This startup uses data to drive employee engagement

by Andreas Rekdal
July 24, 2017

A banking veteran who worked through one of the industry’s most tumultuous times in history, Deepa Kartha learned a thing or two about the forces driving employee morale.

“When a company is in a state of change, it’s important make sure that people feel that they can drive some of those changes rather than just be affected by them,” she said.

Kartha is the founder and CEO of Zinda — a Chicago startup whose software helps companies drive employee engagement. Its core offering, Journey, leverages constant feedback mechanisms to let employees help shape company culture.

“For instance, if you have a campaign within the company that is about mission alignment, you can give employees the opportunity to vote on initiatives, offer their opinions or give each other recognition,” said Kartha.

From there, Zinda aggregates the data to give the employer a sense of how engagement campaigns are going. Over time, the startup also wants to integrate with collaboration tools like Slack or Atlassian to analyze how teams are engaging with each other.

Zinda also uses gamification and the option to set personalized goals to boost participation in employee engagement programs.

“A lot of major company initiatives start from the top, and what often ends up happening is that people don’t feel personally connected to them,” said Kartha. “We have mechanisms where people can take these initiatives and make them their own. For any of these activities, you can also assign points, levels or achievements that can be used to reward employees later on.”

For example, if a company has a goal of reducing its carbon footprint, employees could form teams that challenge each other to carpool to work. Zinda gives the company the tools to manage leaderboards that spur friendly competition.

Over time, the data gathered on each initiative will help companies hone in on the ones that drive the most employee engagement.

Journey also lets companies survey their employees about workplace culture and about what they think about the company’s direction.

Marketing Advisor Ashish Raina said many companies already collect such feedback from employees, but that the feedback tends to be gathered through annual employee surveys. Zinda’s goal is to turn employee feedback into more of an ongoing conversation.

The key to getting a technology like this right, said Kartha, is creating a user experience that keeps users coming back.

“Everybody has so much technology in front of them, so what do you do if you want people to pay attention?” she said. “For us, the biggest project has been to improve our notification engine to continue giving employees applicable information that they find engaging.”

Founded in 2016, Zinda has a 15-person team split between Chicago and India. Kartha said the company is currently in a pilot program with a small number of companies, but that she expects to launch officially by the end of the summer. 


Image via Zinda.

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