RealTime IT News

Portals Can Perk Employees

OK, so you're at the helm of a perennial firm. You enjoy a track record to die for, you're stacked with blue-chip talent topped off by a sublime business model. Life seems great until slowly but surely the people who work for you are borne off like dust in the wind by trendy startups. Apparently, something wasn't working. How did this happen? More importantly, what can you do about it?

The folks at perksatwork.com say you can help keep employees happy by providing the firm with an employee portal, a destination that offers a balance of company news and social life planning, including discounts of up to 53 percent from about 125 vendors.

A demonstration on the site shows a fully functional virtual community where employees can chat on message boards, check the firm's calendar, and essentially hold meetings online if they wanted to. Workers may also shop, organize travel, take out a loan and tackle other personal and professional chores without leaving their desks.

The premise for this business-to-business-to-employee model certainly appealed to perksatwork.com President and Chief Executive Officer Jim Greene, who had been managing partner of Andersen Consulting's dot-com business. Greene listed his reasons for signing on to the firm, which was launched in 1998.

"There is an absolute war for talent out there," Greene acknowledged. "The challenge for not only attracting but retaining employees is great. I had looked at no less than 300 companies so when they approached me I had more than a good idea of why people leave."

Greene listed the qualities he found attractive about perksatwork.com.

"For one, there is a sound business model that reflects the change in the way businesses are run. Second -- there is something like 145 years combined management experience at perksatwork.com, whereas most places average 35 or 40 years. And third, it is recession proof -- people are always going to be looking for talent.

Greene wasn't the only party impressed with the perksatwork.com philosophy. This week, the firm scored $67 million in funding led by Technology Crossover Ventures, Thomas Weisel Capital Partners and Blackstone Capital Partners III. This money, the company said, will be used for global expansion.

But, it didn't stop there. perksatwork.com Tuesday added titan Sun Microsystems Inc. (SUNW) to its list of 25 major clients, which already included PeopleSoft Inc. (PSFT) and Robertson Stephens. Greene said Sun's global leadership fits in with perksatwork.com's quest for international growth.

"They have a diverse, best-of-class workforce."

Greene said the perksatwork portal for Sun links into its human resources content and lets workers communicate through surveys, polls and suggestion boxes.

So, how does a firm get a an employee portal? Greene said perksatwork.com consultants work with company executives to tailor content accordingly and go through extensive training with clients so the application is well understood. Lastly, Greene said it is an external host application, which deploys to firms within minutes.

Of course, there may be whistles in the wind about the cons of the portal -- something along the lines of some colleagues spending too much time in the company's virtual community. How do you defend against that?

You can get ugly and say "At least my employees are staying at my company, Mr. Mayor of the Short-timers," or you can simply state the fact that employees are going to be pleasure surfing on finance or sports sites regardless. The argument is, why not offer it from the company's perspective?