When IT and HR Join Forces: How Salesforce Strengthened its Culture with Employee Apps

How an HR-IT partnership designed employee-first technology to support the mission and culture of Salesforce while increasing its workforce by 35 percent.

In 2016, Salesforce hired 7,000 new employees. The uptick was a 35 percent jump in the size of its workforce in a single year. That same year, the company earned its highest ever increase on its U.S. Great Place to Work Trust Index score.

According to Salesforce leadership, this ability to maintain—and improve—an optimal work environment despite massive growth was possible through a partnership between the company’s IT and HR departments. Together, the two divisions designed employee-first technology to support the mission and culture of Salesforce during this hiring surge.

While massive growth is often a time when organizations suffer from communication breakdowns, the establishment of incomplete onboarding processes, and lower hiring standards, the HR-IT partnership at Salesforce played a key role in maintaining the company’s core values and work ethic.

The lessons these teams learned as they sought to deliver a smooth employee digital experience can be applied to virtually any company today. Here’s a closer look.

The Making of a Power Team

The story begins with a partnership between L. David Kingsley, the SVP of global HR strategy and operations at Salesforce, and Ross Meyercord, the company’s chief information officer (CIO).

When Kingsley and Meyercord began their collaboration, they understood what the other would provide. Kingsley’s HR team had in-depth knowledge of the Salesforce employee experience from job seekers to veterans. With this knowledge, the HR crew could pinpoint opportunities to improve common employee issues, like complaints about Saleforce’s old, ineffective intranet.

On the IT side, Meyercord’s team was experienced at problem-solving with both Salesforce and other infrastructure technology. IT team members had access to the back-end systems that organized and analyzed employee data. They also possessed knowledge of when and how to plug these systems into new employee tools.

These two unique skill sets ultimately led to the creation of Concierge, a mobile intranet based in the cloud and designed to better serve the company’s growing workforce. While the teams originally planned to turn the existing intranet into a mobile app, Meyercord quickly realized that the intranet’s old interface was creating company-wide inefficiencies.

Kingsley and Meyercord found that employees couldn’t find the information they needed to complete their jobs and Salesforce’s IT team was overwhelmed by the amount of resulting support tickets. The old support process forced employees to route their own tickets, causing half of the cases to be misrouted. To add confusion, the support teams working on these tickets were constantly changing . No one could keep up, and information quickly became outdated.

To tame this organizational chaos, Kingsley and Meyercord looked for a more user-friendly tech solution.

A New Interface to Solve Old Employee Problems

The solution was search. Concierge’s interface is modeled after today’s most sophisticated search engines. And because users are logged in while using it, the app functions from each user’s personal IP, serving information based on factors like how long a user has been with the company, their role and location. As a result, the application starts with—even predicts—the users’ questions, aiming to serve immediate answers… no more bookmarking tons of links to remember where different information lives.

Beyond the technology, Meyercord and Kingsley brought together every department that would interact with employees through Concierge, including real estate, workplace services, and even payroll. Each department then agreed to a service level agreement: They would respond to all tickets within one day.

“Technology and intelligence delivered value at scale, [bringing] speed to our employees,” Kingsley said in Salesforce webcast. “When we needed a personal touch, [our teams] were right there delivering on their expectations.”

While the old routing process felt like a black hole, Concierge allowed employees to view their tickets’ status and progress. No one had to guess which team their ticket was with—or where it was in the solution process.

The improved intranet was so effective in intelligent self-service that Salesforce did not have to add any additional staff to its support teams, even as its employee roster grew. With Concierge in place, routing to phone support dropped by 60 percent, IT’s case volume fell by 40 percent, and case resolution time reduced by 41 percent.

Ongoing Collaboration

Following the success of Concierge, Kingsley, Meyercord, and their teams went on to create a series of beloved employee apps. One app, Org Chart, allows users to keep up with employee changes using cloud-based, interactive org charts. Another, V2MOM (Vision, Values, Methods, Obstacles, Measures) records and shares team goals. Trailhead, a gamified employee education and skill-building program, incentivizes employees to learn more about building their careers. The list goes on.

By providing a smoother employee digital experience, the mobile apps have helped engage and retain employees. In turn, this new level of employee engagement has fostered a positive work culture. Additionally, by joining forces with HR, IT assumed a new level of contribution to the business, helping the company to stay true to its fundamental ethos—empowering people with technology.

As far as leadership is concerned, this type of HR-IT collaboration is only the beginning. “We meet with HR leaders several times a week, even if we’re not in the same place,” Meyercord said of his IT team.

In the end, Salesforce’s formula for employee engagement is rooted in the fundamental elements of the HR and IT teams. Employee satisfaction starts with fostering a positive culture and is amplified by the technology that deepens and supports employee life.