Joshua Ostrega, COO and Co-Founder, WorkJam, Montreal, PQ Canada

Joshua Ostrega is the COO and co-founder of WorkJam, a software that connects frontline employees to the office managers of their company, enabling them to work together on scheduling, performance review and training. Ostrega and the WorkJam team see it as a way to make frontline employees an important part of the company and happier in their jobs, which leads to lower turnover rates, lower labor costs and more productive employees. We sat down with Joshua to discuss WorkJam and what it means for employees and companies who use it.

In your words, what is the purpose of WorkJam?

We are an employee engagement platform, so what we’re doing is helping employers in service industries better manage the communication and engagement of their workforce. We do that through improving how employers and employees communicate. They can manage their schedule, communicate directly with frontline employees, distribute training material and give rewards and recognition to employees.

There are other management platforms, why choose WorkJam?

There are a number of existing platforms in place for a lot of the employers but they are lacking in employee communication and doing some of the more specific things WorkJam does like giving reward and recognition or sending out training videos.

What was the inspiration behind WorkJam?

The company was based on our recognizing that there is a very serious problem in the service sector around the management of employees and the lack of engagement between employees and employers. Because of that there is high turnover and very little loyalty. Our application makes employees feel like a part of the overall organization and helps them improve their work-life balance and economic well being. For employers it helps lower labor costs and provides more flexibility to the staff.

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How can you use your application to get frontline employees to care about their company?

If there is true engagement, the person feels more responsible. They are more willing to stick around. Employers can give badges for things like great customer service which motivates employees because they see tangible results.

How would WorkJam help with economic well being or work life balance?

At the end of the day employers don’t have the right technology in place to schedule and manage shifts. So what ends up happening is people come in, then are told to go home early. Or they have no flexibility because they don’t know when someone else is supposed to work so they have to come in, then aren’t needed.

With WorkJam employees would not be thrown all around the place and have more flexibility in terms of controlling their schedule. The employer can have fewer employees but ones that they offer more flexibility with their scheduling instead of having a large labor force but lots of confusion day to day.

How does lower turnover save employers money?

If you’re constantly trying to recruit new people you have to spend money there, then spend a lot of time to make them productive workers. There have been studies that say it costs between three and four thousand dollars to get an employee up to full speed. And when people aren’t trained and something starts going wrong, there is no one experienced to handle it.

You mentioned training employees through WorkJam. How does that work?

For example, a fast food company could create a video on how to wash lettuce properly or how to handle raw meat and send it out to every single one of their employees. They would have to agree that they have watched the video and then within two or three days that company can say they’ve trained 95% of their workforce on a certain skill. They’re interacting directly with the front line worker. Instead of bringing every employee into movie theaters or conference rooms and giving them training it can be done individually.

Thanks for giving us some insight into WorkJam, Joshua!