Employee retention is a major issue in Singapore and the region the upcoming year-end bonus coupled with Chinese New Year makes it a time many employers and HR heads dread – the season of job-hopping.

This isn’t a new phenomenon or restricted to technology companies as anyone who has worked in a company for over a year can tell you, there are some employee changes come December to February. So how can you stop this from derailing your startup or company, especially as it costs money to hire and train new staff on a regular basis.

We spoke to Dorothy Yiu, COO and Co-Founder of EngageRocket about this issue facing companies in the region. We questioned her about solutions, issues and how she and Co-Founder CheeTung grew their company over 800% in the last year.

Find out what she had to share below.

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EngageRocket team. Image courtesy of EngageRocket

The startup bringing reliability to the food delivery industry in Malaysia

How does EngageRocket work? Can you describe what a company gets when they work with you?

EngageRocket is a software as a service that helps companies make better people decisions using real-time data. People management is a big challenge in many companies because important decisions about talents are still made based on gut-feel and that often leads to very inconsistent results. EngageRocket aims to support these people decisions by providing a single source of truth for all employee experience data so that leaders, HR and managers can make better decisions about their employees.

At EngageRocket, our platform automates the administration and analytics behind employee feedback in order to deliver relevant insights and actionable recommendations to managers. The platform comes with well-researched workplace questions that are translated to most of our regional languages. Our own algorithms will analyse the feedback collected in real-time and present easy-to-understand insights on a dashboard that can be accessed via any desktop or mobile devices. Managers are also given recommendations on how to engage their teams based on the aggregated results.

One of our clients saw a 4x improvement in employee loyalty and productivity in 2018 alone through their partnership with EngageRocket.

Employee turnover is a huge issue, especially in tech companies, how would you solve this issue?

Research shows that 46% of Singapore employees intend to leave their companies in the next 12 months. Replacing an existing employee with a new one tends to cost about three times the salary of the employee. This includes managing recruitment procedure, severance, lost opportunities, lost productivity, etc.

At EngageRocket, we help companies keep a pulse on their employees’ sentiments continuously. We provide leaders, HR and people managers with an early warning system that help them predict turnover by identifying hotspots of talent flight-risk. A study we have conducted this year showed that employees who don’t participate in such engagement surveys are 2.7 times more likely to exit in the next six months.

By highlighting potential areas of disengagement early, we help companies intervene and reduce regrettable attrition. We support people managers with the relevant data and actionable recommendations so that they can, in turn, help their employees belong, perform and grow with the company.

In our personal experience, most companies don’t adopt tech solution for HR purposes. Have companies missed a trick in Singapore and the region?

In recent years, there is definitely a push towards elevating the HR function to be more strategic. Leaders of companies are expecting HR to lead cultural change, organisational transformation and other key events. While there is an increase in HR’s responsibilities, it often doesn’t come with an increase in time or other resources. To remain efficient and to deliver effective results, HR will need to adopt technological solutions to help automate administrative processes and to provide relevant data to make an informed decision that will lead to the best business outcomes.

So, the end of the year is often a difficult time for HR, as many Singaporeans (46%)and others in the region look to leave their companies. Firstly, why do you think this is such a significant issue in the region and secondly, what would you suggest as a solution to this issue?

People are companies’ most expensive asset. As our workforce becomes more demanding, HR needs to act before it’s too late. Waiting for the end of the year is way too late to reverse critical employee attrition.

By continually keeping a pulse on the engagement level of talents, it will allow leaders to effectively respond to concern, gaps and opportunities. Tracking disengagement in real-time allows HR de-escalate a crisis by quickly implementing initiatives with immediate positive impact on the workforce.

One thing that is very interesting to us is tying business goals or outcomes to your HR. Do you think that this would be welcomed by the HR industry or are you introducing a disruptive aspect?

Our vision is to create better workplaces with people analytics. People analytics is the use of people data to inform HR strategies and decisions, with the goal of improving overall business performance. While the discipline of people analytics is not new to HR, it has been considered a niche for a long time.

Other functions like marketing or sales in companies have long been providing evidence-based information for business decisions. What we are increasingly seeing is that leaders of companies are asking HR to do the same thing. They are no longer asking HR “what do you feel” but instead, “what do you know”.

EngageRocket supports HR by providing relevant data for companies’ biggest asset – people. Our analytics system not only measures the success of HR initiatives but is able to identify opportunities for improvement internally that will ultimately lead to greater workforce productivity.

Here’s the entrepreneur preparing the next generation of entrepreneurs

EngageRocket has an impressive list of clients. How were you able to scale so quickly and build such an impressive client roster?

My co-founder and I were previously the regional management of a US-based HR consulting firm. This was our bread and butter for 5 years as we served companies in Asia-Pacific and the Middle East.

During that time we identified that there is a gap in the market when it comes to getting the right data to manage talents. On one end, you have the traditional consulting firms that often come with a hefty price tag. They are also less agile when it comes to providing data granular and not fast enough to support action at the local level.

On the other end, you have free survey tools that can help you get quick data and often at no cost. However, not every HR department is equipped with the analytical capabilities to analyse the data or even know what questions to ask.

EngageRocket brings the best of both ends of the spectrum by providing real-time data, supported by well-researched workplace questions and analytics, at a much more accessible price point.

We grew our business over 800% in just 2 years. We are very fortunate to be working with many great companies who understand the need to have a data-driven approach when it comes to managing the heart of the organisation – people.

What were the biggest challenges you faced in the industry? Was it competition or customer reluctance to adopt technology?

Research from Gallup shows that globally 85% of employee are either disengaged or actively disengaged. This costs companies billions of dollars in productivity-loss and yet, many leaders and HR of companies aren’t seeing the urgency in using an evidence-based approach when it comes to managing their employees.  

To support companies, we help them determine their readiness to adopt people analytics by answering 3 simple questions. Firstly, are there talents within your company that you’d like to retain and grow? Secondly, are there regular management meeting that can be a platform to share and discuss insights derived from people analytics? Thirdly, do most of your employees own a smartphone device that can help with the ease of data collection? If the answers to the above questions are ‘yes’, then your company is ready to adopt software like EngageRocket to support people management decisions that will lead to more effective and consistent results.  

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EngageRocket platform. Image courtesy of EngageRocket

What advice would you give entrepreneurs looking to enter the startup scene?

Build a good culture. You have the opportunity to build a culture from scratch so be sure to build a good one. At EngageRocket, we have built a culture based on transparency. We believe a transparent culture is where truth and courage can thrive and be an enabler for greater effectiveness.

We start every Monday with an all-hands meeting where each department shares their goals, challenges and success. We have had this from the time when we were just a team of four people. It is one of the most effective ways to ensure open communication and that different teams stay aligned with the company’s goals and strategies.

As founders, we also give autonomy freely by empowering our employees with a good dose of decision making power. This elevates the level of ownership, creativity and trust. We also hire cautiously and look for talents not only with relevant skills and competencies but also with the right values.

We have come to understand that the best way to attract and retain good talents that will ride through the startup journey with you isn’t by extrinsic motivations like salary. It is by drawing out intrinsic motivations like autonomy, recognition and clear expectations through continual engagement as well as a good company culture.