Storytelling About Cooleaf With Prem Bhatia

Discover how Cooleaf transforms the employee experience from day one with the platform’s co-founder, Prem Bhatia. In our insightful chat, we explore the significance of onboarding and the hurdles organizations must clear during those critical initial 90 days of employment. Plus, stay tuned for Cooleaf’s exciting upcoming product developments, designed to streamline and enhance the onboarding journey.

From healthcare and tech to service sectors, companies with as few as 150 to as many as 30,000 employees rely on Coolleaf’s employee experience platform to tackle challenges related to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), fitness, and business drivers. Learn how Cooleaf’s multilingual capabilities serve clients across 20 countries, offering employees a deeper understanding and appreciation for DEI. Don’t miss out on hearing from Prem about the fantastic feedback and positive impact Cooleaf has made on employees’ health and DEI perspectives.

Wrapping up, we delve into the nuts and bolts of Cooleaf’s employee experience platform, exploring how it boosts engagement and performance across organizations. Prem reveals how the platform enables automation and facilitates a more comprehensive, rewarding recognition approach. As we discuss the growing importance of employee experience in today’s labor market, discover the key questions companies must ask when assessing an employee experience platform. Finally, join us in celebrating Cooleaf’s success with clients like Sonova’s Bank and the glowing reviews from satisfied users.

Give the show a listen and please let me know what you think.

Thanks, William

Show length: 21 minutes

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Prem Bhatia
Co-Founder Cooleaf Follow

Storytelling About Cooleaf With Prem Bhatia

William Tincup: [00:00:00] This is William Tincup and you are listening to the Use Case podcast. Today we have prem on from Cool Leaf and we’ll be learning about the business case. So the use case for wise customers and prospects use Cool Leaf. So let’s just do some introductions. Prem, would you do us a favor and introduce yourself and.

Prem Bhatia: Yeah. William, good to be here. Appreciate your time. Sure. Praying Batia. I started Cool Leaf with two other co-founders, John DEIB and Star War Bion over 10 years ago now. So we made a lot of evolution from where [00:01:00] we initially started. We were not a company that we look like today when we first started, so we made, started with a B2C approach and then moved our way into b2b.

And Cool Leaf now is. An employee experience platform. We have about 45 full-time employees and contractors, and we are live in 20 plus countries. And are just excited to tell our story, I guess today.

William Tincup: Sure. So where, what’s the line of demarcation in the ex today, or for you? Cuz sometimes people separated into candidate experience, hard hard demarcation onboarding, if you will, and an employee experience offboard, clear demarcation and at offboarding or outplacement.

And then there’s alumni. Yeah, that’s how, and again, that’s how some people describe it or think about it. How do y’all think about it?

Prem Bhatia: So we are really focused in on the time from that person’s first day in the organization. So we are today, obviously things can change, but [00:02:00] we’re really not focused as our core on the candidate experience at all.

Really where we focused is on the employee experience from the time that person is signed on with the organization and really guiding their journey through that organization in terms of their growth. That’s our core focus

William Tincup: today. Yeah. Yeah. So have your customers asked you over the years, have they asked you to do more of the pre-boarding?

So after they’ve signed an offer letter, right? So now they’re technically, I guess you could say they’re an employee. They just haven’t started. But I’ve seen a lot and I’ve talked to a lot of people about a lot of stuff being sucked out of and sucked away from it that, that first day binder, the first day, week, all that stuff.

The first stuff. Yeah. And what, which is usually a, horrific onboarding experience or real. Chemical onboarding experience and kind of making it more fun. And if we could offload some of that pre-board it and get some of that stuff taken care of, like you do need to look at the employee benefits and you do have to go through Yeah.

Some of it’s boring, but you gotta do [00:03:00] it. Okay. Fair enough. Have your customers pulled you through and asked you to do more of that type of stuff? Yeah, absolutely.

Prem Bhatia: What I think it’s tough, right? Cuz you delineate between when that person is accepted in offer versus when you know their actual first day of employment is right.

Typically we are part of that onboarding process meaning our application and, logging in and using Cool Leaf and understanding what it’s all about as part of what typically most employees go through during that onboarding process. But we’re, from a meta standpoint, we’re actually looking at onboarding.

And we’ll be releasing some really cool new work and new features and capabilities around employee onboarding because it’s become such a pain point for most of our customers. And that what’s interesting about onboarding is I think most people recognize the power of the first 90 days as being critical to the journey that employee’s gonna have.

You tend to make, you tend to make most of your mistakes in those first 90 days. And even organizations that. Don’t do it [00:04:00] do really well on culture. Have come to us saying that it’s a challenge for them in those first 90 days of employment that onboarding is something that they could, they know they could do better job at.

Oh yeah. And so it tends to be a pretty common complaint. And so we have designed some really new cool product enhancements and features that we’re actually gonna be releasing later this year around around onboarding and how to integrate. Some of the work that we do with challenges today rewarding and incentivizing steps in the onboarding process.

As well as really bringing that person into the culture so they can understand those core values and they can understand really what the organization stands for from kind of day zero, so yeah, so we’re really excited about that. Cause I think what we’ve done a really good job at has been.

The employee experience kind of macro scale, right? That’s where we operate today. But like honing in more on that first 90 days and the onboarding experience is a big priority for us. And like I said, really excited about what we’re gonna be doing in that space Now.

William Tincup: It’s micro [00:05:00] experiences or moments that matter.

And I’ve said for a long time that, onboarding is 18 months. Yeah. We get this, we’ve gotten this historically wrong where we romance the candidate in recruiting. We get ’em all the way to a point. They say yes, we say yes, and they come on board and it’s okay, how fast can we get you to work?

Yeah. And again, becomes a chemical environment. And again, it’s not what we sold them. It’s probably not what you, what we even sold ourselves. So I like, I love that y’all are focused on that cuz again you’re thinking about experience in a much more refined way. And so anything you can do from the moment that they start, all the way back to offer layer, but from the moment that they start, that makes them, it can, it reaffirms that they made the right decision.

Because you’re both reaff referring on the company. You’re reaffirming like the, or did we make the right decision and it can’t Exactly. Employees doing the same thing. Yeah.

Prem Bhatia: And I think, where our philosophy on this is that it’s not gonna end in those first 90 days. Yeah. The [00:06:00] journey is really beginning and we have a really, cool set of kind of new features that I, I mentioned that we’ve already been previewing with some of our customers and plan to release out into the wild later this year around some of these things. Yeah, we’re excited about it. And I think, when people think about employee experience like 12, I think it’s 12% of employees actually think that their organization does onboarding well, right?

So it’s it’s a pretty miserable state of affairs in onboarding, right? So if you can, we can

William Tincup: do some good work here.

Prem Bhatia: Even you can move the needle even a little bit. There’s plenty of opportunity for plenty of folks out there. So

William Tincup: how has ex changed with remote work and flex work?

Prem Bhatia: Yeah.

It’s funny cuz I think a lot of organizations that thought that their quote unquote culture and employee experience with Stellar. When Covid started hitting in 2020 and, obviously everyone moved to remote environments and. All of a sudden the world changed and accelerated by, within a few, within a few months, by essentially five to 10 years, we accelerated in terms of our adoption of these types of things.

I think there [00:07:00] were a lot of employers that at that time really had to be dragged along. And the, what Covid did became essentially a forcing function for them to start thinking about their employee experience, not just from the. Physical surroundings, ping pong tables, beer kegs, things like that because you could no longer make an argument around those physical surroundings when Covid and remote started taking hold.

I think it forced and it essentially prodded along a lot of organizations that weren’t quite ready yet. And even those that thought that they were ready they were doing really a lot of the right things around culture and around employee experience. Force them to rethink how they need to start addressing employee experience in a virtual and decentralized and remote environment.

So it was a huge forcing function and we saw a massive uptick in our in our growth. Obviously since Covid, we’ve grown in a triple digits, year on year now, LA last few years consistently been one of the fastest growing companies, in the country. It’s, part of the Inc 5,000 and a lot of that was driven, quite frankly, from.[00:08:00]

This movement to the remote world and to virtual and decentralized work. That makes

William Tincup: sense. Oh it absolutely makes sense. And again, the experience changes. When the experience changes. And if we thought the box was our culture, that was a bad thought, but it gives us an, it gives us a blank screen, a new way to think okay, what is our culture and what should be the experience?

You’ve mentioned the word journey a couple times, so I wanna, when it conjures up for me. Okay. Everyone’s got a. Highly personalized journey. Your journey’s, not my journey, et cetera. But I’m also thinking about has it tied to other kind of historic parts of hr, like learning and performance recognition, comp, internal mobility, et cetera.

So w with some of that as a backdrop, like how do y’all think about journey? Yeah, it’s a

Prem Bhatia: great question. So I think we’re, We look at this comprehensively as like within the first 90 days of someone’s employment. Typically [00:09:00] a lot of the things that they’re gonna counter have to do with administrative and HR related items.

But after a certain point, let’s call it 30 to 60 days in many of those. Things go away by the wayside. You don’t actually interact with HR a whole lot more for a lot of employees until you really need something or you’re, confronted with some sort of, whatever it might be that happens to have you, need to reach out to the hr folks.

What typically happens is then you’re absorbed into your business unit, and then your journey changes depending on the function that you play in the organization, right? So if I’m coming into an organization in a sales function, Maybe this 15 to 30 days of, hey, make sure you’re, uploading your profile picture in X and, reading our benefits packages, choosing X, Y, and Z.

Like some of the HR administrative types of things that all employees have to go through. That commonality exists across all employee, the entire employee base. But then the journey starts really changing based on the business drivers that you’re trying to move [00:10:00] as a, let’s say an account executive or a BDR versus someone on the marketing team or someone on the customer success team.

And so we view it more holistically as not just those administrative first, 30, 60, 90 days. But beyond that, what are some of the markers and drivers of success for you? What metrics are you owning? What can we do to help performance really drive performance through performance incentives in that role?

For example, when you’re in a sales function we may not only help on the journey from the HR and administrative aspect of the first 90 days, but you may actually have some incentives tied. Some performance incentives that have already been hooked into your crm into Cool Leaf that allow you to receive public recognition and points for taking an opportunity to a proposal stage, for example, in the pipeline.

Maybe your incentive and on the marketing team for open rates on some of the communications that you have or other types of metrics. We have impacted a lot of those metrics from a business driver’s standpoint. So it’s not just the HR and administrative aspects of the world [00:11:00] of the journey, it’s.

How can we help to facilitate and get you more engaged on the metrics that matter as a team member and individual contributor. Does that make sense overall in terms of hundred

William Tincup: how we’re structured? Yeah. And it’s it’s almost I was doing a bit at a conference last week about DEIB e i, it’s like, it’s a rule as pursuit to something you’ll never reach.

So it’s like the journey by the time you get to this place, so you set a you kinda set a goal, you set a place in mind. Once you get there, you’ve already changed the next, where you’re going next. It’s so that if we think about that experientially, it’s okay so you, like you just said you promoted, you’re now in a new job.

Okay? So your experience, it’s changing around you. It’s okay that’s fine. And oh, by the way, here’s some of the things that you should be thinking about next.

Prem Bhatia: It’s a never, should never stop. It should never stand still. And I think where a lot of the approaches to simplifying this down or none of the [00:12:00] backgrounds of the three co-founders, we didn’t start this company with any sort of an HR background.

And so we all came from it from product management or. From some discipline within business development or project management, or engineering. And so our lens was always, it’s larger than just the HR side of the house. The HR side of the house is extremely important and you need to continually reinforce what culture’s all about and what values are all about.

But the, and at the end of the day, you’re working within the business units and your business leaders need to be bought into how this can actually help drive the needle and improve them ROI as well.

William Tincup: So two, two questions for, but fairly simple. You mentioned multiple countries. I was wondering if now, if not now, will you all become multilingual?

And the other is industries that you serve, is there any kind of concentration of things where you play really well here and you got a density of clients, et cetera? Yeah, so

Prem Bhatia: our customer base is primarily mid-market to enterprise. So we typically serve. Organizations with [00:13:00] 150, 200 employees at the kind of base end all the way up to 25, 30,000 employees plus.

So it’s quite a wide range. Our focus though and our sort of sweet spot is tended to be within that market, mid-market space, which I’ll call 250 to about 5,000 employees. We have a lot of organizations that are in the healthcare world. Oh, cool. We have a lot of organizations in tech and.

We’ve done some work in higher ed as well, but I’d say like tech, healthcare and services are those three big sectors for us that we’ve seen a lot of success in. So working with organizations like Sales Loft and Shift Synovis Bank is one of our larger customers and we have some great, great case studies up on some of the needles that we’ve been able to move for.

For all those organizations on our site as well. Oh, that’s

William Tincup: cool. And the languages are becoming multilingual or multicultural as you, do you see that? Yeah, in the future?

Prem Bhatia: Yeah. We’re actually live now, I believe in 20 plus different countries, maybe 22 now Our multi language capabilities are actually, we’re gonna be releasing that a little later this [00:14:00] year in terms of just full onboard in terms of everything today.

Most of our organizations that have employees in different locales tend to be English speaking and we haven’t necessarily needed to push too hard on that, but we are gonna have that support set up a little later this year.

William Tincup: And your customers usually take you there.

If you go there, they’re the ones that usually say, Hey, we. We would like for this to be in, whatever language. And so that, that sounds perfect. You just follow your customers, you’re fine. Let’s do some buy side stuff. Your favorite part of the demo, the Cool Leaf demo. What is that?

Prem Bhatia: So the platform for me, I think where my favorite sort of aspects, it’s tough to say there’s a favorite, but I’d say. When we’re going through and really demonstrating that our platform is experiential in the sense that we run challenges for organizations that can span DEI related types of challenges or fitness related types of challenges.

Challenges can, that can be related to their [00:15:00] business drivers. And so we’ve done a really good job evolving that feature set and really being That’s part of our initial legacy is like a company was like we started on the experience side, right? Actually doing some services and bringing in like vendors in some cases to do some of those types of experiences, whether they’re physically or virtually.

But what that’s allowed us to do is now have this library of, thousands of different types of challenges that our customers have run over years now that address Things like doing a 10,000 step day challenge, where we integrate to Fitbit and Apple Watch and we can like, automatically incentivize the achievement of sort of fitness goals all the way to watch a specific video and then react to that.

Tell us what you learned from those things. There’s a lot of magic in sort of those challenges that companies are running constantly through our platform that is being captured inside of those challenges. When you go through a demo and you actually, kinda share some of the things that we’ve seen, People talk about and these challenges and the impact that it’s had on them personally, like we’ve seen that, employees get healthier behaviors [00:16:00] and start losing weight.

In some cases they’ve told us that, hey, this was actually a big part of why I started really getting more actively involved in my physical health, or I never really thought about DEI in this way. And I really liked the idea that we did a challenge around this, where we watched the video and everyone reacted to it and said what the lessons were that they learned.

And that helped me to expand my perspectives around. DEI generally from where it was before. I think those are the kind of where the magic really happens in our platform. Along with many of the other things, obviously, like from a day-to-day recognition and reward standpoint. But those are really just magical things for a lot of our organizations.

Magical to, for them to have events and challenge or virtual challenges where their employees are coming together, connecting with one another, achieving goals. Related to the organization or their own personal development and kind of seeing that manifests Itself’s just a beautiful thing.

William Tincup: So ex obviously y’all got there really early, but I X is super hot and so is town intelligence.

Buyers don’t have the literacy they do with kinda older software categories like an ATS [00:17:00] or payroll or something like that. So what questions if you could script them, what questions would you like buyers ask? The team at Cool Leaf. Yeah. I

Prem Bhatia: think when anybody’s considering, doing better than where they are at employee experience, it means that they’re going down the right direction.

They’re thinking about this the right way. It’s that we can always get better. I think the idea here is if culture matters, to us, and we have invested in culture, what will this help us facilitate? In a more scaled fashion through more automations just like every other part of our business that’s being ified, if you will, right?

SAS is essentially taken hold in every part of the organization, right? Whether that’s budgeting, payroll employee experience is a critical part of any organization’s priorities now. And that’s really just because we’re in structurally a labor market where you have to consider employee experience and.

We don’t have enough Gen Z coming into the workforce to make up for the retiring millennials now. [00:18:00] Retiring baby boomers, I should say. So that drive and that sort of demographic imbalance in terms of labor market is gonna continue. So any organization that kind of looks at employee experience starts saying that we wanna invest more in employee experience.

The questions that they should be asking us are like, what makes you all different? When we think about employee experience, what are some of the ways in which we can. Really move the needle in ways that we couldn’t do with more of a traditional approach to a siloed approach to recognition and rewards.

We’re not actually, we don’t consider ourself a recognition company, quite frankly. We are a more holistic and comprehensive employee experience platform. So the questions that folks should be asking are, when we approach this with you, Cooley, versus whatever approach you might be taking, whether that’s nothing or manual or other organizations that are out there.

Talking about what they do in terms of more siloed approach, like what advantage will we get from working with you in a more comprehensive fashion or around employee experience.

William Tincup: I love that. And you know what’s funny is you’re using a lot of the language of customer [00:19:00] experience, right?

So they it’s familiar to them in some sense. It’s you’ve been to a Ritz Carlton, or you’ve been to a Mercedes dealership. That experience, that feeling that’s all manufactured. It’s, that’s right. It’s created, there’s, and nothing at any of the luxury brands is not has not been thought of and rethought of exactly.

Language of being a pull, being able to pull something over to them. You’re familiar with this already. Now we’re just applying it to your employees, not your customers. Success story, your favorite success story or your most recent success story without brand names, so you don’t have to tell me the customer or anything like that, but just somewhere where you know that you’ve made.

An absolute impact. Cool Leaf has made an impact.

Prem Bhatia: Yeah. A lot of great stories there. I think amongst my favorites is and we can talk about this because it’s out, actually out on our site, Synovis Bank and what they did in terms of moving the needle on their top performers and mid performers in their banking and sort of the finance world.

We had a tremendous amount of success on showing that we could move the needle [00:20:00] to really increase their their lowest performers into mid-tier performers and their mid-tier performers to high performers. We saw a measurable impact, and that’s all detailed out in that case study that’s out on our site on cool

But that is probably one of those where I feel like we can really talk about tangible measurable impact on the business as well as, The impact that we had on employee engagement indicators there. When I think about that being one of the, or, one of those stories that I think that stood out to me, I think the other story is just this idea that on G2 and what our users talk to us about how they respond to what we’re doing.

We serve their needs ultimately, at the end of the day, more than anybody else’s. They’re, they are the employees of organizations that we work with the stories and the testaments that we’ve got on G2 are also one of my favorites. Run through all the time and just see where we can make better improvements.

I have personally responded to a few of those as well. And I appreciate anybody that’s got things to say about where we can be better. Yeah, just exciting to kinda see it. Awesome

William Tincup: brother, [00:21:00] wonderful job. You built a wonderful software company. Congratulations. Keep doing what you’re doing and thanks for being on the

Prem Bhatia: podcast.

I appreciate it, William. It’s good to good to talk with you and good to catch up and look forward to being in touch.

William Tincup: Absolutely, and thanks for everyone listening to the Use Case podcast. Until next time.

The Use Case Podcast

William Tincup

William is the President & Editor-at-Large of RecruitingDaily. At the intersection of HR and technology, he’s a writer, speaker, advisor, consultant, investor, storyteller & teacher. He's been writing about HR and Recruiting related issues for longer than he cares to disclose. William serves on the Board of Advisors / Board of Directors for 20+ HR technology startups. William is a graduate of the University of Alabama at Birmingham with a BA in Art History. He also earned an MA in American Indian Studies from the University of Arizona and an MBA from Case Western Reserve University.


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