In HR, effective systems and 47-step processes are widely taken for granted. It’s only the moments when you forget something (or someone) that put you in the spotlight. That kind of anxiety doesn’t set you up for long-term success.
Abbie Yeo, Human Resources Generalist at PetDesk, knew she and her two teammates needed more automation to avoid losing important tasks to the void of manual reminders. Their existing processes were effective — they just needed to remove potential for errors or forgetfulness to smooth them out.
Now Abbie’s no longer fearful of leaving someone out. Emails, Slack messages, and reminders that are automated through Sora help her stay on top of key processes and important moments in the lives of her team.
PetDesk revolutionizes the way veterinary clinics connect with their clients, through a modern communications platform providers can use to communicate with their clients and an easy-to-use mobile app for the pet parents they serve. They were founded in 2013 in pursuit of an ambitious mission: generating 10 million additional years of pet life through better vet-client communication, and to collect the data to prove it.
PetDesk is also committed to increasing educational access and opportunities for Black veterinary professionals through scholarships, and earned a nod from Rover as one of the “Best Dog-Friendly Workplaces” of 2021 — no wonder, since they offer “pawternity leave” as an employee benefit!
Even in the most ideal and peaceful circumstances, onboarding a new employee requires a lot of coordination. Add in an outsourced IT department and a newly remote workforce, and that list of onboarding tasks gets longer, making it harder to keep track of every single step.
“One of the main attractions [of Sora] for us was being able to build out an onboarding workflow,” says Abbie.
PetDesk’s new onboarding automation includes a welcome email “from” Abbie (wink) and walks the new hire through getting set up with work equipment through their outsourced IT team far in advance of their first day – which Abbie used to coordinate with that team manually.
“Those automated communications make me look really good,” Abbie said.
Abbie says new employees feel excited and know what to expect because of this consistent communication. Pre-first-day emails are sent using Sora and supplemented by Guru links containing company info. She even automated an onboarding feedback survey so that her team can gather data and refine the workflow further in the future.
This workflow ensures that the new hire’s experience with PetDesk is already amazing, even before day one. Not only that, but it takes some of the stress off of Abbie and the team.
“It just keeps me in line and makes sure that I'm doing everything that's needed,” she said.
With the onboarding flow locked in and running smoothly, Abbie’s team got hooked on automation and sought out other ways to remove manual tedium from their other HR workflows, too.
Automation empowers the PetDesk team to focus more on exciting celebrations and worry less about remembering every detail — or worry about leaving someone out.
“In this remote world, it’s nice to be able to bring our team together to celebrate birthdays and anniversaries.”
Abbie said they never attempted setting up a celebratory precedent before.
“We were terrified of possibly leaving someone out by accident.”
With the Sora and Slack integration, PetDesk now accurately and automatically recognizes every employee birthday and anniversary in a new #celebrations channel.
“The team likes being acknowledged and appreciated, so that’s been another plus,” Abbie said, adding, “even just having some of these tasks pushed through, or reminders for myself, has been a blessing.”
Birthdays and anniversaries aren’t the only exciting events in the lives of PetDesk employees. When PetDesk went completely remote, it created a new issue for Abbie’s team: Some employees untethered by an office commute opted to move to a new state, impacting their benefits and income tax. To address this potentially complex internal process, and avoid anything getting lost in communication, Abbie created an employee relocation workflow in Sora.
First, the automation sends a congratulatory email celebrating their move and establishing expectations. The workflow then sends a moving day calendar invite reminding employees to update their address in Paycom, which triggers their tax update and will also trigger a benefit update, if needed. This simple automation saves Abbie from having to manually remind employees, or worse – employees losing coverage or paying incorrect taxes.
She set up a similar workflow for parental leave, working backward from the expectant parent’s due date, along with a kind message to the employee celebrating this new chapter for their family.
“We want employees to go on parental leave to feel they're prepared and know what to expect,” Abbie shared.
PetDesk’s most recent workflow allows Abbie and her team to schedule company messages in advance honoring significant cultural events, such as International Women’s Day, Transgender Day of Visibility, Earth Day, Equal Pay Day, and more. The notifications include content about the group or issue being spotlit, so employees feel seen and can access information about special issues.
“It’s a great way to utilize Sora,” said Abbie.
PetDesk can stay on top of important employee milestones and cultural moments without heavy lifting, freeing up the HR team to focus on more strategic goals instead of pure task management.
Automation empowers Abbie and her manager, Director of People Sophie Karagianes, to function even more effectively as a team. Like many teams of two, Sophie and Abbie have had to rely on each other to stay on top of tasks and remind themselves about steps in a certain process.
Sora helps them automate processes that were already working well for them, and helps them execute their plans smoothly, reducing the anxiety of missing an important detail and coming under scrutiny for forgetting or skipping something.
“If an employee doesn't receive their laptop right on time, it makes us look so bad. They're not prepared to start their day. It's just embarrassing,” she shared, adding, “I have trust issues!”
For new hire onboarding, Abbie’s team now uses reminders in Sora to ensure that every task has been completed, from scheduling orientation to coordinating new hire lunches, which ultimately reduces the time she spends jumping between tools. Her (very relatable) “did I remember to do that” worry in the back of her mind has been replaced with less stress in her workday.
Beyond onboarding, Abbie’s been able to leverage Sora for ongoing HR duties that pop up. For instance, at PetDesk, new employees work through an individual development plan at their 6-month mark. That’s all nice in theory, but as any HR leader knows, getting managers to follow up on these IDPs in a timely manner can be a challenge. To solve this issue, Abbie created a reminder in Sora to ping managers about the IDP and offer support if they have any questions.
“That's not something we've had before,” said Abbie. “We've always just managed it like, ‘It’s been 6 months already?, we should probably remind their manager.’ Little things like this can easily be missed”
Sora has made referral bonus payouts easier to wrangle too — which have long been a difficult process for PetDesk to track accurately.
“There's been times where an employee's reached out and been like, ‘Do you know when I'm going to get my referral bonus?’” said Abbie, adding, “I felt awful because it completely slipped my mind.”
Now, PetDesk’s referral workflow sends the employee a thank-you email for their referral when they’re hired, then reminds the HR team 60 days later to add the bonus to payroll. When that task is marked complete, the employee gets an email notifying them that their bonus will be on their next paycheck.
Each moving part that gets automated in Sora frees up more space in the workday to focus on providing a superior employee experience, where everyone feels cared for and included.
“There are so many moving pieces that people don't see,” Abbie says. With Sora, she feels a little more in control of those pieces. “It's the little things, ensuring that nothing's missed. And that's what we're so grateful for.”
Next up on Abbie’s wish list? An offboarding workflow, which she says will be more difficult to execute due to more moving parts, but it’s a goal to build it out soon.
She won’t have to create it in a vacuum, thankfully: Abbie and Sophie meet bi-weekly with their dedicated Sora team. In these meetings, the PetDesk team dreams up new ways to use Sora for those finicky tasks that get embedded into an HR workday almost invisibly — as Abbie says, “those little automated tasks that you don't even think about while you're doing them.”
“Our implementation team has been awesome, helping us along the way,” says Abbie. Their referral bonus workflow is just one of the ideas that came out of those meetings so far, and each day, she and Sophie are thinking about what to automate next.
The opportunities for tinkering and adjusting are endless, and Abbie is optimistic about the many ways she can continue to leverage Sora to improve the PetDesk employee experience.
“Once you have your initial workflow set up, you can go in and continue to make it better from there,” she says. “It's been awesome. We love Sora!”
Curious about how automation can reduce your “did I remember to follow up on that” anxiety and make your workday much easier? We’d love to chat — book a demo now.