Why Workplace Management Software Should Talk Purpose Over Product – Especially Post COVID

COVID-19 and the rapid and widespread shift to distributed work teams created an incredible moment for workplace management software – and the interest in this space continues to grow. As the new hybrid of remote and in-person work rolls out, there is widespread interest in how to make teams and workplaces more effective, connected and impactful.

This moment represents an incredible business and brand opportunity for companies selling these tools, platforms and solutions. But to effectively leverage it, workplace management software teams need to come to the conversation talking about their purpose – not just product. Shifting to a purpose-led conversation can be difficult. Especially for highly technical teams that are motivated by passion and pride in the product. An overly detailed product story or a communications program which focuses heavily on technical components or back-end differences, however, undersells the true impact and will not resonate with the wider audiences this moment offers. To capture their attention in today’s environment, a larger, purpose-driven story is required.

Here is why – and how workforce management software platforms and product teams can think about elevating their stories to highlight a broader impact and purpose.

Appreciate the power of the story

A values-based story remains the best way to build credibility, trust and rapport. Stories are an incredibly powerful communications tool; they create a connection with the audience that lasts long after the exchange. Research shows stories positively change our brains and create an emotional and deeper connection with the source. There is still the preconception that storytelling is both more difficult and less important in the B2B space. None of which is true in the current marketplace. Data shows that 50% of B2B buyers are more likely to connect to a brand on an emotional level, especially when it is integrated into how they do or see their jobs.

Expand how you see your audience

Before COVID-19, workplace management software providers saw their target business audiences as quite niche – mostly HR leaders operating with the buy-in of the IT team. But this is no longer the case. The shift to digital workplaces increased the importance of these tools. As well as larger organizational interest in what decisions are being made on this front and why. Now, heading into the post-COVID hybrid workplace, the broader C-suite and wider organization see workplace technology tools as integral to staff issues. This includes remote work, productivity, security, morale, talent retention, recruitment, and diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) initiatives.

Workplace technology tools are now seen as essential to building the optimal employee experience and with that, the overall company culture. Employees are also increasingly being asked for their input on platforms and products. This is raising the importance of brand sentiment and recognition among more consumer audiences. All of this makes telling a purpose-driven story essential since it is the best means of connecting and engaging this larger audience group and speaking to their different pain points and perspectives.

Tell an impact story

The public and media discourse is currently dominated by workplace issues that include DE&I, talent retention, upskilling, productivity and collaboration with distributed teams, as well as team connection and engagement. All issues that are also simultaneously a top concern for customers and prospects.

This creates an ideal moment for workplace technology platforms and tools to proactively step into larger and more elevated conversations. For instance, when the Swiss compensation management platform beqom wanted to raise its brand awareness in the U.S., it set itself up to join one of the timeliest public conversations of the moment – the gender pay gap. Instead of discussing how its platform worked or why it was better than the competition, beqom used the product to tell a much higher impact story. Beqom used owned data to become leaders in the gender pay equity discussion. And by doing so, significantly increased brand awareness and positive sentiment.

The new brand expectations

After a tumultuous past year and a half, activism, advocacy and social action have become the defining trends of the business and public landscape. Nearly 60% of Americans want the companies they buy products from to have a position on the events of the day. This includes issues such as racial discrimination, social justice and the environment.

This expectation also impacts the workplace technology space and B2B companies. But like beqom, workplace technology products are often uniquely well situated to be able to engage in the top concerns of the day. These range from workplace health and safety, optimal offline and online communications, employee satisfaction, improved productivity and building workplace cultures in terms of equity and engagement.

There has never been both a more urgent and opportunistic moment for workplace management technology products and platforms. Customer and client brand expectations are shifting to expect a more purpose-driven approach from all providers. This includes B2B and SaaS companies. Similarly, talent and employees are looking at companies to speak about their larger purpose and not just the product functions. And, most of all, the insights and expertise that these companies have is more in demand and pertinent than ever before.

The chance to proactively engage in broader and more mainstream media and public communications is one not to be missed. For workplace technology companies, the key to meeting the moment both in terms of customer expectation and high-impact storytelling is to reflect on what the product does for the end user, why that matters and then to look to be a helpful and positive addition to the larger conversations happening in that space.

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This article was authored by Amanda Munroe, SVP, Account Services at partner company SHIFT Communications.

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