From Spreadsheet to Superstar—The Story of Our Employee Directory

By Todd Ericksen

In case you haven’t noticed, at Instructure, we’re all about giving power to the people … Power to develop, power to engage, power to connect like never before. And sometimes, the most potent ideas have humble beginnings. 

When I first started working here in 2016, our employee directory was a basic spreadsheet. It was as utilitarian and uninspired as they come, but employees used it every day.

During one of our quarterly Hack Weeks, I decided to give our spreadsheet a new look and a few bells and whistles. The response was so positive, we completely revamped the directory so our Instructure team—which now spans continents—could better connect. 

Sure, we could’ve stopped with a functional org chart and directory combo, and that would’ve been just fine. But that’s not who we are. So we pushed until we arrived at a solution so awesome that it quickly became a favorite among our 1,200+ employees.

Here’s what we came up with: 


Bridge’s Employee Directory 

Employee Directory screenshot

Each Employee Profile in the Directory includes:

Basic HR content:
• Name
• Title
• Location
• Email
• Phone number
• Profile photo
• Manager
• Teammates
• Direct reports
• Org chart

Connection-inducing details:
• Bio 
• Personal interests  
• Career drivers
• Skills they can help with  
• Skills they want to develop 

We quickly realized this was too good to keep to ourselves, so we incorporated the Employee Directory into the Bridge Employee Development Platform so all clients could take advantage of it.

Quick access to contact info is just scratching the surface—our Employee Directory: 

Builds Connection After Connection 

Connection, or a sense of belonging, is a key component of employee fulfillment. And according to PwC, fulfilled employees stick around three years longer than their unfulfilled peers. 

Connecting the dots on the company org chart is just the beginning. Our Employee Directory provides countless opportunities for building relationships because it:

• Simplifies onboarding – The first day at any new company is a whirlwind. Thankfully, the Employee Directory helps newbies start on the right foot. It’s a cheat sheet of all those names thrown at them during team intros, plus a solid resource for learning about their manager and teammates on the fly.

• Breaks down silos, especially remote workers – With quick access to essential team info, remote employees can feel like they’re just down the hall, even if they’re working in Philadelphia while their manager is in Salt Lake City.  

• Provides valuable intel about teammates – Have a meeting with people you’ve never met coming up? Use the Directory to snoop in the most efficient ways. You never know when details from a co-worker’s profile will come in handy—from remembering a birthday to building rapport over a shared love of backpacking or craft beer. 

• Enables quick access to the company org chart – Employees can use the org chart to see who they’d be working with if they apply for that open position in another department, learn more about colleagues who hold the titles they desire, you get the idea …


Helps Employees Feel Like More Than Cogs in the Machine

Bringing our whole selves to work drives a level of trust and authenticity that goes beyond shallow small talk in the conference room. 

And letting employees take ownership of their profile—from the photo they choose, which personal interests they want to share, even what skills they want to develop—allows them all to be vulnerable in genuine ways while driving inclusion and empathy.

Embracing the humanity of each employee a concept we strongly believe in, and even covered last month at BridgeCon when Erica Keswin shared some insights from her book, “Bring Your Human to Work.” 
 

Fosters Organic Mentorships

Mentorships are the missing piece for many young employees, as 42% of millennials believe they’ll need to jump ship to gain the skills aligned with their career ambitions. On the flip side, only one-third of millennials feel their company is making the most of the skills and experience they have to offer

Our Employee Directory solves both of these issues seamlessly, enabling employees to find and contact teammates with the skills they need to develop or want to share.  

We’re proud of this stretch assignment that turned a boring spreadsheet into a powerful resource. Rather than using a standalone tool for finding contact information, the Employee Directory helps employees feel like they belong from Day 1, get familiar with Bridge, and take ownership of their development right away. 

Inspiring connection is just one of the requirements for nurturing and growing your people. For a complete list (and tips on how to put them into action), check out our “Definitive Guide to Employee Development.” 

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