Changes In the Employee Journey

How To Create a Culture Where People Want to Stay & Thrive

Jan 26, 2022 12:00 pm1:00 PM EST

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Key Discussion Takeaways

As hybrid and remote work becomes the new normal, companies are finding connectivity and engagement between employees to be more challenging. So how can you achieve a solution to this issue and create a culture where employees want to develop with the company?

Through Structural, Jim Delaney is on a mission to connect employees with the right people and opportunities to help them thrive. Structural offers tools to engage employees, expand their skill sets, and take on new learning experiences. They do a deep-dive on people, create rich profiles, and connect them with the right projects at the right time so that they can continue to grow within their current organization. What other ways can Structural help you transform your company culture and digital operations?

In this virtual event, Greg Irwin is joined by Jim Delaney, the Vice President of Enterprise Strategy at Structural, to talk about the different ways you can create engagement opportunities within your company. Jim tackles the tough challenges companies are currently facing, discusses the importance of going beyond inclusion, and shares how Structural can help your company become more connected and people-centered in a digital world.

Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:


  • Jim Delaney shares how Structural helps individuals find new development opportunities
  • How is Structural collecting accurate data and creating rich profiles for employees?
  • The challenges many companies are facing in regards to employee engagement
  • The need to shift company culture and get more employees involved in projects
  • How virtual operations are causing productivity and onboarding issues
  • Integrating solutions into Microsoft platforms
  • Why you should be focusing on a sense of belonging — not just inclusion
  • The specific ways companies are driving engagement in a work-from-home environment
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Event Partners

Guest Speakers

Greg Irwin

COO at BWG Strategy LLC

BWG Strategy is a research platform that provides market intelligence through Event Services, Business Development initiatives, and Market Research services. BWG hosts over 1,800 interactive executive strategy sessions (conference calls and in-person forums) annually that allow senior industry professionals across all sectors to debate fundamental business topics with peers, build brand awareness, gather market intelligence, network with customers/suppliers/partners, and pursue business development opportunities.

Jim Delaney

Vice President of Enterprise Strategy at Structural

Jim Delaney is the Vice President of Enterprise Strategy at Structural, where he empowers employees to make the right connections at the right time. As a discovery platform for the workplace, Structural links people to the opportunities, experts, and collaborators they need to thrive.

For over 20 years, Jim has been helping businesses — and people — grow. From mega-cap 401(k) plans to high-margin independent consulting contracts, Jim has helped others prosper through go-to-market strategies, streamlined sales operations, and direct sales.

Event Moderator

Greg Irwin

COO at BWG Strategy LLC

BWG Strategy is a research platform that provides market intelligence through Event Services, Business Development initiatives, and Market Research services. BWG hosts over 1,800 interactive executive strategy sessions (conference calls and in-person forums) annually that allow senior industry professionals across all sectors to debate fundamental business topics with peers, build brand awareness, gather market intelligence, network with customers/suppliers/partners, and pursue business development opportunities.

Jim Delaney

Vice President of Enterprise Strategy at Structural

Jim Delaney is the Vice President of Enterprise Strategy at Structural, where he empowers employees to make the right connections at the right time. As a discovery platform for the workplace, Structural links people to the opportunities, experts, and collaborators they need to thrive.

For over 20 years, Jim has been helping businesses — and people — grow. From mega-cap 401(k) plans to high-margin independent consulting contracts, Jim has helped others prosper through go-to-market strategies, streamlined sales operations, and direct sales.

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Discussion Transcription

Greg Irwin 0:18

My name is Greg Irwin. I'm one of the partners at BWG. And we basically are an executive discussion group, we do these types of forums. We've been doing this about nine years, and we host about 10 to 15 of these sessions every day, we cover lots of different topics. And it just so happened, we have a real focus around HR, that HR processes HR systems, so very happy to be co hosting today with Jim Delaney and with Corey Ploessl. And these guys are joining us from Structural, and we're gonna be talking about the various ways in terms of driving and improving employee engagement, particularly across distributed organizations. And they obviously come with a with a perspective, but the really for this forum, we follow a couple basic points, one, no sales pitches. So we're not here pitching a product to it's really about engagement and collaboration and learning from each other. So I'm going to go around the group, and I'm going to ask some pretty targeted questions about what's going on, in your organization in your company, maybe some of the things you're thinking about some of the things that you've tried, how it's gone, so that we can all learn kind of the real world stories about alright, we tried lunch and learns, we tried, you know, remote happy hours, we try whenever and hear a little bit about it. And then the other point is making new connections. So I'd be thrilled for you all to want to talk to BWG more or Structural more. But the one thing I think you should all get interested in is the group at large. So if you hear something interesting from Katy, or Jim or Amber, and you want to connect, wonderful, that's, that's what this is all about. So I'm gonna ask everybody to kind of set a personal goal for this session, make one new contact across this Hollywood Squares that we got going in trying to walk away with one, one new idea. On top of all of that, we have a chat window. It's incredibly effective. So let's use it throughout. Add in your own questions, answer other people's questions, and really think of it as like your little your personal chat window to kind of learn more about what's going on. Okay, let's introduce the CO hosts here. Jim, do me a favor, please grab the virtual mic and introduce yourself to the to the group?

Jim Delaney 3:01

Sure. Well, thanks for having me, it is a great group to, to connect with and to learn from. So I appreciate the time that, Greg that you and Mike have put into getting us ready for this and to all of you for joining us on this on this session to you know, tremendous opportunity for us as a fairly young company to learn from experts in the industry and across a breadth of people. So really excited to the discussion. My background is in 401k, I was in the 401k business for a while in I helped launch the Health Savings Account business at US bank so sort of spent more than a decade in financial services, focused on employee engagement tools, and, you know, retirement funds, etc. I then ran a leadership development company for about eight years, and then jumped over to help some smaller companies go to market some social enterprises, I really got involved in sort of the social social enterprise space and help go to market with those. And then in 2021, I guess I had a chance to spend all the time in the Middle East and do a little work there with some social enterprises, which then completely fell apart because of COVID. That opportunity disintegrated quickly and join the Structural team and I’m the VP of Enterprise Strategy at Structural.

Greg Irwin 4:22

Well, I'm going to drop the link for Structural just into the chat people kind of look at it here along the side, but give us the 32nd What is what is Structural.

Jim Delaney 4:31

Structural is a tool that that larger organizations use to engage their employees in engaging with each other or connecting with each other and to finding new opportunities within within the organization. So we consider it sort of like an internal customized, private, secure LinkedIn where LinkedIn is really good at helping people find opportunities and people connections outside of the organization. We want to help organizations connect or we want to help people can Next to opportunities and subject matter experts, etc, inside their organization so that they look there first rather than than looking outside the company for for what's next. That's pretty cool.

Greg Irwin 5:11

Awesome. And where are you in your evolution? Maybe, you know, do you have 10 customers? Do you have 100 customers?

Jim Delaney 5:18

So here, we're at about 30 customers, we've had some great customer growth in terms of starting with, you know, more than a pilot, but less than a full fledged rollout. And now expanding really rapidly, we just had our largest client expand their usage by about 10 fold. So we're excited excited by that. And the company is about five years old of 25 employees split between Minneapolis and Indianapolis. And we've got, you know, great funding from, from high alpha from some sort of legendary entrepreneurs, as well as Steve cases rise, the rests revolution group, so great funding there, and some really good backer. So yeah, it's an exciting time to be here. And as you said, Greg, you know, we're sort of at the center of a lot of conversations right now, because hybrid work is really becoming the norm. And so that connectivity becomes harder when you're, you know, in your house all the time, working, working, it's

Greg Irwin 6:17

all? Absolutely, I think we all feel like how do you how do you drive community? How do you drive, identity and culture with a work from anywhere? In organization, I'm more than happy to share what's happening at BW J. But first, Jim, I'm going to ask you to tell us maybe one customer and how, you know, maybe their challenge, you know, I think that we have to take the generic conversation of the challenges of work from anywhere environment and, and really try and drill it down to what our specific goals about where we want this to go. So if we're going to reimagine a distributed workforce, what are the metrics to know that where you know that we're, we're achieving what we want or addressing what the real problems. So I would love to try and take it one level deep, at least start one level deeper in terms of the challenges and the goals, and then how people are tackling. So with that preface, do us a favor tell us one customer experience or story that that you've come across here over the last six months or so?

Jim Delaney 7:30

Sure, yeah. Well, the customer I mentioned that is, is grown so much so in their usage is a extremely large division of United Health Group Optum. So the optimum grip with UnitedHealth Group is, you know, 10s of 1000s, employee of employees, you know, 10s of millions of dollars, or 10s of billions of dollars of revenue. And they have a really large internal consulting force, essentially, it's a very knowledge capital oriented businesses business, which is where we, where we spend a lot of our time is where a lot of our customers are, in sort of, you know, people are the product to some degree, there's a lot of knowledge capital involved in their business. And so what what optim was looking at is a way to engage people better or enable them to be engaged better in finding the right projects internally. So they have this large consulting force, optimist, large consulting force, they're all these projects, I think they had, you know, 1000 projects, and 3000 consultants. And they were using essentially like a Google sheet to figure out who should fit on what projects. And what they saw Structural is able to do is drill down a little bit better into the nuances of what each employee or what each consultant is good at, what their skills are, what their experience was in each project, and match them better to a particular project. What the evolution of that has been, is not just finding people for projects is helping those people find their own project, they were losing Optum was losing a lot of people because those consultants were getting sort of pigeonholed into a role or into a group getting getting sort of stuck behind a managing director who wanted to keep them working on their team on a particular in a particular vertical. And people were getting frustrated by getting stuck in the same sort of tranche of projects. And so they've now use Structural to open that up to not only finding people for projects, but allowing people to find their own projects to say, you know, what else is out there that I can work on? How can I stretch my skills? How can I you know, join employee resource group or how can I take advantage of a learning a learning experience to grow as a leader or expand my knowledge? And so this is a direct quote from from one of the leads that at optim is that they attribute a 50% reduction in turnover of their consultants to the use of Structural so we're extremely thrilled with those outcomes. And they see that outcome, they attribute that outcome to the ability for the organization to match people better to projects and for people to find their own projects, better consultants to find their own projects better internally. So that they are, they're self empowered to to sort of guide their own work and their own career, more than just sort of waiting to be pulled off the bench for a new project.

Greg Irwin 10:25

I'm hearing a couple things. First, it's, it sounds like it's a place for somebody to go to search for opportunity. Yes, it also sounds like it's a place for someone to go to kind of present their skills. Yep. 100%.

Jim Delaney 10:39

So when we talk about find and be found, that you can, you can find a project by going out and being proactive, or you can be found, because your expertise and your past projects are listed right in your Structural profile, so that someone can do a rich search, find who you are, find what you're good at, and drill down into what projects you've worked on in the past and where you've been successful.

Greg Irwin 11:03

It's interesting that we're, I mean, this map this overlays existing systems right there, it's ATS systems, therefore, our resumes and applicants, their performance management for, you know, matching, measuring someone's skills. How do you find it mixes with kind of your typical Cornerstone or your typical items.

Jim Delaney 11:28

So the we have, we generally work with a lot of human capital management systems, we always work with human capital management systems to create a rich profile for every employee. So workday, right 90% of the large companies in the in the country, or 75%, use workday. So we pull information from workday Structural polls, information from workday about every employee creates a rich profile in combination with information from LinkedIn from, you know, an applicant tracking system or project management, from JIRA from any of the Atlassian tools, we can integrate with those to collect data and information about every employee to create a rich profile for them before they ever login. Yeah, so on day one, whether you know, Jennifer, or Corbin or Eddie, any of you had ever logged into Structural, you would have a rich profile built for you at your company by pulling data and information from each of those systems. And then the next step is we actually push that profile into Microsoft Teams. And so that's a huge piece in working with Optum is that they don't want people to have to leave the tool that they're using all day, every day already to go find a profile or go find a project or find opportunity. It's all embedded in Microsoft Teams, so they never have to leave.

Greg Irwin 12:50

So I get it, it's really cool. LinkedIn is my kind of my external professional profile. This could be my internal professional profile.

Jim Delaney 12:59

Exactly. And the difference is you don't have to build this profile yourself from scratch. The Structural tool aggregates data and information about you from all over the company, just get you a really solid base profile. That's a living breathing profile, rather than asking you to build it and update it constantly.

Greg Irwin 13:17

But let's cover Judiciary's questions, question here. I think I get it. It's like, I might be interested. But I might be tied up if I'm a consult internal consultant. I might be tied out for three months on an engagement, but I come free, you know, in June, and come June, I'm wanting to know that I'm getting placed in a good opportunity. Is there any more color you want to that you can share in terms of how your how your process works for placing experts in, in projects in an organization, there's a lot of tribal knowledge. Where I know, I know that corpsman is the best recruiter. So I want him on my project. And when he's free, I'm getting Corbin, because Corbin kills it, I can trust him. And I know what he knows. And I like him. And I want him working on my stuff. But the next opportunity I'm going for Corbin. Jim, what I'm curious about this, how you see kind of the profile versus like, you know, I don't know if you do scoring or like something that kind of indicates real skill, as opposed to just self self described skill.

Jim Delaney 14:31

Yet, we're absolutely working on that. I actually think that might be Optum was the first organization that maybe pushed us in that direction to create a proficiency score. And so we're I don't want to say it's built, but we're we're building out a kind of a one through five proficiency component that would pull information of the number of projects you've worked on related to a particular topic plus some scoring based on the you know, the senior manager or The project lead could provide on that particular skill or proficiency that you have for that skill on that skill. So, you know, I could say, I'm great at, you know, flying an airplane, or I can say that I can fly an airplane, but who knows, you know, a good I am at flying an airplane and you kind of want to know that right before you get on the plane. So that's definitely something we're working on is that proficiency piece? Not in a way, not in a way, that's just people going in and dropping down one through five on a particular scale that would take forever, but tolerate some automation as well, in terms of how much you've worked on a particular topic.

Greg Irwin 15:37

What about Jay? SRIs? question in terms of time based? Hey, this person is great. They love flying airplanes, but they're not available to fly until June.

Jim Delaney 15:49

Yep. So two things come to commodes that one is that people can change their availability. So I'm 25% available? I'm 100%. Available? I'm not available at all, they could put a timeline on that to say else, I'll be available in June, on their profile. And the Yeah, so that's, that's really the, you know, one way that that people are able to manage that, that piece of it is sort of raising their hand to say I'm available for more work or not. That yeah, that's sort of the the main way.

Greg Irwin 16:21

Let's do this. Let's hear how other how it's happening in real world. So I put a little question in the chat, and I'm gonna ask everybody to, to warm warm up your fingers and give an answer of how it really works. If you are interested in an opportunity, or you're in your unique resource, how is it happening at your, at your firm or at your clients. And, Jim, I'd love if you could take it, you know, in terms particularly integrating with the Microsoft suite,

Jim Delaney 16:52

I don't see that working, Microsoft just just actually wrote us a check to integrate more deeply into their their platforms. So one of their project or product leads, excuse me, call us one of their most strategic partners a couple weeks ago. So we're, we're thrilled with the growth of our earlier depth of our relationship with Microsoft. They keep coming back to us offering us more resources to integrate more fully with not just teams, but some of the other systems you're describing. And offering is actually some sales and marketing resources as well. So that we can go to market with them, sort of in tandem to our customers or their customers. So that that, again, that that creating that ecosystem where people just don't have to leave teams, as you said, teams is the fastest growing component of Microsoft by a factor of 10. I don't know the number 510, whatever it is a large factor. And so the more that they can wrap services into teams that make it richer, and more integrated, the stickier they get with all their huge customers and the less likely they are to leave. So we're part of their strategy to to dig deeper into teams and to to integrate more and make teams more useful. So we're thrilled with that couldn't be more excited about what's next for us with with teams, or with Microsoft in general hadn't heard of loop. So let me let me look into that a little bit. And I can definitely get our product person and our VP of product and our CTO engaged in that conversation. If that's something you'd want to explore with them or talk to them about, we'd be really eager to hear your perspective on loop. There's another partner we were looking at for the does, you know, we do this deep dive on people. And what you're describing as a deep dive on the knowledge management piece in the this partner that we've been talking to a little bit is doing some of that knowledge management, building a lot of AI, the person who the founder of the company is, is a guy who built some of the technology that went into creating Alexa. So he's got a really great pedigree in the Knowledge Management keywording and AI related to content management. So I'd love to talk to just throw that by you as well and see if that's of interest just to learn more about we're happy to be part of the group working on the people side of that to make sure that we have the richest data available about every individual is a living, breathing profile. It's not something someone has to go and update themselves is as we've seen a million times, we've all probably been in the situation where like I just forget to update that stuff. So to create a living breathing one is really where we planted.

Greg Irwin 19:28

I feel I think you're hitting it. It's not a like everyone's working more. So there's more on by like, seven o'clock at night. I'm more connected to work. Maybe engagement is up but you're right. Maybe it's a sense of belonging. Maybe it's the sense of belonging that we're less missing some of that culture and community. I want to

Jim Delaney 19:52

jump in on that for one second, Greg is that we're at a conference. I was at a conference in Vegas in December with UKG and they They had this whole component of belonging as a component of diversity, equity inclusion, they're adding the bee to it the belonging piece. Yeah. And talking about how inclusion is a little bit like, patriarchal where it's like, oh, I'm, I'm on the inside. And I'm including you, rather than belonging being a more broad based and sort of self directed component of, of engage of engagement rather than like, you're on the outside and I'm bringing you in versus No, I'm just part of this as I'm a part of the company just like you are. Right? Yeah, it's something I was really excited to JCO is it really excited to see your your your question about below your comment about belonging, it's really, I'd love to hear more.

Greg Irwin 20:41

All right, Jim Taylor, my my wrap up is we'll do follow up. Obviously, if you want to connect more with these events, we're doing a BWG wonderful. You know, we're here with Structural, you want to learn more about what they're doing. That's what they're here for awareness. So if, if, if you're interested, or you have a team in your organization that wants to learn more you think would benefit, of course, please, that's the kind of stuff that would be so valuable. Let me turn it to Jim, Jim, give us a little wrap up, and everyone can get on to their next their next area of focus.

Jim Delaney 21:15

Yeah, thank you, um, that my wrap up is just thank you. Really fantastic amount of information to be able to glean in an hour. We really appreciate this really appreciate the ability to hear from so many of you here, you know, to kudos to the BWG team for bringing together such a great group of people who can play off each other's comments and build off of what each each other had said. So really, incredibly valuable for us. We would love to be part of your conversation, whether that's just sharing ideas, hearing a little more depth on some of the challenges you're facing. You know, partners we have any knowledge we have about these particular topics. Really happy to share and, and be a thought partner with any of you for what you're working on. Again, great group people, incredible insight. And I just, again, thank you so much for the time.

Greg Irwin 22:08

Alright, appreciate it. All right, Cory, Cory and Jim, thank you. Thank you all and have a great day and till the next time.

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