Prior to founding EngageRocket in 2016, co-founders Dorothy Yiu and Leong CheeTung were formerly part of the regional management at Gallup, helping the Fortune 500 in the Asia Pacific and the Middle East with organizational research consulting. It was here they stumbled upon three major challenges of people management.
People management was a major challenge for most leaders.
Says CheeTung, “About 60% of the senior leaders we coached shared privately that they disliked the people management component of their work, and would rather focus on getting the job done. Even when confronted with urgent team issues, few leaders intuitively knew how to resolve them and relied very much on gut feel - leading to very inconsistent results.”
Secondly, globally they found that only 13% of employees were engaged at work: meaning they were both motivated and productive at their jobs. Although no one would turn down a better pay or benefits package, most of the angst came from ‘softer’ elements of the employee experience: how much they believed in the mission and purpose of their company, for example, or how often they received a pat on the back for doing good work.
Due to the paucity of data linking these phenomena to tangible business outcomes, companies always deprioritized efforts to improve these aspects of the employee experience - despite the duo finding a cross-company analysis that demonstrated this at the aggregated level. The data was never granular or specific enough to provoke action.
Also, the consulting model was great for delivering targeted results in changing the behavior of a few leaders at a time but was cost-prohibitive for delivering organization-wide change. The analytics at the level granular enough to support action could never be run fast enough, nor was it easy to pull data from across multiple silos to form holistic conclusions.
“We knew that companies needed a single source of truth for their employee experience data, with analytics powerful enough to deliver actionable insight in real-time to equip people managers throughout organizations to make good decisions about their teams. Similar to how many CRMs currently deliver targeted, actionable insight about customers, we needed to build a system to help managers do the same for their people.”
And thus was born EngageRocket- a cloud-based software that automates employee feedback and analytics to improve employee performance. The premise is simple. EngageRocket aims to help every leader use data to make better people decisions. Improving trust in their team, for example, or enhancing skills in innovation.
Helping leaders keep and grow their best people
With an ‘Employee Engagement Pulse’ module, users can now monitor the employee experience in real-time, analyzing trends and response to policy and management changes. Also, with a ‘360 Performance Feedback module,’ users can analyze performance across important leadership skills, and correlate them with employee loyalty and engagement.
Adds CheeTung, “We tell leaders how to keep and grow their best people, and show them the business impact of their people management decisions.”
Today, the HR Tech startup boasts of 27,000+ users, analyzing more than half a million responses to date across 13 APAC markets and 20 different industries. Operating with a SaaS business model, companies sign up and pay the startup based on their number of employees. Prominent customers include Tokopedia and Bank Danamon among others.
Recently, the startup raised $640,000 in seed funding led by SeedPlus, taking the total funds raised to $1 Mn. The round was led by SeedPlus, with Found. Ventures also participating. Other investors from the previous round include former JobCentral co-founder Huang Shao-Ning.
Delivering business impact of people decisions
But given the number of startups mushrooming in the engagement space, what is EngageRocket’s differentiating factor? CheeTung believes free survey tools were great at the data collection aspect of surveys, but still left a large analytical gap on the back-end which HR teams were not designed to fill. They were also unable to automate enough of the process to make the exercise worthwhile.
Existing solutions are either cost-prohibitive (organizational / leadership consulting) or effort-prohibitive (free survey tools) to scale a meaningful management decision-support tool across organizations larger than 500 people, in a way that would also demonstrate the business impact of these people decisions.
This is where he believes EngageRocket makes the cut. Going forward, with the raised funding, the startup will focus on building its go-to-market strategy in Singapore and the region, as well as expand its product offerings to include multiple modules and deeper analytics.
The booming people analytics market in APAC
The APAC region is seeing the fastest growth in the people analytics market at almost 20% annually, driving a market that is tipped to reach $1.87 Bn by 2025 which was almost non-existent just 10 years ago.
Says CheeTung, “We spend more than half our waking lives at work. Asian companies employ 60% of the global labor force today, and will contribute 40% of global GDP by 2030.”
No wonder, there still exist huge gaps in understanding human capital and relevant data to enable people managers and leaders to build better companies. Which is what EngageRocket aims to bridge.
Chee Tung aptly concludes, “The toughest part has been deciding, among all the many unknowns that face us every day, what we are going to spend time and resources to figure out next. We’re trying to solve it by cutting down variables: narrowing down the segment of the market we serve for example, and the type of marketing channels we use, and testing constantly.”
Given the scope of the problem and the breadth of the market, EngageRocket has its work cut out for the next few years.