Talking with Brad Rencher, CEO of BambooHR

February 16, 2021
To listen to the full episode, click here

Speaker 1 (00:00):

Welcome to the DNA and experience podcast from cloud app,where we discuss how and why creating an experience is so important and thepsychology behind what makes an experience. So great. Thanks for joining us.

Speaker 2 (00:18):

Hey everyone. I am excited today to have Brad Rencher withme, and we're doing a little bit of a clubhouse theme today, uh, with, withaudio only, um, you know, we had to bring clubhouse outside of the app. So I'mexcited to have Brad though. Uh, Brad and I worked together, um, on a fewthings back at Adobe. Uh, I always loved giving Brad some juicy stats to shareon black Friday, uh, weekend about how much money people were spending. Um, andhe is the current CEO of bamboo HR. Today. We're going to talk a little bitabout employee experience, uh, what Bamboo's doing with people, analytics andmaking sure that you are keeping your talent, uh, engaged and excited. Um,Brad, if you wouldn't mind kind of introducing yourself and talking a littlebit about bamboo and we'll go go from there.

Speaker 3 (01:11):

Absolutely. Joe, thanks for having me on. And you know,all those stats that you shared with me back in the day, went straight fromyour desk, right to CNBC. It was, you got top billing and wall street journalstarted to quote you. So you had a big impact, uh, at Adobe with all of yourwork and the team's work. It was fun to fun to watch. Um, yeah, and, um, I amso fortunate, um, to, um, be on here today and representing, um, bamboo HR and,um, and it's really been a fun experience for me. I've been at, at bamboo forjust, you know, a little over a year, year and a couple of months. Um, and Joe,you and I left Adobe about the same time. And, um, and for me, I wasn't, Iwasn't really sure what was next because I had spent so much time at Adobebuilding and helping that business, you know, transform over the prior 10years.

Speaker 3 (02:07):

And I don't move around often. I, when I commit, I go deepand, um, and so it took a, it took a really special place to say, gosh, I feellike this is a spot where I can put down some roots and, and, and help what isalready a, an award-winning team, um, continue that trajectory to, to build andcreate what is today, the leading, um, platform for, for small and medium-sizedbusinesses. And you think about the economic engine here in the U S it reallystarts with, you know, with, I've got an idea, I'm going to hang out my ownshingle and get started. And I go from one employee to two to three to 10, andnext thing I know I'm in the midst of spreadsheets and everything else to tryto manage the experience that, that my employees are having at my company. Andthat's really where bamboo comes in as, um, you know, as you're, as you'relooking to manage, um, and deliver an exceptional onboarding experience, newhire experience, um, and all the way through that employee life cycle, um,bamboo is the leading platform that's happening, um, where that's happeningtoday and just excited to be here and talk a little bit about something I'mpassionate about today.

Speaker 2 (03:19):

That's really great. You know, I remember one of my finalreports, uh, from that eight, uh, Adobe digital index team was about emergingtechnologies and it was in the Washington post and a couple of other outlets.And I remember one of the top ones was people analytics and how businessesreally need to focus on that in the next, you know, 10, 15 years as remote workis on the rise and there's less centralization, and obviously we've seenmassive growth in that area. Um, what is the real, you know, DNA of a goodemployee experience? How can, how does bamboo kind of enhance that and, andtalk about some of the things, you know, that Adobe did as well, and maybe somethings you do internally at bamboo?

Speaker 3 (04:04):

Yeah. I think, you know, Joe, it's interesting, you saythat about the, you know, the, some of the trends that you saw happening, um,early in the work with the Adobe digital index team. I mean, if you lookglobally at what are the, what are the core technology trends that arereframing, um, technology buying at a small business at a large business acrossthe board, and you look over the last 10 years, well, what's it been well cloudsat the top of that list, right? Uh, um, security compliance, privacy is, hasemerged to be a, you know, a top one or two, um, you know, or three item, uh,customer experience has been at the top of that agenda. Um, and I think exactlywhat you're talking about now is people are realizing that, that youremployees, your core human capital is, is elevating to the point of, it's gotto sit at equal footing with many of these other platforms in order to unlockwhat the potential of that business is to go and, and to do.

Speaker 3 (05:06):

And so for me, the DNA of a good employee experience, Ithink it's a great question because it helps you get to what's the core atomicmakeup of a business and what that experience is. And, um, and for me, it's notabout the perks. It's not about like, Oh, I get free food here. And, um, andover there, they've got the best ping pong table, or, you know, it just thosethings, those things matter. And they're gonna matter to maybe some portion ofthe population, but I think you have to go earlier. You have to actually say,what is the reason why this company exists? Like, why, why, why is it here? Andthat is, you know, what is called a mission statement. So what's the mission.And is that mission something that resonates with me as a human? Is itsomething I can get up in the morning and say, you know, that's what we'redoing.

Speaker 3 (05:58):

Um, you know, a few examples. So at bamboo, um, HR, ourmission is to set people free, to do great work. We just fundamentally believethat there are things that people are doing at work that they shouldn't bedoing. It could be automated, let them unlock more of the human potential thatthey have sitting late to deliver. So we talk about setting people free to dothe work that they were hired to do. Um, another company I'm involved withwhere that emission statement that caught my eye to where I chose to invest mytime is, uh, another Silicon slopes company here, Pluralsight and their missionis to democratize technology skills for the world. Well, I think about whatdoes the world need right now and what do some areas of the world that thisneed help this laddering up out of the situation that they're in giving accessand equal access to the skills of the future.

Speaker 3 (06:50):

That's something that that's a good reason to exist.That's a good why. And then Joe, the, the company where we have a sharedhistory at Adobe what's Adobe's mission, and why did we choose to spend yearsof our career there? Well, the mission at Adobe is to change the world throughdigital experiences. Well, is that, is that needed today? Is digital becomingincreasingly important? Yes, of course. So for me, the DNA of a good employeeexperience, doesn't start with the perks and some of those things that areflashy, it starts at a much more molecular at a molecular level to say, what isthe reason why we exist? Is that a mission that resonates with a certainpopulation? If so, they should be employees, they should come and, um, andengage with us, um, and work with us.

Speaker 2 (07:39):

Yeah. And it was a really, really cool part of Adobe. Um,and you know, similar to what you're doing at bamboo is, is in those harderdays, uh, you know, you would, you would look at what Adobe was doing and howmany people that enabled, uh, how many creators and how many, you know, sosometimes you'd feel like, ah, there's just technology, but then you would seehow many people had enabled and know at cloud app. If I'm having like a roughday, I'll go read the reviews on G2 or a Gartner and kind of see how much timeit's saving people and, and, uh, how much more productive it's making people,um, you know, skipping meetings and long emails and sending up a video instead.Um, so yeah, I mean, visions and values is the thing that keeps you there. Uh,you know, the ping pong table may get you in the door, but, but certainly the,the values is going to keep you there.

Speaker 3 (08:37):

And, you know, the question Joe is, you know, I love thatyou, you got to the values because it starts with mission, which is the, youknow, the, the why the what, but the values or the how. And, um, and I thinkthat many times, uh, you know, maybe at times in my career to where I thoughtabout values, like those are just the beautiful posters on the wall and lookhow cool those are, but it doesn't really inform our how like, and I just thinkthat when you can marry the what with a powerful, how to, where those valuesshow up every day and how I interact with my colleagues and my peers, that tome becomes one of the great unlocks in any company anywhere in the world.

Speaker 2 (09:20):

Absolutely. And, you know, let's talk about how that kindof leads to customer experience. You know, if you, if you have a good employeeexperience, you're having, you have a good mission, you have good values. Howdoes that tie to, uh, customer experience?

Speaker 3 (09:36):

I, I think it's a great question. Well, Andy and Tony,Tony Shay the, the, uh, the F the, the founder of Zappos who just passed awayrecently, it was just devastating. He was known as an extreme culture builder,and he has a quote here that I, that I love that, you know, our number onepriority, um, at Zappos is company culture. Our whole belief that is if you getthe culture, right, most of the other stuff like delivering a great customerexperience or building a long-term enduring brand, will this happen naturallyon its own? So he's throwing out and saying, look, you focus on the employeeexperience and culture, all the rest of the stuff, including customerexperience is going to take care of itself. And, you know, Joe for you and I,this might sound crazy because, you know, I mean, I spent a decade at Adobe,um, building and selling and delivering customer experience software, um, tothe world and advocating that, gosh, if you don't focus on the customerexperience, you will lose.

Speaker 3 (10:37):

And, and the funny thing is, is I saw lots of businessesinvest millions and millions of dollars in, in technology and software in, inagencies and consultants to come in and help them reorient their company aroundthe customer. And, um, and I actually, you know, I actually started to thinklike, what if we've got it all wrong? What if we're wrong? Right. Maybe, maybecustomers aren't, aren't the King. You know, you think about that. And I thinkyou, I think an interesting question for businesses to answer is as we, as wespend all this time to focus on a customer experience, what are we doing forour employees? And think about an experience that you've had with a brand towhere digitally, perhaps, maybe they're doing a great job, but you interactwith one of their employees and it all breaks down.

Speaker 2 (11:32):

Yeah. Yeah. I, I wrote for the Qualtrics blog, um, I don'tknow, two years ago, pretty close to after I left Adobe and I talked about thisPatagonia experience, I'd never bought anything from Patagonia and I got thisgift card. And so I was like, okay, I'm going to finally use it. And I boughtthis shirt and, you know, you wash clothes before you wear them. Uh, and so Ithrew it in the wash and it's the ink like ran on it. Um, and I was like, Oh,this is such a pain. I'm going to have to like, send this back. And they'regoing to make me, you know, sit on hold for three hours and it's just not evenworth it. I'll just throw the shirt away. Um, and then I was like, Oh, well,I'll give him, I'll give him a chance. So I called them up and before I eventold them what had happened, she told me a new shirt was in the mail. Um, I wason the call for maybe like three minutes. Um, she's like, okay, we've sent youa new shirt. Uh, go ahead and just send that other one back. No. And, uh,thanks for choosing Patagonia. Um, and that was just such a huge experience.And it's like what you said it was in the support queue. Uh, it's like yourlast line of defense that many people probably forget about. Um,

Speaker 3 (12:49):

Well, and in all the sexiness of digital analytics anddelivering in milliseconds and all the things that you know, that, that you andI can recite by heart, it's, it's interesting that in creating moments thatmatter with your customers, guess what your employees are still involved. Andif there's a big dichotomy dissonance between what you talk about doing forcustomers, which is delighting them between customers and your employees, ifthat delight doesn't exist with your employees, guess what it all breaks down.

Speaker 2 (13:22):

Yup. Yeah. It's got a funnel all the way down from thevery top to all the way down to the bottom, it in the modern workplace. Uh,how, how do you think, you know, visuals and video connect your employees? Wobviously we've kind of all been shifted. Um, I loved Satya's quote and I'msure you've seen by now, but he said, you know, two years of digitaltransformation talk pushed into two weeks, um, from last year, how, how haveyou guys use visuals and video to connect with your employees and also, uh,customers?

Speaker 3 (13:58):

Yeah, I think it's, I think it's exactly right. We all aremuch, much better at this particular item. Um, as we sit here today andFebruary 20, 21 than we were last March and, um, at bamboo, we, you know, we,um, we do a couple of different things. Um, every year that we're in person,that we're a part of why people love to be there. And we get employees togethertwice a year, once in may, once in November. And these are not, um, like salesconferences where we all are talking about how we're going to go sell more.There are conferences where we come together just to learn. It's a massive,like learning and development exercise, where we bring in external speakers tospeak to our employees. And it's just a time for us to gather, to be together,to share goodness, and lift one another up and prepare for what the next sixmonths will bring.

Speaker 3 (14:50):

Well, we, to do that on video, how you create engagementfor 700 employees on a, you know, and in video and to have it feel the same,but our creative team, our video team, our marketing team did a great job. Andso that for us, um, was important use of, of a video. And that, that, thatcommunication platform, we also have implemented, um, Joe, you know, weekly,um, video messages from the executives. So every Monday morning, when, um, whenbamboo ligans come into work, they've got a video message from one of theexecutive team in their inbox. Um, you know, it's, it's anything from 60seconds to maybe five minutes long talking about something that might be, mighthave to do with our company theme. Uh, it might have to do with something thatthey're seeing in their organization, but it's just some connective tissue. Andwe all want to see humans. Maybe we don't want to be on another long videocall, but a quick message from the executives has been one that I think hasworked for us. And then, you know, our, our, our normal town hall meetings andeverything else are on video, because I think it's just a powerful platformwhere you can communicate in a way that, um, that I think resonates.

Speaker 2 (16:02):

Absolutely. I love that connection that you brought up.It's so important to, to keep that steady drum beat of connection. Um, and wewere, we were really good at it in the beginning. Uh, it certainly faded alittle bit as it's, we've settled in. Um, but it's been fun to kind of, uh, allkind of figure out ways that we can connect when we, you know, can't beside-by-side.

Speaker 3 (16:29):

And one of the things there you've talked about, and youand I were talking before we, before we started about, you know, doing apodcast or communications, it's a grind, you have to work for it. And, um, andemployee communications and employee experience, I think is the same thing.There's actually one of our customers, uh, D two IQ that treats their employeeexperience. Like we treat products. I thought this was an interesting way tothink about it is you think about the product development life cycles with,with vision and strategy, with roadmaps, and then, uh, being accountable tothose roadmaps that we do in technology. And we're when we're deliveringsoftware, they do the same thing with their employee experience. And I justthought that's a super powerful way to say, you know what, we're not justpaying lip service to this. We're going to invest and treat it just like we doour product development life cycle.

Speaker 2 (17:19):

That's really great. That's really great. Well, you've kindof mentioned this along the way, but what are a couple of things you, as acompany do to create an experience?

Speaker 3 (17:29):

Yeah, I think, you know, for us, um, you know, for us, Ithink the, um, uh, I talked about those, those twice a year meetings and, you know,and you go back to Joe, maybe meetings that we did, um, you know, at Adobe towhere it was always like a sales conference or a kickoff of some sort, um, butreally getting together twice year just to make people better. Um, and toinvest there has been, it's paid huge, huge dividends. The other thing that wecreate with intention with our employees that employees love is we really wantto, um, uh, engage employees, their friends, their families, to where they'reall part of our employee community and deliver experiences. We talk aboutexperiences, deliver experiences to them with intention, and which is why wepay our employees to go on vacation. One of our most popular benefits, we callit our paid paid vacation benefit to where you get paid time off to go onvacation.

Speaker 3 (18:27):

And then we're actually going to pay you to cover some ofthose experiences that maybe you were going to go to Disneyland and your kidsreally just want some Dole whip. And you were like, Hey, just, we're going toget you to Disneyland, but I can't, you know, to the Dole whip, it's like, no,here's some extra money when you're on vacation to create some experiences withyour family and friends that you might not otherwise, um, uh, choose to do andcome back and tell us about it post on an internal, uh, communication channel,what you did and why it was important to you and your family and for us it's.So employee experience extends not just in the, uh, during the Workday, itextends to pay time off to what's happening in your community, uh, which iswhy, you know, one of the new, uh, benefits that we announced this last yearwas, uh, paid time off to volunteer at a place of your choice. As we have spentso much time as a society talking about what are the things that we can do to,to make it better, to engage, to help maybe reframe the dialogue that'shappening and to learn from those around us. We wanted to provide our company,our cust, or our employees, a venue to go do that.

Speaker 2 (19:35):

That's really cool. I like the, I like those kind of uniquebenefits. I mean, it kind of makes me think of, um, you know, everyone wouldtalk about sabbatical at Adobe, uh, after five years. And it's like, yeah, it'sgreat to have five months off or a month off, but I've, I've got, you know,five people in my family. It's, it's pretty expensive to like go vacation for amonth. So yeah, you kind of have to figure out what you can do, uh, you know,with that time off. So it's, it's cool that you, you provide that extra layerof benefit

Speaker 3 (20:05):

And, you know, and the word that I always come up withJoe, as we think about this as how do we delight? How do we delight ouremployees in a way that's unexpected, that's more powerful than a ping pongtable or what have you. Absolutely.

Speaker 2 (20:20):

So, you know, I gave my Patagonia example, uh, we'vecertainly talked a lot about Adobe and cloud app in bamboo. What what's arecent experience you had as, as a customer now it could be with a SAS product,could be with, uh, you know, clothes or anything that you're purchasing online.Um, what, what's that an experience you had as a customer?

Speaker 4 (20:43):

Yeah, I I'd say one,

Speaker 3 (20:44):

Um, that I would, uh, call out, given that I'm so aboutsmall and medium-sized businesses right now, I pay attention to what's reallyon their mind. And I have a, a, uh, a barbershop that I have. I spent a coupleof years sourcing that does amazing haircuts, straight razor shaves, that theymake it an experience. And I love it. It's a it's scissor and bone for anyonewho might be in and around the, uh, the Provo Orem, Utah area. Um, but youknow, it's interesting. I've been going to the St Barbara for years now, wehave our thing. We speak in shorthand to where he knows how I like to have myhaircut, et cetera, et cetera. Well, he and his wife just, um, you know, justhad a baby. So before he went out on paternity leave, we had planned it towhere it's like, look, let's get a haircut before, you know, the baby comes towhere we're going to do that.

Speaker 3 (21:33):

Well, guess what? Baby came early. I got a, I got a callfrom them the morning of my appointment saying, Hey, look, you're regular. Um,you know, Barbara is not going to be here, baby came, but we'd still love tohave you come in. We've we've, we've got, we've got you taken care of. I walkedin, I was nervous cause it's like, I, you know, I didn't, you know, it couldend, it could end horribly horribly. And, but I walked in and guess what theyhad done, you know, the, the, the Barbara is going to be taken care of me, knewme by face, welcomed me by name, walked in and said, I understand that this ishow you, you know, this is how you typically like your haircut. It was like thecontext sharing that we talk about in digital in terms of how do you share thecustomer context to where every interaction the customer doesn't have toreintroduce themselves to you as a business?

Speaker 3 (22:20):

Because many times as businesses, we expose ourorganizational chart to our customers. It's like, Oh, well, you're talking tosupport now. Oh, you're talking to sales. Oh, you're talking to product andthey don't talk, they don't share context. And here was an example of a companythat shared customer context and they probably did it human to human. They probablytaught, well, imagine that, but I walked in and all the customer context wascarried over. And for me, I walked out with a great haircut and just reallygrateful that this, um, that this company, um, you know, took care of me. Andso loyalty went up, you know, all those good things that happen when youdeliver a delightful experience.

Speaker 2 (22:59):

That's really cool. It's really cool. Brad. It has been areally fun conversation. Um, definitely brings me back to some, some, uh, youknow, grinding days at Adobe. Um, I always, you know, you know, I'm a big fanof predictions. Um, I'd love for you to kind of look into your crystal ball andtell me what you think the modern workplace looks like. Uh, you know, where arewe going to be five years from now?

Speaker 3 (23:28):

I think the future of a modern workplace, like we can talkabout the tactics around remote versus not remote, but, um, I get, I get, I goto the beginning back to mission and values. Um, I think the modern workplaceis where an employee can bring all of themselves to work where they can, theyfeel that they belong and if you belong and you can bring your best self towork, what that will unlock in terms of human potential for achievement, fordevelopment and what that means, where for all of our companies, but whatthat'll mean for, um, communities, families, and everybody around. I just thinkthat that's what we would like to see the modern workplace become.

Speaker 2 (24:12):

That's really great. Yeah. I think, um, that continuedinvestment in people is, is so big. Uh, you know, it's something that shouldnever change, hopefully. Um, well, Brad, uh, you're great. Uh, we love bamboo.We use it here at cloud app. Um, love the technology and obviously the companyand the people over there. Thanks for your time again today and look forward totalking again soon. Thanks, Joe.

Speaker 1 (24:40):

Thanks for joining the DNA of an experience podcast. Wehope you learned something that will help improve your collaboration andenhance the experience you create for your customer. Join the collaboration 2.0movement today by getting cloud app, the instant business communication tooluse to create instantly shareable videos, screenshots, and gifts. Perfect forboth internal and external communication. Get started Thank you. We look forward to seeing you next time.