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Brandon Linn, Talent Development Manager at Accolade shares how he integrates TINYpulse with their workflow and continue driving engagement across the company

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"TINYpulse was there for me as a turnkey solution, as a jump-off point and as a really clean, scalable way to connect processes with people."
Brandon Linn, Talent Development Manager
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Transcript

So, as the program manager of Talent Development and Accolade, I have the privilege of managing what's called the Listening Path Portfolio. So, it's a large sort of diverse set of mediums. Some are more human touch focused, person to person, some are more digital applications, software, and then some are more communal groups coming together. So executive coffee chats, town halls. But TINYpulse plays an integral role in the digital side of that and what we've been able to achieve is closing a few things. One is the power gap. So making people feel totally close to senior leadership and executives or close to a solution if you will. And some ways we use it as an innovation and idea management chamber by sort of remixing the suggestion wall. And that's really, really cool because people can get real-time feedback and a crisp feedback loop closure in ways where they'd have to wait for that normal yearly deep dive survey in other organizations that do that. So we've really been able to achieve communication gains and engagement gains just by scaling it at large through TINYpulse. So a lot of companies run a yearly deep dive engagement survey, or they'll use a lightweight more sort of nimble pulse survey. Much like TINYpulse. We use TINYpulse obviously. That's why I'm here. We see those things in compliment in that the deep dive engagement survey really utilizes a certain set of questions where we go into different graphs and data points to show us different kinds of trend lines. Whereas the UX and the theme around TINYpulse are really sorting of at the moment. And what that does by way of our content calendar spread monthly, is it diminishes recency biases. And what I mean by that is wherever date we pick to do the deep dive yearly engagement survey, we know that the prior week or month or even in that quarter is going to be the most familiar topic of conversation. And therefore some of that trickles into the survey. That's just natural. TINYpulse helps us really sort of smooth that out across the entirety of the year.  At Accolade, we actually use a Compton calendar that puts a flag down for a quarterly happiness pulse. So we know that there's a nice healthy trend line that we can follow that follows the employee throughout the entire year. So my job is sort of organizational storyteller if you will. I get to sort of take all of the insights, interpret them, organize them, put them to different categories for tagging purposes as the super administrator if you will, which sounds really fancy. But what I've come to realize is that it's an absolutely collaborative effort in that the community that I bring with me, helps me get the right feedback loop going in a really purposeful manner. And what I mean by that is if I were to just tag executives and send the results straight to them, there would be awareness, there would be some sort of feedback loop closure, but the boots on the ground insights that we from our partners be them HR business partners in the different field and business units, be them senior leaders, different layers beneath the diversity of thought and the voices that all come together by way of my tagging. And also sending out our custom monthly wrap-ups to all of these folks and include all of them really helps us bring everyone together to come together for awareness purposes, but also to build collaborative solutions and answers in the solve. So we've all been sort of teaming on how we use TINYpulse in a way that I've never seen done before as we progress to actually use the tool together, be it formerly by admins and people behind the system or myself just telling people, "Hey, this is something you should be aware of. Let's work together on an answer and let's get it back out to the people to show them that we're listening and responding." So I think TINYpulse for one has really helped us smooth out what we would refer to as the employee voice continuum in that we want all of our leaders by way of leadership development, inherent emotional intelligence, just to be awesome at what they do in person. To do what they do best, but also lead and motivate and inspire people. And we're expecting them to do this day in, day out. And so if there's a one-on-one or checking opportunity, a place to go to a leader to have a conversation formally or informally, water cooler chat, we would love for that to happen. But that's not always the case. We think of the continuum as first going to your leader or a peer. And then TINYpulse really sits as this glue in the middle between that conversation, which we would consider safe, by way of anonymity or by way of just keeping things behind closed doors within our own house, if you will. And then the third component to that is before we would want you to go external to market and say on a glass door, a forum, or a board in your own social network, "Here's all of my feelings," before I have had time to validate that, clear through things that might be misinformation, communication gaps. That's something that we wouldn't want you to go from zero to a hundred on and go right out and share your message and all your thoughts and feelings where some can be totally sussed out, vetted, closed, listened to, heard, validated, what have you through TINYpulse. And that's what we call the continuum. So we go from our leaders wrapped around TINYpulse, but mostly through TINYpulse as that safe anonymous space to get quick answers to really vent. And then at some point obviously to market, hopefully, they're all the best stories, the thought leadership. But we want to make sure that there's a true sort of current that runs through all of those three to make sure, like I said, that we're diminishing misinformation or that people are feeling like they were heard and validated before they actually say, "I was ignored. And now I'm really frustrated and everyone should know about it outside of the organization." TINYpulse makes my job easier pretty much on a daily basis. I will say that one of the highlights so far in my time at Accolade and in using TINYpulse has been that we were able to sort of remix TINYpulse through the suggestion module to create our own homegrown innovation chamber, an idea management program we call Bold Ideas. And the cool part about that was we had a lot of vendors who came to us with shark tank like programs and consulting packages and software and applications and with bigger ticket prices. And at some point, we said, "Well, TINYpulse is already sort of our community-driven engagement tool, why can't we just use this tool, rebrand it, make sure it jives with our culture and wrap around our own proprietary processes within the TINYpulse world." And so what made our job easier was saying, "We already have this tool set up, this sort of language of the organization already ingrained within people who know, 'Hey, TINYpulse is the Accolade way.'" And all we did was say, "With no overhead, we could actually just flip the suggestion wall from saying, 'Ask any questions or putting any suggestions up,'" to sort of reframing and re-theming it by using innovation and idea challenges. And then putting a whole team around that whom we've tagged called idea coaches to go in, assess, bring things out of the system and actually elevate those.So  TINYpulse was there for me as a turnkey solution, as a jump-off point and as a really clean, scalable way to connect processes with people. Anyone who wants a very easy clean UX as a dashboard way to listen to your employees and to flip comments, responses, suggestions, into actionable insights ... But beyond that, I've heard a lot at this conference about the idea of learning organizations, and I think a unique way to actually offer TINYpulse to a new audience that might be quite interesting would be to offer it within the education system. I think an extrapolation off of a learning organization ... I don't know business if you will, would be it actually use TINYpulse amongst students and teachers and professors to sort of suss out how happy are they in class. Or how are they feeling about their environment? Something that could be a fun experiment. I for a while said, "Come to my desk. And this was not scalable whatsoever. Come look at my screen, I'm the super admin. I will let you see what I see. I will let you play around with it. Try to break the system, try to get through to the ways that we can secretly find out and trace and cross-correlate data to find out who you are. I can't do it. I'm sure you can't do it because it's not possible." The interesting thing at this conference that I had heard that I think is a way more scalable approach and this last comes to me singularly and we'll do the private lesson and anonymity is why don't we proactively get ahead of this in onboarding. We could broadcast as admins the screen that we see, we could talk about what is expected of us, what is expected of respondents, how the system at play works, and actually show you as we walk through how we interpret data. This is literally what we're seeing as super admins and again proving that it's anonymous, a 100% through and through. So I get that question time and time again, but I think there's a way more scalable way to do it for new employees or to reorient them to TINYpulse or other engagement activities. Instead of me just saying, "Hey, please come over. I will prove it to you. Look at my laptop, I can't see who you are." I think what we've tended to turn to was transcending the system and keeping things bottled into the nice, neat packaged digital platform and bringing things in a very excited manner outside of TINYpulse. In the sense that we haven't yet trialed ... And I would love to do the brought to you by TINYpulse stickers, and I think there's a little bit of humbling that we and the people in culture team, it's what we term HR at our organization do, to say, "We don't want to build a big neon sign that says, "Remember you asked for it. Well, we delivered. How great are we, right? This is your tool that we're sort of administering." But the way we excite people as I said was, we rebrand within our own language of the culture of our organization, and we really celebrate wins outside of the system by way of, like I said, the suggestion module, bringing those ideas out. We've actually used our internship program as a way to ideate a little bit more outside the system on the bold ideas and then build them and present them back to executive judges and then say the original respondents we call idea champions, "Hey look how far it's come from this small little suggestion on TINYpulse." We also bring cheers outside into syndicated screens that we have in every office. We have rotating cheers to make sure it's visual, it's 3D and interactive. And those cheers are also brought into performance conversations. I have a lot of leaders who ask me not just how many were sent, but what was the type of quality that was received.  So I think the more and more you can bring things from the system outside into other processes that keep it alive, that keeps it fluid, but it keeps it more exciting because there are more stake and more motivation to keep it going. How have I been regularly able to manage all the feedback I receive? That's a great question. I think when the net result of anything that ties stress to time management, I sort of flipped my perspective on you can always make time for things that you really need or want to do that motivate you. TINYpulse is a tool that motivates me. So while it might seem like we're getting a flood of feedback, I get really excited about that. I find that I'm sort of challenged to break into what is the root cause behind some of these comments rather than taking things verbatim at the surface. I love the challenge of, "Hey, we've just released a new question and what will the first waiver responses be? Who will think a little bit more about their responses, take a little more time and then come in for the second week or the second wave." So I think that the way I manage it is I'm just really in tune to it and so I've created a muscle where it doesn't actually feel time-consuming or like work. Like I mentioned before, by way of the UX being super clean and there being not a ton of widgets and bells and whistles in TINYpulse. The other thing too is that you have a really nice easy dashboard in place to go to understand how to organize things you want, how to get reports out of the system that you need and so it doesn't ever feel overbearing. So I think once you get a muscle for how to use the system and actually get motivated that there is a feedback loop within your organization, it doesn't ever really feel time-consuming. It feels like an activity that can be challenging but also rewarding that I'm up for. We don't actually use the wall of wins feature. Again, I think one thing that's funny about us is we do a lot of really cool pioneering, innovative work, but at the same time we're super humble about it. So every word matters at Accolade, as I had mentioned. When we heard wins, to us wins is like knocking it out of a park and so the things that probably won, but we considered to be just every day selflessly serving our employees and being really good people champions. It was funny, we were like, "I don't know what would make the win wall because this is just part of the game. This is table stakes. This is supporting our fellow team members." But I will say though, the suggestions that turned into bold ideas. So those ideas that were a little more imaginative, a little more out of the box, those are the real wins that we've just sort of remixed and rebranded to come away with ideas that can be now put into what we call an innovation loop and then put onto our roadmap for execution. We are I think, and I mean you can quote me on this, but I am almost certain we were the first user of Slack Integrations. I think you can still find my face on the website may be somewhere search. In the inner webs of TINYpulse.com but we love the Slack Integration because of all we're trying to do as nothing much more complicated than meeting people where they work. And we have a lot of people that converse and connect and work with them in the Slack environment and therefore to disrupt them to go over to Outlook or Desktop ... And especially now we bolted on the SSO Integration. So prior to having Slack and having Single sign-on, it was, "Here's an email, click the link, you have to log in. Oh it's a custom login." And it was just all of this noise that people were like, "I don't really ... the juice isn't worth the squeeze," metaphorically speaking. And so with Slack it sends a message, and a ping right through a Slack bot directly to where people already are actively working. It is super easy to click through, and we get the results beamed right in. And I can say for sure that it did increase our participation traction at least by 10% to 15%. It's going to sound like a generalization, but honestly, like the best wins for us are understanding when there was unhappiness and actually doing something about that.  But having TINYpulse be a really viable data set and point to further validate and echo the truth in that by way of that safe space anonymously. I could pick like this idea came to life and this idea came to the suggestion wall. For me, I just saw a year of intense experimentation. Again, being an innovative organization and watching the happiness survey come up and come down a little bit and come up and come down and there's a point in the year when it was down. And I watched our executive team really not in a sense of over-correcting but really get keen on, "This is a time to pay attention." And TINYpulse was an absolute source of truth to say for the majority of certain parts of our organization. When they came like I said, to an anonymous medium and felt safe enough to put their real vulnerable thoughts out there. This was a time for us to say, "Yes, we really need to act on this." And then there was some organizational processes we changed, some things that we had manipulated and moved around, and I think it was just a macro win to say, "Overall I could pick and choose all the tiny, fun little things we had." But I think overall just watching people at an executive, a senior leadership team level, really pay attention to the trends and happiness. Even when they were 0.5 altitudes here and there, say, "Hey, if we were dipping, we're not going to let this thing go. We're really going to act on it." And so that was a really proud moment.