Social networking on the job: How a start-up redefined employee engagement
May 10 2013, 20:15 | By SME Mentor
Imagine an in-house Facebook - a site where employees can engage, communicate, publicly congratulate each other for a job well done, upload and share material relevant to the workplace, and where the company can motivate employees with incentives. Add to that, a library of books that can be accessed with no pressure or penalties and you've got a winning proposition.
Making Work 'Social'
In a word, it's called Kwench, the brainchild of four IIM-Ahmedabad grads, who in 2008 set out to root out the monotony at the workplace and replace it with a social atmosphere. Today, the Mumbai-based start-up claims to be associated with over 350 companies, reaching out to 2 lakh employees, with an intranet-based service that 'redefines employee engagement'.
Together, the foursome pooled their personal resources for the initial capital investment. Later, they received Rs 1 crore in funding from the Indian Angel Network in 2009 and another Rs 1 crore as debt from the Small Industries Development Bank of India (Sidbi) in 2010.
All About Books
Nookala realised there was a need for a good library service across the corporate spectrum but there was no organised player offering a systematic solution. Corporate firms had to therefore divert both money and attention to creating in-house libraries to address the professional and personal needs of their employees.
Virtual Corporate Library
With Kwench's virtual corporate library, employees could order books from the portal's online bookstore. It offered a wide variety of books, magazines, audio books and video lessons. The start-up tied up with chains of bookstores across India to meet these needs and offered employees the option of either purchasing or just borrow titles.
Social Networking At Work
As with all winning ideas, Kwench too was refined and forayed into the employee engagement space in November 2011. "Over several months of detailed discussions, we evolved to cover the entire employee engagement aspect since this function is critical for a company to thrive," Nookala points out.
"Employees use the platform not only to give and receive awards but also for peer-to-peer recognition and to congratulate winners. The portal helps breaks down departmental and geographic boundaries and builds a community," explains Vivek Punekar, Chief Human Resources Officer, HCL Infosystems Ltd, and a client of Kwench.
The firm currently follows an annual subscription model, where companies can pick and choose the services and products they want and are charged for them accordingly. Subscription rates are based on the services the client chooses and other factors such as size of the employee base and geographical spread.
According to the start-up, Kwench has grown 16.6 times growth in FY13 since FY10. "With Kwench, there has been an increase in the information flow within the organisation. Employees at different locations, who cannot interact face-to-face, have discussion forums and blogs to use. Also, issues that don't emerge at meetings are brought up on this platform as do solutions and small innovations," says Binoj, Chief Learning Officer, YES Bank, another Kwench client.
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