HRTech Interview with Amy Gurske Co-founder and CEO sayhii


We all deserve to be heard, believes Amy. And with this thought she accelerated her 20+ years journey and launched sayhii!

1. Could you brief us about yourself and your career before sayhii?
I spent 20 years in Corporate America. Being both a right- and left-brain innovator, I loved large organizations because I could find outlets for my creative energy while driving data-driven approaches across organizations. I leveraged the power behind process, data, and technology but needed to go further to understand why people would balk at these new and innovative solutions. So I went beyond my undergrad roots of engineering to pursue Industrial and Organizational Psychology to better understand why and how humans interact with what is around them. I spent 20+ years, in a diverse set of roles, in Corporate America working as a leader across teams such as Global Management Consulting, Global Supply Chain, Change Management, and Solutions Architecture at large organizations, the common denominator was humans.

2. What was the inspiration behind the beginning of sayhii?
Honestly, my experience. More and more people are falling through the cracks. Mental health is on the rise more than it ever has been, addiction is skyrocketing and our humans are struggling. I have been the individual who has fallen through the cracks. I mentioned a glass ceiling in my previous response. After 17 years with an organization, I realized there were people and barriers in the way of me succeeding. Unfortunately, it was the leadership of the team I had been on for 10 years. I received the corporate response of “work with your manager”, whom I had already lost trust in. So I left the organization. I intended to retire with that organization. After I left, I got calls from leadership asking “why did you leave”? It was a simple response, “I no longer felt like I had a seat at the table.” I knew there had to be a better, safer way to listen, but listen with the intention to act. Sayhii not only listens, but prompts you to have a conversation with someone who can hear you. We all deserve to be heard and we all deserve the opportunity for success, no matter what we’re facing.

3. What are the pain points that customers usually approach you with?
The two largest pain points our clients have are regretted attrition and productivity. Voluntary turnover is at an all-time high, costing US companies over $1 trillion dollars annually. Low productivity costs US organizations about $1.8 billion annually. It’s not about selling more or producing more, it’s about engaging and optimizing humans to reach and exceed their goals by addressing their pressing needs. When needs are met, humans can perform and grow. When they aren’t met, humans are in a deficit and not able to perform and more pressure is put on them, causing cracks to form and people to fall through them. We can stop those cracks.

4. In recent years, how has technology changed HR operations?
HR operations has, historically, been an afterthought for most organizations in regards to technology. They had the use of existing ERP programs, or emerging HCM platforms to track the humans at work. We saw Talent Management programs pop into the industry in the 2000s helping organizations track individuals progress towards their goals. But all of those programs and platforms were based on what the organization wanted and needed from the individual, but never addressed what the employee needed from the organization. ML and AI are common tools utilized by organizations to optimize internal processes such as their supply chain, operations, product offering and marketing efforts. We’re using the same optimization and technology, but turning its focus to listening effectively to humans.

5. In what ways does an organization emphasize individual motivation and personality?
The short answer is many aren’t, which is why we’re seeing the turnover we’re seeing. Historically it’s been less about the individual, and more about what the individual needs to do for the organization. Leaders lead in a way that makes sense to them and their personality and motivations, but that often leaves people feeling disconnected and isolated.

By identifying each individual’s personality and motivations, we can optimize the experience in the workplace and coach leaders on how to lead diverse teams through recognizing differences and leading in a way that resonates with all.

6. How do individual perceptions matter for the organization’s growth in the long run?
I used to hear all the time, “perception is reality”. That is true, to some extent. We need to diversify our perceptions, by diversifying who we talk to, what we talk about, and how we talk about it. It’s up to the organization to shift those perceptions. But they need to listen to what everyone’s perceptions are. Actions speak louder than words. Sayhii is here to provide those actions, through the entire organization and bubble up the perceptions that are needing to be addressed to bring visibility to leadership on what needs to change to both retain and keep employees happy and productive.

7. How has the integration of technology contributed to improving the work culture of an organization?
First is awareness through access to actionable data. Annual surveys are a thing of the past. According to the numbers, 40% of the people in the organization aren’t with the company any longer that answered those questions by the time the organization acts on them. But those surveys also lacked action putting all the onus on the HR team to derive insights and turn them into actions. With a lack of training in data analysis and available resources, HR teams struggle to put those surveys to use. With the enhancement of technology, organizations get a real-time feed of how people are feeling, where things are going well, and where there’s toxicity in the workplace. Second is transparency and accuracy. Adoption rates tend to be low for emailed surveys because the individuals never see how their responses are put to use, and let’s be honest, they are time consuming and easily avoidable, so they stop answering. They see it as one more thing they’re being asked to do, without getting anything back in return. Democratizing those results is key to keeping people interested in providing input. Third, is personal value. There is a safe way to democratize and visualize the data to protect the individual and their responses, while showing them how their personalities, motivations, and perceptions fit into the mix of the organization. We follow the journey of the individual, meaning that sayhii doesn’t know which question we’re going to ask until you answer your question today. We recognize that every human is on their own journey and it’s our goal to demonstrate and encourage individuals to be aware and acknowledge their own personal value.

8. What impact does activating people’s potential have on productivity and employee retention?
Nobody is “on” 100% of the time. Even the best athletes have bad or off days, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the team loses the game, their teammates step up and pull together. By activating every human, you not only increase the strength and potential of each individual, you strengthen teams and create bonds. People join an organization for a reason and the company hired them for a reason. Change is uncomfortable for most humans, they want to stay. But organizations have to create an environment where people can use the skills they have, grow into new ones, feel a sense of accomplishment and the support of a team to help push them through those “off days”.

9. How can sayhii help companies to establish the best talent management to get an edge over competitors?
By listening and activating. Companies have roundtables with high performers all the time to discuss how they can get to the next level. But what about all those other individuals out there that have ideas? They may not be the loudest, or have the highest sales numbers, but they have ideas. We can’t just listen to small groups of hand selected individuals, we need to tap into the power of EVERY individual. That’s how companies get an edge.

10. Over the past few years, how has sayhii evolved?
We realized how much can be done with the data we are gathering. We started focusing on employee engagement and experience, but realized we could also measure things like stress, work life balance and capacity from the very answers we were already collecting. This extends our reach directly into the employee wellness space and with great potential for moving into high performance team development.. All very important indicators of one’s ability to succeed and thrive. And, elevate.

11. Can you tell us which movie or book inspired you recently?
I love documentaries. One of my favorites recently was The Playbook: A Coach’s Rules for Life. It follows some of the world’s greatest coaches as they share their rules to live by to achieve success in sports and in life. It not only highlights their intriguing stories but is also jam-packed with important life lessons. Starting a business is not for the faint of heart, but watching and reading about humans pushing themselves to better others, in the face of adversity, is a constant reminder to just do the next right thing. A motto I try to live by.

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Amy Gurske Co-founder and CEO, sayhii

Amy Gurske is a right- and left-brain innovator, self-proclaimed “lifetime student”, and human behavior guru. While obsessed with process, data, and technology, Amy went beyond her undergrad roots of engineering to pursue degrees in Industrial and Organizational Psychology to best understand why humans act the way they do to better understand their unique needs. With a 20+ year diverse career in Corporate America working as a leader across teams such as Management Consulting, Global Supply Chain, Change Management, and Solutions Architecture, Amy realized the only glass ceiling that exists is the one we put on ourselves and has made it one of her goals to help as many people break down those barriers and celebrate the differences that allow us to innovate and thrive. A natural step, Amy co-founded Sayhii with entrepreneur Terresa Zimmerman. When not listening and learning about humans, you can find Amy and her partner, Josh, in their Upstate New York garden, fostering for area animal shelters, or hiking with their two dogs Martha and Emmy.


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