Julia has been with TopSpot since 2011, when she began as an SEO specialist. The Houston native became Director of People Experience in 2019 Her focus is on all things related to TopSpot’s 120-plus team members: recruitment, engagement, growth, and learning.
“There's no way we could have managed shifting from working in the office to everyone working from home without that kind of communication capability.”
Like all organizations around the globe, TopSpot has had to quickly come to terms with the realities of “the new normal” as COVID-19 changed the face of business, seemingly overnight. Like most professional services organizations, TopSpot’s team members have all been working from home for several weeks, attempting to juggle their job duties with family responsibilities in an environment that, for many, is impossibly stressful. “We have team members with spouses or family members in health care, and they're going to work every day, risking their health,” says Karnezis. “We have parents with young children in the home. We’re all having to adjust.”
Before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, TopSpot found itself in a familiar predicament that many companies of its size have also faced. As the company grew rapidly through the 2010s its people management function needed to evolve. Feedback systems, evaluations, and other HR functions were being performed either manually or on outdated HR platforms. “It wasn’t that long ago that we were doing performance reviews in Word,” says Karnezis.
While TopSpot had made use of a couple of simpler human resources platforms in recent years, those products had shortcomings and their contracts were expiring. In 2019, the company found itself in an ideal position to start fresh with a modern people management system that would work better for its growing team and include the tools it needed to provide new and improved services to its internal customer base – its hardworking team members.
TopSpot had previously worked with an engagement platform that set the foundation for what they expected from an engagement solution. When it came time to vet a full-suite people management system that encompassed the team member review process, engagement, and teammate recognition, the bar was set high. They wanted a trusted vendor, and a one-source solution. Not a jumble of applications to manage separately. Karnezis says that the company knew “there was a huge benefit in bringing recognition, polls and surveys, and performance reviews” all together under a single, connected roof.
“Lattice really stood out from the very beginning,” says Karnezis, and it wasn’t just because Lattice could fill all of those needs in a cohesive, integrated platform. “With a lot of the other vendors that we considered, the customer service just didn't match up. The knowledge of the product just wasn't there. On top of having a really great product, Lattice’s customer service really stood out. The customer experience is a huge piece of why we went with Lattice.”
It didn’t take long for the team at TopSpot to start feeling the impact from the Lattice platform. Updates for keeping team members accountable, 1:1s for collaboration, and Feedback for promoting professional growth quickly became the most widely used features at the company. “These things have helped us add another level of communication to our organization,” she says. “They help people prioritize and get everyone on the same page.”
But today, with TopSpot’s entire workforce under a work-from-home policy, Karnezis says that the tool has proven even more valuable. “I literally cannot imagine a scenario where we didn't have access to Updates or 1:1s,” she says. “I don’t even remember what life was like before. What did we do before we had that functionality? There's no way we could have managed shifting from working in the office to everyone working from home without that kind of communication capability.”
One tool that has been especially helpful is Lattice’s COVID-19 Engagement Survey template. With questions specifically aligned to understanding how this crisis is affecting team members, Karenzis could quickly gather feedback and take action. “Lattice has really helped us to keep a pulse” on the organization, says Karnezis. “The system helps us stay in tune with what's going on with everybody, and if people are struggling, we can go in and solve that.”
With workers sheltering at home, TopSpot quickly discovered that it had lost access to one of the most critical parts of communication at any business: Body language. “Initially that was a huge struggle for us,” says Karnezis, “as it made it more difficult to understand what was happening in the lives of team members.”
The good news is that Lattice has made that transition easier, Karnezis says. “We knew we wanted the benefits of features like Updates and 1:1s,” she says. “Now it's like: What would we have done without them? We'd certainly be missing out on communication and alignment with a lot of our managers.”
Like many organizations, TopSpot is looking ahead to the time when sheltering in place ends and is wondering how the business will change in the aftermath. To that end, Karnezis used Lattice to ask team members about how they see the future of their jobs. While many workers are anxious to get back to the office, others have said they actually prefer working at home. “We’d already been talking about what job flexibility looks like,” she says. “But this spurred us into action very quickly.” Thanks to those insights, TopSpot is considering what office space looks like in the future and what added flexibility looks like more permanently to improve engagement.
Before sheltering in place, TopSpot team members proudly celebrated each others’ work around the office with public praise. “It’s linked to the Lattice Praise Wall, which we normally display on six or seven TVs in our office to see all the cool things people are doing. It’s become part of our culture and something that you just see all over the place.” Now as part of her own stay-at-home routine, every Friday Karnezis sends out a recap of the week’s goings-on to the staff, particularly highlighting good news and team wins. It also includes the Praise Wall. “If you have a second monitor at home,” she says, “you can put it up.” So while they don’t have access to the televisions at the office, it hasn’t stopped Karnezis from keeping the company from celebrating.
Today, TopSpot remains resilient. With individual contributors and managers keeping in touch with 1:1s and Updates, teams continuing to share praise and feedback, and keeping a pulse on engagement, Karnezis and her People Team have a strong view of the company in Lattice. “It's the dream tool for HR groups”, she says.