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Ames startup PollUp simplifies HR employee polls

The Pollup team (from left to right): Dave Leo, Neil Saigal and Kenyon Brown.

According to Gallup, only 32.5 percent of employees are engaged at work.

If an employee doesn’t feel like their concerns are taken seriously, they might start focusing more on updating LinkedIn and searching Indeed than their current job. Many employers use polling and surveys to gauge the mood of their employees, but they may only be used once a year, or be too complex to analyze quickly.

The Ames startup PollUp is looking to speed up the simplify and speed up the process for human resources departments.

How PollUp works

Iowa State University students Dave Leo, Neil Saigal and Kenyon Brown came up with the idea for an app to survey employees last fall, settling on a target market of HR departments earlier this year.

“A lot of employees feel neglected because employers aren’t turning to them for feedback,” Brown said. “But surveying employees can be costly, and HR employees can spend 40 to 50 percent of their day in meetings, making it hard to focus on strategic things in the office. We wanted to come up with a tool to make it easy to analyze employee feedback without taking a lot of time.”

PollUp’s software lets HR directors shoot out quick customizable polls. The questions can be multiple choice, or free response, and the polls can be automated to send out at regular intervals.

PollUp is currently working with Fortune 500 companies to format the product for a launch in early 2017.

“By using quick polls to get feedback more often, an employer is guaranteed more honest feedback to make managerial decisions based off of employee opinions,” Brown said. “It’s as simple as importing your employees into the system, separating them into their departments and then choosing one of our curated templates to post a poll to see what is at the root of your problems.”

PollUp is currently web-based, but an app version is expected to launch in February. Brown said the company charges a $2 fee per month per employee, rather than a flat fee, to make PollUp more appealing to smaller companies.

“A lot of HR software can be so expensive and may not make sense for a company with 200 to 400 employees,” Brown said. “We’re an HR software that can work for smaller businesses.”

Keep it simple

Employees are often bombarded with emails. Asking someone who is already busy to fill out a survey may seem like one more task for an already busy day.

“After talking with people in HR departments, we really focused on making PollUp very easy to access,” Brown said. “It has to be simple if you want employees to participate in it. So onboarding was something we took a lot of time with.”

PollUp conducted research with 20 HR departments and interviewed another 20 HR professionals to make sure their product fulfilled the needs of the industry.

Looking to the future

PollUp is planning its first launch in February, focusing on polling platforms and templates. Over the first six months, PollUp will roll out Inquiries, a portal for larger organizations to conduct live Q&A sessions and allow CEOs and department heads to get instantaneous feedback.

PollUp is starting with HR, but down the line Brown hopes the company will be useful in other departments of a business.

“We would like PollUp to be the primary feedback method in all departments of an organization,” Brown said. “Down the line, it will be able to plug into any major enterprise software and make it easy and exciting for employees to participate with what is going on.”

Joe Lawler is a freelance reporter based in Des Moines.

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