by Amy Benziger, EIR at Cue Ball
When I first started as an EIR at Cue Ball, I was solely looking at female-focused companies. My passion is to broaden our view around how we support not just female founders, but female consumers, employees and patients in a world that has often built its products, companies and care systems by men. As I began to dive more deeply, I found that a lot of the support culminates in the workplace. It’s where we spend the majority of our days and the context in which we can both plan for and support the lives we lead. Richard Branson has said “Take care of your employees. They’ll take care of your business.”
In looking at the data around women, we began to see a more widespread issue: employees across the board aren’t being engaged and retained. Our short term mindset has created short term employees. Companies that stand the test of time have never been built on the backs of a zoned-out and disempowered workforce.
The days of feeling tied to a single company are gone with a PWC study noting that, amongst millennials, now the largest generational cohort in the workforce, only 18% expect to stay with their current employer for the “long term.”
Millennials are looking for good work/life balance alongside strong diversity policies and are leaving when they feel their employers have failed to deliver on their expectations. The rise of the on-demand gig economy has further enabled employees’ desires for more choice and flexibility at work. 28% of survey takers said that work/life balance was worse than they had expected before joining a full-time employer, and over 50% said that even though their employers talked about diversity, the opportunities did not feel equal for all at the workplace
So how do corporations engage their employees to stay? First, they need to demonstrate equal hiring and promotional practices. We are acutely aware how human resource departments and managers are (both consciously and unconsciously) influenced by their human biases. It is still not uncommon for employers to hire and promote the types of people they can personally relate to. We are however optimistic about the shifting landscape, thanks to technology platforms like Jopwell* and Landit*. Jopwell surfaces potential diversity candidates to Fortune 500s who typically would not be on the radar. LandIt helps women professionals develop in their workplace through mentoring, playbooks and a community.
Next, employers need to foster health and wellness amongst its employees. Virgin Pulse* is one such employee well-being platform creating workforce habits that matter. The company is contracted with 120 of the Fortune 500 companies with 87% of members attributing the platform as life-changing. A healthy workforce not only decreases missed workdays, but also increases physical and mental health leading to a more productive work environment.
Finally, employers need to create tribes. New platforms aiming to improve the affinity group experience, whether it be connecting those who are caretakers for sick loved ones, army veterans or single mothers, are demonstrating that we don’t turn off our personal lives when we turn on our computers at work. MyWays recently launched out of the Cisco Hyper Innovation Living Labs to capitalize on such needs and created an on-demand platform for employees needing best-in-class patient care support.
Ultimately, the team and the culture where a business champions the personal as much as the performance of an employee is going to be the new enviable competitive edge a company can have. In the years to come employers must learn how to leverage technology to foster and amplify their values so that their cultures become their new networked advantage. These actions are imperative for companies to recruit, engage and retain great talent. We are bullish on platforms that can help companies solve this problem by putting the employee first. Both Tasnia and I from the investment team are spending time in this space and would love to hear from you if you are working on improving the workplace experience. You can find us here and here.