Employee experience is the name of the game at HR-tech startup Springworks—and not only because it develops tools for employee engagement, onboarding and recruitment.
With a distributed team spread across India and the U.S., Springworks values transparency and employee satisfaction above all else. These values have become even more crucial since becoming a fully remote team in 2020.
“We feel like the employee experience is broken, and in the context of the past couple of years, it has become so much more important,” says Abhash Kumar, Vice-President of Marketing at Springworks. “We want to help other organisations fix their employee experience.”
Building a digital HQ for asynchronous work
Springworks started using Slack eight years ago. Since then, it has ditched its office space and transformed Slack into its digital HQ so everyone could get work done asynchronously.
Before Slack, Springworks piloted other collaboration tools like HipChat and Google Chat, but neither had the customisation or flexibility it needed. Thanks to Slack integrations, all of Springworks’ tickets, conversations and files are in one place, meaning it can streamline processes and team communication.
“Every company has integrations and its own custom workflows. This is why Slack is where you need to be—it’s so easy to have all data flow into one system and then act on it,” says Kartik Mandaville, Founder and CEO of Springworks.
“The first question we ask before taking on an external product is, ‘do you natively integrate with Slack’?”
Slack has also been a boon for productivity, helping Springworks scale up collaborative teamwork while scaling down time spent in meetings.
“We were doing five stand-ups a week, but we’ve been able to eliminate three. The other days we share updates on Slack,” says Mandaville.
“Syncs help get everyone on the same page and saves us time. Before this, our standard was fifteen people jumping on a call, everyone making sure their mics and videos were working. Then everyone talks for five minutes each and it ends up being an hour-long call.”
It wouldn’t be possible to have such flexibility without Slack, Kartik adds. For example, if a team member needs to quickly debrief on something, they can set up a Slack Huddle—lightweight audio and screen-sharing that recreates quick, informal discussions without having to schedule a meeting. Or say they need to demonstrate a task. They can use Slack Clips—short audio, video and screen recordings where they can provide updates, showcase work, walk through a product demo, or give step-by-step instructions.
“As a default, channels should be public. Our philosophy is that we should have as few discussions in DMs as possible.”
Developing cultures that work for everyone
Because Springworks designs products to integrate with Slack right from the get-go, it’s only logical that it uses Slack to test and iterate products internally first.
“Our products derive from our challenges. That’s why we’re able to build them with empathy,” says Kumar.
For example, it uses its EngageWith product for rewards and recognition. When someone is recognised, they accumulate points that can be exchanged for Amazon gift cards or custom swag. The team also uses EngageWith for other virtual team-building exercises like virtual coffees or games like charades or trivia.
Another unique approach is the #lounge-around channel, which acts as a virtual staff lounge. There’s an always-on video conferencing link that people can visit between meetings or when they want to take a break and hang out, play a game or chat.
“It works well because it’s exactly what happens in an office,” says Kartik. “You don’t go to the coffee station at a defined time, you go when you have time. And then talk to whoever is there.”
An asynchronous set-up improves work-life balance too. For example, Mandaville blocks out his calendar every day at 3 p.m. to play badminton, which wouldn’t be feasible in a traditional office setting.
“For a company to be successful, you need to be able to translate each person's impact through the company's objective.”
Sparking cultural innovation
With a 4.6 rating on Glassdoor and consistently high rankings on employee satisfaction surveys, Springworks is clearly doing something right. It starts with a culture of transparency.
“As a default, channels should be public. Our philosophy is that we should have as few discussions in DMs as possible,” says Kumar.
Same goes for company updates and revenue reporting—both are publicly available on Slack Channels. Each week, CEO Mandaville shares a company-wide update on Slack, covering achievements from the last week and tracking KPI performance. He also goes through employee metrics around internal reviews and hiring statistics, as well as product metrics.
“Former employees have sent me messages sharing how much they miss my Monday updates,” shares Mandaville. “They’ll say things like ‘In my new company I’ve gone three weeks and I don’t know what we’re working on or if we’re meeting our goals.”
Springworks also hosts monthly town halls to discuss each division’s goals. This is complemented by a video townhall each quarter, where people can anonymously submit questions on Slack.
“These meetings mean everyone always understands what we’re working towards, our focus and the impact of our work. For a company to be successful, you need to be able to translate each person’s impact through the company’s objective,” says Mandaville.
“Our products derive from our challenges. That’s why we’re able to build them with empathy.” —Abhash Kumar, Vice-President of Marketing at Springworks.
Breaking down silos using Slack Connect
Thanks to Slack’s Workflows Builder—which allows you to design customisable, no-code workflows to automate routine tasks into repeatable processes, as well as integrations like Troopr Assistant, internal collaboration is a breeze at Springworks. But what about external collaboration with partners, vendors, and customers?
That’s where Slack Connect comes in. Slack Connect is designed to speed up communication with outside organisations by moving conversations out of siloed email threads and into the same place. Springworks collaborates with around 200 partners this way, including other fast-moving Indian companies like Razorpay and WazirX and Polygon, as well as some of its overseas customers.
The results are tangible. “Slack Connect has changed how we do customer support. It’s so much faster than using an email support system. Customers are generally happier and NPS scores reflect that,” says Mandaville.
For example, say Springworks needs to work with a customer’s HR team to finalise authentications. Traditional collaboration would have meant playing email tag and multiple phone calls. But on Slack Connect, they work together in one channel and solve problems in real-time. Or, say a customer has done a product demo and is interested in purchasing. It launches a Slack channel with important decision-makers to accelerate the process, answer questions and help get them started.
Slack as the digital hq for an inclusive culture
Remote work comes with several challenges, especially where employee satisfaction and engagement are concerned. But for Springworks, having a digital HQ like Slack is better than any office because it empowers its people to get work done in their own time.
Slack has also helped the team focus on what matters—building products to make work better—minus distractions from email and multiple apps.
And it provides access to information in a way that actually builds culture.
“You need your team to be on a level playing field when accessing information. Having all your conversations in one place gives everyone context and ensures the team feels involved and included,” says Kumar.