There is a lot of interest in apps, and new ones are being continuously developed to make things easier, more efficient, and accessible. From apps to summon taxis, to doing personal banking, to helping companies recruit, it seems that for almost anything and everything an app is being created.
An example is an app based housecleaning benefit offered by Influitive, a Toronto based B2B advocacy marketing company with offices in Boston and Palo Alto. The app provided by the cleaning company helps the scheduling and coordination of cleaning appointments for 75 Influitive employees, making this a pleasant, no hassle process.
I spoke with Fraser Stark, VP Talent for Influitive, and learned that this perk reflects Influitive’s CEO’s commitment to employee work-life balance. Rather than employees being bogged down with weekend housecleaning chores, the CEO wanted to help ensure that employees and their families spend quality time together.
Knowing that the stresses of an untidy house can cause conflict, the CEO simply saw this as an opportunity to help keep family relationships strong by helping employees keep their house clean. As Stark points out, this benefit is really well received by the employee’s spouse or partner who in turn views Influitive very positively. It also helps garner “home support” for employees to build their career at Influitive, given the levels of effort this requires.
Influitive’s commitment to its employees doesn’t stop with the cleaning perk, nor is it the only app or IT resource used. And according to Stark, the best and even bigger perk is an empowering workplace where employees are offered a great place to work, and where each employee is also a shareholder.
At Influitive, there is a genuine commitment to involving and engaging employees in the important “day-to-day” issues as well as “bigger picture” items, and Influitive has accessed a number of readily available IT tools to facilitate these efforts. By actively and intentionally pushing decision making to the fringes of the organization, Influitive empowers and trusts employees to do great things. The leadership team gives direction by identifying objectives, but as much as possible, employees on the front lines set their objectives, take initiative, and make decisions after getting appropriate guidance.
This approach resonates incredibly well with Millennials as well as others. And this is where IT tools come into play as part of orchestrating employee empowerment, resulting in high employee engagement. It’s through its use of apps that Influitive supports and tracks progress on the various initiatives that are pushed down. Currently, employees are supported with Work.com, a division of Salesforce, to track objectives and key results. Work.com enables Influitive’s leadership and employees to know the status of various projects, and helps to support empowerment. To help ensure connectivity, Google Drive is used to facilitate contact across Influitive’s locations, and Box.com is Influitive’s official file sharing mechanism. These resources allow real-time sharing, idea exchange, and interface with teams and team members locally and remotely.
However, it is the level at which information sharing takes place that helps further set Influitive apart from a lot of other companies. Routinely, minutes from the leadership team meetings are posted for all employees to read. It is not a verbatim transcript but a high-level overview of key topics and discussion points that also identifies main priorities. It’s not often to hear of that type of disclosure, but as a result, Influitive’s employees find that they better understand the bigger picture of how their efforts are contributing to success. This helps build their engagement, commitment, and drive to succeed.
As Influitive has employees in Boston and Palo Alto, Skype and Google hangouts are used for remote conferencing and for work collaboration on various projects. Influitive also uses Flowdock, a work and team collaboration app. Similar to text messaging, Flowdock allows for private as well as group chats for sub-teams, and also has specific rooms for various topics such as “Recognition and thanks” for team members or project teams.
On a daily basis, Influitive uses Go-To Meeting to run a hook-up for employees at all their locations, including employees who work from home offices. The hook-up typically has a short, 7 item agenda, and the 10 minute meeting provides a quick status updates on key projects. This meeting is incredibly popular with employees and keeps everybody up-to-date. This builds great awareness and appreciation of what is going on in the company, and who is doing what.
To further support openness and transparency, the sales team uses Hoopla inside their bullpen to show their actual metrics. This helps foster a naturally occurring competitive spirit – displaying real time results – but if someone is not having a good week, it can also foster support, or enable a “congrats” for success and a job well done.
Through the above examples, one can see how Influitive has accessed and effectively applied a variety of apps, tools and resources that individually, as well as collectively, play an important role not only in Influitive’s success, but also of their employees. These resources are key to facilitate strong levels of communication and collaboration, and it is not surprising to hear Stark state that Influitive’s employees have high engagement scores. As outlined, the tools are used to share information, monitor progress towards objectives, and are avenues for co-workers to provide congrats and thanks to team members. Without harnessing the various applications, the level of connectivity across locations would be lessened, and the ability to work as a team would likely be less efficient.
That being said, Influitive also believes in the “personal touch” and has not left everything to technology. As an example, last year Stark introduced “walking meetings” with half the team – no tool is involved but it simply means going outside, getting fresh air, grabbing a coffee on the way. This programme proved to be very popular, and gave each person a feeling of appreciation. After a winter hiatus, I wouldn’t be surprised if this comes back by “popular demand”. It just shows that no matter how effective IT tools may be, ultimately there is nothing like a positive and affirming in-person interaction to support and guide.
There is a lot companies can learn from Influitive. Not only has Influitive identified how to utilize readily available IT tools and resources, but it also has shown that how you chose to treat your employees is what really can make a difference. Through information sharing, leadership transparency, team collaboration, Influitive employees are made to feel valued, appreciated, engaged. These are actions that are facilitated by the IT tools and resources, but if these actions were not behind the tools, then the tools would be simply tools.
The lesson learned from Influitive is that there is no substitution for genuine care and belief in the value of your employees. I am sure that if we saw more of Influitive’s approach modeled by others, we could see improved and transformed workforces all around. Think of how significant that would be; hopefully with the examples provided, companies will begin to further explore the possibilities that the various tools demonstrate.