Rewatch our CIPHR Connect partner Thymometrics on CIPHR’s stand at the CIPD HR Software Show (filmed on 14 June 2018)
Learn how shifting from annual snapshot surveys to a continuous feedback approach can improve productivity, engagement and your business’s bottom line, as well as practical tips to immediately apply this approach in your organisation.
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A little about Thymometrics, Thymometrics was really designed to start with from the point of view of an employee. We’ve decided that the annual survey…how many people, by the way, here actually run an annual survey or…? So, yeah, okay, so a few people. We really decided that this wasn’t really necessarily the best way to do things. It takes a snapshot, it really is very employer-centric, it’s not really employee-centric, and it’s a pretty disengaging process, which is bizarre when you consider it’s an engagement at all.
So, we set about in 2013, with new technologies that are available to us now, set about building a product that was effectively always-on, or at least it was available when people felt like they had something to say, so, again, talking to this employee-centric world. It also spoke to the managers, leadership, HR groups, and so on. So, it enabled them to, as and when there were things to say, some things to look at and so on, they could drop in at any point, either on a regular basis or as and when required, and really get an insight into how the business is flowing, moving, urban flow as the business grows and changes.
So, our mantra is… Actually, the employee engagement isn’t an annual event so why should your survey be? So, that’s really our starting point when we set up the business in 2013. So, just to quickly run through some of the things we’re gonna be talking about today, employee engagement is still a problem. I’m sure I do not need to tell anybody that, every magazine you open, every website you go to, it’s a problem, and it’s not really getting any better, so this is one of the things we try and address.
As I mentioned, it’s really an employee-centric culture that the world is moving to and companies need to embrace this. So, how do we, what are we, how do we fit into this picture? What is always-on engagement? So, I’ll be able to walk you through some of that and also show you a product. Just so as it happens, it’s Thymometrics, it could be another product, but, essentially, we will show you how we deal with this new way of working.
And then, just some kinda guidance, if you’re thinking about this or it’s something that you thought about in the past and you may be interested in doing, you know, maybe how to move to that kind of always-on approach because it is a little bit of a shift from the annual approach or maybe ad-hoc approach, so we’ll run through some ideas there. So, the problem of…this is the kind of the depressing part as it were, say, really the problem with employee engagement. As I mentioned, it’s not really getting any better.
I just pulled out one. There are so many statistics out there. But effectively, what this is saying, that pretty much under 2 members out of 10 of your staff are potentially disengaged with their life at their particular organisation. This came from Gallup a little while ago. It’s not a great position to be in and it doesn’t seem to be getting any worse, you need to address this kinda situation in real time, and really, the annual survey doesn’t allow you to do that in real time.
Another statistic from our friends at Lightspeed Research, this is really talking to the generational shift. Now, millennials are making up the vast majority of people in employment now. You can see that, from this particular piece of research, people are planning on moving from their job within the next two years, These are the millennials, over 50%. And it changes. As you get to the older generations like me, it gets kinda better. In other words, things are getting worse, people are sorta planning on moving from their business relatively quickly if they don’t get the interaction and the feedback from their company that they think they need.
So, what are the traditional methods of trying to deal with this kind of disengagement? Obviously, the dreaded annual surveys, I call it, kinda once a year snapshot or maybe twice a year, however often. It’s kinda useful for getting that kind of feedback but it’s only really a snapshot in effect. 360/180 surveys, great way to maybe get a little bit more information from other peers and people within that group of people to get that kind of 360 feedback. Focus groups can be formed out of that, one-to-ones or ad-hoc surveys. More and more people doing this through maybe Survey Monkey or one of those kinda things to get a little bit of information about a specific issue.
These are all great, these are all great ways and useful ways, but we believe that they’re literally just a siloed bit of information. They really are blind to any trends, they’re kind of snapshots, you can’t see if things are getting better if things are getting worse. They lack the agility. Once you’ve done a survey, then what? You know, you’ve got a bunch of information, what do you do with that information, how do you afford change based on the findings, it kinda lacks that agility.
And it all goes back to this issue that I mentioned earlier on, which means that this is kinda more company-centric. It’s something that’s driven by the company, employees think that it’s driven by the company and they don’t really see what’s in it for them. A good friend of ours, you may know this name, Josh Bersin, pretty much the authority on HR tech out there, he’s just great forward thinker. And he says, “Today’s world of work has been disrupted by technology, changes in the nature of jobs, and the increasing power of each individual.”
Well, this is the bit that we’re really focused on, is how the individual is affected by the work around them and how they can best make change to that work environment they’re in. And again, it speaks to this employee-centric world that we live in now. So, shifting to an employee-centric world, this is something that more and more companies are doing, obviously, and something that we would highly recognise.
It’s no longer a case that you put out a job offer, people come in, desperate to work for you, you just put them to work, and off they go, and they’re happy. In this world now, and we’ve got Glassdoor around the corner there where people can provide feedback on their employer at any point. That can have a detrimental or a positive effect on the business. Social media, similar kinda thing. If you put out a message or social media message on Facebook or Twitter, that can have a good or a bad influence on the brand of the business.
And so, this is really…so this is a shift or way. When I first started working, I felt it was a privilege to have a job, I would do anything to keep that job. Where it’s now, people, going back to that slide earlier on, people are thinking about shifting unless the business is giving me as an employee what I really need.
So, what is always-on employee engagement? Well, as I mentioned, we believe that the annual survey really isn’t fit for purpose anymore, it gives you a good useful snapshot, it gives you some element of benchmarking that can be useful, we don’t think it’s that useful, but it gives you that information. But really, what does it do? It doesn’t really give you that kind of agility to move with the times. So, just some thoughts on the way in which things have been done traditionally, we call this traditional surveys. It tends to be once a year, maybe once every two years, maybe once every six months.
They tend to be complex and lengthy, and that’s by design because you’re having to try and fit in as much information as you possibly can into one survey. You’re asking lots and lots and lots of questions, it’s disengaging for the employee. Because they are complex, they have third-party reliance, you have people come in, run the survey, and then build the action plans afterwards, that’s all a very lengthy process. By the time the information is available, it’s pretty much out of date, outdated information.
It’s a one-way communication tool. It’s basically asking what the company wants to get from their employees. It’s not saying to employees, “What do you think, how do you feel about this?” And therefore, it’s an employer-centric model. So, the more modern survey, the way that we run our surveys is it runs at any time. When somebody has something to say, they should be able to say it so they can give feedback, they can provide insight.
And therefore, because it’s running always-on, it has to be a simplified process. You can’t have a lengthy survey, just it doesn’t work, people just wouldn’t do it. So, because it’s simplified, and I’ll be able to show you what this looks like shortly, because it’s simplified, you can manage it yourself, you don’t rely on the third party, it’s nice and simple. At any time, you, your managers, HR, the CEO of the business can drop in and see how the business is going and effect change.
Everything is real time. So, unlike the more traditional surveys, you can review what’s going on in real time and make a full change at that time. We’ve also built in a two-way communication element to the product. This is an anonymous channel through which employees can provide their written feedback. Rather than just the survey questions, they can make suggestions in a text form, all anonymous, and it’s almost got a life of itself now, this particular element of the product. It’s pretty unique, and it’s an extremely powerful element to make change to culture, to embrace people, and give those employees a voice. And so, as I mentioned, it’s an employee-centric model, that’s what we work to.
So, I’ve talked a lot about all of this kinda stuff, but what is always-on in the real world? Well, I’m gonna show you what Thymometrics looks like. This is what our survey looks like, this is what we have as a fundamental survey, this is something that’s available on your iPad, on your iPhone, just shrinks up, or, in this case, obviously on a laptop. And what we’re asking down here are fundamental questions, we call them factors. Essentially, they are, if you rolled over those, it’d give you a little bit more information about what’s being asked here. But, essentially, we’ve kept this really, really simple.
We’ve got the questions, we’ve got satisfaction, how happy are you about that particular element of your work life, benefits, all the usual questions you’d expect. And we’ve got sliders, we don’t have any Likert scales, we don’t have any mildly happy, mildly disappointed, whatever it may be, it’s just sliders. If they’re up there, they’re happy, down here, they’re less happy.
But, importantly, what we’ve also included on this survey is this, which is…you may not be able to read that, but that’s an importance element. So, we have two questions for every single factor. It’s no good just having how happy somebody is about a particular element, how important is it to that person? Why not ask them? Don’t assume that everything is important to every employee. So, we’ve included that, and it’s remarkable, the information that we can then pull out. This is what we see quite often, people are not that impressed with their…it just doesn’t seem important, their benefits package, they’d much rather have the cash.
So, this is…is this an element that you’re over resourcing? And then, all the sudden, we’re moving now into business decisions, not just HR decisions, are we over resourcing the environment? You know, people just don’t care about it, they’re all out on the road or whatever it may be. So, again, we’re sort of getting that information in a kind of a two facets to each factor that we’re asking. We could just say that next time the person comes back, all of those sliders will be kept in the same position so they could just move a couple that they feel affected by. So, it takes literally seconds to update the survey once it’s set up and it has me if you’re expecting people to do this on a regular basis.
In addition, we also have down here, and this goes back to the communication element that I mentioned earlier on, we have the ability for people to physically type in a message. And that could be, I mean, it’s got a standard one here, but it could be a series of questions around a particular event or something that’s happening in the business. Make a suggestion, what would be the one thing that would make your life happier at this business? Anything at all, this is all anonymous, the whole thing is anonymous, you can be open and as free as you wish in this.
That then goes back into a central repository, maybe internal communications, maybe somebody in HR could then review those, and I’ll come on to that in a little while. So, all of that information is being gathered in real time. I know there’s a lot of information here, I’ll just describe very briefly what we’re looking at here. But this is a real top-level information slide, this is what CEOs love. They love looking at this because, essentially, what we’re looking at here is all of those questions from the survey across the top of the page here, and this is the way in which you would like your business to be subdivided. It could be by, as you can see here, location, job function, it could be by age band, gender, tenure.
But here, we can start to see this kinda traffic light system here where there are hot spots and things that are going well. Red means there’s areas of concern. I’ll just tell you that this is job security. Right across the board regardless of function or location there’s red. That means the people are filling in their survey and they’re pushing their sliders for that particular factor to say that it’s extremely important to them and they’re extremely dissatisfied. Those kinda two elements are formulating that red stripe.
If that’s an area of concern, if I was a CEO, I’d I think, “Well, I need to do something about that, that’s worrying.” Conversely, we’ve got green, which means the opposite, people saying it’s very important to them and they’re very satisfied with that particular element of their job. So, again, we can see things at a glance, you can see where little things are sticking out. Like this little red blob here, it’s pretty green most of it, so what’s going on in that particular group of people? We can then delve deeper, maybe ask them a question about what’s affecting that, “Why did you feel negative about that particular element of your job?” So, obviously, we can delve deeper.
In this example, there are a multitude of reports here, but I’ve just got into what we call a fire map, effectively, a heat map, and this shows you a kind of a spread of opinion. Each of these dots is an anonymous bit of feedback about this particular element, which is job security in the mirror over the past six months. We can see, as was reflected in the dashboard, there’s a lot of red here, so there’s a bit of concern there so we need to do something about that. Everything is tabulated, although the survey is very simple, it’s all data driven as you’d expect, and all of that information is pushed into the reports and so on.
And just one last one in the array of reports here, as we’re on always-on solution, you can start to see trends of how things are happening. This is a pretty flat trend because this is a demo account. But if you were to sort of make an announcement or initiatives through the product, you would start to see these lines, each of these represents a question on the survey, you’d start to see how these are affected. Are my initiatives working? Are they getting worse? In which case, I’ve done something wrong, let’s list a further question. But this is all possible through an always-on approach, very flexible, very agile, to be able to review that information.
Again, this is all very interesting, but what can you do about it? If you see something that’s going badly wrong, how can you affect that? Well, I’ve now popped into what we call our communicate element. As I mentioned, this has become a sort of entity in its own right in effect. And what this is enables me, as an HR person or a manager, to reach out or to speak to a group of people based upon how they feel about a particular element of their work. So, in this case, we select our audience. And our audience in this cases is, we’re talking about that dreaded job security issue across the entire business over the past six months, all of those people that are in that bottom right-hand corner, the red area of that fire map we looked earlier on, I want to pull all those people into a group, a subset, in effect, and send them a message.
And you can see, by doing that, we’ve got 382, I think that is, people. We don’t know who they are they’re all anonymous. Well, we pull those people into this subset, and now, we can actually physically type in a message in there, or cut and paste a message in there, which is addressing their concern. It may be something you can’t do anything about, but at least it’s something you could acknowledge and speak to them about.
Once that message is sent, as an individual employee, I would receive that in my contribute section, they don’t get access to these sections obviously, and I can continue that conversation. I can write back anonymously and to say, “Well, thanks very much, but you need to give me a bit more information about X, Y, and Z.” A great anonymous channel that really isn’t available through any other means, and certainly, through the ability to use it in real time. So, how to make that sorta transition? You maybe think, “Well, this is great, but I’m using something that I’m reasonably happy with, how do I make that kinda transition?”
Well, we tend to get asked a bunch of questions, and in fact I’ve just written down some here, so I need to refer to my notes, I’m sorry about that. But we understand that change into any new technology, it can be difficult, you needed a lot of convincing that actually, the ways we’ve been doing it are okay to move to another solution. So, what some of the questions we get asked are, “So, it’s always-on, so does that mean I’m gonna be always working on this, am I always going to be, is it more work for me, effectively?” Well, no what we are…what Thymometrics is, is an enabler in effect. So, we’re providing you with all that information, but we’re not actually increasing your workload, all we’re doing is we’re providing with a bunch of data points to make better, more informed decisions about things.
And in fact, a lot of the information that we provide is all automated. So, reminder service to make sure people are participating, they kinda join up, the search support, and so on, we provide that on your behalf so you can just get on and do what it is you do best, which is managing the people. We also get asked about whether the managers can get access to some of these reports to do it themselves. Well, absolutely, we think this is a devolved process now, it’s not just an HR function, employee engagement, it spreads across the entire organisation. So, absolutely, and we encourage that.
And we’re seeing this more and more in businesses where they want to see their own teams, compare them against their other teams, and then make change where appropriate. We’ve looked at that inbox communication channel. Well, who manages that, is another question we get. Well, that could be usually by a group of people within the HR function, or it could be pushed out to people that are more relevant to actually answer those questions. It could be the CEO of the business, for example.
How hard is it to shift from one to the other? We have a number of companies that still use the annual survey but they use this in tandem with that, so they use a sort of the annual approach for the more traditional benchmarking process, but then use us for a kinda more real-time activity. And that works very well, we’re very happy to work in that way. But we, in terms of roll out, it can take a couple of weeks for us to get a company up and running on Thymometrics.
It is worth mentioning, also, as part of the onboarding process, and this is where our great friends at CIPHR come in, it is obviously data-driven, it needs to be speaking to your CIPHR type software. So, we have a great integration with CIPHR whereby we push that information. Everything’s templated, it’s not quite a flick of a switch, but it’s pretty much a flick of a switch to make sure that the information that we have is as up-to-date as it possibly can be in terms of joiners, leavers of the business, people moving within the business. All of that information that you’ve stored in CIPHR can be pushed through to Thymometrics to make sure it’s all up-to-date.
And lastly, that dreaded question about return on investment, you know. So, if I buy something, a product like Thymometrics, what can I expect in return? Well, it’s pretty well established that happy employees mean more productivity, less absenteeism, and so on and so forth. So, if you can just affect a small part of that, we believe that actually it’s gonna have a huge effect on the bottom line.
So, just some final thoughts on why you might consider to shift. As I mentioned, greater insight into your employees’ mood at any particular point. You can become much more predictive and proactive, in other words, you can see things ahead of time rather than waiting for disaster to happen, and then put out lots of fires. You can actually see if there’s a dive in a particular group, in a particular element of the company, you can see this ahead of time and make change. It gives, very importantly, it gives employees a voice, people feel like they’re part of the business or part of the culture, they have a say in how things are going.
It gives introverted or maybe younger members of staff an equal platform on which to express themselves. We’ve already touched upon this, but happy employees mean happier clients. Obviously, everything bleeds out into the outside world, so that’s a very important part of the whole culture aspect. As I mentioned, it really ties in with this one up here, but you can avert crises by looking at things ahead of time and you can act immediately. So, it’s something that you can use on a regular basis, you can see how things are being affected, you can optimise how things are running and make those changes in real time. And that is it. So…
Man: Thank you, David.
David: …very happy to take any questions.