When companies want to tell their story to others, they use digital tools and social media to communicate and connect. But when it comes to developing a bond among internal teams, such techniques often aren’t available.
This absence is especially being felt during the pandemic, as remote teams are seeking more ways to connect digitally, and folks are getting a bit Zoom fatigued, said Joe Mechlinski. He’s the founder of SHIFT, a consulting firm that has worked with companies for 20 years on culture and workplace engagement.
Now, the Fells Point-based company has a software tool that can help.
The company recently launched Latch, a platform that’s designed to help leadership teams build connection around company initiatives, as foster more support among employees for each other.
SHIFT acquired the technology from the eight-and-a-half-year-old tech company Avanoo earlier this year, and redeveloped it ahead of the recent launch. Terms were not disclosed. Now, the company will look to build on the user base of 60,000 people.
Mechlinski believes it can be one of the first corporate social networks, serving as a place for teams to listen and learn.
“It’s a place that we decide how we are not just going to work together, but live together going forward,” he said.
In deciding to go forward with the acquisition, Mechlinski said a few primary elements of the platform stood out. It uses weekly pulse checks, which are basically short surveys, that allow leadership teams to get a perspective on employee experiences. This especially resonated with Mechlinski when he considered the pandemic challenges of the last 18 months. While companies often seek employee feedback through surveys once or twice a year, having regular info about how teams are doing became more valuable.
"People just don't feel authentically connected to their colleagues in this new work environment. This is something that could help."
“Instead of annual surveys, imagine hearing weekly and being able to respond to what they’re feeling and how they’re thinking and what they’re seeing,” he said.
And it has digital storytelling tools that allow companies to make videos that share information and highlight team member stories. This can allow powerful stories of teammates to stand on their own. With corresponding prompts that can be shared, it also offers an opportunity to share learnings when you can’t just go over to the water cooler for a quick chat.
Applying AI and machine learning, it provides insights from data that can help drive future decisions.
It also brings change for the company: SHIFT has long worked with tech teams and tools as part of its consulting practice, both using and selling those of others. But this is the first time it will have a proprietary platform. The company has surely had its ear on the problem it is seeking to solve with technology, as it has its own perspective from hundreds of different kinds of engagements over the years.
The 20-person team also eyes trends. It found in a recent survey that a high number of employees don’t feel connected to colleagues. And it is watching as The Great Resignation is resulting in employees moving on when they don’t feel engaged in their company. When it comes to retaining engaged employees, Mechlinski said his team knows communication is paramount. Now, it will engage in the feedback loops that software teams seek out to ensure that the technology can improve it.
“People just don’t feel authentically connected to their colleagues in this new work environment,” Mechlinski said. “I believe firmly that this is something that could help.”