Employee Feedback: What's the Buzz?

Originally posted on InsiderHub - written by Jennifer J Stephens
If you haven’t heard of Waggl, prepare to have your mind blown.  Seriously.  Grab the duct tape and wrap it around your head.  We’ll wait. 
Employee Feedback: What's the Buzz?

A sizzling hot topic trending in business today is that of creating a culture of transparency1.  Social media sites like Glassdoor offer a forum to freely share the good, the bad and the ugly, while providing companies with an ongoing gauge of how they’re perceived. Creating a culture of transparency requires employee feedback2, but sneak up to a co-worker and softly whisper the words, “employee engagement survey” and you’re sure to see them shudder like a scary hairy spider just crawled up their arm! While technology has made it easier to capture feedback, for most employees – to put it bluntly – surveys suck.
“Too many questions. Too much time.  Nothing ever seems to change, so why bother asking me?”
And for the poor souls deploying the dreaded surveys? By the time the results are gathered, consolidated and analyzed, the landscape has already changed.  The heart of today’s organization beats rapidly…business needs a monitor to continually capture its pulse.

Rapid Transparency Transforms Culture

Founded in 2014, Waggl takes its name and from the “waggle dance3 honeybees use to communicate with the hive. Communicating in this way, bees work for the collective good.  CEO and Co-Founder Michael Papay4 saw the need for a tool to support collective, real-time communication in business communities.  Since its launch, Waggl has been enabling a culture of transparency by transforming the way organizations are gathering feedback, distilling actionable insights and engaging employees. They provide each customer organization a ridiculously easy means to effectively monitor its pulse.  Says Michael,
“The whole point is to improve the organization and improve the conditions for the employees.”
Not to mention that a Waggl Pulse is super-cool and a ton of fun to use!
Don’t take our word for it.  Waggl’s impassioned customers exuberantly attest to the ease and speed with which Waggl is implemented.  Most astonishing is how swiftly the platform organically embeds the essence of the Waggl dance into the organizational culture – at a rate that’s virtually viral.

900 Branches + Waggl = One Employee Voice for CES

City Electric Supply (CES) is a family-owned, global company with thousands of employees.  They are laser-focused on building and maintaining a great culture.  Marketing Manager, Thomas McShane shares,
“Culture is so important to us…we have a phenomenal culture. [Sites like] Glassdoor make everything transparent.  We want to make sure we build a great culture and keep it!  The CEO chose Waggl because it was a no-brainer.  Because of all our work on internal communications, Waggl was what we needed.”
CES first rolled out Waggl to a small group in one state but were overwhelmed with the volume and quality of the feedback; they quickly rolled out nationally to pulse nearly 3,000 employees in less than 3 days.    The secret to its success? Says Thomas,
“The anonymity for us was the most important part. What would people think if we built it internally?  We could say it’s anonymous, but at the end of the day it’s monitored by an internal employee. But with Waggl, it’s not.  Our employees feel protected in knowing that.”
The pulse results enabled CES to take quick action on the feedback, from changing how they communicated information on medical benefits to crafting the agenda for their annual Conference.
“We’re no longer throwing darts at the wall.  We know exactly what we need to focus on and our key points to reference when making improvements for our employees.”
With minimum effort to simply and rapidly ask employees a few questions, Waggl has been adopted by CES. It’s a part of their culture, and employees actually getting excited when new pulses are released.  CES views Waggl as a long-term partner:
“Waggl makes communication more transparent and helps make culture grow even faster – and you’re hitting every level of the company.  For a company our size, it’s impossible to get this kind of feedback without Waggl.”

Real-time Employee Feedback for 3D Robotics

When your company founders include the editor-in-chief of Wired magazine and a college-dropout-electronics-wunderkind, you want to do everything faster, better, smarter with technology. When that company is 3D Robotics – arguably the originator of drone technology – you know that data and analytics are king. How cool is that application of the Waggl Pulse? Derek Sidebottom, VP of HR, explains:
“As a tech company, we already embrace data. Our angle of ‘we need feedback’ is the way we do everything.  We are a company that builds drones, they sense things and avoid running into things, and we needed to collect data on our most important asset – people.”
3DR’s rapid growth created a demand for an efficient and scalable method of gathering qualitative and actionable feedback over the long-term.  The tool also had to meet the preferences of their technologically-savvy employees, while offering “exceptional transparency.” 3DR’s biggest challenge was figuring out what questions to ask, and the Waggl Team partnered shoulder-to-shoulder to determine the question sets that 3DR will use to capture data over the long term.  Of course, when they rolled out Waggl, they got tons of feedback, but it was the quality of the responses that enabled 3DR to take quick action.  Waggl leverages a unique open text-to-voting process that continually consolidates responses, identifies themes and provides slick, instant infographics – all visible to anyone at any time.  Explains Derek,
“One of the challenges we’re trying to get used to is the idea of ‘How honest can I be?’  I had to set the tone…’Yeah, we’re serious, and we wanna know what you have to say.’  The blessing is the transparency of the qualitative feedback; the quality was higher because they knew others would see it.”
3DR’s recipe to rapidly drive strategy and change? Ask, measure, act, repeat.  Derek shares that 3DR uses Waggl feedback to take action on initiatives like crafting the monthly meeting agendas and modifying recruiting practices to improving diversity. And the best part?  It relieves the focus on recommendations coming from just HR, “It’s not the HR person in the corner, banging the table and saying, ‘We need this!’ No, it’s what the employees want.” Waggl has gone viral.
“In the town halls, people are concerned about asking questions, and someone turned to me the other day and said, ‘Can we just use a Waggl?’  It’s organically taking hold.  I’m not personally pushing it…people are asking for it.”

A Partner and Advisor for The Marketing Store

Remember the Employee Engagement Survey (EES)?  For The Marketing Store, a division of a large global conglomerate focused on logistics, data is used to drive everything they do for their customers.  But what about data from employees? Senior HR Manager, Suzanne Scott explains that historically the EES had been a bi-annual event. However, it had been on hiatus for quite some time when it was rolled out again in 2014.  The feedback was good overall but indicated a need to listen actively to the organization by continually capturing feedback…more than once a year.  Suzanne, and a colleague, Heather Scheftel, partnered with Waggl to create a compelling case for senior execs that “made it impossible to say no.” Suzanne explains that Waggl truly walks-the-walk for gathering feedback and taking action.
“Symbiotic partnership is at the forefront, but my personal experience as a client, and one of the things I find most powerful and refreshing, is that they listen!  They don’t just say, ‘Here’s what we have and here’s what you get.’  If we come back and say, ‘This isn’t working,’ they will deconstruct why and then build a solution.  We’ve exchanged information and they’ve heard us.”
After successfully piloting Waggl at a sampling of North American locations, The Marketing Store now uses Waggl pulses to drive everything from communication strategy, to corporate meeting agendas, to what the employees want to do for the annual holiday parties…and how much they enjoy them!  Suzanne explains the change is “palpable” and Waggl will be rolled out to other TMSW locations over time.
“In recent unrelated focus groups, employees were saying, ‘We should have a Waggl for that.’  I was flabbergasted.  It was already embedded in the culture!  Waggl is embraced by the employees.”
But what is it about Waggl that makes it so magically viral?  Suzanne says there are several key factors that feed into Waggl’s employee appeal: it’s so simple, so clear…it’s fun…there’s a fun factor.  And it’s the notion that you can see the data as it comes in, no matter what platform you are on, and you can see as the results change.
“The transparency…everybody sees what’s happening at the same time, and that has great power.  When employees feel like they have that kind of power and that kind of voice, it’s impossible to ignore.”

Be a Superhero!

When speaking about the light-speed impact Waggl has had on their customers’ culture, Michael Papay says it’s their customers taking action on the feedback that vulcanizes the viral effect.  The amazingly simple, yet ridiculously powerful tool helps customers get feedback fast, so they can swoop into action like Marvel superheroes.
“Companies spend billions of dollars hiring consulting firms to come in and tell them what’s broken and what needs to be fixed. But Waggl’s point of view is that the wisdom and the power are in the system.”
Are you ready to be a superhero for your organization?  Then you’re ready to Waggl!  We’ll even get you a cape.  Yes…you can have a blue one.

Footnotes:
How to Create a Culture of Candor” Adapted from “The Wall Street Journal Guide to Management” by Alan Murray, published by Harper Business.
2 “A Culture of Candor” Harvard Business Review by James O’Toole and Warren Bennis, from the June 2009 issue
Waggle dance is a term used in beekeeping…for a particular figure-eight dance of the honey bee. By performing this dance, successful foragers can share, with other members of the colony, information about the direction and distance to patches of flowers yielding nectar and pollen, to water sources, or to new nest-site locations. Wikipedia, May 25, 2016