Salesforce: employee centricity

Linda Aiello, Senior Vice President of International Employee Success at Salesforce, shares how the company has built a holistic employee-led culture while using technology and data to support its approach

Linda Aiello has held the role of Senior Vice President of International Employee Success at Salesforce for three years. Before her rise to this position, Aiello had been a Salesforce customer on behalf of companies such as LVMH and Uber. She cites that one of the draws to the company was her younger brother, who has worked for the company since 2007. Through him she has witnessed the company’s evolution and, while she shares that she had “high expectations” for the company, she says that they have all been exceeded. Aiello emphasises that Salesforce’s values have remained consistent from the company’s inception. “Marc Benioff wanted to create a product that changed the way the world did business, and how he could improve the state of the world.”

Culture

Aiello maintains that the company is built on four core values: trust, which highlights transparency and employee satisfaction; customer success, defined by how Salesforce builds KPIs that drive customer success while adding value for the company; innovation to try and find new ways to improve the employee experience; and equality: “working to make both the company and the world a more equal place.” According to Aiello, Benioff has always said that “the business of business is to make the world a better place.” She adds that all of these values are centralised on the Hawaiian concept of ‘Ohana,’ which means family. “It's not necessarily the family you are born into, but it's your coworkers, the community, the customers, partners, and so on: the idea that no one is left behind and we all support one another.” This support starts from recruitment through to further career progression with Salesforce. “There is a level of personalisation for each employee,” explains Aiello. “We’re always using the data that we get from our own platform, and reincorporating it into our employees' experiences.” One of the ways in which technology has allowed the company to better appeal to employees and potential recruits is through cloud marketing. “If they see something relating to Salesforce on LinkedIn, for example, we are able to track the popularity of our posts and this allows us to better target our message.”

Flexible working

Aiello says that Salesforce is constantly asking itself: “How do we remove friction at every single point of an employee's experience to allow them to do their best work?” From this, the company has strived to create as much flexibility as possible for employees. One of the ways in which this has needed to be achieved was for Salesforce to meet the technology standards external to the company. “With the constant evolution of technology, the employee experience has also changed. The expectations from the outside world heighten the expectations of the employee on the inside world. When an employee can access a seamless experience from other companies to improve day to day life, we as a company need to ensure that we’re also as app-centric and seamless as it needs to be.” Aiello also refers to trends such as voice recognition which has been incorporated into its employee app through which an employee can record important information, update team members and send calendar invites more promptly. “We try to implement time saving services so that our employees have more time for themselves or their customers,” she says. While Salesforce has met the desire for flexibility, it has also ensured that these needs are being met in a way that is culturally appropriate to its values, as well as approved by employees. This has been achieved through an open debate on the ethical use of technology, a concern raised initially by employees. “Technology itself is not good or bad; it's how people choose to use it.” As a result, a discussion opened on the topic, welcoming employees at all levels of the company to speak with Benioff and other C-level executives to discuss the issue. “Following these discussions, we started the office of ethical and humane use, which specialised in creating a set of principles around the ethical use of technology, and safeguarding human rights and data privacy.” The office consists of Salesforce staff and experts external to the company who can provide guidance on how the company uses technology for both employees and customers going forward.

Training Opportunities

When addressing the need for upskilling, Aiello asks: “How can we provide the best environment to re-skill and grow our employees with the understanding that the world is changing rapidly?” As there are many jobs that don’t yet exist in this sector, she notes the importance of inspiring curiosity and driving employees to consistently improve their knowledge. After all, their careers may take a path that is yet to exist. Salesforce is not only focused on upskilling internally, but also externally as so many companies leverage its technology. “The number of jobs Salesforce is driving in the ecosystem is astronomical.” To be sure, it is estimated that there will be over 800,000 tech-related jobs unfilled by 2020, according to research published by policy group Coalition for a Digital Economy (COADEC). “To support the training of employees, we have access to a platform called myTrailhead.” This software aims to make tasks that may otherwise be considered arduous, more engaging. The platform is accessible to those working within or remote to the office, providing an equal opportunity for all to grow and develop their knowledge while maintaining flexibility to the work. “We made a pledge this year in May that, by 2022, we're going to help train and re-skill 250,000 people across Europe towards a Salesforce certification.”

Moving forward

“As industries across the world move forward, employees want more from their employers. Culture is our greatest competitive advantage,” enthuses Aiello. “As Salesforce moves forward, Aiello shares that the company will continue to drive to create a sense of belonging for its employees. "One of our longer-term priorities is that of psychological safety." She adds that, following the launch of the app, the increase in positive feedback has reaffirmed this. As Aiello continues to help lead Salesforce in this direction, it is undoubted that it will only continue to generate an exemplary employee experience

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