More than 50% of employees in the U.S. have left their place of work in the past five years, and about 75% say they don’t plan on staying with their current employer for more than five years, according to a 2019 iHire survey, an online platform for job recruitment.
Of course, many people leave their job for better opportunities, including higher pay and career advancement, but company culture and employee engagement also play an important role.
One new Wilmington startup is trying to address those current workforce trends and increase employee/ employer interaction through its app WorkTok.
“WorkTok provides simple mobile- or web-curated conversations for the perfect employee check-in,” said founder Lisa Leath. “Instead of missing individual meetings with busy employees, managers can conduct quick, scheduled two-way communications in the app.”
Through the app, employers can communicate with employees regularly and document feedback.
“This app allows people to use one of many templates I personally created for effective one-on-ones. Or, clients can customize their own templates that address relevant business happenings,” Leath said. “This app is not meant to replace face-to-face communication between supervisor and employees but to supplement and ensure two-way feedback is regularly happening and being recorded in the cloud for future reference, good or bad.”
The idea for WorkTok originated from Leath’s personal experience using Human Resource Information Systems (HRIS), which uses software to complete human resource tasks.
“Every time I demoed a new way to engage employees or manage performance, the tools seemed overcomplicated and overpriced,” she said.
The app was developed by Leath and Wayne Hippo from PS Solutions and is available via a monthly subscription.
Managers and employers know that talking to their employees and building rapport is a good idea and that can be done by discussing goals and professional desires, however, that rarely happens on a regular basis, Leath said.
“Managers want to talk to their employees to understand who they are, how they’re doing and if they enjoy working at the company, but rarely have the time to sit down and have a solid one-on-one,” she said. “Companies need a tool to fill the gap when they can’t be face-to-face.”
That is especially important in today’s remote working world, a result of restrictions set in place to slow the spread of COVID-19.
While the app wasn’t developed specifically to address constraints caused by the coronavirus – starting development nine months ago – it has launched at a suitable time.
“Launching WorkTok during COVID-19 was a complete coincidence, but I think it has opened people’s eyes to how hard it can be to feel connected when you’re not physically around people,” she said.
WorkTok is a good way for those who want to stay in touch with their employees – not just during the shutdown – but all year long, because it helps send and receive feedback across the staff, she said.
The tool can be used in a variety of business sectors including by health administrators, sales teams, logistic companies, manufacturers, hospitality groups, schools and more.
This is not the first business venture for Leath, who is president and owner of Leath HR Group, a Wilmington firm that provides human resources services for companies.
Leath and Hippo have goals to differentiate WorkTok from other employee engagement platforms in the coming year by providing a solution that is less expensive and easy to use, she said.
To continue to accomplish this, WorkTok is looking for investors and it also has short- and long-range goals it is hoping to meet.
“Short term, we need to get this app downloaded, and I’d love to see Wilmington support our local startup by getting on Google Play or Apple App store and subscribe,” Leath said. “Long term, the app will become the preferred employee engagement tool by companies, small and large, across industries. I would like to see the app on HRIS marketplaces so it can be readily available to millions of businesses around the world. As we build a large client base, we will have the need to grow a team with digital marketing, sales, finance and customer support.”
With WorkTok, Leath hopes to provide a solution to how difficult it can be to find and retain talent for many employers. Keeping a constant stream of communication is a key way to ensure employees are engaged and their thoughts heard, she said.
“Anyone in business knows that, even before the lockdown, it was very difficult to find qualified committed employees. That really emphasizes how important it is to keep the talent you have. If you want to retain your talent, you need to talk to them, individually and often,” she said. “The most personal thing to any individual, besides their family, is their job. Respect your most important and expensive asset by giving them a tool that solicits their input. They’ll appreciate it and might stop entertaining offers elsewhere.”