Posts tagged engagement
Ohana Software and Employee Experience

In the past few weeks, we have been focusing our blogs around employee experience and why it is so important to companies. Last week, we highlighted how FullStack can support your business’ employee experience.

This week we are highlighting another Indy-based company that focuses on enhancing the employee experience, Ohana Software. Ohana’s app allows employees to connect and communicate easily. With Ohana, companies can inspire employee engagement across their organization through open communication, celebrating team successes, making company announcements, as well as sharing access to important company information.  

We interviewed Managing Executive of Ohana, Christina Zerfas, about the platform and how it can help foster employee engagement and better the employee experience.  We also shot a video of Christina at a recent trueU event, which we included below.  

Q: Why is the employee experience so important to you and Ohana?

A: The employee experience is important to both employees and companies.

 On the employee side, I am invested in making the time at work more enjoyable for hard-working people. We spend about 25% of our waking hours at work. That is a lot of time, and the negative or positive experience during that time will understandably carry over into other parts of your life. At Ohana we believe that people who are happier on the job are therefore happier husbands, wives, parents, children, friends, etc. 

On the company side, there is a huge ROI on employee engagement.  People leave cultures, not companies. An increase in engagement is an increase in loyalty that can save you turnover costs of about 33% of someone's salary. It is estimated that the USA also loses $450 billion in productivity costs as a result of disengaged employees. The bottom line is that employee engagement directly correlates with the bottom line.

Q: How is the employee experience connected with employee engagement? 

A: Think of your first day on the job. If the company welcomes you, shows you to your desk, and has an agenda for your onboarding, you will have a completely different impression of the company than if you show up, they seem surprised to see you, and you spend most of your day watching HR try and set up your laptop and key. 

Your impression of a company becomes your belief. Your beliefs become your actions, and your actions become your results.  If your boss shows up to every meeting late, you will be late in turn thinking that punctuality is not important and missing deadlines will decrease productivity.  The employee experience is just the first step in the chain reaction to how engaged your employees are

Q: What are some practical tips you would give to a tech company leader who is just starting to prioritize the employee experience?

A: Do not forget that half of communication is listening. Employees will tell you how they want to engage, but you must engage with them first. It is critical to do this with unselfish availability that makes them feel comfortable sharing and an action-oriented investment that makes them realize these changes are the culture, not a fad. 

Ohana supports every aspect of the employee experience, which FullStack believes is incredibly important to your company’s success. 

Engagement versus Satisfaction: Tips for Startups

I recently went to a presentation about focusing on Employee Engagement instead of Employee Satisfaction. Employee Satisfaction is taking a pretty hard hit in the media these days, because if you are merely measuring satisfaction, you’re already behind. Satisfaction is essentially how “okay” a person is with his/her job daily; whereas engagement is the buy-in piece you’re searching for from an employee who is truly leaning into his or her work from an overall buy-in. You have to do more than Net Promoter Score.

For more information, one great summarized source is Gallup’s employee engagement management model, which is divided into four different areas of entitlement, contributions, community, & growth (


  • Entitlement: Do you know what’s expected and do you have the tools to achieve your expectations?

  • Contributions: Can employees contribute daily, in a meaningful way? Are the recognized for this? And can they see how this helps someone (the business? A key client? The world?)

  • Community: Do you have a best friend at work and a voice that’s heard?

  • Growth: Do professional development opportunities exist, in addition to growing within a role?

For startups and growing companies, there needs to be a contrived strategy to address these four areas, on regular timing and intervals; beyond the typical pitfall of “What’s expected of me? Anything and everything to get the job done. Tools to do it? I have to figure that out on my own. We’re a startup, that’s just how startups are.” Creation and delivery of this starts and ends with a leadership team dedicated to it, then empowering the employees to live it with their own voice, speaking up if they are lacking in support in an area.

The true driver to employee engagement is employee buy-in. If employees feel both invested in all four areas, and supported in all four areas, they will be engaged. Daily they will have satisfaction, which will increase productivity. So...what have you done to help engagement of your people today? Pick an area, look at it critically, and ask...but be prepared to act and make it better if it needs improvement. Then tackle the next area. It really is that simple. Start by looking at each area, and be prepared to pivot and identify your organization’s needs. Also be prepared to invest in your people so they have what they need at each step above. The startup journey can be harrowing, you need your employees engaged every step of the way.

Employee Recognition - What Works?

While focusing recently on thoughts of Employee Engagement, recognition comes to the forefront to provide employees feedback on how they are doing. This can be done by a team lead, practice manager, peer, mentor, or mentee - anyone with whom the employee comes into contact. But I have a call to action today - I want to know what you’ve seen work, and what you’ve seen fail miserably.

One item that keeps being mentioned is the need for a remote connectivity tool with the workforce that is so physically scattered in today’s e-work environment. There are apps that can connect individuals where you can give “shout-outs”, make announcements, etc. Other apps, like Slack, allow you to do the same but are employee-controlled with regard to content creation and posting. Are these the best tools for remote engagement?

For in person, we know nothing replaces an in-person “atta boy”, a handwritten Thank You card, or shout-outs at the company meeting. Some companies have a discretionary bonus pool and award for core value recognition. Still others do peer-to-peer recognition on a regular basis.

We know what doesn’t tend to work: Intranets.

So what does work best for you and how often? 

Hit me up with your thoughts at

Connecting With Your Employees 101

I wrote in a prior blog that Connecting is 90% of what motivation is about, but I forgot something basic. For some managers, it is easy to form a bond with your employees. For many, it is incredibly complicated and is very unnatural. What is appropriate as far as communication; particularly, amount of openness? Where is the line between what should and shouldn’t be shared with regard to personal life and interests outside of work? How does a manager balance a line to not be overly friendly, and possibly blur the lines between work and friendship in a manner that could lead to misunderstanding?

More than anything, managers should attempt to form a bond with their employees. This article by helps with ten very basic ideas of how to do so: The ideas range from having lunch with your employees to working alongside them. The ideas are cost minimal as well and are key to extending the relationship with an employee beyond just work content.

When you attempt to connect with your employees, there are many things that can be discussed that are not taboo - family members, friendships, hobbies/interests, music, television, fitness, games, etc. Steering away from politics and religion is likely a good idea, especially in our current nationwide heated environment today. You want to be able to find common bonds with your employees while also not finding topics that can be abrasive or lead to discord.

It’s always the manager’s responsibility to make the effort, and make more effort, than the employee to connect. Being connected to your employees makes them more likely to be content in the workplace, as Gallup asks in their Q12 Employee Engagement Survey, “Do you have a best friend at work?” (source: While I’m not suggesting, nor would I think it appropriate, for a manager to become besties with their employees, this question inherently portrays the need for connection at work to the people with whom you are working.

Aside from overseeing daily functions, and managing the direction of the department/function, it is management’s responsibility to form connections with their employees to get to know them, thereby increasing the employee’s motivation. Which leads to job satisfaction and, ultimately, longevity and quality of performance in the employee’s role...and helping the company’s bottom line at the end of the day.