The HR market has become suite-obsessed – but employee engagement vendor Workstride is doing something about that. In my interview with Workstride CEO Jim Hemmer, he explains why HR vendor consolidation did a disservice to employee engagement, and why customers gain from a different approach.
Much of the sex appeal in the HR software space is about the “cloud HCM suite.” But Workstride CEO Jim Hemmer has a problem with that. Understandably so – his company specializes in a narrower HR area: employee engagement through recognition and incentives. Hemmer believes that employee engagement is far too important to be an afterthought in a product suite.
Since joining Workstride in 2014, Hemmer’s been focused on building out Workstride’s customer base on their new platform (Workstride has technically been in existence for twelve years, but last year, they re-platformed as Workstride). Prior to some nasty weather and travel, I had a chance to talk with Hemmer about the ongoing problem of employee engagement, and why recognition programs matter. We also dug into a field example, and looked at how you measure the success of such programs, which can be an elusive measurement if you’re not careful.
Jon Reed: So why should a business prioritize “employee engagement?”
Jim Hemmer: Gallup has been surveying employee engagement for many years. The latest statistics are that roughly 30 percent of employees are “engaged” at work. First of all, there’s a lot of room for improvement. But what it comes down to is this: I think the employees are buyers now, and the companies are the sellers. I think the models have flipped.
Reed: But lack of employee engagement isn’t a new issue. Is it the workplace preferences of millennials bringing this to a head?
Hemmer: Millennials are definitely a part of it. I think the balance of power has just shifted a little bit. Today’s employee, millennial or not, are looking for meaningful work. I think they are looking for a company that has a mission they can believe in. They are looking for the autonomy to do great things. I think they want to work with a team of smart switched-on people. They are looking for an environment where meaningful things can be accomplished.
Reed: Where else are companies falling short?
Hemmer: Well, this is the self-serving piece, but employees want to be recognized for their accomplishments, and not just monetarily. If you’re an employer, and you’re looking at these stats, these are things you’ve got to start introspecting on.
Reed: Give us the short shameless plug on how Workstride can address this.
Hemmer: Our platform helps companies use recognition and incentive programs as tools to improve employee engagement. I’ve been here for two years now; one of the biggest reasons is because I see this as a huge opportunity in HR. I think this is the next emerging area of investment in HR technology.
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