Behind Our Series C: How We Built an Internal News App and Found that Communication is the Heart of Employee Experience

Today we announced our $23M Series C round led by Insight Partners. If you’re interested in the press release you can read the full announcement, but I wanted to take some time here to talk about why this is an important milestone in the effort to bring employees back into the focus of companies.

Staffbase Founder Teaser
Staffbase Founders Lutz Gerlach, Martin Böhringer and Frank Wolf
© Gene Glover / Agentur Focus

When we started Staffbase four and a half years ago, we wanted to help companies better reach their workforces with internal communications, including remote and blue-collar workers. More than two-thirds of employees do not work at desks, and many are without corporate email addresses, making it impossible to reach them with corporate communication.

But they have an equal right and desire for meaningful work.

Employees contribute the full measure of their talents and skills to a company when its purpose, culture, and strategy make sense to them. In a time when products and services can be replicated at the click of a button, the one thing that is hardest to copy — your employees’ collective talent, skills, and engagement — is rapidly becoming a company’s most important asset.

We are proud to work with more than 300 enterprise customers worldwide, including brands like Adidas, DHL, and Brinks. They have all understood the importance of their people, and made it a priority to have an engaged workforce that understands the company’s purpose. Staffbase gives companies their own fully branded employee app. Where else does a company’s message have more potential to gain relevance than on their peoples’ smartphones, right next to Instagram and YouTube?

Learning From Our Most Successful Customers

When I talked to our first customers, we learned that their employees expected much more from the app than just internal communication.

We looked closer and found that this was a pattern throughout our customer base: HR services were integrated, access to benefits was provided, and IT service desk tickets could be created in the app. All kinds of different departments were joining forces to provide one unified access point for employees.

A joint venture between communications and other departments comes with benefits: HR teams who have integrated their employee survey in their Employee Experience app report 50% higher participation rates. In return, communications teams tell us that they are able to reach people who would not have otherwise adopted their comms channel in the first place if it wasn’t for the shift planning feature.

Within our customer base, companies that are using the reach created by communications by enriching employee journeys with further services in their app outperformed those with narrow use cases by 75% in terms of active usage.

With the help of our customers we have found that Internal Communications is more than just a channel; it’s the heart of employee experience.

The Return on Employee Experience

The war for talent is over and talent has won. Generation Y, labor shortage, and the constant need for change are the biggest incentive for organizations to become people-first workplaces.

But how can we create an employee experience that is engaging and easy to navigate?

Think about employee journeys and put yourselves in their shoes. What are their pain points, motivations, and goals? What information do they need to access to get their work done while feeling connected to the entire organization?

If we start building the answers to some of these questions into Staffbase, the app becomes much more than just a place where employees get corporate news. It becomes the place where they bond with their team, swap shifts, find vital safety information, receive location-specific updates, view the status of their PTO requests, find benefits information, and fill out a survey to rate their onboarding experience after 3 days in a new job.

The return for companies that invest in creating this experience is a totally new level of reach and engagement. We see an average registration rate of 70% — and up to 95% for our best performing customers. Push message updates are read by 75% of users within one hour of receipt, and we see an average increase in reach of 300% compared to existing channels such as intranets and newsletters.

Beyond that, Staffbase customers significant improvements to their bottom line. There are numerous ways in which companies see business results including reduce work related accidents, speed up of market feedback cycles, improved operational efficiency, faster distribution of best practises, or faster employee onboarding times. Reinert Logistics, for example, uses Staffbase to share mobile training and safety videos like pre-drive inspections with their more than 1,000 employees. As a result, they have seen a 15% decrease in damage to company property.

Over the past several years, we’ve learned that when a company activates their employee experience with Staffbase, they enjoy a plurality of beneficial outcomes. They shed the risks and costs associated with low engagement and poor communication, while also amplifying the contribution and wellbeing of their most important asset: their people.

The Future of Staffbase: Enabling People-First Companies

Our Partnership with Insight

Today, Staffbase announced a $23M Series C funding round led by Insight Partners, alongside with our existing investors Kizoo Technology Ventures, Capnamic Ventures, and e.ventures. For us, this is a very important milestone in our young history. Insight Partners has a great track record, has developed a very deep understanding of our market and shares our vision of making a positive impact on today’s workplace. We’ll use the fresh capital to continue following our path step by step, based on the success of our customers.

Our Customers and Their Employees

A few weeks ago we held our first VOICES conference in Berlin. More than 400 customers and industry experts attended this event and clearly showed us that our customers (present and future) are far from finished. Leadership, HR, IT and Internal Communication teams are on a journey to introduce Employee Experience to their organizations, and our mission is to make them successful. We will invest in building an ecosystem of forward-thinking industry leaders and provide them with the community, best practices, and tools to become successful.

Our Product

Staffbase is the front door to great employee experiences. We strongly believe that compelling stories that build a unified identity and purpose and are shared from throughout a company are at the heart of the employee experience. That’s why the core of Staffbase is a set of tools for mobile-first employee communications, intranet capabilities, and employee engagement. This is completed with an employee experience engine that enables highly individualized employee journeys based on a deep integration into existing processes and systems.

The employee experience is not a general concept, but a highly individual process taking place in the minds of every single contributor to a company’s success. Therefore our goal is to provide a highly individualized experience in Staffbase, as well.

Despite being part of an organization that’s 550,000 people strong, the DHL delivery driver in Denmark deserves an employee experience tailored to her needs.

For Staffbase, this means that her app should look like it was made just for her. It’s in her language, features relevant stories, and provides access to all the services she needs. We will continue this path by supporting more touchpoints (we’re looking at you, desktop workers), more parts of the employee journey (beyond employee communications), and sophisticated tools that will allow large organizations to design, implement, and manage highly individualized employee experiences.

Expansion

Today, Staffbase is made up of 200 people from 21 nations working in seven offices. Our customers and their employees come from all over the globe. With Insight now joining our team, we will make sure to have this global view represented on our board, helping to bring the employee experience revolution to people from all parts of the world.

We work with some of the worlds’ largest companies to help them become people-first. This has a huge impact both on their bottom line and on their processes. Staffbase wants to be their partner in this transformation, offering a helping hand that reaches beyond providing the best SaaS product out there. That’s why our goal is to be physically close to our customers, helping with consultative sales teams, local partners, and customer success. We currently have teams on the ground in New York, London, and Amsterdam, in addition to multiple cities in Germany, and we will continue going wherever our customers need us.

Thank You!

I want to thank all of the fantastic people who have helped us reach a point where we have the opportunity to change the way our largest organizations interact with their employees. I have the best team of co-founders, founding team members, and Staffpranos around me. Our early customers, partners, and investors saw a special opportunity very early on, and they have put a lot of trust in us, for which we are truly thankful.

The people of Staffbase have an amazing spirit which inspires me every day to keep going until everyone can enjoy the same privilege of working with purpose and pride.

Let’s do this!
Martin

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