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FreshWorks Studio connects and engages its global team with Polly

FreshWorks Studio is one of Canada’s fastest growing companies, specializing in designing and developing elegant and highly functional mobile and web apps for startups, enterprises, and the public sector. FreshWorks is headquartered in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, but its team of 80+ innovative problem solvers includes analysts, consultants, designers, developers, and other technology professionals hail from across the globe.

Each member of the team brings unique perspectives to work with them, and this diversity of culture and talent helps build new transformative digital experiences every day. Nominated as Viatec’s Employer of the Year, FreshWorks builds remarkable teams and never misses an opportunity to bring their people together

The team already hired over 16 new members in the early months of 2021, and has many job openings to fill to keep up with its growth over the last year.

We met with Anastasia Peplinski, Shannon Parker, and Desmond Brisbin from the FreshWorks team to learn how they use Polly to help build an engaging employee experience and stay true to FreshWorks’ unique culture.

A match from the start

In 2018, FreshWorks was growing at an extraordinary pace. The team needed a simple, direct way to gather feedback, check in on employees throughout their journey, and track changes and trends.

As Slack users, it made perfect sense to find a tool that wasn’t just integrated, but woven directly into the platform. In searching for that ideal tool, FreshWorks found Polly. 

“After looking at the features, we knew Polly was the perfect fit for us. We built everything from scratch and happened to pick the right tool from the start.”

Multiple challenges; one solution

With Polly, the FreshWorks team found numerous ways to improve current processes and implement new ones. 

  1. Candid feedback — “We didn’t have a platform for employees to provide honest and/or anonymous feedback,” Parker explained. “Being a small company, that’s a big challenge. The louder voices often overshadowed the quieter ones. When there isn’t an established platform for gathering feedback, it’s on the employee to come forward and speak up, and often, they won’t. As a technology company, we have many introverts and that onus was especially difficult on them.”
  2. Measuring and tracking trends — “Before Polly, the team wasn’t able to measure trends to understand whether we were improving. This led to many conflicting assumptions on what needed to be implemented or changed.”
  3. Evaluating sentiment — “We had trouble determining what was 1 or 2 people feeling strongly about something vs. sentiment that was shared across the team.”
  4. Gauging effectiveness — “We could not survey the company to determine how successful initiatives were—things like events we hosted, or benefits that we rolled out.” 
  5. Aggregate measurements — “We did not have a way to gauge overall employee engagement levels, or satisfaction with their work and the company. We did not have a way to generate an internal net promoter score.”
  6. Anonymity controls — “At the time, our HRIS—Humi—did not allow us to easily collect anonymous 360 peer feedback. Instead, it shared results of individual feedback with all reviewers. This was another key advantage of having the Polly Slack integration.”
  7. Reminders — “Sending reminders via Slack was another huge advantage. It led to a higher response rate.”

“Before we used Polly, our ‘solution’ to all the above was to informally collect notes on conversations that were happening. We would bring those up in different meetings, and see if there were common themes. Unfortunately, this made it easy to discard data that we did not agree with, or fail to check back up on concerns to see if things had improved.”

“Having an avenue for informed decisions was key. Polly is now a huge part of our culture.” 

Favorite features

FreshWorks employees as a whole found that being able to answer directly in Slack made giving meaningful feedback manageable and seamless.

Shannon Parker and Desmond Brisbin from the FreshWorks People Operations and Growth teams remarked on a few of their favorite features as well:

  • Pre-scheduling makes the process seamless because we can just schedule a polly once, and it’s automated from there.
  • Automated reminders boost response rates without us having to reach out directly.
  • Survey results are all grouped together in one area, making it so easy to access, manage, and export the data you need. 

Promoting Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion

As a global team, FreshWorks remains dedicated to promoting equity, diversity, and inclusion. Polly helps amplify FreshWorks’ diverse collection of voices in their Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) initiatives. 

Quarterly anonymous pollys gather quantitative and qualitative data on how employees understand EDI, issues they face, and solutions they'd like to see. 

”Traditionally those in the office (face-to-face) had the opportunity to provide feedback directly to leadership and have it actioned. Polly enables international and remote team members to provide feedback and be heard equally.”

Pulse surveys help the FreshWorks team solicit and gather feedback from individuals who otherwise may not feel comfortable speaking up. Rather than asking in aggregate, they found that asking a direct question to individual team members earned higher response rates. 

Improving Lives and Empowering People through Technology and Innovation

FreshWorks strives to improve lives and empower people through technology and innovation, and that effort begins with the team. They shared some ways Polly helped to bring those voices forward and build feedback seamlessly into its culture and employee experience.

  • Polly makes our feedback processes so easy, we have been able to develop a strong feedback-centric culture. As a result, all team members give and receive feedback regularly, which empowers them to discover ways they can develop professionally and become both stronger team members and stronger leaders. 
  • Polly gives everyone the opportunity to cast their vote and evaluate how we are doing as an organization. This opportunity levels the playing field and helps make FreshWorks an even better place to work.
  • Polly provides us with a platform for gathering frequent anonymous feedback. We have recurring pollys, including a bi-weekly pulse survey and a monthly suggestion box. We rotate through 13 questions (based on the Gallup Organization’s best practices), which help us to see trends and changes within team engagement and morale.
  • When deciding on what the priority should be for new benefits/perks to initiate, Polly empowers the team to participate and guide those decisions.
  • We have also made Polly available to people to use for their own surveys or questionnaires. This empowers everyone to make their own data-driven decisions when required. Things like determining team goals, or deciding on the best structure for internal meetings. All can all be done while working with team members that span multiple countries and time zones.

Bringing ideas of all sizes to life

From small things like finding out we needed another coffee pot in one of our kitchens, to implementing company-wide 360 feedback, Polly gives us the ability to make informed decisions based on primary data.

Remote work pro-tips from a distributed team

With a global team distributed across 19 countries, the FreshWorks team has lots of experience with remote work. To help other distributed teams, they shared some of their top tips for building culture, strengthening communication, and fostering engagement.

  1. Stay connected and keep things fun.  From virtual lunchrooms to happy hours, demo days, fun Slack channels and game nights, our entire team can stay engaged and connected throughout the week.
  2. Create space. Designate a workspace that limits distraction from pets, family, and roommates. However, don’t worry if your pet or child crashes the call or makes noise in the background, we’re all in this together.
  3. Be transparent. Keep your calendar up-to-date and make sure your team can see whether you’re busy.
  4. Be available. One of the core values at FreshWorks is collaboration. How do you do that when you’re not sitting next to each other in an office space? Be available. On Slack, email, Zoom, or the phone.
  5. Use Polly!  Polly provides us with a way to gather information asynchronously. This is a huge benefit, especially when working with an international team. We can gather meaningful feedback in a short time frame while working with team members that span multiple countries and time zones.

Moving forward

As the FreshWorks team continues to grow and scale, Polly has been right there with them. At Polly, we’re excited to work and grow with innovative, creative, and driven teams like FreshWorks.

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