Why This IT Consulting Firm Consistently Beats Competitors For Talent

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"I mean, people are what is making your product. People are what are keeping your clients happy. And so for us, it's anybody who has people should be using TINYpulse."
Nick Smarrelli, CEO
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I stood kind of where we are going, where our values were and they were truly engaged. So for us, I think there are a few key things that we were looking for when we were looking for a solution. I think the first is ease of administration. We have grown big enough that we have an HR manager that runs it, but for us, at the time I was in charge of all of our HR procedures. So for me, I needed a tool that was easy to use and easy to administer. So that was a big qualification for us. I would say the second one was that it did a little bit more than just solicit employee engagement. With the cheers for peers function was a huge part of growing our culture and kind of using a culture of appreciation and kind of integrating that into our daily activities. So that was probably number two. So we determined that TINYpulse was the best choice for us because of the fact that it was easy to administer. I'd say that's our number one reason. For us, I didn't want a tool that I had to come up with any of the questions and I wanted a tool that by all accounts I could set it and forget it and it would handle all that ... excuse me, the sending out to each of our employees and then I would be in charge of just taking action on that feedback.So it allowed me to do my job better as a leader of the company and it did the administrative work as part of the software package. So that was probably the biggest thing that we were looking for. Again, the other things that we were looking for as part of that software package are creating that culture of engagement and creating a culture of recognition. And so kind of how do we increase our ability to recognize high performers and those that are living up to our values outside of just that core leadership team? We were a fast-growing company at the time and so for us, I didn't have time to say thank you sometimes, and so it gave a chance for the organization to say thank you to each other and really reinforce the concepts that we were pushing as an executive team. I knew it was the right time to work with TINYpulse because for me, we were opening up a second office and I didn't have the ability with which to have those conversations in real-time any longer. And so it gave us a chance to say, okay, we've got remote employees, we're growing bigger than just the less than 10 that we were at before. And it gave us a chance to kind of enhance the way that we, again, communicate and collaborate with our employees. So I'd say at first it was trying to get people to count on the fact that it was an anonymous tool. I'd say getting over that hurdle was a bit of a challenge, is knowing that they could really truly provide that feedback. But I would say that that was a pretty short hurdle. After that, it was really actually amazing with the number of ideas that our employees had that weren't being stated. And I think we are used to culture and I still think that we're trying to kind of combat that is that the executives are in charge of making all the decisions. And I think what TINYpulse created for us was a forum for really good decisions to be filtered from all parts of the organization. We have a huge frontline staff who at any point is engaging with, you know, a few hundred clients. And so for them, it was a really good chance to filter that feedback back in a really easy fashion. And so for us, we came out with a more engaged workforce. We came out with new ideas, and then we had a whole bunch of happy people because they were being told how great they were doing by their peers. And so I think for us the results were tangible. I think it's been successful because of one thing. It's because people talk about it still. If somebody were to ask what are your favorite parts about GadellNet, I would assume that in that top five lists would be the fact that they mentioned the TINYpulse function. I would also say that I brought it on and we were about a company of 15 and we're just shy of a hundred so that growth in the course of the last four or five years and watching TINYpulse grow with us certainly again is a results-oriented way of saying yes, the software was effective. I'd say the last one is our employee retention. We went from employee retention of about 60 to 70% which actually is on par for our industry and this year for the last 12 months we've been hovering around 95% retention, so TINYpulse is a part of that. It certainly isn't everything, but what it does is it creates a foundation of saying the executive team is always listening and here are the things that are important to us. So I'd definitely say that there's a measurable impact tied to TINYpulse. Again, the growth of the organization from 15 to nearly a hundred is probably the biggest indicator of that. Our retention, moving from 70% to 95% I'd say was a huge indicator of that. And I think more than that, I don't have an official statistic but, but I would say that 70, 80% of our leadership strategy comes from ideas that are solicited through TINYpulse. So we really use even some of the custom questions as a way of really soliciting ideas of what business models we should be focusing on, what processes should we fix and what things need to be enhanced. And I think because of that, we've been really lucky. We've been able to focus our efforts on the right things. I think TINYpulse provides a very tangible way of saying this is how our culture is. In an interview and recruiting process, you can talk till you're blue in the face if I would a great culture you have. But Tiny Pulse serves as a very tangible item for us to say, are we doing a good job in being able to tell a potential recruit or somebody who's a part of our organization to say this is something tangible that we are truly interested in hearing your feedback. I think all too often as an executive team, it is easy to say we want your feedback but then not giving tools with which to solicit that feedback. And I think what the nice thing about TINYpulse there's a way to say as an executive team we want to hear your thoughts and here's the vehicle to do that. I would definitely say that the times were TINYpulse has made my job easier are the times where you see the cry for help and I think people want to be seen, heard and valued. And I think that second part, which is that heard, you see people that are willing to put out there saying, you know what? I don't know if I have a place here and they use TINYpulse I would say a low barrier to entry to say, Hey, I'm looking for some help. I don't want to leave. I like the culture, I liked the people, but there's something that is missing that's either taking down productivity or making me unengaged. And I would say we could probably tie 10 or more employees that are currently with the company of saying, "Hey, I needed something and used TINYpulse as a way to reach out." So again, that's one of the more tangible ways of how we've saved a considerable amount of money because we've been able to keep our people and I think there are very tangible experiences of us engaging somebody through TINYpulse and then translating that into a face to face meeting to create a happier situation for them. So I'd recommend anybody to use TINYpulse, to be totally honest. I would say that as a small business owner, we've recommended it to hundreds of our clients. And I think for us it is because every organization is struggling with people. If you really get to the heart of most of the issues that executives are facing, it comes down to people. I mean, people are what is making your product. People are what is keeping your clients happy. And so for us, it's anybody who has people should be using TINYpulse. For us, implementation was actually quite easy. It didn't take too much time at all for us. Again, we were a smaller company at the time, so it was a function of his adding those users into TINYpulse and then letting it go. So I think that's the best part about TINYpulse, is it is a very quick way of immediately increasing a company value because of the fact that it is so easy to implement. So for us, we brought on the tool, added the users, had communications and then for us to reinforce that value and after we reinforced that value within 30 to 60 days, people were using it on a regular basis. So some of the bigger challenges that we had was having our employees trust the anonymity of the product. I think that was probably our biggest challenge is can they truly articulate what they're feeling? And so our first, how happy are you? I think it was a was nearly a 10 and we knew that that wasn't actually the case. And then we saw a dip to what I think is a more realistic level and I think that truly showed ... that was actually a prideful moment. It's rare when moving from a 10 to a below a 10 was a good thing, but I think that show that they truly trust the system and that inflection was a big part of that change. I'd say the second one is, are they really listening? And I would say at first I delegated a lot of those responses to somebody in my operations organization, and I found that by me getting involved, and I still stay involved even though worth 10 times the size of where we were when we brought it on is because it's going directly to the top. So that is a chance for somebody who is three, four levels away from reporting to me to be able to communicate directly with me as a CEO. So I think once we overcame the trust and the anonymity, we were able to see some really good results. So we are able to keep the energy and enthusiasm around TINYpulse because I'm really heavily involved. It's a connection to me, it's a connection to my executive team. We share results on a weekly basis. So really big on transparency, the good, the bad and the ugly. And I think having that, I would say, emotional intelligence to be willing to say we have things to work on has really bought the trust of the organization and kept them continuing to provide feedback. That said, we do have our peaks in our values and I think what we've tried to do is really enforce the items like the wind board and actually using that tool. Historically we have not been very good at that. And I think that allowed us to really kind of champion some of the things. And it's a great way to brag as a leadership organization like, "Hey, we are listening to you and, oh yeah, we're actually doing things about it." So I think people seeing that. But again, it comes back to the humanity of hearing from the CEO to say your opinion is valued, whether or not I take action on it seems to be inconsequential to be totally honest. For them, they just want to know that they were heard. Sometimes not all ideas are the best and I think it's my job to sift through what makes the most sense. But I think just hearing from the employees and then replying with, "Yes, that's a great idea. I think we're going to move forward with that." Or, "No, that's not, but here's the context." And it literally kind of allows our employees to have a voice. So I'm able to manage that feedback because I parse it out into smaller chunks. We do our survey every two weeks now, so that gives me a little bit more time. It has actually enhanced our participation as well because if people know that they only have to participate every two weeks. We also use integrations into Outlook and Slack so that people actually have the capacity and the ease to respond. But again, the feedback is it's continued to grow. It forces me to prioritize because in the grand scheme of things as CEO of the company, hearing what our employees are saying about each other and our clients. I can't think of a more important thing for me to be doing. And the best part about it is it makes me look smart because a whole bunch of great ideas is coming out that I get to take all the credit for, but are in fact driven from our employees. So merely what I'm doing is translating ideas into action and it makes me more effective in my job. So yes, a lot of feedback, but I see feedback as opportunities, which means that all I'm doing is getting a whole bunch of more opportunities. So I'd count that as a pretty good win. Yes, we do use the wall of wins feature. I would say we, the administrators enjoy it because it's so easy for us to just click the button and post it out there. And I would say our employees like seeing that progress. It's nice to be able to articulate. I do a quarterly review meeting and I articulate, here are some of our scores and here are the wins that happened this quarter. So it makes my job easier because it gives me two or three minutes of that presentation kind of canned and written through the reporting function to say, here's a number of wins that were translated from ideas into action. And it gives me that ability with which to kind of reinforce the concept of using tiny polls. So we definitely use TINYpulse integrations. So where are you can see TINYpulse? An organization is, we use Slack, so we have a Slack board for all of our cheers for peers, and it allows it to direct message every one of our employees to let them know that there's a new TINYpulse, and then we use the Outlook integration as well. So those are probably our two most prevalent integrations that we're actually taking advantage of. I do think Slack integration has really helped participation. Most of our employee communications happen through Slack. And so it kind of allows those employees to have a single place with which to engage both each other and then engage the leadership team through TINYpulse.