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When you’re six years old and your dad says, ‘Take these discs and reformat the hard drive to this computer,’ you know you’re destined for a career in technology. Those were the words Joe Lennon heard in his youth, and today, Joe is the co-founder and CTO of Workvivo, a company that is helping employees communicate with their peers, while staying actively engaged with their employer. Joe joined IT Visionaries to discuss how the platform assisted companies in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, and he explains why employee retention is a fight companies didn’t see coming and how it affects the future of work.
- Time to Engage: One of the big challenges facing companies is how they can get employees to engage. If employees have the opportunity to communicate with their peers in ways they are familiar with outside of work, the chances for engagement rise dramatically, so facilitating that communication is worth investing in.
- Employee Retention: As job-seeking becomes easier and more employees feel empowered to find new opportunities, companies must shift their focus to how they can align their core values with their employees. If employees don’t feel as if the company they work for is making an impact in their life and in society, they are less likely to stay with the company.
- Future of Work: When more companies empower employees with the ability to work remotely, fewer companies will be able to deploy traditional office environments. Instead, focus on giving your employees the tools they need to do their job from anywhere and at any time.
For a more in-depth look at this episode, check out the article below.
When you’re six years old and your dad says, ‘ Take these discs and reformat the hard drive to this computer,’ you know you’re destined for a career in technology. Those were the words Joe Lennon heard in his youth and today, Lennon is the co-founder and CTO of Workvivo, a company that’s helping employees communicate with their peers, while staying actively engaged with their employer. Lennon joined IT Visionaries and discussed how the platform assisted companies in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, why employee retention is a fight companies didn’t see coming and the future of work.
Workvivo is a platform aimed at creating a digital experience that brings workplace culture to life through a series of familiar platforms that encourage employees to share stories or post updates while interacting with colleagues in ways other devices simply don’t allow. It’s a platform that is built not to solve a particular problem, but to encourage employees to engage in more active forms of communication.
“The focus for companies was shifting from being about things like performance management — where companies were really focused on trying to get the most out of their employees — to a world where talent management became the focus,” Lennon said. It’s about trying to retain the best employees that they had in the business.”
So Lennon began focusing on trends that centered around how he could help companies retain their employees by leveling up their engagement, something he mentions that companies have long struggled to deal with.
“Employee engagement is something that organizations have struggled with for decades now,” he said. “There’s a realization in recent years that in order to get the most out of your employees and to retain the best people, you need to get engagement. So we determined our core mission was to try and help organizations with engagement.”
To build on that mission, Lennon looked back to his past experiences as an entrepreneur to help him set the foundation for how Workvivo could excel, including tapping into what he learned with his previous company, Subwoofr, a music start-up. With Subwoofr, Lennon said he stressed about the challenge of building the product. This time around, he focused more on what the company’s mission would be and the people he would be surrounding himself with.
“One of the other challenges was actually deciding what to work on,” he said. “I know a lot of founders start off by waking up one morning with an epiphany of, ‘This is what I’m going to do,’ and this is the problem that I’m going to solve. It wasn’t like that for us. We decided to start a company before we decided what we were going to do.”
Eventually, they settled on Workvivo, a SaaS platform that operates off AWS, serving organizations of all shapes and sizes.
“As a start-up, one of the important things for us is that we’re able to leverage technology to target multi-platform that do not require us to have a very large team,” Lennon said.
“We’ve been really fortunate to be able to use technologies like AWS to target so many different end-user clients without having to invest too heavily in having separate teams for all these different platforms. AWS has really enabled companies like us to achieve pretty incredible things from a scalability and functionalist perspective that, if you look not too long ago, they just really would have been well beyond the scope for a company like us.”
While Workvivo works to solve the problem of displaced employees lacking one-to-one connections, Lennon said it’s part of a broader challenge that companies are currently facing, and it is a two-fold problem. The first side is that companies are having trouble retaining employees whose values don’t necessarily align with the company. As job-seeking becomes easier, and employees have access to a broader scope of opportunities, more and more employees are in search of finding opportunities that they are passionate about.
“Ultimately people really just want to be passionate about their work,” Lennon said. “They want to feel like they’re part of something bigger, not just that they’re showing up to work every day and then waiting for their paycheck at the end of the month. One of the most important things that any organization can do in an effort to try and retain people is to actually give people really interesting and challenging work, to help drive their passion.”
The second part of employee retention centers around making sure that your employees have opportunities for advancement, especially when it comes to reskilling employees who show potential, but may not possess the skills required for a certain job.
“These days it’s as important, if not more important, for the employer to prove their value to the employee, to keep them not just interested and engaged, but also to keep them working at that company,” Lennon said. “One of the things that’s most important is to nurture people’s skills in a way that suits their own personal learning style.”
To build off that idea, Lennon pivoted to how the COVID-19 pandemic and the shift to remote work will affect companies and employees in the forthcoming years, stressing that as remote work becomes more accepted, and employees begin embracing the idea on a larger scale, deploying traditional office environments could be hard for companies to do in the future.
“What’s particularly interesting to me is how the shift to remote work has evolved as time has gone by over the past few months,” Lennon said. “I think a lot of companies were quite surprised by just how well a remote workforce actually worked for them. I think perhaps that pointed to maybe a historic lack of trust in whether people would actually be productive when working from home. I think for many it’s actually been the opposite and they’d experienced that productivity has actually increased somewhat. But I really do believe that what we’ll see once the pandemic is over, is more companies enabling their people to not just to work from home, but to work remotely from wherever they want to work.”
To hear the entire discussion, tune into IT Visionaries here.