December 27, 2013
Last February, burnt out and in desperate need of a break, David Niu quit his job and bought a one-way ticket to New Zealand for himself, his wife, and his 10-month-old daughter.
Traveling across Asia and Australia as his daughter was learning to walk, he spent six months soaking up the local cultures and interviewing entrepreneurs. He was looking to improve his management and leadership skills and get a few business ideas, so he asked them, “What’s your biggest pain point around managing employees that you’d pay to solve?”
Unsurprisingly, they talked about every boss’s worst nightmare: someone quitting. All that time interviewing and training goes down the drain, and suddenly there’s an empty hole that needs to be filled.
That was the inspiration for TINYpulse, a tool that helps companies get anonymous feedback from employees to quash problems before they become deal breakers. Every week, TINYpulse sends out a questionnaire to your employees with a single question. For example:
- On a scale of 1 to 10, how happy are you at work?
- With eyes closed and fingers crossed, can you recite your organization’s vision, mission, and cultural values?
- How likely is it that you’ll be working here in a year?
- Name one best practice from a previous employer that we should consider doing.
- Rate your own performance for the last 6 months.
Companies like Amazon, Hubspot, and SEOmoz are already using these weekly checkups to improve their culture. You can share results with the team, along with any feedback or notes that employees left, and see how your company performs against others. For example, the average TINYpulse user rates his happiness at 7.7, and how valued he feels at work at 7.4. Only 49 percent of respondents know their company values and mission.
If you see someone’s happiness slipping down to a 4 or 5, you can send them a private message – they remain totally anonymous – to help learn more about the problem and start to resolve it.
Another much-loved TINYpulse feature is called “cheers.” Along with their answer, employees can submit cheers for a fellow colleague who did something awesome that week. And companies have gotten creative with their cheers: one pins them on the wall for all to see, and another puts the cheers in a hat and selects one winner per week to get a prize.
All this may not only prevent employees from quitting, but actually surface ideas and suggestions to make the company more productive. For example, one company had raised $10 million and learned via TINYpulse that many employees were wondering about a raise. So they addressed that question in a company-wide meeting, rather than let all the speculations and whispering continue.
The trend in company culture is no longer about rules or even perks, says Niu, but really inspiring people. Startups like Niko Niko, Murmur, and TINYpulse are creating products to help employees feel more connected and inspired.
“We spend more than 50 percent of our waking hours at work. Why not be happier?” he says.
TINYpulse costs $49 per month for up to 15 employees, and $149 per month for up to 50. With a little technological help, employees around the world can avoid the kind of burnout that drove Niu to quit, and can find the happiness he’s found at TINYpulse.
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