More than 95 per cent of the world's biggest companies report on corporate social responsibility (CSR), but employee engagement in such programs typically hovers at a lowly 14 per cent.
In 2011, large North American organizations spent about $20-billion on CSR and sustainability related software, hardware and consulting services designed to embed them into business practices and to engage employees.
Workforce involvement provides a number of powerful benefits, including increased productivity, higher innovation and improved talent attraction and retention. "When employees are positive about their organization's CSR commitment, employee engagement rises to 86 per cent," reads an employee attitudes survey by Sirota Survey Intelligence.
"Recognizing this, a company's CSR leaders need a solution to more effectively engage employees in programs which will deliver measureable social, environmental and financial business results."
With a large market and a tangible pain point to solve, Nudge Rewards – formerly known as Greengage Mobile – emerged as a social-purpose technology company designed to empower employee engagement and boost business results.
Lindsey Goodchild, CEO and co-founder of Nudge, experienced this pain point first-hand earlier in her career as a sustainability and corporate responsibility consultant. In working with numerous organizations, Ms. Goodchild recognized that CSR programs "have an immensely positive impact on corporate culture, while also building tangible business outcomes for organizations when implemented properly."
But the glaring gap she experienced was around the successful implementation and data collection for these programs, so she conceived of a platform to help achieve both.
Dessy Daskalov, Nudge's CTO and co-founder, has always looked for ways to solve pressing world issues with technology. She spent the early years of her career building software for various industries, but her passion for sustainability eventually led her to Nudge and the challenges in the CSR space.
"Software has the ability to create positive social impact on a scale much larger than any individual alone can have. Mobile technology allows us to put a solution to the engagement challenge conveniently in the hands of employees."
Since the company's launch in 2011, the growing Nudge team has been recognized as one of Canada's top emerging technology businesses focused on mobile technology and tangible rewards to drive positive social change.
Nudge uses a persuasive technology platform to harness the power of mobile, rewards and analytics to empower employee engagement and deliver measureable results in CSR programs. The platform helps companies achieve their CSR, health and safety goals in real time. It uses an innovative mobile app for employees and an intelligent web analytics management system to monitor, analyze and report on the positive impacts of employee engagement.
The platform hinges on the idea of using beautifully designed, easy to use, and convenient mobile technology to positively influence behavioural change. By using a mobile approach to engage and reward individuals in a variety of positive behaviours, Nudge allows companies to move away from the traditional e-mail and web-based solutions ("at work" corner-of-desk tasks), to give employees the ability to engage in programs at their convenience that are relevant to their interests and job roles.
This has the enabling effect of continuing or integrating the "positive behaviour" conversation across professional and personal boundaries, supporting employees' abilities to influence their own behaviours and the overall corporate culture.
To get started on the platform, organizations simply promote it to their employees, and incorporate their existing corporate strategies for delivery through the mobile app, targeting workers based on their interests and motivations.
The platform can intelligently identify an employee's area of interest, whether that be volunteering in the community or participating in a healthy living program, and then deliver tailored programs directly through a smartphone. The beautiful advantage of this platform is that organizations are, for the first time, able to capture meaningful data around employee engagement to quantify results and impacts on their companies and communities.
"Our pilot project with the Nudge platform last year helped to dramatically increase the number of employees involved in our sustainability programs," said Jacqueline Emes, community investment manager at Tangerine, one of Nudge's clients. "We experienced an engagement rate of 82 per cent, which is remarkable, so we've decided to make the program available to all employees across the country and expand it to include our community investment and health and wellness initiatives as well."
Over the past six months, the Nudge team has experienced an exciting growth phase due to the demand for its niche solution. Their team has tripled, and it has launched more than 12 new clients in the past month. The platform is helping thousands of individuals make better, healthier and more responsible decisions at work and at home. Nudge is continuing to evolve the product to meet customer demands it is exploring additional geographic markets to support.
Across all participating clients, the Nudge platform has driven an unprecedented average increase of six-times in program engagement. The founders are honoured to be working with forward-thinking clients such as Tangerine, and they look forward to continuing to build innovative solutions to help empower organizations to deliver effective employee engagement programs and results.
The Nudge team is attracting investors, too, including the MaRS Investment Accelerator Fund. "When we look for game-changing investment opportunities ... we evaluate the team, the market and their proprietary sustainable competitive advantage the company has established," said Michelle McBane, the fund's investment director.
"Nudge is an innovative Canadian startup that builds technology and mobile apps that empower companies to engage their employees in positive social and environmental impact. The Nudge team impressed us from the onset with their deep understanding of the challenges facing their enterprise clients and the positive social and financial impact their solution could bring to the table."
This is the latest in a regular series of case studies by a rotating group of business professors from across the country. They appear every Friday on the Report on Small Business website.