HRTech Interview with Patrick Manzo, Chief Executive Officer, WorkTango

HRTech Interview

Today’s HRTech landscape has made employer and employee communication more effortless than ever before. But is communication enough to bridge this gap?

1. Can you tell us more about yourself? How did you get into entrepreneurship?
Somewhat serendipitously! I began my career as a Surface Warfare Officer in the United States Navy, then practiced law for several years before transitioning to the business world. I’ve always been attracted to purposeful, mission-driven organizations, and love working at the intersection of technology and the work experience. I’ve been in the HR / Work-Tech industry for more than 16 years and have been fortunate to hold senior executive roles at iconic recruitment advertising and learning and development companies prior to joining Kazoo + WorkTango. I am a mission and team-oriented leader focused on team development, a disciplined management operating system, and a culture of ownership. I earned my bachelor’s from Georgetown University and a Juris Doctor from Boston College. I’m excited by the opportunity to lead this company as we help define a new and indispensable category of employee experience platform.

2. Can you give us a brief of your career before Work Tango?
For the majority of my career, I have worked with talent and human resource leaders and have led teams operating across sales, customer success, pricing, data privacy, and security. Before becoming CEO of Kazoo + WorkTango, I was Chief Revenue Officer at Skillsoft. Prior to this, I worked with a few startups in strategic advisory roles, including in the human capital space, and spent 11 years with Monster Worldwide Inc., which includes and other recruiting services.

I used the Kazoo + WorkTango platform at my previous company and witnessed the positive impact it had on employee engagement. When the opportunity arose to lead the Kazoo + WorkTango team, I didn’t hesitate. These days, I’m committed to growing our business by delivering world-class software that enables our customers to create workplaces where every employee can thrive.

3. Could you tell us more about Kazoo & Work Tango and how has the company evolved over the last couple of years?
At Kazoo + WorkTango, we sell a holistic Employee Experience Platform that enables meaningful recognition and rewards, offers actionable insights through employee surveys, and supports alignment through goal setting and feedback. Our customers think of our platform as a space in which priorities become clear, achievements are celebrated, and every employee has a voice.

As the pandemic continues to stretch on, remote and hybrid work have become the norm for many industries. The Great Resignation or ‘Great Reshuffling’ as it is sometimes called has resulted in a competitive environment for employers seeking top talent. Forward-thinking companies realize they need to do more to retain their existing employees and entice new hires, and so they are investing in employee experience software to help them engage, inspire and retain team members.

To better meet the needs of companies like these, earlier in 2022, Kazoo and WorkTango came together to provide an even more holistic solution built from the two organizations’ legacy Recognition & Rewards, Performance Management, and Employee Surveys products. The holistic platform we sell today is the result of that transaction.

4. What excites you most about working in this industry?
Working for an organization that is mission-driven and purpose-driven is very important to me. The HR technology and employee experience industry is focused on improving (work) lives and making workplaces better for all, and that is something that I am deeply passionate about.

5. What salient features of your employee experience platform help organizations address employee issues?
Organizations can build trust, loyalty, and engagement with their team members by:

  • Listening to their employees and closing the loop by taking action on their feedback.
  • Aligning individual, team, and company goals to promote employee success and team achievement.
  • Offering incentivized and value-focused recognition programs to reward behavior consistent with company goals and build strong, positive cultures – even in a remote/hybrid environment.

Kazoo + WorkTango offers a solution for employee disengagement, lack of recognition, disaffected cultures, and misalignment through three core areas of our product: Recognition & Rewards, Surveys & Insights, and Goals & Feedback.

Active listening and feedback are critical in becoming more aware of how employees are feeling about the health of their relationship with their job.

Consistent feedback through Surveys helps companies understand sentiment across the entire Employee lifecycle and get ahead of any issues that may arise. The powerful data and insights that come from these help them analyze and map actionable results.

Setting clear, measurable expectations and goals is very important in creating engaged employees because it gives them a clear focus and aligns them with the overall objective. Being able to see how goals contribute to the bigger picture helps align the organization across the board. The Kazoo + WorkTango platform makes it easy to set, see, and update employee goals and OKRs, and every employee has the opportunity to set individual goals and align them with larger, company-wide initiatives.

Our platform also helps leaders, managers, and employees build a strong framework where communication is open and encouraged. Employees and managers connect frequently and meaningfully through conversations with our Sync-Ups, Check-Ins, and Talent Reviews functionality. Communication is improved through analyzing data from Feedback and Surveys. Timely employee feedback drives growth, collaboration, and innovation across organizations.

Together, these capabilities enable organizations to amplify and incentivize key values and behaviors, understand employee sentiment across the entire employee lifecycle, and support employee success through the alignment of individual, team, and company goals.

6. How will the acquisition of Work Tango help to change the HR landscape?
In 2022, the HR landscape is focused on addressing ‘quiet quitting’ and employee disengagement, as well as attracting and retaining top talent in a hyper-competitive market. HR departments often have dozens of tools within their stack, many of which are duplicative, expensive, and exhausting to keep track of and log in and out of – for both HR administrators and employees. In an economic environment tinged with uncertainty, providing measurable business results and spending responsibly is key for HR departments.

The combination of Kazoo’s recognition and rewards software and WorkTango’s employee surveys software has resulted in the market’s only holistic Employee Experience Platform that includes everything required to create an extraordinary employee experience and avoids expensive duplicative features that drive up costs yet offer little measurable ROI. Our combined platform is changing the HR landscape by offering powerful software that helps organizations regularly gather and act on insights; measure engagement and recognize and reward employees in real-time to improve employee retention and performance; and support alignment through integrated goal setting and feedback – all at a fair and competitive cost.

7. What are your perceptions about employee recognition for delivering better productivity?
With 81% of employees saying they are motivated to work hard when their boss shows appreciation, recognition is an invaluable way to help employees boost productivity.

Spontaneous and public recognition:

  • Reinforces good behavior and performance
  • Boosts joy in an employee’s connection with work
  • Strengthens the connection between the people giving and receiving praise

A structured recognition and rewards program helps businesses build a motivating and inspiring culture across teams, departments, and locations. However, recognition programs should be tailored to meet individual organizational needs. The program should easily recognize and reward workers in real time and reinforce behaviors reflecting a company’s mission and values.

Programs that foster a culture of appreciation help motivate employees to work towards company goals and feel valued and appreciated for their work, further enhancing engagement, productivity, and retention.

8. According to you how do you think investing in your employees, benefits your business?
Investing in your employees is investing in their entire lifecycle at your company, from new hire onboarding to exit interviews. By enhancing the employee experience, individuals become more aligned and engaged with the mission of your organization.

Employees perform the best when they have a reason or internal motivation to do their work. When employees truly enjoy the work they do and understand how it ties into the purpose and performance of the company they work for, they invest more time and passion into their work.

Additionally, companies need to invest in a strong employee benefits package. Forward-thinking organizations structure offerings that demonstrate that they value all members of their workforce –from new parents, near-retirees, or workers taking care of a loved one at home. Comprehensive benefits help attract strong talent, support diversity, equity, and inclusion strategies, and boost employee retention.

9. What according to you are key trends in the world of work today?
Quiet Quitting:
A key trend we see hitting the workforce today is quiet quitting. Quiet quitting is not a new phenomenon, however, yet the recent surge in it provides us with a pulse on how employees are feeling about work. One of the most effective ways for managers and business leaders to address quiet quitting is by identifying and collecting data on the motivators and concerns of employees through recurring pulse sentiment surveys. However, it is crucial for leadership to act on this data and follow through with employee concerns, otherwise, they risk losing the trust of their workforce. The quiet quitting phenomenon provides companies the chance to evaluate if they are providing a complete employee experience or still need to make some changes.

Connection Between Employee Engagement and Retention:
The connection between employee engagement and retention is being widely talked about, and this underscores a larger theme playing out in the modern workplace.

Without an engaged workforce, companies will fall into an endless cycle of attrition. Forward-thinking organizations must ensure that employees’ well-being and engagement are prioritized. It’s up to leaders and managers to listen more frequently to employees and act on those concerns.

Through frequent 1-1 check-ins with direct reports, managers can build rapport and understand the working styles of their employees, thus setting them up for success at work and improving their overall experience.

10. What is the most significant advice you could give company leaders?
Recognize that employees – talent – is the most significant asset in most modern businesses. Take care of the team – and the team will take care of your customers and deliver business growth. Communicate clearly and transparently the “why” behind company goals and plans – how do they benefit customers, the company, the team, and the individual employee?

11. How do you stay motivated? What are your key learnings from your career so far?
I consider it an enormous privilege to lead the Kazoo + WorkTango team – and I am motivated daily by the opportunity, and the obligation, to do my best to build a great and enduring company that delivers great value to our customers and helps make work great.

12. What movie/book has inspired you recently?
“Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy Seals Lead and Win” by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin has been on my mind recently. The idea of ownership, the importance of a team, and empowering the team to make decisions and move fast is very powerful. I’m also reading “Meditations” by Marcus Aurelius (the David Hays translation) and am fascinated by the profound and enduring wisdom that is as resonant today as when it was written almost two thousand years ago.

Patrick Manzo CEO, WorkTango

Pat is WorkTango's Chief Executive Officer. Pat has been working in the HR-Tech space for almost twenty years, most recently as Chief Revenue Officer at Skillsoft, a leading provider of E-learning content and platforms. Prior to Skillsoft, Pat served as Executive Vice President at Monster Worldwide. Over his career, he has led global teams operating across sales, customer success, pricing, data privacy, and security. Pat is a mission-driven leader focused on team development, a disciplined management operating system, and a culture of ownership. He’s also a former US Naval Officer and a licensed attorney. He earned a bachelor's degree from Georgetown University and a Juris Doctor from Boston College. Pat enjoys skiing, the beach, spending time with his family and black Lab, and is currently behind in his training for a Spartan Beast obstacle course race. He also enjoys reading, brewing beer, smoking barbecue, video games, and has a diverse (some would say oddly eclectic) taste in music.


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