We recently interviewed Myles Block, Chief Administrative Officer for York International Agency, LLC, a leading independent insurance broker based in Harrison, New York. As an employee-owned organization, York International has created a unique culture of individual accountability and transparency. The company is committed to working as a team, rewarding achievement, and promoting a healthy work environment for all of its 58 employees. Read the full interview to learn how ActivTrak has played a signfigant role in enabling productivity improvements while staying true to the company’s culture.
Q: Why did you begin using ActivTrak?
Historically, we had everyone working in the office, but, prior to the pandemic, we started a pilot program which allowed employees to work from home one day a week. As part of that program we wanted to measure employee productivity. ActivTrak was recommended to us by another insurance company and it blew away the competition because of how easily digestible it was. ActivTrak has a great user interface and simple reporting model. Then COVID-19 hit. We quickly assessed our IT assets (using ActivTrak) and deployed everyone to work from home within two days. We moved more quickly than other companies in our area, which is a testament to the team’s commitment and flexibility.
Q: How are you currently using ActivTrak?
Our goal with ActivTrak is to make everyone more productive. Time is our most limited resource and as an employee-owned company, it’s in our collective best interest to understand productivity levels and better manage our time. ActivTrak helps us build trust, create transparency and accountability, and understand who is doing really well and how we can help others model them. We’ve also built the data into our annual review process so that our employees can understand how they are doing alongside peers and the company as a whole. We found that with the right tone and positioning to ensure trust with our employees, insights around peer relativity is tremendously helpful.
Q: What do you think about ActivTrak’s integration with MS Teams?
As a firm that heavily relies on Microsoft products, we wanted to leverage ActivTrak’s ActivConnect feature to integrate workforce productivity data with PowerBI and Microsoft Teams. The feature allows us to easily view productivity analytics within Microsoft Teams under our PowerBI tab and within our team chat groups. Because the ActivTrak data is so easily accessible and digestible, it’s become part of our daily morning meetings and keeps the organization’s productivity top of mind.
Q: What changes are you making as a result of using ActivTrak?
ActivTrak is helping us turn data into knowledge. Managers are able to make observations, validate assumptions, and over time, implement changes as needed. We’ve also been able to drill down and see what applications are being used most and where we can find untapped potential. For instance, ActivTrak showed that our time spent in Outlook is high, and caused us to ask ourselves if we’re over-communicating. We’re looking into how we can reduce it or communicate more effectively across the team. We can also see if we’re spending too much time on certain tasks, determine if the tasks are worth the time (and opportunity cost) and if employee time should be spent elsewhere.
Q: What future plans do you have with ActivTrak?
Now that some of our employees are coming back to the office, we are getting a new set of data. It will help us operate most effectively in a post-COVID-19 world. We’ll be able to see the impact of large office gatherings, the optimal work schedules and environment, and who works better at home versus the office.
After experiencing success with the remote work model, we’ll likely expand our potential for hiring talent outside of Harrison as well. In that regard, we are not only unlocking productivity potential, we’re also unlocking talent potential as well.
Q: What advice do you have for others that are thinking about implementing workforce analytics?
Analytics can bring a lot of powerful insights into focus — but requires transparency so that employee trust isn’t jeopardized. It’s important to hyper-communicate with employees what the product does and explain that it’s designed to make employees and the organization as a whole more successful. It’s helpful to ensure that they understand that it’s a benign piece of software that won’t interfere with their day and that you understand there are certainly going to be times they are not productive. In fact, it’s the mix of productive and unproductive time that’s oftentimes helpful to see. It’s up to the company to set benchmarks over time and determine what the culture and philosophy is going to be as we navigate the future of work.
Hear Myles Block share more of his experience and tips for being successful with ActivTrak by watching our on-demand webcast: Create a Culture of Continuous Improvement with ActivTrak and Microsoft Teams. You can also learn more about ActivTrak’s integration with MS Teams by clicking here.
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