When we first launched Kin in 2013, digitizing the workplace for small and medium sized companies was in its early stages (large employers were already well serviced by companies like SAP and Oracle). Along with competitors like Bamboo, Namely and Gusto, we focused on improving the core operations we knew would help smaller organizations be more competitive employers, like new hire onboarding and workplace organization. Our view has always been that if the workplace is a product, employees are its consumers. Create a bad workplace and you lose your customers. It’s called employee churn, and our goal has always been to help reduce it.
Fast forward to 2018, and you’re likely working at a company using a slew of digital workplace tools. Your payroll is digital, your benefit enrollment and paperwork too. Throw in stalwart communication tools like Slack and Basecamp, and it’s more efficient than ever to run a workplace. While our industry has made a lot of progress in efficiency benchmarking though, our team team doesn’t think the mission is accomplished.
According to Gallup research, employee engagement has barely budged in the past five years, and that’s got us scratching our heads. Why, after all of the work we’ve done to improve core operations at small companies, is there still a big problem with churn? Employees are quitting, and employers can’t stop them. What gives?
This industry naval gazing hasn’t phased many of our competitors who are doubling down on workers comp insurance products, payroll, and benefit management. In our eyes though, that’s not solving the problem our companies have, so we’re doubling down on the original course of helping companies be better employers.
With that, we’ve reassessed what our own mission at Kin should be and, while it hasn’t upended the product itself, it has shifted the way our team views its role in improving how we spend a third of our lives (at work!). This renewal in purpose has not only shined a light on a growing problem, it’s shown us the ways Kin falls short and needs to improve if we’re to really live up to our promise.
So, what’s the Kin mission?
Kin is on a mission to improve the employee experience at organizations of all sizes.
Why is this important? Engagement and fulfillment at work aren’t just “nice to haves,” and we know that helping organizations and employees be more empathetic means we’re not only improving retention and profitability, but we’re helping everyone get more out of life than just work, work, work.
How do we do this? Kin approaches employee engagement in a no-BS way. We don’t promote lofty, unproven theories from PhD’s or hide behind multi-year implementation plans. Rather we focus on proven methods which yield better employee sentiment and quantifiable metrics to prove it (to us and our customers) and, believe it or not, simple workplace tools like proactive time off policies do just that.
What this means for the product.
There are three words we’d like our customers to use to describe Kin, and that’s how we’re designing our roadmap: Insightful, proactive, and efficient.
Kin should help employers and employees learn what makes them tick as organizations and individuals. We’ll do that through a combination of quantifiable metrics and goals, and tools that encourage more productive and empathetic communication at work.
Kin needs to do more of the thinking, rather than waiting around to take orders. Workplace trends such as time off utilization and manager/employee engagement patterns can help workplaces get out in front of potential causations of employee turnover, such as burnout and isolation.
Kins needs to be more operationally efficient as a tool, pure and simple. We’re chipping away at bottlenecks across the product to help get our users out of the browser and back to work. From navigation, to better new user onboarding, a large part of our roadmap is simply improving the product based on the ample customer feedback we’ve received over the years.
We have a lot of work to do.
How our company is adapting.
Our company itself is adapting as well. While we’re still entirely self-funded, we’ve increased the team’s dedication and alignment for a business that, in our opinion, hasn’t seen its best years yet. Our CEO, Lisa Arnold, took the helm last fall and brings both urgency and vibrancy to Kin’s presence. Our engineering team, led by Grant Black, has risen to the challenge to rise above pure production and drive the product. Our design efforts, led by Gage Salzano, have shined a new light on both Kin’s visual identity and its UI experience. As for me, well, I’m still the founder who sat in front of a whiteboard back in 2012 and saw a need for a company just like ours to lead the way to better places to work.
Here’s Kin, with a bow on it.
I’ll admit I’m a sucker for a great tagline. A successful tagline acts as a landmark for a brand, a place to come home to. To be proud of. To remind us why we’re here. To even seek out when we’ve lost our way. Kin’s new tagline “We build healthier, happier workplaces.” sure seems aspirational doesn’t it?
For me, our new tagline is impactful for a few reasons. It denotes our responsibility to not just show the way, but to build it. It rises above pure technology as a solution. It shouts out from the rooftop that there is an ideal workplace out there, but most companies have a long way to go to get there. Most of all, it speaks to an idea we want every person either using or working on Kin to resonate with: We spend too much of our lives working to spend so much time exhausted and ready to throw in the towel.
It’s time to make a change.