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?

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