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With Gatheround, Gusto Keeps A Hybrid Team Aligned and Engaged

Gusto is a payroll, benefits, and HR platform that demystifies the under-the-hood work of HR to make it human, intuitive, and approachable to employees and employers alike. An antidote to an earlier generation of hard-to-use HR tools, Gusto makes the most complicated business tasks like payroll, benefits, and HR simple and personal – so that employers can take better care of their hard-working teams. Gusto serves more than 300,000 businesses nationwide, while helping them create incredible places to work. 

The same people-centric values that shape the platform also guide Gusto’s internal culture. Gusto employees, or “Gusties,” as they call themselves, care deeply about their work and just as deeply about building a strong, collaborative culture around it, one with norms and expectations designed to help everyone on the team excel. When the arrival of the pandemic challenged how Gusto had traditionally engaged and aligned the team, they got creative — with a little help from their onboarding leaders and Gatheround, a video meeting tool designed to bring people together.

Welcoming 'Wonderful Humans,' Virtually

When Michelle Azizzi joined Gusto as an onboarding manager in 2021, the company  had largely adjusted to the pivot to remote work. But in onboarding, engagement is everything — and many teams at this time wanted to ensure they continued to drive engagement while working from home. To keep new hires invested in Gusto, Michelle turned to Gatheround, a tool she had first tried in a previous onboarding role. 

Gatheround’s video meeting platform offers a variety of ways to participate, with a design grounded in organic group dynamics. Getting people talking as a community, Michelle knew, was the first step to forging a sense of belonging. And past experience taught her that Gatheround’s features and functionality, like automated breakout rooms, would free her up to focus on the people in the room without worrying about the mechanics of the meeting.

Today, 96% of Gusto new hires feel a sense of community & belonging during onboarding and 98% have a better understanding of Gusto’s mission and values. Much of this success can be attributed to Gusto’s internal culture and onboarding teams’ overall efforts in welcoming new hires and successfully integrating them into the company, as Michelle says. But she adds Gatheround is a critical tool supporting and underpinning much of that culture and onboarding programming. 

Sanjeev, who uses one name, is the Onboarding Facilitator and Program Specialist who runs new hire onboarding today. He says kickoff sessions in Gatheround have been extremely helpful in introducing new hires to the community and to Gusto’s broader mission. 

Sanjeev adds, “Gatheround has given me the ability to warmly welcome new hires in a space of casual connection, clear guidance and unconditional support. It allows me to reassure new hires that Gusto is a place where we support the talented and wonderful human that's joining the team.” 

From Onboarding, Onward and Outward

When Michelle made the case for Gatheround, she hoped other teams beyond onboarding would adopt the tool and reap the same benefits. But people are often reluctant to learn a new platform, even if they know it can help them in their work. “Fortunately,” says Michelle, “one of my main traits is persistence.” 

As she moved into a bigger role as the Head of Talent Experience & Enablement, she championed Gatheround to other facilitators and leaders across Gusto. One by one, other Gusties started to move their sessions into Gatheround — and saw immediate outcomes. 

Crystal Cooper, Leadership Development Program Manager, supports Gusto’s managers, called People Empowerers, in their efforts to expand their leadership skills and connect with one another. Crystal knows firsthand how little free time these leaders have, and how important it is to make these sessions count. 

She runs a program on Gatheround called PE Monthly, which is built on the foundation of Gatheround’s expertly crafted manager training workshops and provides a ready-made community of practice for managers across Gusto. 

She explains, “It’s been an absolute game-changer in providing valuable content for our leaders and creating impact. They leave sessions feeling connected and resourced, with new insights and relationships they can leverage.” 

The leaders who participate in Crystal’s session agree: 80% said Gatheround was an effective way to connect with other managers, and 99% said they were likely to attend future sessions. Across the People team, other leaders and facilitators have also picked up Gatheround, using it to across L&D, employee experience, and beyond to connect colleagues, build alignment, and exchange knowledge, mentorship, and more. 

'Persistence' to Widespread Adoption 

The efforts of Michelle and colleagues like Sanjeev and Crystal on the People team helped integrate Gatheround into the Gusto tech stack — and create the necessary conditions for an explosion of organic usage across the company. Michelle started receiving requests from unexpected teams, asking if they could use her seats on Gatheround for All Hands meetings and other sessions.

Onboarding, it seemed, was an incubator. People who experienced Gatheround in an orientation session were bringing it with them as they settled into their new teams. Crystal observed the same pattern in her leadership sessions, watching her participants go on to use it for their own programming and meetings. 

Soon, Gatheround was showing up in every corner of the company — from Payment Operations and Engineering to Intern Programs and Employee Resource Groups — and across every imaginable use case: meeting leaders were using the tool to host OKR workshops, run retrospectives, gather for weekly staff meetings, and host ideation sessions.

The Gatheround team worked collaboratively with Gusto to support that growth, sharing materials to help people get started in a new platform, setting up integrated Slack channels with dedicated customer success managers, and co-writing new programming for the Gusto team to host on the platform. 

Soon, it was clear that more of the Gusto team needed ready access. Gusto decided to adopt Gatheround company-wide, making Gatheround available to the entire team. From the time Michelle made Gatheround a non-negotiable line item in her onboarding budget to today, Gusto’s usage of Gatheround has increased 11x. More than 2400 Gusto team members have taken part in a Gatheround session, adding up to a whopping 31,500 minutes of engaging conversation, ideation, and participation. 

Aligning a Hybrid Workforce 

The expanded ranks of Gatheround hosts and facilitators are excited to see how it can help the team continue to stay true to (and grow) their people-centric values as they enter their next chapter. Today, Gusto’s workforce is truly remote and hybrid, with some team members spending 2-3 days a week in office and others working fully remotely. 

Rhiannon Martinez, Environment-Community Program Manager, has started to lean on Gatheround as a creative and inclusive way to unite team members experiencing the workplace in very different ways. She says, “Gatheround has made it easier for me to find ways to connect with our remote team members. It brings an authentic sense of fun and community to our workforce, and I have seen great engagement come from using the tool.” 

Gusto is all about helping employers take care of their teams, and those values start at home. With Gatheround now available to all, the company expands every employee's ability to champion culture, engagement, and care for one another, from within.