Even though Philippine startup and Startup Arena contest alumni PayrollHero already has a feature that allows employees to clock in to work by singing, its latest feature may be its coolest yet. When signing out of work at the end of each day via Payroll Hero, employees at partner merchants, which include Krispy Kreme and The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, are now prompted to “thumbs-up” a co-worker.
This feature is dynamic in that your co-worker choices are populated according to who you worked with on that shift. You may also see co-workers from other shifts with the push of a button.
But what does giving a coworker a thumbs-up mean in the first place? The short answer is that it means different things at different places, all depending on the core question that the company, in partnership with PayrollHero, comes up with. Here are a few examples:
- Who should be the teammate of the month?
- Which co-worker did you find the most helpful?
- Whom from your team best embodied a core value?
The thumbs up, then, represents that person’s daily vote in response to the company question. The aggregate of all this feedback should provide management with insights that will hopefully lead to better decision-making. That’s why it’s been branded Daily Pulse – it’s a health-check on your business.
Daily Pulse is part of an effort to get “ridiculously client-focused,” according to co-founder and head of business development Stephen Jagger. The suite of services that PayrollHero offers – core time, attendance, scheduling, human resources information system, and payroll – had been doing well with partner merchants. CEO Michael Stephenson recognized an opportunity that could complement them.
“Most businesses rely on their management teams to funnel employee feedback up the chain of command,” Jagger says. “But with that comes bias, missed opportunities, and overlooked employees. We wanted to find a way to use the PayrollHero TeamClock as a business intelligence tool for more than just real time time and attendance.”
Daily Pulse was also a natural development because the PayrollHero team had already been in the habit of asking questions internally each week. According to Jagger:
We ask our team ‘who was the most productive this week?’ or ‘who went the extra mile?’ or my favorite, ‘who was ridiculously client focused this week?’
The impetus to create Daily Pulse came about due to the wide range of responses that PayrollHero would get. “Many times the feedback from our team is different from their direct managers,” Jagger says. “We wanted to see if the same was true for our clients. So we tested the theory in one of the PayrollHero Labs stores and the results were fantastic.”
Rigging the vote
Each proposed PayrollHero feature is ideated with a client sponsor and tested offline before being made into a real feature. Then, PayrollHero beta-tests the feature in a live PayrollHero Labs environment. Daily Pulse was tested in The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf in Fort Bonifacio Global City.
Results were positive. “Employees enjoyed the process of being able to give their feedback and being recognized by their peers,” Jagger says. “Plus, management noticed an increase in teamwork and cohesiveness within the store.”
Inevitably, there is still one imperfect element in this whole feedback process: people. Though the vast majority of employees will respond to the company question in good faith, the feature may be prone to abuse from the odd person. They might use Daily Pulse in a self-serving way, such as giving the thumb’s up to friends or using it to flirt with that cute guy or girl, or even try to cheat the system outright, such as in trading thumbs ups.
The PayrollHero team has already made design choices with this idea in mind. Chief among them is the fact that all votes are anonymous – Daily Pulse does not publicly reveal who voted for who at any point in time. Thus, Manny’s grand scheme to woo Jessica with a month’s worth of thumbs ups may hit a hitch when he in fact has no proof that he ever cast the votes in her name. This anonymity, combined with PayrollHero’s evolving algorithms, should deter or altogether thwart spoiled votes.
As Daily Pulse improves, it plays a key role in fulfilling PayrollHero’s goal of being “ridiculously client-focused.” When asked to elaborate on what this phrase exactly means to him and his team, Stephenson had this to say:
The way to build amazing software is to have your whole team client-focused. We take it to the next level and work to be ridiculously client-focused. Our team challenges each other to be unreasonable in their actions towards developing meaningful empathy towards our clients and their employees.
Stephenson says that all his startup’s team members must live in an emerging market like the Philippines for at least two months out of the year so they can understand and immerse themselves in the challenges of that particular market. As an example, some of the PayrollHero engineers have even learned how to make coffee at The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf so that they can have empathy for the baristas.