guidespark logoI had the pleasure Thursday of chatting for several hours with GuideSpark’s executive team. Actually, the discussion is better described like this: an intimate and well-knitted high-performance team of 8 or 10 long-tenured, super-smart HCM and HCM technology analysts in a closed, windowless room for half a day holding hostage executives of GuideSpark –a young, growing, innovative, video-based employee communications start-up, headquartered in Menlo Park, CA.

With that, if you didn’t envision an aggressive pack of professionals offering well intentioned – yet unfiltered and not so gentle – feedback on the product, then perhaps GuideSpark can do a much better job communicating the image I’m trying to convey using their communications solution to spin up a quick video.

All kidding aside, GuideSpark’s executive briefing Thursday left most, if not all, of us impressed. In just seven short years since its inception in 2008, GuideSpark has amalgamated knowledge in key HR processes, video expertise, a rich portfolio of content, and a SaaS-based platform to alert employees about critical compensation and benefits changes in interactive and fun ways.

GuideSpark currently serves several hundred mostly US-based organizations representing all industries. Some iconic names currently using the GuideSpark employee communication system include Facebook, Marriott Vacations Worldwide, and Southwest Airlines.

With game-like videos full of personalized and organizationally specific content, these three organizations, and many others, rely on GuideSpark to introduce their employees to comp and benefits changes and personally relevant information: changes in health benefit premiums, the addition of a financial well-being training program, dates for open enrollment, etc. GuideSpark’s solution doesn’t stop at education. It invites employees to get interactive with the video: posting comments about video scenes or rating the mini-flick much like the “like” functionality we use daily on Google, Facebook, and our other favorite apps.

Recognized recently by Forbes and others as a company to keep your eye on, I suspect that CEO Keith Kitani and his team of entrepreneurs won’t get much rest over the coming months as they sort the business-oriented options of the current solution and think about what’s next for GuideSpark.  As I see it, they have a menu of alternatives, all of which could be healthy and tasty bites — but three seem immediately evident to me:

  • Showcase the business value. Building awareness of critical organizational decisions is the first step in moving a critical employee mass to take action. Our workforces today orient their lives – professional and personal – around video. Whether YouTube, NetFlix, Hulu, or something similar, the majority of us would rather engage with a brief and humorous clip than wade through pages of some benefits manual. In this way, the solution has enormous potential to cut operational costs, build employee satisfaction, and make for an overall just fun culture. GuideSpark should move that message up the pole to the C-Suite – show them the impact data that the analyst team has to share with you and that which you are already collecting!
  • Build trust. By keeping employees informed, and communicating transparently, cultures evolve as collaborative and trustworthy. It’s not that traditional emails, and posters, flyers, and handbooks of compensation and benefits policies and information hide information. Instead, employees just simply don’t read them. When employees ignore messages, they oh so conveniently translate that to “you never told me.” I am confident that the same boring comp and benefits messages presented traditionally can be transformed by GuideSpark as fun and provocative for all employees and the “unread or missed” message count will decrease dramatically. In so doing, communication is perceived as frequent and transparent, and by default, trust builds. A trustworthy culture keeps talent (especially top talent) from cutting out.
  • Invite innovation. It’s no secret that some of the best performing organizations have created the space and opportunity for their employees to be innovative. The GuideSpark video communication system is innovation at its finest. Because the solution itself models innovation, employees are taught that innovation and creativity are welcome and expected. No better way to action-ize an organizational expectation.

If you haven’t yet had an opportunity to meet GuideSpark, might I suggest you look them up at your earliest convenience? They just might be your answer to your next HR, talent, or people communication strategy. After you familiarize yourself with their offering, if you have ideas for its betterment, contact Keith or one of his team – one of the most receptive group of senior entrepreneurs I’ve had the pleasure of meeting.  If you can’t reach Keith, then get in touch with Jeanne Achille from The Devon Group  — she was my lifeline to learning more about GuideSpark and she and GuideSpark know how to get you in the know too!

Until next time…

Laci Loew
Vice President and Principal Analyst, Talent Management
Brandon Hall Group

Laci Loew

A principal talent analyst and consultant with Brandon Hall Group, Laci is expert in all areas of human capital management particularly talent management, leadership, leadership development, and succession management. She has worked in the public and private sectors consulting global and matrix Fortune companies across all industries on integrated talent initiatives. Laci holds a bachelor of science from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign; earned her MBA from Keller Graduate School of Management; and is currently a PhD candidate in organizational psychology. Laci’s hometown is Chicago and she is based in Las Vegas.

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