5 reasons why Polls and Surveys do more harm than good

5 reasons why Polls and Surveys do more harm than good


5 reasons why Polls and Surveys do more harm than good

8 minute read December, 2021

FOFO business leaders not listening

As hard as it may feel, it’s time to toss out your old approach to boosting engagement, unlocking hidden feedback, and generating good ideas (there’s a better way, we promise).

Let’s start with the precursor to today’s popular digital polls, pulse checks and surveys: The suggestion box. According to Wikipedia, a U.S Senator from Indiana named Voorhees first introduced the suggestion box in 1890’s, and referred to it as ‘The Petition Box.’ Voorhees insights and intentions were likely ahead of his time, in today’s world this old-school contraption likely collects more dust than great ideas, and the paper suggestions or feedback within it are as neglected as the boxes they sit within. If you have one in your office, when was the last time you checked it? Be honest.

It’s no surprise why – the visual of this box (whether physical or digital) represents an artifact of history – made for an entirely different cultural, technological, and communications era. It is the epitome of a broken feedback loop and incomplete two-sided social contract.

Assume that your people take it seriously and take to it to share their powerful ideas or important pieces of feedback for change – when there is no regular cadence for checking it or reviewing and making decisions on the feedback received, why would people continue using it? In today’s world, it’s a form of virtue-signaling.

The digital survey. Did it get any better?

When technology advanced and brought us the internet, email and peer-to-peer communication, workplaces around the globe graduated to doing polls and surveys digitally, to rapidly understand the pulse of their employees and stakeholders on various matters.

Far better right? Unfortunately not. Electronic polls and surveys have proven to be just as ineffective as the outdated suggestion box, creating risks for the organizations.

Let me explain, and start with defining the difference between a poll and a survey.

A poll is used to ask very simplified questions (often just one question) with very little data to gather. For example, where should we organize the next off-site? When should we host the holiday party? Etc. 

A survey is generally used to ask a wide range of questions and used when a much larger set of data needs to be gathered and further analyzed. 

Polls, when properly administered and when the results are shared openly can be a powerful tool. While limited to solving very simple, multiple choice, black and white issues, they can help demonstrate where consensus lies and be a forcing function for a particular change. But in today’s world, the topics and issues that require consensus are not easy black-and-white matters. The issues that require our best insights and collective intelligence are open-ended, blue-sky topics that have no clear right answer and have high consequences for being wrong. For example: what trends might disrupt our business in the short term? How might we adapt our workplace and policies to be ahead of the challenges of Covid-19? What processes need to be digitized and how do we do so in order to be resilient towards the challenges of Covid-19? Polls can give you digestible soundbites but the outputs will rarely help you solve problems through today’s complex challenges. 

Surveys also fall short on many fronts.





Main use

Used to collect immediate feedback on a simple topic

Used to collect feedback and opinions on broader topics

Used to crowdsource decision-ready solutions, not opinions, on an important but uncertain question


When should we host our Christmas Party?

a) December 18
b) December 19
c) December 20

Should we host a Christmas Party or repurpose funds into a bigger bonus?

a) Host christmas party
b) Repurpose funds into bigger bonus
c) Other

What is the best way to celebrate the upcoming Christmas milestone with our team? In the past we’ve hosted Christmas parties but we’re open to different suggestions this year. Share your most creative proposal using Swae.

Constraints & Question Type:

Only 1 question, with restricted options for answers (e.g. 1 multiple choice question)
More than 1 question, most often with restricted options for answers (e.g. several multiple choice questions)
Only 1 question, with unlimited and unrestricted free-flowing text answers and creative proposals as responses

Participant Options

Participants respond to 1 multiple choice question
Participants respond to different types of questions
Participants invested to submit solutions, not multiple choice answers

Time Investment Required

Seconds to complete
Minutes to complete
Minutes to complete (build proposal)


Provides limited but concrete data about the opinion of people on a topic so decision maker can make an upcoming decision
Provides more information than a poll to help predict future trends or inform the design of an upcoming decision
Provides rich, decision-ready proposals to help decision-makers help solve a problem or unlock hidden value or design appropriate responses to an upcoming decision and important uncertainty
Source: Parts of this chart were made referencing Pediaa.com

Source Pediaa

Next, let’s get into the top 5 reasons why suggestion boxes, polls and surveys are a thing of the past:

Workplace polls and surveys are innately biased by design and produce biased unreliable results. We all have cognitive biases – from anchoring, confirmation, to overoptimism or pessimism biases – and these biases can significantly limit and frame the way in which we ask for input. The design of a question can in turn limit the types of responses you receive back – and in many ways help justify the end goal you were inclined to choose yourself. This is a form of “conclusion shopping”.

Bias results can have negative impacts on your strategic choices and decisions; Reverse engineering the collection of limited data from the survey to justify a certain approach can limit how your organization copes in a crisis for example. Bias ensures that you won’t get reliable results and is pretty sneaky as it’s often unintentional. Biases are more likely to show up in polls or surveys because a) there are very few survey creator(s), and b) the respondents only have 2 choices – respond to the options presented or skip the question. When the survey or poll designers have their own goal in mind, this can significantly skew the provided questions or respondents’ answers and dramatically influences the results affecting the credibility and value of data received.

Polling or surveys limit collaboration and learning opportunities for participants, as well as the refinement of ideas through collective intelligence. Being closed, tightly-guarded, non-transparent, and one-directional exercises by a single department or group to collect opinions from the masses, the result is often that others who’ve participated are prevented from seeing their colleagues’ answers and demands. This lack of transparency limits learning and collaboration opportunities, and most certainly limits the chance to turn problems into relevant solutions through creative collaboration and the wisdom of the crowds.

The closed, one-directional approach of surveys is increasingly mismatched for the times we live in. A conventional engagement survey is a one-way, extractive, and closed communication process. The approach increasingly feels like something from the past, something totally misaligned with today’s modern culture, anchored in the culture of social media and modern technology that embraces more open, equal, two or many-to-many directional, transparent, and informal communication approaches. When the process of collecting opinions is designed in a way to limit visibility and extract information without any guarantee of sharing results or the value of the information with participants, better yet, commit to any action in advance they inherently breed suspicion, mistrust, and lack of engagement.

Surveys and polls breed and multiply cynicism, and lack of trust. Employee feedback is critical in today’s workplace. Given the times we live in, employees have a lot to say – suggestions, improvements, even discontent —and we at Swae strongly believe everyone needs an outlet to voice their opinion.

But in today’s environment of low trust and ever-increasing insecurity about what the future holds in store, when the company keeps asking for feedback through surveys and nothing happens with the feedback, employees quickly turn cynical and mild disengagement turns into apathy and in some cases resentment.

According to a Cornell National Social Survey, when organizations do surveys and not take any action, the results are astounding:

  • 26% respondents of surveys said they withhold information about problems or ideas for workplace improvement due to a sense of futility
  • Futility was 1.8 times more common than fear as a reason why respondents would withhold responses or disengage from surveys

When employees feel like their feedback is not being taken seriously, they in turn disengage. It’s pretty simple to understand. It’s not that they don’t want to provide feedback, but leadership at the organization is not living up to their end of the agreement and backing surveys up with any action.

Surveys and polls are broken feedback loops by design (in a time when closing the loop is ever more important). Related to the two points above, surveys and polls rarely commit in advance to doing something with results and in their lies the principle problem. Just like their well-intentioned but outdated predecessors the suggestion box, polling or surveys rarely commit in-advance to act on the most popular or most useful ideas/feedback. The fact that there is no accountability that any good insights and ideas shared will be acted upon to create any improvements is the most troubling of all. If nothing changes after a person provides their feedback in a poll or survey time, and time again, completely neglects a fundamental need of employees today.

At its heart, a survey is an invitation for the respondent to give their opinion. As such, it should be the most basic form of civility to acknowledge their responses and ideally the organization should share what it has learnt, while talking about the actions it intends to take.

When these basic steps are absent, the result is very predictable. For employees, all future engagement exercises are compromised because the subtle social contract has been broken and undermined. Trust is now out the door. Once trust disappears, the sanctity of the process is forever gone and nobody takes the results seriously, except the managers who would like to humblebrag about their engagement metrics (and conveniently sidestep the details of the responses from participants).

They are one-directional extractive exercises that breed futility. They provide little to no value to the participants, because they don’t get to see others’ answers and most times rarely get to see the end results. In most cases – they are disingenuous attempts to demonstrate to employees that they care about them when in fact there is a premeditated plan that nothing much is to be done with the results in the first place.

What is left is a ritual where, despite best intentions, the organization appears to pretend to care for employees’ opinions – and the employees pretend to care to give those opinions.

The truth in today’s world is most people won’t fully engage or give their best ideas if they know in advance that their contributions may not change anything.

Why speak up if it won’t make a difference? Why invest in an organization that dismisses you?

The impact of this on morale is disastrous. Futility turns to apathy and resentment.

Without commitment and some direct integration into the decision-making process, engagement tools, surveys, feedback processes are futile. Those participating will inevitably feel the process is pointless. People are getting much more selective about what they will and won’t engage in. For people to engage deeply and meaningfully, they need incentives they believe in, and systems in place that they trust to contribute their absolute fullest.

It’s time to depart with the tools of the past and allow for powerful technologies to step in. This is where we say hello to Swae.

Meet Swae, the idea management platform your people will love and trust.

Swae is not polling or a surveying tool. It’s a marketplace for ideas and well-developed proposals.

Swae is different from surveys and polls because it’s designed to close the feedback loop with decision-science and user empathy at its core.

Swae’s platform transforms the old way of collecting feedback through polls and surveys. It’s transformative in that our clients source creative and collaborative solutions to complex questions and versus gathering selective opinions to a very limited set of questions.

As a manager or decision maker, Swae helps you hear what you’re not hearing by giving users incentives that other platforms and tools don’t.

Your people want to have a voice in decisions and want their voice to be heard. Engagement surveys and the like don’t do this justice.

If hearing truth and great ideas is as important to you as it is for us, you’ll understand that it’s a two-way street.

At Swae we believe that if you want to hear what you’re not hearing, you need to understand why people aren’t talking.

People don’t trust one-directional engagement surveys that don’t go anywhere.

They want to know their ideas may lead to changes, or at a minimum know how they can do better on the next attempt. It’s about a two-way conversation, not a one directional monolog.

Swae helps you do both.

As we shared above, polling or surveys rarely commit in advance to act on the most popular or most valuable ideas/feedback, so respondents don’t know what good it will do if they take their time to fill them out. Swae deals with the looming issue of futility and cynicism directly – because it is built with a modern social contract built into it.

How Swae Works

Here’s how Swae works:

A manager gets to set up the main mission or challenge that they are looking for creative proposals from employees. They also get to determine what metrics and KPIs a proposal needs to achieve before being eligible for a decision review.

Then it’s over to the employees to enter in their proposals with the topic in mind.

Swae’s AI and collective intelligence features help users turn their feedback and opinions into proposals and smart decisions through a merit-based process. Swae’s AI helps people write a stronger pitch for their idea.

Once the idea is on the platform, the crowd is invited to edit the idea, add strengths and weaknesses, and vote for the best solution in mind. The collection of the engagement points help determine how ‘decision-ready’ the idea is. If the total engagement exceeds the metrics set up by my management, the idea automatically moves to a decision review.

Management still gets to make the final decisions about the fate of the ideas that have bubbled up to the top but the filtering process happens based on merit and transparency.

The only requirement is that whatever management chooses to decide, they share their reasoning for accepting or rejecting decisions online so all employees or stakeholders who were involved in the challenge learn about priorities and strategy.

Swae’s Benefits

This process helps ensure trust, and keeps intrinsic motivations high enough for continuous engagement and use. This helps break the broken feedback loop cycle of traditional surveys, polls and other engagement attempts.

Using Swae, people see the direct link between ideation to decision-making and organizational change.

The results of this are astounding. When people in an organization believe their voice matters, and believe in the opportunity to influence the agenda, they trust the process and engage more deeply. An engaged employee, stakeholder, or citizen who has trust invests more discretionary effort and emotional equity than the bare minimum expected. This leads them to unleash their creativity and ideas, engaging with others’ ideas to improve upon them, and ultimately helping shape and generate better quality ideas for the organization to select from, helping leaders make more effective decisions (from the bottom-up).

Swae’s platform creates a safe, inclusive, and anonymous space for problem and solution generation inside any organization, allowing leaders to source investable solutions, hear the truth, boost engagement, and reduce bias in important strategic decisions to improve overall performance. Swae helps create an ideal meritocracy inside organizations for all kinds of important decisions. By implementing Swae, teams, companies, and government entities benefit from greater inclusion and diversity, access to better quality ideas to select from, without making significant structural changes to how they manage the organization.

Swae is proud to be the only platform that helps turn people’s ideas into proposals and investable decisions through a “bottom-up process” that leverages AI and the intelligence of the crowd.

How Swae can help?

Within Swae’s environment, people can offer their authentic feedback and build thought-provoking proposals to share their ideas and solutions in a safe and inclusive environment. People can stay anonymous, allowing leaders/decision-makers to source more investable solutions because people feel safer, hear the truth, boost engagement, and reduce bias in critical strategic decisions to improve overall performance.

Swae allows for more opportunities to generate more revenues and save money or time. Swae is a place where people can hear problems they didn’t even know existed and then, in response, unleash the creativity of their people to solve the most pressing issues.

How Swae can Help Your Organization?

If you’re looking to innovate faster and be truly flexible in our fast-changing world, we invite you to connect with us for a limited free trial of “Swae’s 21st century suggestion box”. 

Whether you are a team, company or government entity, the benefit you will garner from greater inclusion and diversity will speak for itself.

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Does Your Company Suffer from the Fear of Finding Out (FOFO)

Does Your Company Suffer from the Fear of Finding Out (FOFO)


Does Your Company Suffer from the Fear of Finding Out (FOFO)?

8 Minute Read
FOFO business leaders not listening

This cultural and psychological barrier could be stopping your company from uncovering the hidden challenges that could derail you on your track to success

What is FOFO, the Fear of Finding Out?

We’ve all seen the meme of the ostrich with its head in the sand. And I’m sure you can recall someone in your life who behaves this way, not opening that piece of mail or asking the questions they know may bring unfavorable information, shielding themselves to temporarily preserve their ‘comfortable status quo’ or carefully crafted worldview.

The “Ostrich Effect” describes peculiar human behavior where individuals avoid information, they believe may be unpleasant. While there is speculation over who coined the term “ostrich effect” first – either behavioural economist George Loewenstein of Carnegie Mellon University or Israeli economists Dan Galai and Orly Sade (in a 2006 paper about investor behavior) – both used the phenomenon to describe the peculiar human behavior seen with investors and how they chose to stick their heads in the sand during lousy markets, ignoring information presented to them, or interpreting that information in a way that ignores potentially troubling implications.

And now cue today’s “Ostrich Effect”; “FOFO”, prevalent in so many organizations we see. Simply put, it’s the “Fear of Finding Out”, or the selective avoidance of negative information.

Could this cultural and psychological barrier be stopping your company from uncovering the hidden challenges that could derail your track to success?

Strong managers are listeners. Giving your team avenues to share problems and ideas can translate into change that matters

What is FOFO?

They say “out of sight, out of mind” but is that really true?

Similar to the Ostrich Effect, FOFO is the fear of finding out, or simply, the fear of knowing the truth. It is often used in the finance industry to describe customers afraid of opening their accounts due to the fear of poor financial health. According to a recent Barclays Bank study, 37% of Millennials had FOFO about their finances and did not like to check their bank accounts.” (R3 Consulting, Overcoming FOFO)

FOFO is also used in the medical field for those afraid to seek medical treatment and finding out they have a condition. Apparently, ‘Fear of Finding Out’ in the health industry makes up a 33% of conscious reasons why people don’t visit the doctor.

The research around FOFO from the medical industry shows that the ‘Fear of Finding Out’ mostly affects those who have an unhealthy lifestyle, and those who struggle to cope with the knowledge of a life-threatening illness. It can also impact those who do not want to be “pressured’ into making lifestyle changes.”

Fear is the foundation on which ‘Fear of Finding Out’ is built upon, and research shoes there are 3 main pillars:

  • Fear of the initiating action – 45% of women and 37% of men found the difficulty making an appointment a key barrier
  • Fear of the investigative process – 33% of adults who admitted that they had avoided a doctor visit that they deemed necessary citing ‘discomfort with a body examination’ as the primary reason
  • Fear of outcomes and implications – one of the most widely endorsed barriers to consultation in regards to cancer was found to be the ‘worry about what the doctor might find’, which was true for 34% of men and 40% of women. Furthermore, between 12% and 55% of people who undergo testing for HIV fail to return to learn whether they are infected

(Source: Cision)

Whatever the origins of FOFO, we at Swae have observed this phenomenon to be deeply prevalent in decision-makers, and the parallels in our findings hold true across all industries and organization types. What we have found is an apprehension – or sometimes even inability – to hear the truth about the problems that persist in their organization and the associated negative impacts they might have on their company’s organizational health and performance, in order to avoid conflicts or disrupt their status quo.

Everybody knows they exist, they are known but not discussable


We, at Swae, know organizations thrive and work better when leaders actively acknowledge potentially unpleasant information rather than run from it. We’ve partnered with numerous organizations to correct the detrimental outcomes that have come from simple “pure avoidance.”

To avoid potential disaster and confront FOFO, it is important to first understand where FOFO originates from, and why it’s allowed to persist. It is then possible to open up to the solutions to combat FOFO directly at a systems level in your workforce.
Why do leaders allow FOFO to persist inside organizations?

According to Michael Beer – Professor Emeritus at Harvard Business School and author of “Fit to Compete: Why Honest Conversations About Your Company’s Capabilities are the Key to a Winning Strategy” – there are six reasons why leaders allow FOFO to persist inside organizations.
These ‘“silent killers”, as he calls them include:

  1. Unclear strategy, values, and conflicting priorities.
  2. An ineffective senior team.
  3. Leadership behavior – top-down or laissez-faire (hands off).
  4. Poor coordination across businesses, functions, or geographic regions.
  5. Inadequate leadership/management skills and development in the organization.
  6. Low capacity for honest, collective, and public conversations about external and internal reality.

Number 6, the low capacity for honest, collective, and public conversations about external and internal realities is closely related to how good a company is at making change happen (and stick).

If problems aren’t recognized and realities aren’t faced, then a company doesn’t have a sturdy foundation, and without a sturdy foundation how can you build a solid structure?

It’s not about whether you believe in collective intelligence or not. It’s about if you can afford not to listen to the early warning signs and delay action. Swae helps you avoid expensive mistakes and issues

From our experience at Swae, number 6 is the most important and telling factor because it closely correlates to, and in some cases has a causal relationship with, how good and fast a company is at making meaningful and structural change happen (and making change stick) to improve their situation.

We’ve spent the past 3 years deploying our idea management and decision-making platform into various organizations, cultures, and environments, working with leaders across the Globe. Through this, we’ve observed that FOFO is allowed to persist inside organizations because:

  • Leaders don’t want hear the truth because they don’t want to take responsibility over solving it;
  • Leaders already know the truth and can’t do anything about it (lack of scope or authority); or;
  • Leaders afraid of the negative consequences and potential backlash to them from raising the truth or suggesting solutions to known problems

Furthermore, our research with these leaders and decision-makers have clearly shown that organizations that are more risk-averse, who operate under rigid and multi-tiered hierarchies are the most likely to suffer from FOFO at all layers of decision-making, particularly amongst upper and senior leadership. The characteristics and red-flags that come up time and time again include:


  • Disregard for employee voice and/or feedback
  • Tolerance towards a persisting unhealthy culture
  • Resistance towards changing of structure or approach in the face of existential threats (new technologies, trends, cultural expectations, etc.)

What is the cost and risk of allowing problems and FOFO to linger?

Unfortunately, ignorance is not bliss.

FOFO can silently destroy a company before it even knows what’s happening. Leaders typically look at the health of the company when it comes to numbers like revenue and profit, but there are many other factors that fly under the radar. This can include measures like operational or infrastructure issues, the decline in the health of a company’s culture, marketing/sales issues that hinder growth, and more.

FOFO and The Ostrich effect can be a serious drawback to tackling costly problems in organizations. Because it’s so overwhelming to contemplate the severity and complexity and interrelationships of the issues, it’s often easier for decision-makers to just ignore them or reject their importance or downplay information that contradicts their more positive narrative.

Unaddressed FOFO is dangerous, as problems left to linger means organizations are actively eroding their foundation

How can you eliminate FOFO?

Now here’s an important question for you…

If you’ve read the above and still feel comfortable selectively avoiding hard realities and prefer not to embrace the ignorance is bliss mentality, then the next section is not for you.

But, if you want to confront the realities head on, then read on:

At the root of FOFO is the fear of having uncomfortable discussions and possibly constructive but tense disagreements about the realities that confront the organization. FOFO is about confronting the elephants in the room, and in some cases, shining a light on the real truth often to those with authority who may not want to hear it. The fears of doing this are real – the act of speaking up may have ripple effects and consequences on your standing, autonomy, and access to resources.

But, not speaking up usually means that you are prolonging the inevitable. More often than not, silence means that you’re risking your own future, your company’s future, and the future of colleagues you now call friends within your organization as a whole.

To tackle FOFO head on, you must value the potential positive outcomes and solutions that you might reveal more than the discomfort of the process of revealing the challenges. The positive consequences and results must outweigh both the discomfort of raising the issue and the pain of carrying around unresolved truths for a never ending period of time. That’s a heavy burden to carry.

In a world of empty promises, manipulation, and deception, a true leader cares for the well-being of others; she shoes commitment to advancing the best interests of those around her…Ultimately, it’s this kind of love that defines the best CEOs on the planet.”

Marcel Schwantes
Founder of Leadership from the Core

How Swae can help?

The potentially devastating consequences of FOFO can be neutralized when leaders learn how to face the truth, even when it hurts.

Swae was designed to help leaders and employees create a “speak up” culture for everyone’s benefit, without making significant structural changes to how they manage the organization.

By implementing a technology platform like Swae, this enables an organization to source insights and ideas from more people more often, leaders can easily tap into the hidden problems that people are facing and open the funnel to discover winning and decision-ready solutions for solving issues — from the bottom-up.

Simply put, when more voices are heard, leaders see and know more, and they become empowered with new insights consistently. It’s becoming quite widely accepted that our best ideas and solutions can come from an organization’s people (regardless of hierarchy), the same few people don’t need to decide the fate of many.

If you feel your company suffers from FOFO, start by implementing any of these solutions above and you can start to correct your course. A path that’s unique for your people and for the purpose of your company.

If you want to overcome your FOFO, Swae is a turnkey solution that can give your employees a safe and streamlined way to express their feelings, raise problems and give you their best ideas. 

We’d love to hear from you!

As we continue to dig deeper and deeper into this subject matter, we find FOFO is something that resonates with so many of our clients, colleagues and friends. If you find the above all too familiar, we would love to chat and learn more about your specific experience and would love 10 minutes of your time to chat.

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Swae Case Study: How LifeLabs Used Swae to Solve a Costly Industry-Wide Talent Retention and Attraction Challenge in Less Than 30 Days

Swae Case Study: How LifeLabs Used Swae to Solve a Costly Industry-Wide Talent Retention and Attraction Challenge in Less Than 30 Days

How LifeLabs responded to COVID-19, which compounded healthcare recruitment and retention challenges. 

In November 2020, Swae announced our partnership and pilot with LifeLabs to help crowdsource COVID-19 business and operation solutions directly from employees.

While remaining in full operation during COVID-19, LifeLabs had to continuously adapt to the ever-changing landscape with the health and safety of their customers and employees at top of mind. The team reacted swiftly by streamlining operational procedures, modifying their business model and services, and updating policies to remain agile and consistent. 

With great and persistent change comes the challenge of keeping everyone aligned. To support employees, the LifeLabs leadership team wanted to ensure they were hearing internal feedback quickly, addressing complex challenges collaboratively, and keeping an ear open for insightful ideas for improving the organization, all at the same pace of the changes required.

Swae was engaged to help them achieve these goals with a pilot program, formally launched in January 2021. The program was intended to help the LifeLabs team focus on the ‘Future of Work’ and understand how they could adapt processes at their labs and collection centers in a post-pandemic world.

The Swae pilot was initially sponsored by the company’s Lab Operations division. When it began, 28 leaders were invited to join a session to brainstorm, suggest, and collaboratively prioritize the most pressing problems and areas of concern while identifying potential solutions.


The top priority that surfaced through their efforts with Swae was the issue of attracting and retaining highly skilled Medical Laboratory Technicians and Technologists. This industry-wide challenge came from increased competition for these roles stemming from the global pandemic and existing long-term trends of increased scarcity for these roles that had been impacting the industry.

The concern of attracting and retaining trained Medical Laboratory Technicians and Technologists is not unique to LifeLabs. This is a challenge affecting the entire healthcare industry. 

According to the Canadian Institute for Health Information, the medical industry has an aging workforce that is retiring earlier than expected. Referencing a Statistics Canada study, they found that as baby boomers move towards retirement, the supply of medical staff has not kept pace with the retirement rate.

The study found that the average retirement age for Canadians employed in health and social services between 1976 and 1980 was almost 65 years, but 10 to 15 years later the average dropped to approximately 62 years. This 3-year reduction and deficit significantly impacts the availability of Medical Laboratory Technicians and Technologists and other specialized medical staff to fill critical roles. 

A recent study on the Fastest Growing Industries and Professions in Healthcare by the Skilled Immigrant Infocentre also identified that Medical Laboratory Technicians and Technologists are among  the highest in-demand professions across the country. In British Columbia alone, they estimate 1,520 new job openings by 2025. While there is significant demand for these professionals, the supply of Medical Laboratory Technicians and Technologists has not kept pace. 

When Medical Laboratory Technicians and Technologists first join LifeLabs, they receive an investment in training and development within the first eight weeks of their employment. For LifeLabs to consistently compete and continuously improve as an organization, it was imperative that they continue to retain their in-demand and highly-trained employees.

Given the uncertainties in the market, this challenge proved very difficult to solve with simple solutions. 


When in doubt, innovate! This became LifeLabs’ motto as they addressed each organizational challenge head on. 

By using Swae’s platform, the discovery and brainstorming process uncovered several brilliant ideas from participants to effectively address the various problems they faced.

The group’s biggest area of focus was around talent retention and attraction. The idea that gained the most engagement and traction included offering a retention bonus and student loan subsidy or reimbursement to help newly-trained Technician students pay back a portion of their student loans if they remain employed at LifeLabs for a period of up to two years.

This idea can be a major incentive at any point of a person’s career, but is a definite advantage during times of great uncertainty. In addition, they thought this idea could help LifeLabs improve the incentives for retaining talent while also attracting new applicants.

Over the 30-day pilot, this specific idea gained over 50% engagement from the entire cohort, had an average vote of 82% from 14 managers, and allowed colleagues to collectively raise potential risks and easily discuss all facets of this potential solution in a constructive manner. 

This idea graduated into an official management review by the Vice President of Operations and Human Resources leaders. Together, leadership from across the organization conducted a light feasibility study to stress-test the idea and they now have plans to turn it into official company-wide policy. 


Once implemented, the idea could help retain up to 10 Medical Laboratory Technicians and Technologists per year, helping solve a particularly challenging industry-wide retention issue. This in turn could help LifeLabs repurpose scarce resources and re-investment in other areas to continue growing their business.

This potential solution could be a major win for the organization and will be closely monitored throughout the implementation of the policy to fully understand the overall impact more accurately and attribute any positive outcomes back to the Swae pilot. 

More to explore...
LifeLabs Partners with Swae to Crowdsource COVID-19 Business and Operation Adaptations While Keeping Employees Feeling Engaged and Valued

LifeLabs Partners with Swae to Crowdsource COVID-19 Business and Operation Adaptations While Keeping Employees Feeling Engaged and Valued

Swae’s AI-empowered technology drives employee engagement and encourages collaboration building inclusive decision-making processes and healthy, high-performing organizations.



The Business Case for Swae

The Covid-19 crisis has magnified the importance for most business leaders that investing in technologies to keep their employees engaged day-to-day, as well as included in important decision-making processes, isn’t a feel-good measure but critical for driving success.

Employees that feel valued and feel like they’re still a part of decision-making processes will be more engaged, will feel comfortable being “in the know” and will be happier in their roles. When people in an organization believe their voice matters, and believe in the opportunity to influence the agenda, they trust the process and engage more deeply. An engaged employee who has trust invests more discretionary effort and emotional equity than the bare minimum expected.


The opposite is also true. When employees feel excluded from decision-making or feel that there is a lack of transparency about core decisions (especially during a moment of existential crisis like COVID-19), they become disengaged. Disengagement prevents people from feeling like they want to be a part of anything so they’ll stop coming forward with potentially great ideas and useful insights. What follows in this vicious cycle is a lack of trust and lower morale which ultimately negatively impacts productivity, culture, and organizational performance.

That’s why LifeLabs decided to do a pilot program with Swae. Our team is excited to help them create an inclusive culture welcoming bottom-up ideas so that they can start to activate the full potential of their workforce!





LifeLabs performs over 112 million laboratory tests to help diagnose, treat, monitor, and prevent diseases for millions of Canadians. They are the largest private-public laboratories and COVID-19 testing facilities across Canada. 

In this 60-day pilot program, the LifeLabs leadership team is planning to use Swae to engage employees to gather insights and source idea innovations for adaptations to their operational and business models for their now distributed workforce (due to COVID-19). This pilot program with Swae will also help LifeLabs think about the Future of Work and understand how they can adapt processes at the patient services centers in a post-COVID world (a time or circumstance that most of us struggle to see and predict).

With all of this uncertainty, new values are reshaping the workplace every single day, and by using Swae, LifeLabs can turn the participation of their people into a powerful source of innovation potential for their organization. And this isn’t only about employee engagement, but also about providing high quality, defensible ideation, and innovative solutions for the future of the organization.

“Swae is a tool I have been hoping to see developed for many years. It dispels many of the implicit and explicit biases often seen in brainstorming exercises.”

 — Jamie Lepard, LifeLabs Business Continuity Program Manager

Building a culture where employees feel comfortable to “speak up” (also called a “speak up culture”) can, as our customers have seen, 10x employee engagement!

The goal of this relationship is that by implementing Swae’s AI-empowered technology platform, LifeLabs will get more ideas from their stakeholders, include more voices, and raise the quality, intelligence, and legitimacy of decisions. By removing the barriers to inclusion, the process they will reveal. Doing so will boost engagement and all of these things have a long-lasting impact on morale, culture, and performance.




At the most basic level, we are a high-tech suggestion box that can’t be ignored. Unlike the old school suggestion boxes that collected more dust than ideas, helps organizations create a competitive idea marketplace to source from, evaluate, and improve upon the ideas in a collaborative manner.

How To Solve Organizational Challenges and Manage Ideas

How To Solve Organizational Challenges and Manage Ideas

We’re helping solve the challenges that organizations face today by simplifying how ideas are managed.

Introducing Swae’s most recent product update that addresses the complexity of how organizations manage the many challenges and campaigns necessary to make progress (even if the world continues to get more complicated).


Would having an abundance of brilliant ideas organized by challenges or campaigns help stop the feelings of overwhelm around all the things that you have to find solutions for today?

We’re sure you’re curious and maybe a little skeptical. Let us break down this latest feature as to how Swae helps create solutions to challenges, manages ideas, and drives innovation.

84% of executives say that innovation is important to their growth strategy, yet do not have the processes and systems in place to execute.  [Source: McKinsey Global Innovation Survey]

Swae’s AI-based technology platform is designed to create a more inclusive and collaborative environment allowing leaders to get an abundance of highly organized ideas coming their way to make more informed decisions.

Bottom line, we help leaders discern the brilliant ideas from the bad in a more efficient and streamlined manner, which makes innovation happen all the faster.

Since organizations are complex, the decisions that must be made daily are too. In today’s economic environment, we don’t know what will come our way, so leaders across the globe, regardless of the size of an organization, must be prepared to make the best decisions, under every new circumstance, fast. And, more importantly, you’ve got to translate vision into operations through the management of ideas to get there.

Some decisions require broad input, many iterations, and longer lead times to make those decisions, while others require a more targeted audience with shorter lead time and very few iterations. Some challenges need to be solved in a few days or a week (like a rapid response plan to the latest COVID-19 phenomenon). Others can remain open for longer durations, depending on the decision-type, and urgency (for example, an annual strategic planning exercise or an open innovation competition).

Our team realized that Swae needed to allow for much more nuance, complexity, and reconfigurability with the platform in order to match the subtlety, complexity, and urgency of how fast organizations (and even local or state governments) operate and make decisions.

So we redesigned Swae to mirror these needs and used the feedback from our more than 20,000+ users and years of research that we’ve conducted.

Welcome to Swae’s new Challenges feature.

Swae Before

Previously, users could only have one challenge (or idea campaign) running at any given time to extract ideas from the larger group.  A site administrator or manager could configure that challenge or campaign workflow to suit their needs, setting the number of days ideas sat in the collaboration, voting, and management review stages, and including as many idea escalation KPIs and metrics as necessary.

This would help determine under what circumstances ideas would move to the next stage to either  become decision-ready or end up it the archives.

While this helped one department lead an innovation or ideation process with the help of Swae, it limited the extent to which other departments could create their own mini-Swae workflows, campaigns, or spaces to source department-specific ideas from specific stakeholders.

Some decisions require wider input, many iterations, and longer lead times to make the final decisions. Other ideas can require a more targeted audience, with shorter lead time and few iterations.

Both need to exist side-by-side to reflect the complexity of any organization. Under our old design, this wasn’t possible; an organization could have many ideas coming from their employees tagged under various themes, but could not have numerous workflows to exist side-by-side on the platform, until now.

Swae Today

Now, Swae can keep up with the many difficult decisions or campaigns that an organization needs to make across multiple teams day-in and day-out.

To be more effective, leaders can run many campaigns simultaneously in search of brilliant ideas for the various kinds of challenges that an organization faces.

Campaigns can include a large group of stakeholders (internal, external, or both), or an invite-only group with the workflows entirely configurable. 

Helping you make more informed decisions 

Good decision-making is the most important management activity in an organization, driving 95% of performance and 50% of employee engagement.

Under current circumstances, most leaders are making decisions with levels of uncertainty around topics that they’ve never faced previously.

While it is tempting to centralize decision-making to a group of leaders and experts right at the top who operate behind closed doors and coordinate the best possible responses, suspending consultative procedures and processes, or opportunities for inclusion is deeply shortsighted.

Given our technological, social, and cultural evolutions we’re experiencing, gone are the days where leaders make isolated decisions alone in an office, or with a select few who sit “at the top” and continuously push a top-down agenda.

All of the latest research in organizational theory and decision-science illuminates that small, closed, non-diverse teams have more groupthink and make more biased decisions than gender, age, and geographically diverse teams. Unchecked biases limit the quality of choices available, derail good decisions, and cost companies time, money, reputation, and morale.

It’s time that we change how things are done. This is the lesson that comes from 2020 and it isn’t going to change, it’s time to create new and improved systems that are based on the latest science in order to evolve. 

We’re just learning that organizations thrive when decisions are made more inclusively. Creative, innovative, and high-quality arguments can lead to more informed decisions, leading to better choices that impact the bottom-line. Swae can accelerate this as it increases the diversity of input, helping remove bias while improving the bottom line.

Here’s what else we know:

  • Business Insider reported a study that stated, on average, teams make better business decisions than individuals 66% of the time [Source: Business Insider]  
  • A survey with team leaders by Grover Critical Thinking found that:
    • 70% agreed or strongly agreed that “Bad decisions cost my organization time and money
    • 82% agreed or strongly agreed that “Bad decisions harm my organization’s reputation in the marketplace” [Source: Grover Critical Thinking]  
  • On the flip side, a study conducted by Towers Perrin found that the top three workplace attributes and interventions that result in employee engagement are 1) Senior management’s interest in employees’ well-being, 2) Challenging work, and, 3) Decision-making authority. The research concludes that having the opportunity to voice ideas freely, feeding views and opinions upwards, and involvement in decision-making are the most successful drivers of employee engagement. [Source: Towers Perrin Talent Report]

Decision-making in the 21st Century is about building a more collaborative environment because employees need to feel engaged, that they’re of value, and that they’re truly involved.

Swae’s new Challenges feature can now empower your organization to garner brilliant ideas across many teams to help you manage all of the major decisions that you need to make every single day. Swae will help you unlock the brilliance and potential of your people so you can pull through the best of the best ideas and make progress all the faster.

In uncertain economic times, you need to know that you’re making the best decisions possible as fast as possible.


To get started, click here to send us an email and we’ll set up your free demo to show you Swae in action. 








Our Response to Covid-19: Announcing Swae Public

Our Response to Covid-19: Announcing Swae Public

Helping Teams, Organizations, and Governments Adapt to Digital Decision-Making

TLDR: Swae is launching a publicly accessible version of Swae to empower Teams, Organizations, and Governments to rapidly adapt to digital and remote decision-making during and after the coronavirus crisis

If there was ever a time for Swae, it’s now.

The Covid-19 Crisis is a watershed moment for reorganizing society to embrace a remote and digital-first reality. While most institutions have been unprepared to work and make decisions remotely, adapting decision-making process to embrace this remote reality is vital to the world’s progress at government and organizational levels. Almost every decision is one we’ve never faced before, and the need for inclusion, transparency, competition for the best solutions, and quality data and arguments has never been more important.

To help teams, companies, and governments adapt accordingly, over the next 4 weeks Swae will be launching a public open version of the platform that allows any organization or local government that is finding the ability to make collective decisions during this time quite difficult, to sign up and launch their own Swae environments.

Swae’s platform works a lot like Slack, which most teams and companies are already comfortable with, and enables them to make collective decisions over the internet quickly, conveniently, and safely.

Use cases include 1) digital annual general meetings, 2) remote team decision-making, and, 3) digital policy making and governance, and many more.


As the situation with Coronavirus (Covid-19) unfolds daily, we incrementally accept that this pandemic isn’t going away anytime soon and will have very long term consequences. While experts ponder the full extent of the implications, one thing is for certain: Covid-19 has created a watershed moment for remote work and digital alternatives to physical meetings.

From team coordination, alignment, consensus building, strategic formation, governance and policy-making, our physical decision-making processes need to adapt to a world where much more must happen online. Remote work, remote collaboration, and remote and digital decision-making is here to stay and we must adapt our teams, companies, and governments accordingly.

Earlier in March 2020, British Columbia’s Premier, The Honorable John Horgan, discussed how badly they needed digital alternatives to a physical parliament convening, so that the policy makers could exchange a healthy debate about possible legislation the government was considering to enact into law. I imagine this is the case all around the world, where every government needs to ratify certain decisions into legislation and requires the benefits of healthy deliberation to identify and address any inherent biases or unintended consequences to make the best possible programs, policies, and solutions under the circumstances.

There are many actions that require digital alternatives that can work just as well as an in-person reality which includes;

  1. team alignment, collaboration, brainstorming, and decision-making,
  2. citizen inclusion in the policy design process,
  3. stakeholder inclusion in data gathering and solution formation for executive policy and strategy decisions, 
  4. digitizing annual general meetings.

Now more than ever, people need the right tools, platforms, and safe environments to make high quality collective decisions about a lot of things that remain uncertain.

Now more than ever, people need the right tools, platforms, and safe environments to make high quality collective decisions about a lot of things that remain uncertain. We are having to make decisions around topics that we’ve never had to face previously. Decisions such as possible changes to mortgage laws, employment insurance, rental vacations, policies at work around compensation, benefits and entitlements for small businesses, public policy about self-isolation, the border, etc.

The need for inclusion, transparency, a competition for the best solutions that includes high quality data, input, and arguments/perspectives has never been more important to ease the tensions and move forward with legitimacy.

The need for inclusion, transparency, a competition for the best solutions that includes high quality data, input, and arguments/perspectives has never been more important to ease the tensions and move forward with legitimacy.


Swae for the Public


Until now, Swae has been serving enterprise clients and government entities with its business-to-business platform. Swae has, for example, handled organizations such as Etihad Airways, Bosch, Doctors without Borders, amongst others with over 25,000 employees and over 15,000 active users. While we’ve experienced great results since launching our MVP product 16 months ago, the platform required a lot of customization and further integrations to make it work well for each organization.

Given the times we face and the need for remote inclusion, over the next 4 weeks Swae will launch a platform open to the public, that will allow any organization or local government to sign up and launch their own Swae environment (that is similar to using a Slack environment) to help teams, companies, and governments adapt accordingly.

Leveraging all our learnings and feature improvements to date, users will initially walk through a light configuration and integration process, and then begin inviting other users into Swae to begin ideating, and creating competing solutions to various challenges and inviting competing proposals from stakeholders to make high-quality and legitimate collective decisions over the internet.

With a few clicks and an easy onboarding process, remote teams, NGOs, small businesses, companies, and governments will be able to make inclusive, transparent, AI-supported, and merit-based decisions collectively during this crisis.

Use Cases & Pricing

Use cases for this public version of Swae can include:

Digital Policy Making — convening governments remotely to deliberate over legislation,

Digital Annual General Meetings (AGMs) — to digitally host your upcoming annual general meeting

Remote Team Decision-Making — teams can crowdsource a variety of solutions to a common challenge for survival strategy or compensation policies during any crisis.

Swae will offer flexible or, in some cases, free pricing in order to make sure that cost is no barrier to helping people use the most robust digital and remote platform for decision-making during this time.

Next week we’ll release more details of the features and a timeline on how we’ll be opening up Swae to the public to help all types of organizations, local governments, and communities leverage our technology to make the collective ideation and decision-making process much more technologically savvy, remote, safe, and convenient.

This is the moment that we all can come together to hear all of the relevant solutions and alternatives that matter, and use a fact and merit-based process for deciding the important decisions that we need to make. Our response matters. Please stay tuned as we release more.


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