Dom Merrit from Sprout Social

How Sprout Social is Preparing for the Future of Work

When it comes to thinking about the future needs of a global workforce, Sprout Social Senior People Business Partner Dom Merritt is planning ahead every day. 

For Dom, supporting the team at Sprout is about pairing the latest communication and collaboration tools with human-focused programming and support. This focus is to ensure that everyone can bring their best, most authentic self into work each day.

We caught up with Dom to learn more about which tech tools their global team uses to continuously connect and drive rapid growth for their business — both within their Chicago HQ, and across six additional countries. 

How is your company preparing for the future of work? How have tech tools changed the way that you communicate, collaborate and innovate? 

At Sprout Social, we build social solutions that put real connection within reach for our customers — and we do the same for our employees. 

From our earliest days, we were centrally located in Chicago. But fast forward almost ten years later, Sprout is geographically dispersed across three continents and seven countries. 

Because of our global reach, we’ve taken an intentional approach to create an inclusive community for our employees by leveraging common technologies, such as Google Hangouts, Zoom Meetings and Slack. 

But we don’t rely on tech alone. In fact, we designate meeting participants whose role is to ensure that remote team members are active in all of our conversations. 

And whether that means using video conferencing, or virtual whiteboarding tools like Miro — which allow remote employees to participate in the infamous Post-It note exercise — we’ve made it part of our ethos to always seek simplicity and inclusivity. 

We believe that complexity creates a huge tax on productivity. And by removing those communication and collaboration barriers, we are able to grow, adapt and accomplish some pretty remarkable things. 

How can HR pros help their employees prepare for how work will evolve in the next few years? 

While I am the biggest advocate for embracing and adopting innovative technologies in the workplace, we must not lose sight of the importance of human connection and mental health. 

Beyond just adopting new technologies and developing more optimized workflows, organizations should make a concerted effort to invest in the mental health and wellbeing of their employees. High performing organizations and mentally healthy employees go hand-in-hand. 

When employees are happy and in a great mental space, they thrive. 

However, when things are not going well, it shows in their work. Unproductive employees, absenteeism, missed deadlines, etc. — these are the things HR pros fear because they ultimately impact the company’s bottom line. 

The CDC reported that depression is estimated to cause 200 million lost workdays each year, at a cost to employers of $17 to $44 billion. 

While mental health is still stigmatized, HR professionals can work to create the psychological safety needed to begin talking about it, and offering solutions to help their employees bring their whole selves to work. 

At Sprout, in addition to offering a flexible PTO program, our medical insurance plan offers comprehensive mental health coverage. We also offer an employee assistance program, which provides team members with a holistic mental and well-being platform that meets them where they’re at, and — through evidence-based technology and professional support — helps them reduce stress, become more engaged, and ultimately, happier people.

At Sprout, we’ve invested in resources for our employees to get the support they need in order to bring their whole selves to work. It’s the secret to our success.

Inside Sprout Social's office.
A peek inside Sprout Social’s office. Image via Sprout Social.

 

How does Sprout Social support leadership and development for your team members? Does the future of work impact new skills development? 

A few years ago, we launched a new philosophy aimed at creating a holistic approach to learning and development in support of our employees thriving professionally and personally. “Grow@” ascribes to the philosophy and focus of betterment — the betterment of each of us as individuals and teams, the betterment of our careers, and the betterment of Sprout overall. 

We frame all of our learning and development opportunities around four growth tracks:

  • Professional Growth: Content focusing on topics such as public speaking, business writing or making the transition to your first job out of college. All of our content is applicable to any employee regardless of their role.
  • Specialized Growth: Content that enables employees to master their current role. We work closely with experts within each team to determine key functional skills and identify specific training opportunities to support that skill development.
  • Leadership Growth: Content that helps us upskill our current and future leaders.
  • Personal Growth: Content focused on exposing our employees to new ideas and topics that help them expand their worldview, pick up a hobby, or learn something new that is outside of the box of their day-to-day interests.

We also created a Slack channel in which employees can share articles, videos, podcasts, etc. related to professional growth and discuss them with other passionate, self-driven learners across the organization. 

At Sprout, we have a phrase that we really take to heart — “Always Be Growing”. Our employer-led programming supports this, but our employees play a large role in supporting one another as well.

What advice do you have for people to prepare for the future of work? 

Embrace the unknown! Learn as much as you can about how the workplace has already changed. Allow yourself to be vulnerable and have the courage to embrace the possibilities of what the future can be.