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How Was Work This Week? Tell Your Phone!

Article July 16, 2019  |  Text by Anna Szegedi Text by Anna Szegedi

Bad communication, foul moods, and unpleasant office environments are among the problems that companies often leave unaddressed. EMU is a Czech tech startup that has delivered a solution for handling troubles like these more simply and effectively.

Its main product is a mobile app of the same name – EMU. It lets an employee send their boss a smiley to show how they felt at the office today, or share their ideas and feedback.

But why that chunky flightless bird of a name? “EMU mainly means Employee Mood Up. But yes, there is a parallel with the bird here. Emus look a lot like ostriches, of which it’s said that they stick their heads in the sand when trouble comes. And similarly in work environments it often seems that employees and managers stick their heads in the sand. But that’s not really true; usually it’s just that communication fails, we misunderstand each other, or things “fizzle out” in the flood of other tasks. And this is precisely where our EMU app helps out,” explains Michal Bako, CEO and co-founder of the startup EMU, in our interview for #MORETHANOFFICE.

Can you go into detail on how your service works?

The EMU app pops up for employees at various intervals with a simple question, for example: “How was work this week?” The user then just has to choose the smiley that matches their mood. If they want, they can add a comment to go along with it. And nearly 60% of people’s answers do have this kind of added information. It only takes a moment—filling in the basics takes just seconds.

All the same, on your website you note that 70% of employees don’t want to take part in annual surveys. Why would they want to get involved in even more frequent questioning via an app?

Annual surveys are lengthy, and they’re no solution. You have to fill out a questionnaire that may well have 80 questions; then it’s evaluated for up to several months. By that time it’s often too late to solve problems. EMU, on the other hand, catches problems as they happen. And the employees see the reactions to them and know they’re really being solved.

Do users act anonymously within this program, or under their real names?

EMU tries to convince users to keep most comments non-anonymous (we’ve gotten that figure up to 98% so far). We don’t think that anonymous evaluation is better than open evaluation. Employees mainly use anonymous submissions to handle exceptional situations, such as a problematic relationship with a superior, or harassment, or to express their complaints towards workmates that they’re a bit ashamed about and don’t know how to handle otherwise (e.g. workmates who smell bad).

A VIRTUAL ASSISTANT

So what are all the parameters that this app monitors?

EMU measures or presents such parameters as mood, problem category (working conditions, workmates, etc.), an additional comment, significant rises or falls in mood, and long-term mood improvement or deterioration in a given employee.

How is EMU beneficial for managers? What data do they have available?

When a user answers the app’s question, that data goes to the manager, who works with it and can begin handling the matter directly inside the application. For employees, it’s a relief to be able to share their problems. Meanwhile for managers, EMU saves their time by organizing information clearly, notifying them of everything that’s important, and letting them handle problems right inside the app.

So EMU isn’t just a tool for mood surveys, but also can advise managers on what to do about problems?

We definitely don’t just collect data. EMU is a virtual assistant that helps managers keep a grip on problems and above all solve them. It also puts data into a context that it could otherwise lose. Already today, we’re offering managers tips on how to respond to various trends and moods. But we’re not going to just stop there, and we’re seeking a path towards offering individualized advice.

How much does the app cost? And how can a company decide if EMU will pay off for them?

The standard price is 89 Czech crowns per license for a user for one month. The evaluation methods to use here are very individual. But for example, satisfaction affects employee churn. If EMU prevents even just one member of a 100-member team from leaving, the investment has paid off. Not to mention the positive impacts on the rest of the team’s productivity.