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JWT Agency Tries 'Happiness' Mobile App to Track Employee Morale

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How can an agency communicate better internally? How should management gauge employee satisfaction in the mobile age? Is there an efficient way to leverage the social media influence of the agency's own staff?

Happiness App moods
Happiness App moods

For a WPP Group-owned digital shop in Indonesia, the answer is a newly-launched, in-house mobile "Happiness App." According to Kevin Mintaraga, CEO of XM Gravity in Jakarta, "both online and offline experience have to work together."

One reason Mr. Mintaraga started the app was that he no longer has time to hold twice-a-year, hour-long sessions with each employee to see how work is going. He did it when his company had only six people, but now it's at 135.

The app's "Mood" function asks users to choose from nine emotions, including excited, challenged, mad and stressed. Unlike social media statuses that are seen by all, the mood is private. A notification is sent to top agency execs and HR when a staffer indicates a negative emotion more than twice a week. The aim is for managers to talk through the problem with the staffer. Notably, the employee's direct manager is not notified about negative mood selections.

"The reason we are doing this is because in a company, most of the case the person is not happy is because of their direct supervisor," Mr. Mintaraga said. So far, about 5% of employees have reported being unhappy, he said.

The "News" function includes not only internal notes about the annual company trip (South Korea this year), but announcements about free ice cream in the pantry and polls to choose which film to screen at office movie night. Going forward, it could be used in ways such as introducing new employees in a short video.

The "Task" feature may be interesting to XM Gravity clients, who include Unilever, Samsung and Nestle. It calls on agency folks to use their own social media influence to spread messages. Indonesians are prolific Twitter users, and some employees have tens of thousands of followers. A recent job announcement was retweeted by Happiness App users and the agency received 100 applications within two days.

The agency aims to use the app to mobilize its own people to help spread social media campaigns they have done for clients.

Since its official launch in early March, the Happiness App has 80% active daily users. Mr. Mintaraga, 28, who became the youngest CEO in all of WPP when his company was acquired last year, has big plans for the app.

"We already built the platform (so) it can be white label, where we change the label and it becomes another company's app. That's the idea," he said. "It's in our pipeline to start monetizing the app ... we already have a dedicated project manager to handle clients who want to use this app."

It might show up first in other JWT agencies in Asia.

"Kevin and his team have really come up with innovative and imaginative way to engage and motivate staff," said Tom Doctoroff, JWT's APAC CEO. "We plan to share this idea with agencies across the JWT network in Asia. It'll be up to each agency to decide if they want to introduce it, but it's the kind of thing that will really resonate with the very connected, digitally savvy people we employ."

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