Emplify Bags $7.5M to Give Employers Better Staff Engagement Data

Emplify, the Fishers, IN-based startup focused on software to improve employee engagement, today announced that it has raised a $7.5 million Series A funding round.

Since it was spun out of Bluebridge in 2016, co-founder and CEO Santiago Jaramillo says Emplify has experienced swift growth—customers include Harley-Davidson and Terminus—and now has 65 employees. “We’re bigger after 18 months than Bluebridge ever was in four years,” he says.

The cash infusion could help accelerate that growth. The investment was led by Princeton, NJ-based Edison Partners, with participation from prior investors, including Allos Ventures, Cultivation Capital, and Bill Godfrey, co-founder and former CEO of Aprimo.

Jaramillo says there are many companies out there trying to improve their corporate customers’ engagement with employees; other players include Qualtrics, Motivosity, and Peakon. Emplify is trying to differentiate itself by combining human and machine feedback into actionable insights. Emplify starts by sending out a survey to its customers’ employees with questions crafted using social science techniques, the company says. Once the data are collected and analyzed, each Emplify customer is paired with an employee engagement specialist to help implement the changes suggested by the data.

Jaramillo cites a manufacturing example to illustrate how the process works. Emplify was hired to focus on a manufacturer’s welders, who had the company’s lowest engagement scores. After surveying them, Emplify discovered that the source of their dissatisfaction was having to lift heavy metal sheets every day—a problem that was easily solved by buying a forklift. After the forklift was incorporated, the welders’ productivity increased by 30 percent, he says.

“We use data points to create an engagement strategy,” Jaramillo explains. The approach comes out of an old Bluebridge tradition: regularly asking employees what the company should “start, stop, and keep” as a way of soliciting feedback and surfacing ideas. “That worked with five or ten employees, but then we started getting volumes of start/stop. We lived the challenge ourselves.”

Part of what’s driving Emplify’s success, Jaramillo says, is the tension that exists in workplaces where baby boomer bosses are struggling to understand their millennial employees. Baby boomers might measure their job satisfaction through salary and benefits, while many younger workers tend to prioritize meaningful work and a healthy company culture, Jaramillo says. (A recent Glassdoor survey found that for millennials, salary was only the sixth-most important factor in deciding whether to accept a job, he adds.)

“At many companies, they get feedback at exit interviews, when people are on their way out,” Jaramillo says. “They need help on methodology to improve. We provide a single psychometric score on employee engagement. We can use that number to dig deeper to improve [the company’s] sense of purpose. Then, we embed an expert human to walk them through the results and keep them accountable.”

Emplify has also launched a new partner program designed to help consultants working in employee management by leveraging Emplify’s analytics, Jaramillo says.

“These consultancies have experts, but they often don’t have data about their customers and where the biggest value in the company is,” he says. “They can’t quite quantify impact. We share our data about their customers, and they’re able to improve engagement.”

In this era of sweeping technological and workforce changes, Jaramillo sees a couple of major trends affecting employee engagement: younger employees expecting regular feedback and finding the standard annual review process to be too static; a low-unemployment economy, which makes it hard to recruit talent; and employer reputation going public via job-rating websites like Glassdoor.

“It’s now even more important for organizations to actually be good places to work,” he continues. “Talent is getting smarter, and they have more data. In times of change, those companies that attract and engage great talent will win. It’s a really important competitive advantage.”

Sarah Schmid Stevenson is the editor of Xconomy Detroit/Ann Arbor. You can reach her at 313-570-9823 or sschmid@xconomy.com. Follow @XconomyDET_AA

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