InForms - Advancing Intelligence, Feedback, and Employee Voice

As Laudio continues to study the current environment and further improve its solution, a critical part of the process is reaching out to experts and learning about challenges faced by other organizations in different industries. Josh Bersin is a leading human resources analyst who has developed the Josh Bersin Academy, which teaches HR teams of all types how to deal with never-ending changes to their workplaces and workforces. I recently spoke with Josh about his observations and how they relate to Laudio. Here are some excerpts from our discussion:

RR: In your academy, do you see organizations thinking more about their frontline leaders with regard to their strategy, or their engagement or retention programs?

JB: If you looked at all the money spent on HR and talent practices, you would find that not enough is spent on frontline people, but that’s changing. In the past 20 years, the percentage of workers in the U.S. that work in healthcare has gone up by almost 20 percent. It’s a very, very big employment segment, and it’s growing like crazy. These people are busy doing very important jobs, and I don’t think the HR profession has quite figured out what tools they need yet. So, you guys are in the right place at the right time.

RR: We’re still seeing health systems have real struggles with retention and engagement. What types of tools or platforms are you seeing out there for the frontline employees and their managers? What are the categories of tools you’re seeing out there?

JB: If you look at all types of frontline employees from salespeople to nurses to service delivery people and so forth, most of the market for tools is collaboration systems where you can look up somebody’s name in a directory and send them a message, which can be everything from Microsoft Office to a new product from Facebook and all sorts of other tools. The second category is basic HR stuff. I want to schedule a shift, I want to check on my pay, I want to change my benefits or some other sort of administrative part of HR, that usually comes from the HRMS vendor depending on who it is, whether it be ADP or Ceridian or Workday or someone else. However, a more sophisticated platform would be; I want to go through a training program, I want to find a new responsibility, I want to plan my career, I want to do an engagement survey, I want to figure out what the people on my team are working on and what their goals are. There aren’t a lot of tools, to be honest, in that area. This is where you guys fit. Nobody’s quite reached the front lines with these innovations.

RR: I’ve seen some amazing tools out there in the continuous performance management space, but they are all focused on office and desk workers. In a health system, your average manager is a nurse manager who’s also a nurse but has been promoted up, and they’re running around putting out fires, relating to nurses who are not at desks. Typical tools just aren’t practical.

JB: If you look at the performance management software companies, there are at least 20 of them. They aren’t thinking about frontline workers in their design. They’re thinking about software engineers, teammates. I think your designing point is much more relevant because it’s focused on what we call an action platform. Immediate, easy to find things that you need to be alerted of that are going to help you do your job, that’s a different design point than making it easy for a software engineer or a project manager to share their goals with their team.

RR: We’ve noticed that as well. We’re scratching our heads why a company like a time and attendance system isn’t really developing a manager-centric tool.

JB: Here’s the problem. The software companies that sell to HR usually see the HR or the employee market as this massive market with many, many industries. So they tend to focus on the first industries that buy from them. So if a bank buys their software, they’re going to focus on financial services. Because healthcare providers don’t spend a lot of time and money buying sophisticated software, it’s unusual for a software vendor to focus there first because they tend to be difficult customers to sell to. On the other hand, the demand and the problem in that industry are gigantic, so you may end up having the market to yourself for a while.

RR: How about the application layer on top of some of these systems, on top of Workday or Kronos? To my knowledge, they don’t have a Salesforce app layer where a robust solution ecosystem can develop.

JB: They each have mobile apps, but the mobile apps are designed to reach their sub-apps. They’re not designed to be open platforms. You’re doing it the other way around. You’re basically saying what does the end-user need, what does the manager need regardless of where it comes from. In the case of a nurse or a nursing supervisor, they’re not going to be sitting around using Microsoft Teams on their phone to get access to stuff. They need something a little bit more custom-designed. I think you’re in a unique and very important part of the market. There hasn’t been a lot of R&D in what you’re doing from the core backend service vendors, and I don’t think there will be. They don’t have any reason to build an application like yours. Their market is very different from yours.

RR: We’ve heard Workday is trying to get more manager-centered. What have you seen in this area? 

JB: They are, but it’s a long journey. Workday has hundreds of screens and interfaces and buttons and places to use the system. And so, they built this thing called the People Experience on top of it, which is a tool to build custom employee journeys. It uses recommendations from the backend to surface information. But it’s brand new and it’s designed to only integrate Workday transactions. So it will never do everything that you need. It will make Workday easier to use, but you guys are dealing with things that Workday doesn’t do. So it’s limited from that standpoint.

RR: It’s really interesting. When we show people what we’re doing, their eyes immediately light up like, “Oh, this is something we have to have.”

JB: People need to look at Laudio. I don’t know what to call it. It’s more like a management action platform, but it’s more than that. It’s really a management dashboard or a supervisor dashboard for somebody who has a lot of people reporting to them with a lot of activity going on and many types of interactions that they want to support and help. And I think the way you’ll get people to buy it is by showing it to them because it does things that they just can’t do in other systems.

RR: Knowing what you know about us, what are your initial thoughts on where we should go deeper or where we should really emphasize our advantage?

JB: Well, I think making the system not only easy to use but highly productive and actionable for a supervisor is huge. And giving the supervisor and teammates suggestions and nudges on what can make their work easier is unique. You have the opportunity to see the work practices that are making some nursing populations and some care-providing populations more productive and others not. So, in some sense, if I could buy this system and it would not only integrate all the applications and things that I already have, but it would give me intelligent recommendations on how to run my team better and be more productive, that would be fantastic.

The second thing is in the healthcare industry, people talk to each other a lot. The healthcare providers are very close to each other. They don’t feel like they’re competing because there usually are geographic barriers, so they’re not all running into the same customers. So I think building a network of customers that will talk to each other about their requirements, which I’m sure you’re already doing, will be hugely valuable because when I talk to CHROs and IT people and healthcare providers, they don’t really know what other people are doing that much. I mean, they have ideas, but they don’t really understand the details. I think you could build a working group of organizations that would really learn a lot from each other.