OpenWork HR Tools: TINYPulse

How can you tell if employees are happy? TINYpulse takes the guesswork out of employee sentiment, helping companies of all sizes drive satisfaction and retention.


In 2014, insurance company GuideOne was understandably concerned when its 94-person IT team showed signs of poor morale and stress that threatened to undermine company performance. As part of its program to address negativity and turnover, the firm implemented TINYpulse Engage pulse surveys — one-question queries sent to employees on a weekly basis. In short order, GuideOne was able to surface specific issues that were troubling the team and quickly implement solutions. For example, when the question “How much opportunity for professional growth do you have in this organization?” yielded inconsistent responses ranging from very positive to very negative, the CIO made it a point to address professional development and to clarify career path opportunities. GuideOne saw a significant drop in IT staff turnover, from 12 percent to 3.1 percent, in the first year the surveys were implemented. The program was so successful for the tech team, it was soon adopted by GuideOne’s customer care group.

By now the benefits of employee engagement, for both employees and employers, are clear. Engaged workforces are more productive, exhibit lower turnover and even experience fewer workplace accidents. As businesses become more invested in driving employee satisfaction, the challenge becomes one of measurement. Managers are anxious to gauge not only baseline morale, but to track engagement over time and against workplace improvements geared toward driving satisfaction. That’s where engagement platforms like TINYpulse come in.

TINYPulse CEO David Niu
TINYpulse Founder David Niu with his wife and daughter. (Image: TINYpulse)

In 2012, serial entrepreneur and TINYPulse founder David Niu was working at startup BuddyTV, the interactive television site he co-founded, when an employee’s abrupt resignation made him realize he himself was experiencing serious career burnout. It was a wakeup call that led him on a six-month vacation travelling the world with his wife and daughter. Throughout the trip he interviewed entrepreneurs in an effort to gather valuable insights into what makes a great company culture and how to bolster employee happiness. (He even wrote a book about it, “Careercation,” available in its entirety on the TINYpulse website.) Armed with these learnings, Niu launched TINYpulse to deliver ongoing, real-time measurement of employee satisfaction in a completely anonymous environment.

With TINYpulse Engage, companies push a single question to their entire workforce once a week, or less often if they choose. The single-question format encourages high response rates by keeping the process effortless for employees. While companies can choose from pre-formatted questions or prepare their own custom queries, Senior Communications Manager Neal McNamara says that clients use the templated questions the majority of the time. Some of the most-used questions include:

• How happy are you at work?
• How valued do you feel at work?
• How would you rate your work-life balance?
• How would you rate the performance of your direct supervisor?
• How would you rate our organization’s culture?
• How well do you think we service our customers?
• How transparent do you feel management is?

Employees respond via a 1-to-10 rating scale and have the option to include an anonymous comment. Anonymity is the cornerstone of the Engage platform; it promotes honesty in employee responses and opens an authentic dialog with management that isn’t colored by an employee’s role, tenure or performance. Private messaging within the Engage system allows the unusual ability for management to reach out to individual respondents, to check in on a comment or a particularly low score for instance, while maintain that employee’s anonymity.

By receiving real-time employee feedback on a consistent basis, employers are able to address problems quickly, before they snowball. Using TINYpulse Engage, software firm HubSpot noticed quickly that employees were beginning to fear for their jobs after the dismissal of several staff members in an unintentionally short period of time. Armed with that knowledge, the senior manager was able to stem the tide of negativity by addressing the situation head-on and making himself available for questions.

TINYPulse Engage
TINYPulse Engage Employee Interface

In addition to the quick pulse surveys, the Engage platform provides Cheers for Peers, a peer­to­peer recognition component in which employees can post kudos to one another, with or without their identity attached, and a virtual suggestion box system that allows employees to post anonymous ideas to management. The Engage system also promotes transparency by allowing administrators to make all response data available to employees, including the aggregate results of each week’s survey question, Cheers for Peers posts and suggestions.

Improving performance reviews is a hot topic in HR circles and based on requests from Engage customers, TINYpulse has recently launched TINYpulse Perform. Perform aims to streamline the cumbersome task of annual reviews by injecting recency and regularity into the process. “A lot of companies do a once-a-year performance review for employees, and that has some problems,” McNamara explains. “Mainly, when you’re reviewing someone once a year, how do you remember all the accomplishments at the beginning of the year? How do you help them succeed throughout the year?” With Perform, employee goals and objectives are set and then tracked on a weekly basis providing real-time coaching opportunities and transparent progress reports.

TINYpulse offers customized client pricing, on a monthly or yearly basis, for Perform, Engage or both, based on number of users. The site also boasts an ROI calculator to help employers gauge the potential cost savings in reducing turnover.

TINYpulse is part of a new wave of online platforms designed to measure and improve employee engagement, with Teamphoria!, Hyphen and Engagedly among the others that are worth a look.


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