My Big Idea: Employee engagement platform Workbuzz

Steven Frost, CEO and Founder of WorkBuzz, explains his platform to engage deskless workers
BizAge Interview Team
Workbuzz team

Hi Steven! What's your elevator pitch?

The WorkBuzz employee engagement platform helps HR teams to better engage deskless workers, who comprise 80% of the global workforce. Deskless employees such as frontline workers, retail assistants and field engineers often feel disconnected from their organisations, resulting in reduced performance and high levels of attrition and sick leave. Our WorkBuzz platform uses employee listening tools and data-driven insights that inform people strategy, helping to elevate the employee experiences of the vital - but often sidelined - deskless majority.

Why does the market need it?

In a time marked by generational shifts, a pressing wellbeing crisis, and 500,000 fewer people in the U.K labour market, WorkBuzz’s platform helps HR and business leaders to create an enviable employee experience in which every worker feels heard, valued, respected and empowered.

There’s never been a more important time to listen to employees - especially deskless workers whose voices often go unheard - and involve them in shaping change. WorkBuzz stands out as a game-changer by providing organisations with an intuitive engagement platform backed by a team of employee experience experts who help HR teams to address their escalating people challenges.

From onboarding and employee sentiment surveys through to AI-driven insights, we equip businesses with the tools and knowledge to better understand their workforces. They can then implement the necessary improvements to enhance employee satisfaction, retention, and productivity while reducing staff turnover and absence rates.

Where is the business today?

In our last funding round less than a year ago, led by YFM Equity Partners, we raised £6.2M, which over the last 10 months has propelled us into a phase of dynamic growth. We’re now expanding internationally, have bolstered our sales and marketing teams with fresh talent and are continuing to innovate.

What made you think there was money in this?

I initially set up a research consultancy specialising in employee and customer research. It was during this time that I recognised the need for a platform-driven engagement solution tailored specifically for deskless workers – a demographic that often goes unheard. I felt that this presented an untapped opportunity.

After chatting with a former client who shared my enthusiasm for the idea, he expressed his interest and said that if I’m ever looking for funding, to let him know. During a conversation held unexpectedly in his back garden, he agreed to invest £300,000 to help launch WorkBuzz.

What's your biggest strength?

I like to think I’m good at creating a compelling vision that gets our employees and investors excited. This vision has enabled us to attract top talent and foster a dynamic environment where innovation thrives. Plus, our agile mindset ensures we remain closely connected with our customers, continuously gathering feedback to refine our offering and stay ahead of the curve. We understand that what got us here won’t necessarily get us to our next milestone, and so we are constantly reinventing ourselves and adapting to get to the next level.

What is the secret to making the business work?

We are constantly listening to our customers to understand their needs and shape our priorities. For instance, we run initiatives like our Client Leadership Forum where we actively engage with clients to find out their pain points and how we can help. This distinguishes us from monolithic platforms that often struggle in this regard.

How do you market the company?

We principally target HR leaders and practitioners who need an intuitive engagement platform to support their employee engagement strategy. To reach them, most of our marketing investment is directed towards digital channels and experiences, including both paid and organic, plus an industry-focused sales team to drive demand.

What funding do you have? Is it enough?

We have support and funding from Mercia Ventures and MEIF which has been transformative, and we’re really proud to have raised a total of £9M from investors to date.

Initially, we raised a small seed round of around £80,000 which Mercia Ventures led. This was to build on our proven concept. As we hit the milestones in our business plan and delivered on our investor promise, Mercia Ventures and MEIF were able to support us for a follow-up seed round, followed by our Series A funding back in June 2023. The last funding round has been astronomical, really supporting our growth journey and ambitions to achieve 10M annual revenue.

Tell us about the business model

Only 1% of business software is designed with deskless workers in mind. This is where WorkBuzz is different as it’s the only listening and engagement platform that is fully optimised for every type of employee. Our focus on platform and pricing simplicity makes it easy for clients to select the platform features and professional services needed to achieve their employee engagement goals. Combined with rich survey capability, deep HR consultancy experience and a unique client support lifecycle model, this adds up to a compelling proposition for companies starting or looking to evolve their employee engagement programme.

What were you doing before?

I studied Management at the University of Nottingham, which naturally gave me an entrepreneurial bug. Upon graduating from university, I secured a job at a bank, working my way up through different management roles, and working on a project related to franchising. This sparked an idea for creating a service for franchised businesses to score their franchisors and then rank their attractiveness to would-be franchisees. This is when Smith and Henderson was born.

After some successful years in business, I soon realised there were limits around how far I could scale the business model, which made me reflect on my “why” behind entrepreneurship. WorkBuzz soon became my second venture, landing in the tech space, and emerging as the answer to organisations’ engagement challenges, in particular how they can forge stronger connections with deskless employees in what is an increasingly complex environment.

What is the future vision?

To build the world’s best employee engagement platform for deskless workers, wherever they are and whatever they do.

Written by
BizAge Interview Team
April 16, 2024
Written by
April 16, 2024