Top Places to Work

The worker happiness app

At the touch of a button, a Quincy funeral home gauges employee satisfaction.

Scotty Reifsnyder

Go ahead — tell your boss how you really feel.

That’s the idea behind TINYpulse, an increasingly popular Web and mobile app for businesses that solicits anonymous feedback from employees in short, once-a-week surveys. It aims to give executives a real-time picture of how happy their workers are while also giving workers a convenient forum to air grievances and suggestions. The result, the app’s Seattle-based creators say, is lower turnover and a more engaged workforce.

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The app already has high-profile clients, including Cambridge marketing software juggernaut HubSpot. But it’s also attracting smaller companies whose leaders want to keep tabs on their culture as they grow. That’s the case at Keohane Funeral Home in Quincy, which started using TINYpulse after acquiring another funeral home.

“We went from being a small, standalone funeral home where we all crossed paths all the time to a situation where we’re all in different buildings,” says co-president John Keohane. “TINYpulse is a little connecting tube that allows everyone the opportunity to give their two cents and lets the managers know what’s really going on.”

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The app is part of a growing category of business technologies that aims to measure and improve upon things that were once thought of as intangible, such as worker happiness. Some companies use mobile apps to recognize and reward employees for a job well done; other platforms allow for anonymous communication between co-workers.

At the funeral home in Quincy, taking regular readings of employee satisfaction means that the boss can make improvements long before unhappy employees start fleeing. Indeed, TINYpulse chief executive David Niu got the inspiration for the product after a top worker at his previous company quit out of the blue.

Of course, this all assumes the people in charge want to hear what their underlings think in the first place.

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“If you’re not ready for real talk, real feedback, don’t sign up,” says TINYpulse communications manager Neal McNamara. “This won’t work for you.”

Keohane counts himself among those ready to listen. Already, his company has made a number of changes based on suggestions he has received via the app, including sprucing up overgrown landscaping around the buildings, giving raises to employees whose wages had stagnated, and improving training procedures for part-time employees who help out during funerals.

“If we hadn’t put the app in place, there are things we may not have heard so directly,” Keohane says. “You don’t want to find out about a problem after months and months have gone by and the frustration has boiled over. This lets us be much more proactive.”

Dan Adams is a Boston Globe correspondent. He can be reached at dadams@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @danieladams86.
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