models within a multi-task learning framework, where we prepend task prefixes to the input examples and train the model to output differently based on the given task prefix.

Distilling step-by-step consists of two main stages. In the first stage, we leverage few-shot CoT prompting to extract rationales from LLMs. Specifically, given a task, we prepare few-shot exemplars in the LLM input prompt where each example is composed of a triplet containing: (1) input, (2) rationale, and (3) output. Given the prompt, an LLM is able to mimic the triplet demonstration to generate the rationale for any new input. For instance, in a commonsense question answering task, given the input question “Sammy wanted to go to where the people are. Where might he go? Answer Choices: (a) populated areas, (b) race track, (c) desert, (d) apartment, (e) roadblock”, distilling step-by-step provides the correct answer to the question, “(a) populated areas”, paired with the rationale that provides better connection from the question to the answer, “The answer must be a place with a lot of people. Of the above choices, only populated areas have a lot of people.” By providing CoT examples paired with rationales in the prompt, the in-context learning ability allows LLMs to output corresponding rationales for future unseen inputs.

We use the few-shot CoT prompting, which contains both an example rationale (highlighted in green) and a label (highlighted in blue), to elicit rationales from an LLM on new input examples. The example is from a commonsense question answering task.

After the rationales are extracted, in the second stage, we incorporate the rationales in training small models by framing the training process as a multi-task problem. Specifically, we train the small model with a novel rationale generation task in addition to the standard label prediction task. The rationale generation task enables the model to learn to generate the intermediate reasoning steps for the prediction, and guides the model to better predict the resultant label. We prepend task prefixes (i.e., [label] and [rationale] for label prediction and rationale generation, respectively) to the input examples for the model to differentiate the two tasks.

Experimental setup

In the experiments, we consider a 540B PaLM model as the LLM. For task-specific downstream models, we use T5 models. For CoT prompting, we use the original CoT prompts when available and curate our own examples for new datasets. We conduct the experiments on four benchmark datasets across three different NLP tasks: e-SNLI and ANLI for natural language inference; CQA for commonsense question answering; and SVAMP for arithmetic math word problems. We include two sets of baseline methods. For comparison to few-shot prompted LLMs, we compare to few-shot CoT prompting with a 540B PaLM model. In the paper, we also compare standard task-specific model training to both standard fine-tuning and standard distillation. In this blogpost, we will focus on the comparisons to standard fine-tuning for illustration purposes.

Less training data

Compared to standard fine-tuning, the distilling step-by-step method achieves better performance using much less training data. For instance, on the e-SNLI dataset, we achieve better performance than standard fine-tuning when using only 12.5% of the full dataset (shown in the upper left quadrant below). Similarly, we achieve a dataset size reduction of 75%, 25% and 20% on ANLI, CQA, and SVAMP.

Distilling step-by-step compared to standard fine-tuning using 220M T5 models on varying sizes of human-labeled datasets. On all datasets, distilling step-by-step is able to outperform standard fine-tuning, trained on the full dataset, by using much less training examples.

Smaller deployed model size

Compared to few-shot CoT prompted LLMs, distilling step-by-step achieves better performance using much smaller model sizes. For instance, on the e-SNLI dataset, we achieve better performance than 540B PaLM by using a 220M T5 model. On ANLI, we achieve better performance than 540B PaLM by using a 770M T5 model, which is over 700X smaller. Note that on ANLI, the same 770M T5 model struggles to match PaLM’s performance using standard fine-tuning.

We perform distilling step-by-step and standard fine-tuning on varying sizes of T5 models and compare their performance to LLM baselines, i.e., Few-shot CoT and PINTO Tuning. Distilling step-by-step is able to outperform LLM baselines by using much smaller models, e.g., over 700× smaller models on ANLI. Standard fine-tuning fails to match LLM’s performance using the same model size.

Distilling step-by-step outperforms few-shot LLMs with smaller models using less data

Finally, we explore the smallest model sizes and the least amount of data for distilling step-by-step to outperform PaLM’s few-shot performance. For instance, on ANLI, we surpass the performance of the 540B PaLM using a 770M T5 model. This smaller model only uses 80% of the full dataset. Meanwhile, we observe that standard fine-tuning cannot catch up with PaLM’s performance even using 100% of the full dataset. This suggests that distilling step-by-step simultaneously reduces the model size as well as the amount of data required to outperform LLMs.

We show the minimum size of T5 models and the least amount of human-labeled examples required for distilling step-by-step to outperform LLM’s few-shot CoT by a coarse-grained search. Distilling step-by-step is able to outperform few-shot CoT using not only much smaller models, but it also achieves so with much less training examples compared to standard fine-tuning.


We propose distilling step-by-step, a novel mechanism that extracts rationales from LLMs as informative supervision in training small, task-specific models. We show that distilling step-by-step reduces both the training dataset required to curate task-specific smaller models and the model size required to achieve, and even surpass, a few-shot prompted LLM’s performance. Overall, distilling step-by-step presents a resource-efficient paradigm that tackles the trade-off between model size and training data required.

Availability on Google Cloud Platform

Distilling step-by-step is available for private preview on Vertex AI. If you are interested in trying it out, please contact vertex-llm-tuning-preview@google.com with your Google Cloud Project number and a summary of your use case.


This research was conducted by Cheng-Yu Hsieh, Chun-Liang Li, Chih-Kuan Yeh, Hootan Nakhost, Yasuhisa Fujii, Alexander Ratner, Ranjay Krishna, Chen-Yu Lee, and Tomas Pfister. Thanks to Xiang Zhang and Sergey Ioffe for their valuable feedback.

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