Interview | Workvivo — the digital heart of organisations —  connects people by giving everyone a voice

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Fresh off becoming the employee communications platform for Meta, Workvivo is enjoying its moment in the sun, writes Deirdre McArdle. But for CEO John Goulding, this is just the beginning for Workvivo, which was acquired by Zoom a year ago. 

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“It’s hard to believe that it’s already been over a year as part of the Zoom family. This acquisition was a great fit for us. Last year, we decided to keep Workvivo as an independent business unit within Zoom and that’s been working really well for us. We work closely with our Zoom colleagues to build and integrate the products together and also to help organisations to get value from both Workvivo and Zoom,” said Goulding. 

Today, Workvivo is continuing to expand its platform and deepen its capabilities, including beefing up integrations with Zoom to allow for more seamless transitions between the two tools. 

At its heart, Workvivo is an employee experience platform that simplifies internal communication and drives engagement. “We built Workvivo with the vision to engage and emotionally connect people by giving everyone a voice. One of our customers once described us as the ‘digital heart’ of their organisation and we have adopted that phrase, as it really captures what we do.” 

As the digital heart of an organisation, Goulding believes that internal communications is all about keeping employees informed, engaged and connected. “That’s always been our focus since the beginning – making sure employees know what’s going on in the organisation. With connection, it’s about employees feeling like they know each other and are connected with each other, but are also connection to the organisation and its values.”

Engagement is especially important to Goulding who sees it as key to shoring up how invested employees are in their work, and of course, the organisation they work for. “When we were building the Workvivo platform, we looked at the pillars of communication, connection, recognition and strong measurement. I believe that if you focus on these pillars, engagement will follow.”

But it’s a different world now than it was when Workvivo was established in 2017. Shifting work practices, and the rise of remote and hybrid working have cemented digital as the centre of the workplace. “Whether you are hybrid, remote or fully in the office, the best way to reach everyone and find all the information you need is online.” 

Online isn’t just one channel anymore though, and as younger employees, who have grown up using mobile, join the workforce, Goulding says it has sparked innovation in organisations who want to develop an omnichannel approach to their internal communications. 

“There’s definitely a shift happening and a big demand for new media. We are all inundated with text-based formats like emails and messages and when you can deliver messages in a different format, it’s powerful. Mobile takes away the friction and makes it easy to check in and quickly catch up with what’s going on.”

Workvivo has responded to this shift, adding different media types to its platform – posts, photos, polls, video updates, live streams, and podcasts. But for Goulding, it’s not just about talking the talk, it’s also about walking the walk, particularly when it comes to internal communications. 

“We love to use our own platform to experiment and practice what we preach, but we also go beyond that. We always say about our culture that we take what we do very seriously but we don’t take ourselves too seriously. This is one of our guiding principles. We want work to be a fun place to be. We started some employee-led groups to drive connection and internal communications in our company and they’ve come up with some amazing initiatives. One of them that I’ve enjoyed is our ‘Jam Sessions’ which take place after our all-hands call and put us into different groups to chat and catch up. It’s a really nice way to catch up with people you wouldn’t see that often and get to know new joiners too.”

As CEO Goulding knows how influential his role can be in driving and instilling a positive culture in an organisation. That’s why he stays involved in Workvivo’s internal communications messaging. “When we have a big announcement, internal communications is one of the most important things for me. It’s important to actually hear the news rather than just reading it so I often share things either as video or a livestream or on our company all-hands ‘Week at Workvivo’ that we’ve kept as a weekly ritual since the beginning.”

Goulding sees firsthand with Workvivo customers how organisations with leadership buy-in and leaders engaging directly with employees, can engage with employees on another level, and drive that engagement to build trust. “A really good example of this is Ryanair. They’ve set up a space for their CEO Eddie Wilson to engage directly with employees called “Ask Eddie”. Employees can ask him any question they like and Eddie will respond personally to them. Ryanair has huge engagement on the platform with frontline workers and I think this leadership buy-in is one of the keys to their success.”

It’s all about open and authentic communication for Goulding, who believes leadership teams need to learn more about the value and ROI of investing in internal communications. “Organisations need to put as much thought into how they’re communicating things internally as they would externally. But also just spending the time to listen and engage with feedback, to deliver a more personal message on a company update and be real.”

The changing workplace communications environment has put the spotlight firmly on internal communications, and Goulding says the impact and power of good internal communications, especially when it comes to a more disparate workforce, has become more apparent. 

“When you can get internal communications right, it can have a huge impact on engagement and culture. Something that’s often forgotten as we talk about the rise of remote and hybrid work is the huge number of frontline workers in the workforce. This group has traditionally been left out of a lot of internal communications and the digital workplace. I believe in including these people, and organisations that do will see the return on investment with increased retention, productivity and engagement.”

Although the pandemic accelerated a move towards remote and hybrid working, Goulding believes it was a catalyst for a change that was already happening. “We’ve all found new ways of working and everyone has to embrace technology to stay connected. During the pandemic, we saw a major increase in demand but this growth never really stopped. People wanted to feel more connected and engaged with their organisation. Even now with companies returning to the office and embracing hybrid work, there is still a major need to meaningfully connect employees.”