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Achievers Aims to Recreate the Employee Watercooler for Remote and Hybrid Work

March 31, 2022 Employee Experience
Gabrielle Rodgers
By Gabrielle Rodgers LinkedIn

HR software company Achievers wants to connect employees no matter where they work with the addition of a new feature to its employee experience platform.

The privately held Toronto-based company launched Employee Connections to recreate the informal conversations that often connected office-based employees with coworkers, supervisors and executives who normally wouldn't interact together.

“We’re helping recreate those ‘water cooler moments’ lacking in a remote/hybrid work environment so that employees can engage in the casual conversations that also build their internal networks,” said Achievers CEO Jeff Cates in an interview with Reworked.

Employee Isolation Growing in the Remote and Hybrid Workforce

According to data from the 2022 Engagement and Retention Report from Achievers Workforce Institute, an affiliated research organization, 48% of employees report feeling less connected with colleagues and their company since the pandemic began.

That isolation and a weaker sense of belonging are contributing factors to the Great Resignation, the rising tide of workers leaving their employers to seek out new opportunities, said Achievers' Chief Workforce Scientist Dr. Natalie Baumgartner in a press release revealing the results of that report.

Today's workforce is more fragmented than ever, Cates told Reworked, and employees oftentimes interact more with systems than actual colleagues. "HR programs suffer from a similar fragmentation due to disparate systems for programs like analytics and bottlenecks in administration," he said.

Achievers set out to solve both those problems through a technology that could be delivered globally and integrated into the work experience, Cates added.

Related Article: Can You Create Water Cooler Culture in the Virtual Workplace?

How Employee Connections Works

The concept grew out of an internal initiative started in 2019 to promote internal connections as Achievers expanded operations globally. Company officials came up with the idea to conduct Coffee Chats in which they could link each employee with another employee for a 15-minute talk.

"When the pandemic hit, we noticed that remote work was creating unintentional silos within our teams," Cates said. "Unsurprisingly, we turned to Coffee Chats more frequently to keep employee bonds strong. We quickly realized that silos were not a challenge unique to Achievers and was top of mind for all leaders in the early days of the pandemic."

Spotting a market opportunity, Achievers launched Coffee Chats in beta in April 2020 and tested it with 37 customers across industries such as financial services, manufacturing and retail. According to a company report, one customer reported high satisfaction, with 93% of employees reporting they interacted with a colleague they had never spoken to before.

Screenshot of Employee Connections platform offered by Achievers.
Screenshot of Achievers Employee Connections platform.PHOTO: Courtesy Image, Achievers.

Employee Connections pairs employees either virtually or in person, and is offered as an add-on to Achievers Employee Experience Platform.

It can also be configured to drive specific objectives such as reducing turnover, improving onboarding or promoting cross-functional collaboration. 

What’s Next for Employee Connections?

Employee Connections is available now to Achievers customers. Future developments will include enhanced administrator customization through icebreaker questions and the addition of more customization tools. Advanced pairing options allow for a more deliberate approach to member matching, according to Cates. 

This news comes after Achievers launched its Employee Experience Platform in September 2021 to bring together its rewards and recognition and employee engagement products.

In November 2021, the company began a partnership with Uber for Business to offer their vouchers through Achievers' Reward Marketplace. Users can redeem coupon codes for rides or meals and be automatically redirected to the Uber app.

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