RoundPegg Uses Web-based Polls, Services to Build Stronger Cultures

8/7/13Follow @MichaelXBD

Corporate culture is a tricky issue in the business world. Companies spend vast sums of money on consultants, surveys, and “Successories” motivational posters. Meanwhile, jaded employees roll their eyes when it comes time to take the annual survey or wisecrack their way through buzzword-filled HR meetings.

Both points of view are justified. Studies show companies that have a set of shared values throughout the organization really do perform better and have happier employees.

So there’s a need for fresh thinking about how companies define and change their cultures, and a new generation of companies are trying to fill the gap. One of them is RoundPegg, a startup based in Boulder, CO.

RoundPegg—remember the adage about square pegs and round holes?—has developed a set of online tools companies can use to discover what their employees value most, how well they work together, and what managers should emphasize. The software also promises to help identify problems as they arise and show which teams and individuals need closer attention.

Many companies and consultants promise to improve workplace culture, but RoundPegg thinks it has an advantage because its surveys are revealing and based on decades of social science research but are short and don’t place a burden on employees, RoundPegg co-founder and chief psychologist Natalie Baumgartner said. Baumgartner has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and was a corporate consultant before founding RoundPegg.

If you’ve spent time in the corporate world, you’ve probably taken a long test trying to assess your personality, or have been given the annual employee satisfaction survey. RoundPegg’s surveys aren’t like that.

“What we do is identify what are the core values everyone in an organization holds using this brief, five-minute survey where you identify the values most important to you as an individual. We aggregate that data, and that’s what tells us how the culture is really functioning, regardless of the values on the wall,” Baumgartner said.

For example, on RoundPegg’s company culture survey, employees are given a list of 36 values. The list includes values like fairness, stability, informality, and risk-taking. They click on the nine most important and drag them into a list on the left of the screen. Then they move the least important ones to the right. They don’t rank the values or have follow-up questions, so the survey’s over in five to seven minutes.

Companies get the results back in a dashboard that lets them compare the values the bosses say are important with the values employees think are important. At the least, it’s a good reality check for management, because the latter is vastly more important.

“We know those values are going to drive the way … Next Page »

Michael Davidson is the editor of Xconomy Boulder/Denver. He covers startups, venture capital, clean tech, energy, aerospace, telecoms, and whatever else happens above 5,280 feet. Contact him at mdavidson@xconomy.com. Follow @MichaelXBD

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