Epoch and Collective hosted a Happy Hour for leaders and innovators in the Employee Experience space to mix and mingle in Los Angeles. The event also featured a fireside chat where Jade Choy, Epoch's CEO and co-founder, has conversations with leaders and innovators in the employee experience and engagement space.
In case you missed it, here are some key learnings and takeaways from our Fireside Chat featuring Eric Kerr, previously Workplace Strategy Program Manager at Doordash, Jacki Morisi, Senior Director of Workplace Experience at Match Group, Seth Bartholomew, Global Head of Employee Experience at Chronosphere, and Sara Escobar, Global Head of Real Estate and Workplace at Riot Games. Scroll on for notes! 👇
Jacki is navigating the world of dating apps, including Tinder, Hinge, and OkCupid. Her journey with the parent company, Match Group, started in Boston and took her to LA to open the company’s west coast offices post-pandemic. With two years of insights from Tinder under her belt, she collaborates with the entire Match Group across North America. Her primary focus? The return to office. Jacki emphasizes that the workplace approach at Match Group is anything but one-size-fits-all, as each brand and market has its unique needs and cultural elements.
Seth, at the helm of remote/workplace experience, DEI, and more at Chronosphere, manages offices spanning the globe. He's sharing how Chronosphere thrives in a remote-first culture. Seth aims to share his insights on navigating employee experience through challenging economic times.
Eric, our next panelist, brings a unique blend of skills to the table with a background in theater and Eastern medicine. He spent nearly three years at Doordash, starting and leading the arm of their workplace team. Some top-of-mind issues for him include using data to figure out how to iterate, track engagement, and measure how spaces are being used. Eric is also focused on cross-collaboration across the organization. He explores how people work with their people partners, L&D, and other teams, as well as how to create layered experiences that garner more company-wide support and financial backing.
Our final panelist, Sara, began her career at Hulu and played a pivotal role in shaping their workplace function. With a passion for innovation in workplace and employee experience, Sara delves into the dynamic between company leadership and the evolving needs of employees.
Jacki emphasizes the need to bridge the gap between employees' expectations and upper management's vision for workplace experience. She highlights the importance of strategic investments in employee/workplace experience and advocates for increased leadership involvement in the process. For Jacki, building a culture and community within the organization is key to success. She's seen significant positive outcomes from larger onsite or in-person events that bring people together, even though they can be expensive.
Pre-pandemic assumptions about the purpose and effectiveness of office spaces, as pointed out by Eric, have been challenged. He emphasizes the need to link workplace and employee experience back to the company's business goals. Eric also suggests that on-site events should be layered and intentional, incorporating educational, networking, and upskilling components to maximize ROI.
Seth highlights the challenges of mixed messaging regarding returning to the office and workplace changes, emphasizing the importance of offering employees choice and flexibility. He believes that without these options, it's difficult to retain talent.
Highlighting that purposeful workplace and employee experience no longer depend solely on physical workplaces, Sara discusses the need to maintain purpose without a constant space. Post-pandemic, companies have come to realize the underutilization of desk spaces. In addition, she underscores the significance of meaningful and engaging events over sheer quantity, emphasizing the value of human connection in fostering a sense of community.
Valuable meetings are essential to employee engagement. Regardless of experience levels, employees seek meaningful interactions. Jacki focuses on newer employees, in particular, as they represent a great opportunity, eager to learn about the organization and connect with unfamiliar teams. Employee Resource Group (ERG) programs offer an effective way to facilitate these connections.
One standout initiative is the Barista program, intentionally introduced at two Match offices. This simple yet impactful concept involves having on-site baristas. Their presence has a ripple effect, boosting employee attendance and encouraging socialization. Jacki and her team diligently track key data points like who participates, when they do, team involvement, and productivity changes.
Eric suggests tailoring culture programs and initiatives to specific goals. He emphasizes the importance of sharing and measuring best practices across the organization.
Important to Seth is the need to build trust between departments and teams that work together, and effective communication, particularly from leaders, is vital in maintaining that trust. Empowering teams with greater influence over operational norms and communication practices can be beneficial. However, it's crucial to maintain an overarching framework for consistency. It's worth noting that despite offering perks and incentives to encourage in-office presence, people still need agency and choice. Without agency and choice, even enticing benefits may not offset the impact of poor management.
Sara stresses that the time spent on programs and initiatives should vary depending on the team's maturity. She acknowledges the impact of cultural and geographical differences and the importance of sharing both data and narratives. Connecting people internally through common interests can also be a simple and effective approach.
Riot Games implemented virtual calendars for business units to plan internal events and programs in different spaces. This provided Sara and her team with some insights into event timing. Although, this method placed a big burden on business unit leaders regarding maintenance. Removing administrative burdens such as planning from managers is crucial to streamline employee experience efforts.
Jacki believes that intentional programs like Hackathons can drive business outcomes. She shares that ideas in previous Hackathons have been launched into their product roadmap.
Teams that organized a higher number of offsite events, as found by Seth, scored higher in the metric of "my work has special meaning, not just a job.” in a survey.
Eric relies on culture-based engagement surveys and closely examines the performance scores and metrics of teams that engage in more intentional offsite activities.
Lastly, Sara explores correlations between onsite times and engagement through survey data, helping to measure the impact of physical presence on employee satisfaction.
Sign up for Epoch’s newsletter to be in the know for our next Fireside Chat and other Employee Experience events!
Key learnings from our Epoch & Talk half day conference in New York.