New ways of Remote Employee Onboarding and Engagement

Excerpts from the rendezvous with Kartik Mandaville, CEO, Springworks

Soundhariya Viswanathan / Reading Time: 4 mins


Remote first is the future to be.

Springworks founded by Kartik Mandaville is at the forefront of promoting this belief. He got his bachelor's degree from the Manipal Institute of Technology. He got a master's degree in Machine Learning and NLP from Carnegie Melon University.

After graduating from Carnegie Melon University, Kartik started Springworks. It has been around for the last seven years. Starting with zero employees, it now has around 220 people distributed all over the world. It helps companies in hiring, background verification, engagement, recognition, and team bonding. It covers all the steps from hiring till the time an employee leaves the company. Springworks is US-focused. But in the last two years, it has received a lot of interest from India, and it has a decent number of clients.

Springworks has three products.

  • Spring Verify – for background verification
  • Engage With – for employee engagement, work recognition, employee pulse, and
  • Trivia – which is about team bonding through fun games. enables the development of a personal connection between people.

The remote first model:

Springworks was the first company to say "Remote First". But remote working had its own problems. An in-house survey revealed that it took around 15 to 20 minutes to get a response. Also, there were four to five hours of meetings every day. To improve this, they implemented GitLab, the DevOps platform for collaboration. Apps such as Trooper for stand-up meetings, Jira, GitHub, and Trello were also brought into use. This enabled the entire team to work in an async mode. Shifting to an async mode brought about positive developments:

  • Productivity improvement
  • Happier employees
  • Time spent in meetings decreased
  • Time spent on the work increased
  • Work days was more structured
  • More work-life balance
  • They could hire from anywhere in the world
  • Cost of living for employees had gone down due to remote work
  • People were spending more time with family, and
  • People could pursue their hobbies

The problems :

Kartik says that there are three main problems:

1. Working in an async mode: People tend to revert back to old practices. They continue to have unstructured meetings without any agenda. They have to unlearn old ways of presentations, communication, and working

2. Recreating the office environment: It is difficult in the async mode. Random conversations about problems and challenges is valuable but difficult.

3. Engagement: it is always higher in the office. Employees spent 10 to 12 hours with each other, working, and even having their meals together. Breaking down silos and cross-pollination of ideas is not possible in the async mode

New people have to unlearn the old ways of working and relearn the async mode of working. There is also the risk of them pulling others to the old ways

Kartik expects this to get better in the future as people start seeing the value of remote working.

The new way of onboarding :

Traditional onboarding was to introduce a new employee through an email. It contained the person's photograph, past work experience, hobbies and some other trivia. At Springworks they do things in a different manner. They have a quiz about the new employee with questions and everyone participates in it. This helps the person become part of a team. Kartik also shares a pre-recorded video with them.

A buddy is assigned to each new employee to answer questions and help them find their way in the company. This also helps them connect with others with similar hobbies or backgrounds. The onboarding process is reviewed and refined with feedback for the new employees.

New employees have to do free courses on Slack, a messaging app for business and also one on GitLab. Managers get responsibility for the entire team. Managers do not have to ask for updates since they are available on the tools. Thus, Springworks is a flatter and leaner organization.

Employee engagement :

Kartik said that employee engagement is about rewards-recognition, their pulse and feedback. There are non-work aspects such as team bonding through games, and trivia quizzes. Springworks has an app named Engage-With. People can get instant recognition for their good work. These get converted to point and then to Amazon Gift Cards. Some also find tangible items like a gift on their table. Kartik cautioned that the perks should be relevant. A Zomato voucher may not be of use to everyone other than cities where they have the service.

Measuring engagement :

Number of participants for any event or the number of reminders sent are good metrics to measure employee engagement. Too many reminders, is a signal to review the process and make amendments.




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Category: Remote Work
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