When it comes to attracting and retaining a diverse talent pool – and we would suggest especially during the global COVID and civil unrest pandemics – learning and development (L&D) are in the top three employee culture benefits and asks.

Working from home on an endless loop of what feels like Groundhogs Day… That’s where we live right now in most cases. Giving people an outlet for their restless energy and desire to do something meaningful to pass the time (what day is it? Does it even matter anymore?) is a growing essential need for employees. A lot of our clients are extending L&D to kids of the household. Helping children stay engaged, relieves workers of some of that added stress and pressure.

Essentially, you’re continuing the evolution of your people and now to families, so they are advancing personally and with new skills that directly impact the success of your organization. Many companies are dramatically reducing their in-office workforce strategy which is no small task. With open and cool modern bullpen floor plans, human resources are scrambling now to bring people and teams back together while dramatically changing the landscape of what normal is. Is it an office? Is it virtual? Is it a hybrid model?

Read Return to Workplace? Yes, No, and Let’s Reboot This.

Also – are cubicles going to make a comeback for greater separation? Are elevators going away in favor of escalators? Do you wear your mask for your entire in-office day? I think we can all agree and sigh in exasperation that wearing a mask for any number of hours constantly is miserable in the best of circumstances. (P.S. Thank you, essential workers, who are literally doing this every day and for ridiculous hours on end – we appreciate you!)

In this use case, this 1,250-person late-stage start-up was working with a relatively young and diverse workforce, primarily focusing on attracting and retaining developers.

The company was lacking a culture benefits solution to help onboard, train, consistently engage, and immerse employees in a sticky and fun way that was individually relevant. Once employees went through the typical hiring and onboarding process, there were no consistent touch-points, and HR had only manual insights into an employee’s engagement level outside of what their manager reported back. This meant HR was flying blind outside of management review processes. They also had difficulty reporting back to leadership that its cultural activities and expenditures in L&D were making an impact. Any analytics that could be manually cobbled together typically existed in multiple spreadsheets and documents that delivered no real, or real-time actionable intelligence.

Additionally, the bootstrapped HR team didn’t have a solution to deliver adequate support to continue the near-constant and evolving L&D that coding requires for engineering.

Internal affinity groups and employee resource groups (ERGs) were emerging organically. However, there was also nothing formalized through the company, so unless an employee went on a path of self-discovery, they were likely to remain on their own.

Finally, their attrition rates were becoming problematic, specifically with the very audiences they were looking to attract, retain, and grow into leadership within their culture.

Lightening the load for HR and people teams

This company came onto Espresa’s Culture Benefits platform, gamifying employee onboarding, L&D, and ERGs and communities for peer-to-peer match-ups. Their attrition rates dropped by 87% within their first six-month pilot. They also were able to use the platform to continuously engage employees with customized and personalized challenges and achievement awards and rewards.

And HR decided to gamify every aspect of employee engagement – from leveling up through the process of onboarding, signing documents, going through security training, having lunch with a peer from another team, and joining an ERG. Distinctive badges were awarded that were both on the culture platform and within a native phone app. Points were awarded on each challenge, and the win was spending on branded swag in the online employee store that was also enabled by Espresa, or through the platform itself for experiences, such as wine and chocolate tastings, skydiving, and travel (safely). It’s important to note that these achievements and rewards were delivered locally and, in the employee’s native language, and currency – this was critical, as the company had a growing global workforce with distributed team members.

Read 6 Ways that HR can Engage a Geographically Distributed Workforce

No language (or currency) was left behind, which offered new levels of inclusion that the company had not been able to offer previously, as their HQ was in the U.S. The platform also demonstrated its value when COVID erupted, and the company’s HQ needed to close. They didn’t miss a beat and were able to roll out additional resources and L&D benefits seamlessly and near-instantly for it’s now distributed workforce.

Read Employee Reimbursements for the New Normal

With the team being all over the globe, HR also gamified wellbeing and mindfulness, with self-reported and fitness-device tracker-connected challenges, such as L&D, steps, water intake, meditation, restful sleep, and healthy meals. With instant and real-time analytics, HR was able to see what culture challenges were motivating and engaging employees and could personalize them for particular regions, teams, and other culturally relevant attributes.

HR also formalized ERGs, so they were easy to find for employees on the platform while gamifying the process of increasing membership and activities within those affinity groups. For example, the Women Who Code group challenged the LGBTQ+ group to a steps challenge with the winning team owing to the other a pizza and beer night to be virtually attended.

Scaling for human resource success

A company has its cultural footprint – and employees need and expect more of their employers. There is still a need, even in this new normal to attract and retain your top talent.

As soon as you get over 100 employees, the challenges for an HR team grow exponentially. Remaining within the ethos of the values, mission, and philosophical beliefs of your company is at the top of an HR person’s list. By using technology to make all experiences engaging and fun while performing the heavy lifting, this pre-unicorn company became a Silicon Valley leader in diversity, earning certification as a diverse company. Additionally, they were able to maintain business continuity during COVID with impactful L&D programs employees wanted and needed, while connecting them to communities so employees could learn together.



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