How to Maintain a Happy Workforce: An Interview with TINYpulse

Jul 16, 2015 | General Advice, Health & Wellness (Physical)

Published: Good Men Project (July 16, 2015)

Matthew Rozsa’s interview with the CEO of TINYpulse, a company that is revolutionizing how employers and employees interact with each other.

If there’s one thing that sends a chill up the spine of any boss, it’s the thought of one of their best employees walking into their office and quitting unexpectedly.

Now there’s a new approach to that problem. The app TINYpulse has helped over 500 companies in 36 countries worldwide improve employee happiness. It works by sending workers a one-question survey every week; bosses use that feedback to keep workers happy and engaged – and prevent them from quitting.

After reading an earlier article I wrote about the importance of paid vacation time, TINYpulse CEO David Niu reached out to me to discuss progressive workplace trends and his innovative service.

I really believe there is a new class of business leaders who genuinely care about how happy or burnt out their employees are. – David Niu

  1. What is TINYpulse?

“We take the annual survey that has fifty questions and flip it on its head. We drip out one question at a time and then we provide that information to the managers so they’ll know how their employees feel.”

  1. What inspired you to develop these practices?

“During my careercation [https://www.tinypulse.com/careercation], I interviewed CEOs about management best practices. I would ask one question at the end of every interview, ‘What is your one pain point that if I took it away, you’d pay for it?’ What I found was that, despite geography or company size or industry, one of the most haunting feelings for any executive is when an employee comes up to them out of the blue and says, ‘Here is my two weeks’ notice.’ It makes me wonder about whether I’ve created a good work environment.

“That became the inspiration of TINYPulse. I really believe there is a new class of business leaders who genuinely care about how happy or burnt out their employees are.”

  1. What specific practices would you recommend for employers who want their employees to be happy?

“There are a lot of easy and inexpensive things that companies can do to better engage their employees to improve retention and keep them happier, but the No. 1 thing is to get their feedback from workers – the old “open-door” policy is obsolete.

Volunteering: Every quarter we take one day to serve a local nonprofit. TINYpulse’s data indicates that 61 percent of millennials worry about the state of the world and feel personally responsible to make a difference; 79 percent want to work for a company that has a positive impact on society.

Unlimited PTO: If you treat your employees like adults, they’ll treat you like an adult. The policy works well for us because it is rooted in accountability. I expect my employees to balance this freedom with their work duties.

Recognition. It’s free, and it has an enormous impact. People don’t quit their job they quit their boss. TINYpulse found that 70 percent of employees say peers are the main driver of fun at the workplace.

Transparency. We did a regression analysis in which we asked, “On a scale from 1 to 10, how happy are you at work?” What we found is that the number one predictor of your happiness was how transparent you felt your management was. Not only did TINYpulse find an “extremely strong correlation between employee happiness and management transparency,” but other research has determined that companies with transparent cultures beat the S&P 500 by 11.3 percent.

Flexibility. Our research shows that 81 percent of millennials really value their ability to have flexibility about their hours, and roughly half of them would trade compensation for flexibility in their hours and work environment.”

Talking to David Niu reminded me of a humorous Robert Frost quote that I saw plastered on a cubicle wall many years ago:

“The brain is a wonderful organ; it starts working the moment you get up in the morning and does not stop until you get into the office.”

While it didn’t occur to me to mention this aphorism during my conversation with Niu, I suspect he would agree that people who live like this are victims of a bad workplace culture. We live in a world where millions (if not billions) of people hate 5/7ths of their lives because their employers simply don’t care enough about whether their work is making them happy… or, for that matter, on how their employee happiness impacts their bottom line.

Hopefully, as companies like TINYpulse become increasingly popular, that will begin to change.