Are Your Employees HappyOrNot? An Interview With Heikki Väänänen

Employee Engagement And Feedback

Heikki Väänänen, CEO and Co-Founder of HappyOrNot Ltd

Heikki Väänänen, CEO and Co-Founder of HappyOrNot Ltd

Heikki Väänänen, CEO and Co-Founder of HappyOrNot Ltd. and US subsidiary HappyOrNot Americas Inc. is an entrepreneur with over 14 years in business management of fast-growing global companies, including board member roles in several technology and services companies and co-founding the board association FutureBoard which collects and represents Finnish companies combining over 1 billion euros in turnover. With his combined experience and expertise, Heikki has directed the successful strategic development and sale of six Finnish companies. HappyOrNot was established in 2009 and provides products and services which monitor, measure, and improve the service performance of client organizations. With a sales growth of 5 million euros in 6 years, HappyOrNot has become one of the fastest growing start-ups in Finland.

The HR Gazette team first saw HappyOrNot at the 2016 HRPA Conference and Expo in Toronto and were impressed by the simple idea on the front-end combined with the sophisticated back-end employee feedback analytics. We got a chance to chat with Heikki and discover how HappyOrNot is filling a gap in the market to help employers, through the use of big data, meet the needs of employees.

Editor: Tell our readers about HappyOrNot – the company’s history and vision

Heikki: The HappyOrNot story begins with my experience as a teenager. I would visit my local electronics store to look at new products and explore options was never as pleasant as I wanted it to be, and there was no real easy way to communicate my dissatisfaction. I believe that all visitors to a business must be acknowledged and given full attention – and this belief extends to employees, too.

Happy employees have a tremendous impact on creating or maintaining a happy customer base. Our HappyOrNot solution enables management to truly know everyday how happy and engaged employees are, take corrective actions when or where results are in decline, and see the impact of those changes immediately!

Editor: How does HappyOrNot make the lives of HR pros easier?

Heikki: HappyOrNot provides the ultimate cost-effective solution to connect and engage with employees quickly and continuously. Maintaining happy and satisfied employees is important as it helps a company enhance internal performance and subsequent customer satisfaction improvement. With HappyOrNot, management can stay on the daily pulse of the work atmosphere, and using it in HR becomes a great advantage as it encourages a culture where everyone becomes responsible – from management to employees – for encouraging and continually developing the workplace satisfaction. Because the feedback is anonymous, and by transparently sharing the results, commitment for improvement increases.

Additionally, time becomes more efficiently spent on focusing on improvement initiatives versus preparing, collecting, and analyzing lengthy surveys which can take weeks or months to complete (and are always looking into the past, which fluctuates quickly in the workplace), since HappyOrNot does these activities automatically. The HR function is then brought to a new level where, for the first time, HR results can credibly and verifiably be one of a company’s KPI´s that even a board of directors can follow and understand the impact of happy employees alongside other KPIs as sales and profitability.


Editor: How does HappyOrNot collect and measure employee feedback?

Heikki: Our approachable, anonymous and easy-to-use 4 Smileys help businesses listen to employees in any business environment. Employees respond to the posed question by pressing the smiley that best corresponds to their feelings, such as “How was your workday today?”

The Smiley Terminals are ready to use immediately at the designated office locations  – no power, cables, or Internet connection is required. Response data is collected and analyzed in the web-based Reporting service each night, and summary reports are emailed to management and employees for review on the daily, weekly, or monthly basis, as desired.

Editor: Why should companies care what their employees think?

Heikki: Employees are the backbone of an organization and are the direct link to customers. The energy, feelings, and opinions employees have towards their company will emit to, and be experienced by, the customers. This makes it essential to have a happy and engaged workforce which will be committed to the company’s goals, thereby making long-term success possible.

Editor: How much insight do companies really get from a series of one-liner surveys?

Heikki: The key reasons why the surveys work are: 1) Measurable, long-term trending data enables management to monitor satisfaction levels, initiate corrective actions instantly,  and follow the results of the changes.  Accordingly, the results can be used to monitor the daily pulse and track long-term development initiatives. 2) One question and one response takes minimal effort to participate. This contributes to the high response rate of employees using the terminals to provide feedback, which is as high as 30%.  3) one strategic survey question is easy to understand, responses are instant and based on feeling. This enables faster reaction time on issue resolution. 4) An employee doesn’t need to remember how they felt about various situations months ago – they can offer their inputs immediately while the emotions of the situation are fresh. This contributes to feedback that is intuitive and honest, enhancing the accuracy of the data.

Editor: How can employers use the data HappyOrNot collects to develop happier, more productive places to work?

Heikki: To keep the talent within the company, it is important for Management to take initiatives and connect with all employees.  Salary and benefits may no longer be the only important factors that can keep the employees from leaving. Employers must invest in their employees and their well-being. When the management’s interest and care is evident, it helps the company boost morale and improve overall performance. By collecting employees’ feedback continuously, employers can notice the issues immediately and fix those in a very short time. And data is not for management only anymore. All people get the data and can think about how to improve the results.

Editor: We love HR tech with social media components. Your site says that HappyOrNot’s social sharing lifts satisfaction by up to 10% per year and improves your brand’s reputation. How can employers use HappyOrNot to share improved results via interaction reports and social sharing features?

Heikki: HappyOrNot sharing features allow companies to communicate internally (employees and visiting customers) via the Interaction Reports, and online (followers, new customers/ talents), via Social Sharing.  Sharing the Employee Satisfaction results publically directly impacts many aspects of your business:

  • Sends a strong, visual message that you care about your employees and are transparent with the results.
  • Enhances your company’s image
  • Builds loyalty and trust
  • Enhances employer image, making it easier to attract new talents.

Editor: How does this connect with inspiring staff to trust and promote your employer brand?

Heikki: Sharing your results encourages customer interaction and boosts employee motivation. It lifts satisfaction up to 10% per year and improves your service reputation.

When employees are given the opportunity to express their satisfaction in various aspects of the company in which they work, and see actions being taken to improve the working environment, they gain an improved sense of wellbeing, contributing to increased responsibility and commitment to the company.

The smiley terminals become a beacon of motivation and a reminder to be courteous, professional, and perform to the best of their abilities every day.  They can also encourage healthy competition between teams or locations, for example, there are several HappyOrNot clients that have incorporated a financial reward system to the results, to give their employees an extra incentive to provide excellent customer service. When employees are happy and engaged, they are more productive, and that translates to improving the customer experience and satisfaction.

Editor: Transparency is at the heart of HappyOrNot. Why is it important to create a workplace culture based on open dialogue and transparent measurements?

Heikki: The average person between the ages of 20 to 65 spends 40 hours a week at work.  With this dedication, it is equally important that employers take some time to understand the workplace atmosphere and make the workers’ experiences pleasant. Having Smiley Terminals displayed at work stations, whether in conference rooms or by the water fountains, helps employers to open a continuous dialog with employees and create an engaging environment. By asking the survey questions and measuring the trending data, employers can spot red flags and take the immediate opportunity to hold open discussions with the workforce in the effort to introduce timely measures and improve performance and change workers’ perception for the better.

When a company is transparent to its employees by sharing the workplace happiness levels and actively engaging them to participate in the improvement process, employees will feel part of driving the change towards improvements, and therefore continuously provide support.

Learn more about HappyOrNot and how they are helping to change how employer brands understand and reposond to the needs of employees and stake holders.

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