Like most CEOs, Greg Malpass says his employees are crucial to his company’s success. Unlike most, he has hard data to back it up: In software consulting, an industry known for its double-digit staff turnover, Traction on Demand’s is 5.7% annually. Part of that success is because Malpass measures employee satisfaction closely, integrating it into the business as few other companies have.
In-house software called Traction Pulse turns the simple act of an employee filling in a time sheet into a referendum on workplace satisfaction. In addition to tracking hours, the time sheet interface asks about the work itself: “What mode of thinking were you in (learning, teaching, executing or admin)?” and “How was it (amazing, pretty good, mildly painful or brutal)?” Managers can then see how engaged employees are with their work over time and in real time.
“If someone is drifting to the bottom, we can look at the data together and ask what’s going on,” Malpass says. “What’s interesting is, there are often external factors impacting someone’s happiness in the workplace.” But he stresses that measurement has to be followed by action on management’s part: “Never ask questions you’re not prepared to answer.”
Traction on Demand was born out of Malpass’s own frustration at his job as an account manager. He wanted to enjoy his work and his co-workers, and build financial stability for the future. So in 2006, he hung out his shingle.
The self-taught Salesforce.com consultant was one of the first 500 people the software-as-a-service company ever certified. Over time, he discovered many of his clients encountered the same problems, which meant he was constantly suggesting the same solutions.
“What was interesting is that I was really good at convincing customers to go down the proven path,” Malpass says. “Once I solved a problem for one customer, I’d call the other 30 and say, ‘The guys at Adobe just figured out something awesome. Do you want me to show you?’”
Most of his early clients paid $5,000 to $10,000 monthly retainers, so Malpass built up a healthy bank account by the time he was ready to hire in 2010. Today the customer relationship management consulting and software development firm employs over 250 people. It experienced 573% revenue growth over the past three years and counts Houzz, Tesla, Restoration Hardware and even Salesforce.com among its customers.
In 2016, Traction on Demand made the PROFIT 500 ranking of Canada’s Fastest-Growing Companies, the Deloitte Technology Fast 50, and Best Workplaces in Canada: Medium, among other awards.
Malpass sees no need to compromise between high growth and a collegial workplace culture. “I think we show you can grow quickly and have very satisfied people working in your company, and you can do it in a way that lasts a long time.”