How Hibob Boosts Employee Engagement and Retention: Q&A With Rhiannon Staples


“If companies want to attract the best talent, keeping employees not only happy but also engaged is an integral part of that success.”

With more than 15 years of experience leading global marketing strategy, teams, and programs at fast-growing startups, Rhiannon Staples, chief marketing officer, Hibob, is responsible for spearheading the people management software company’s go to market strategy. She draws from her experience at working at the people management platform to hold forth on how HR teams can balance employees’ needs, aspirations, and expectationsOpens a new window . She discusses how technology can transform the way employers approach employee engagementOpens a new window and retain the best talent.

In this edition of HR Talk, Staples talks about a few employee engagement initiativesOpens a new window for people leaders to consider for distributed workforces. She also shares the three most important reasons for HR managers to focus on more data-driven decision making today.

Key takeaways from our interview on employee engagement and retention:

  • Top tips on how cloud-based HR and benefits platforms are important for employee engagement
  • Learn how happy and engaged employees performOpens a new window better and have longer tenures
  • Key trends to follow in employee engagement and retention in 2020 and beyond

Here’s the edited transcript from our exclusive interview with Hibob’s CMO, Rhiannon Staples:

Which are the key milestones you have observed in the evolution of employee engagement into a strategic function of HR today?

The HR field is rapidly evolving from what it used to be and isn’t even the same as what it was five years ago, much less 10 years ago. If companies want to attract the best talent, keeping employees not only happy but also engaged is an integral part of that success. Today’s workforce, especially Millennials and Gen Z, want real-time recognition and access to information as we are accustomed to with our social media channels. People want to feel fully and immediately integrated and connected into the day-to-day operations of an organization whether that’s through the work itself or through meaningful personal connections at work. Ultimately, a culture that is focused on learning, development, and community will continue to be a driving factor of prolonged employee engagement.

What have been your most important observations for HR teams when it comes to balancing employees’ needs, aspirations and expectations with the business leaders’ vision?

The highest performing organizations understand it’s necessary to balance the needs of their employees with the vision of the founders or C-suite leadership. In a workforce that is increasingly turning toward being employee-centric, good business leaders will understand how to strike a perfect balance between celebrating the ideas and wants of both the employee and the organization. HR teams should aim to create a culture that benefits employees when it comes to environment and perks, while also encouraging hard work that moves the company’s mission forward. Business leaders should realize that treating workers well is key to advancing a vision, and employees will work hard toward achieving that vision if their needs, aspirations and expectations are met. Ultimately, organizations that invest in their people will come out ahead in the long run.

Learn More: Why Employee Engagement Is so Important at Netguru: Q&A With Dorota PiotrowskaOpens a new window

What role does cloud-based HR and benefits platforms play in enabling better business outcomes from HR?

Cloud HR is required for companies to embrace the changing world of work. From fast implementation to the ability and agility to grow with the needs of the business, to convenient access on the go for employees, and support for remote and contract workers, it’s become evident cloud-based HR creates an easier, more accessible and adaptable method for streamlining employee and department communication that ultimately increases employee engagement.

Happy and engaged employees perform better and stick around for longer. How can employee engagement be regarded as a strategy for attaining business goals?

Employee engagement is one of the most important areas companies must focus on in order to attain other business goals. When employees are engaged, the organization will grow, and employees will achieve better, more streamlined outcomes, while also possessing a passion for work. As a strategy for reaching business goals, HR professionals can approach engagement and retention through recognizing the cost of turnover.

Time spent recruiting, hiring, onboarding and training a new employee has significant explicit and implicit costs, and it is within the company’s financial interest to invest in engaging employees to build long-term relationships.

How has the technology and especially, AI and Machine Learning transformed the way employers approach employee engagement?

Aside from being a digital admin, technology has made it easier than ever for HR, managers, and team leads to keep track of employee, engagement, and productivity. Hibob’s platform bob allows managers to conveniently assign and manage onboarding tasks and workflows. With respect to AI and Machine Learning, these technological advances are facilitating ways for companies to fast-track what used to be tedious workplace processes, including everything from onboarding paperwork to performance review management and more. Overall, AI is allowing employees to focus on more worthwhile work and giving them the opportunity to cut back on time spent on more administrative tasks.

Learn More: How to Drive Innovation in the Workplace: Q&A with Kellie Romack of HiltonOpens a new window

Distributed workforces have become the norm. How will this impact the measure of the success of employee engagement initiatives – both at the individual and the organizational level?

With a distributed workforce, measuring employee engagement faces a different set of challenges. While today’s advances in communication technology have made it remarkably easy to create a more global workforce, it becomes more difficult to monitor engagement when teams and individuals are remote and in separate locations. For example, Hibob has integrated both Slack and Microsoft Teams into the bob platform to facilitate employee engagement and facilitate communication for things like PTO, onboarding, and monitoring work progress. HR teams can ensure they are driving inclusion, sharing company values and culture regardless of location and finding creative ways to foster personal connections between employees despite physical distance.

With distributed workforces, it is best to implement a steady cadence of routine check-ins and evaluations with individuals, more than they would if the whole team was in the same physical office. It is also beneficial to keep employee morale high through initiating culture clubs or shout out and inspiration boards to create a thriving culture for remote employees.

What are the three most important reasons for HR managers to focus on more data-driven decision making today?

  1. Today, data analysis is just as important to HR leaders as other C-suite leadership because HR teams are managing a company’s most important asset and largest line item when it comes to the people that make up an organization. Data-driven decisions allow companies to predict and forecast retention, attrition and employment trends moving forward – allowing them to plan for staffing requirements and take a deeper dive into turnover and satisfaction rates at the company. Using this data, HR leaders can more accurately look ahead and adjust where necessary to improve the overall hiring process and employment experience.
  2. HR managers can use data to analyze how company resources are being allocated and ensure all employees are being treated equitably. For example, HR can work with financial teams to discern if employees are being paid fairly or ensure that there is age or gender equality in compensation. 
  3. HR analytics to better understand organizational dynamics. For example, Hibob’s people analytics capabilities provide data-based insight into employee diversity, efficiency, experience, and engagement. This gives insight into which employees are connected to colleagues across other teams, which employees are most influential across the larger organization and other relationships. Understanding every worker’s individual role can give HR teams and managers a better understanding of how people are working in an office environment so they can double down on the strengths and address any potential weaknesses.


In order to embrace digital transformation in employee engagement processes, what are the new array of skillset and mindset changes that are needed in HR leadership and practice?

  1. With the increase in digital transformation, there will be an increased emphasis on HR leaders’ ability to instruct and guide employees on how to use cutting edge workplace technology. For example, automation will increasingly take over and streamline workplace tasks, requiring HR leaders and managers to patiently guide and teach new technology and platforms to staff, and making sure they are engaged and confident while using them.
  2. HR leaders should focus on digital employee engagement at every stage, and HR and management should recognize that engagement should be implemented during the onboarding process as well. For example, the bob platform encourages new employees to bond by joining groups on the platform based on shared interests. Especially at larger enterprise firms, digital transformation can make it much easier to make friends and find others with shared interests.
  3. The metrics-driven engagement has become the new normal, and as such, HR leaders must remember the difference between team vs. tribe culture and engagement. As engagement grows more digital, it’s important to remember that the company’s overall engagement may be different from the employee’s individual engagement with their direct team. HR and team leaders should always be searching for fun ways to drive team culture and engagement online. An example would be bob’s Kudos feature, which allows managers and workers to give special appreciation for teams or individual employee accomplishments.

Learn More: Designing the Employee Experience: Q&A with Sonia FiorenzaOpens a new window

What are the new HR developments at Hibob that you are excited about?

Hibob is constantly innovating and looking towards the future in how we can help modern-day workplaces thrive. Looking ahead, we are focusing on challenges that are facing fast-growing companies in today’s economy. Hibob wants to enable companies experiencing this hyper-growth to engage in rapid global expansion, mitigating potential challenges along the way. We’re also looking to expand upon our platform’s tools to help managers drive employee engagement and satisfaction, alongside initiating capabilities that support important aspects of culture such as diversity and communication at scale.

What’s in store for employee engagement in 2020 keeping the latest trends in mind?

Employee engagement will see a new emphasis on age diversity. In 2020, the workplace will hold Gen Z, Millennial, Gen X, and Baby Boomers in the same working sphere, requiring employees to embrace different skills and experiences that come with wider age demographics. A more diverse workforce is a positive company attribute as it pools together different minds and can lead to increased creativity and perspective. At the same time, it’s important to try to bring together generations through engagement on all levels, whether that’s through team outings, brainstorms, or digitally, to build trust and bridge the gap.

Neha: Thank you, Rhiannon, for sharing your valuable insights on how employee engagement impacts retention in the workplace. We hope to talk to you again, soon.

About Rhiannon StaplesOpens a new window

Rhiannon has been architecting global marketing strategy, teams, and programs at fast-growing startups for more than 15 years. Prior to Hibob, she served as the Global VP Marketing of NICE Actimize and Global Head of Brand Marketing at Sisense. Rhiannon also built a marketing consultancy and served as a CMO for hire to help maturing B2B companies build the infrastructure and programs needed to scale globally. From brand to market strategy, lead gen to Account-Based marketing programs, her specialty is spearheading global growth for innovative companies.

About HibobOpens a new window

Hibob, the company behind the transformative platform bob, which brings together employees and managers to help them communicate and collaborate more effectively, is dedicated to helping businesses grow their people. Founded in 2015, Hibob understands that as younger generations begin to dominate the workforce, they are creating demand for a new way to manage people for the future of the workplace.


HR TalkOpens a new window is an interview series that features top people and talent leaders from HR tech and Fortune 500 companies who are redefining the future of work. Join us as we talk to these people tech experts to get in-depth insights, and some pro-tips on how HR tech can best work for you and your people.


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