Companies that regularly prioritize employee feedback have a 14.9% lower turnover rate than businesses where employees or managers do not encourage feedback, according to a study done by Zippia. That’s a big reason why Suggestion Ox enables employees to send anonymous feedback to their managers.
Andrew Berkowitz, Suggestion Ox’s CEO and Co-Founder, said that while receiving feedback isn’t a new concept, many companies are increasingly prioritizing a positive work culture so they can boost employee retention in an ever-more-competitive job market.
The B2B SaaS platform is “an employee feedback platform that helps leaders have candid conversations with their employees,” Berokowitz said. Suggestion Ox was among the startups that pitched at CED’s Venture Connect summit in March.
Wade Minter, the startup’s Raleigh-based CTO and Co-Founder—on top of his “day job” as a product director at GrepBeat sponsor Dualboot Partners—said that the platform was made with a feature in which employees and managers can anonymously communicate with each other. That way, people in leadership roles can truly find out issues within their company because employees feel more comfortable sharing them.
“A less than ideal company culture is giving people ways to communicate with leadership that either are not frequent enough to capture what’s really going on, or can be traced back to the employee,” Minter said.
Berkowitz and Minter previously worked together at TeamSnap, a Boulder, Colorado-based platform that manages youth sports teams and clubs; it successfully exited to a private equity firm in 2021 though continues to operate. Berkowitz and Minter first started noodling on Suggestion Ox in 2011 before shifting into higher gear in the last few years.
Suggestion Ox works with businesses spanning across many industries including healthcare, finance, military, nonprofits and education. Some of the company’s biggest customers are the U.S. Air Force, Samsung, Nissan, Hilton, Glassdoor, and Humana.
“We have a very broad spectrum because pretty much any company that has employees is able to be a potential customer of our product,” Minter said.
Suggestion Ox has different pricing options for different company teams. The “bronze” option is the cheapest and is recommended for smaller teams of up to 50 people. The “silver” option adds more features, including AI reply assistance and more inboxes for different categories of feedback. The “gold” option is typically used by companies with 100+ people.
The three-person Suggestion Ox team, plus multiple contractors, are planning to add new employees to the company in the next year. Although mostly bootstrapped, Suggestion Ox took a small investment from an accelerator led by Minneapolis-based Tiny Seed at the very start of 2022.
The company also allows people to submit sexual harassment or misconduct reports. This option allows businesses to address these issues without being able to identify the person who submitted the report, thus reducing fears of potential retaliation.
How it works
Company managers distribute a unique URL to their employees. The employees then write a note to the manager through a web form. Minter said everyone is anonymous in the process, even the managers.
If a manager would like a two-way conversation with an employee to further discuss an issue, they can give the person the option to leave an email address. This is still anonymous since the address is encrypted in the Suggestion Ox system. For example, if an employee writes “I feel I am not being respected at work,” the manager may want to ask follow-up questions to ensure the problem is addressed.
Once someone submits their feedback, the manager will get an email to their Suggestion Ox email that notifies them of a note or report they can interact with. A higher-up executive can assign the feedback to a specific manager or head of a department, so they can take care of company issues or feedback.
Managers have the option to make their response to feedback public to let all employees see the answer. The option to make feedback public is useful for things that everyone wants to know about.
For instance, “There are not enough healthy snacks in the break room” would be one example that involves everybody in the company. The manager may then want to answer “We are adding new snacks starting next month such as X, Y and Z.” This will ensure feedback doesn’t have to be repeated, yet nobody will know who sent it.
How is Suggestion Ox using AI?
Suggestion Ox is incorporating AI to help lower- and higher-level employees alike draft a feedback note or response. You can type a few bullet points about the kind of response you are hoping to write and AI will then draft it. You can choose to change the tone of the feedback to be more formal and businesslike, or more casual.
Suggestion Ox’s AI shortens the time it takes to respond to a feedback note and helps managers provide solid responses.
Language barriers are another reason why AI is useful for the company. If a manager cannot communicate effectively in a certain language to their employees, the AI assistant can help.