Interview with SVP of People and Culture, Workfront – Laura Butler


1. Tell us about your role in Workfront?
As Workfront’s SVP of People and Culture, I am responsible for creating an extraordinary work experience for our 1,000+ employees based on our principles of “Getting it Done” and “Doing it Right”. That includes things like ensuring all who interview are treated as potential brand ambassadors and the way we develop careers and grow our leaders from within, to the way we communicate and connect throughout the workday. We are on a mission to make people work better, and we strive to achieve that mission by the quality and focus of the employee experiences we create.

2. Can you tell us about your journey into this market?
When I was managing complex logistics for a meeting planning company a few decades ago, I was frustrated with how hard it was to track everything that was going on from staffing needs, to transportation, decorations, and so much more. I used Microsoft Access to create a database to manage everything, and the magic of automation changed me. Ever since then, no matter the role, I have been interested in how to simplify things in order to get more done. Workfront has an incredible product, and some of the most passionate and creative customers I’ve worked with. The product, combined with the people, made joining Workfront a no-brainer. HRtech News

3. How do you think technology is changing the HR Sector?
HR is changing, as companies realize how critical culture is to achieve strategy. Tools are emerging to better measure and impact culture, such as AI and Machine learning.

4. How has software integration contributed to easing the process of work management?
Integrations are no longer “a nice to have” they are mission critical if an enterprise is to be successful in managing work. It is no secret that people like to work in the tools they are comfortable with, the problem is that none of these disparate tools have a backbone where all the work being done is collected. This has the potential to cause misalignment of company objectives and poor visibility into the work being done. Workfront codelessly integrates with over 150 other business-critical applications. All of the work being done in other applications is ultimately collected in Workfront so everyone has visibility, alongside context, into the work that is being done across an enterprise.

5. According to Workfront’s 2020 State of Work Report, companies are failing in selecting the right technology for their employees, can you give some advice that can help them in selecting right tools?
From the survey, we learned that 87 percent of employees believe leaders should reconsider the way they think about technology in the workplace, and 91 percent told us they crave modern technology solutions. To select the right modern tools, companies must listen to their employees. Asking them about their technology wants and needs is an excellent start. But sometimes, they may not know which specific tool they need to work more productively.

Companies can gain valuable insights by asking employees these questions: What are the biggest challenges or productivity blockers caused by our current technology? What do you need to collaborate effectively with team members? How would you like to access information? What are the must-have features you desire from workplace technology? In what ways could the right tools save you time in your workday?

The right technology for an employee could be instant messaging, the latest creative suite or product design tools. But instead of simply responding to one-off technology requests, companies should consider the bigger picture. Underlying all of those individual tools should be an overall work management strategy.

Organizations will achieve greater success when they develop a digital backbone that weaves together all those individual tools into an orchestrated whole. This technology strategy should support dynamic work processes, and capture information that supports visibility and context. And best-case scenario, employees should have one online destination to work, saving them time and upping their productivity.

6. Why do you think employees are not able to focus on their work, what measures can be taken at the present moment to increase their productivity?
An inability to focus on their work is a major problem for employees. Those surveyed spend an average of only 40 percent of their work week on the job they were hired to do, with an increasing number of distractions in the workplace impacting their productivity. When asked what gets in the way of their work, 62 percent chose wasteful meetings as the top productivity blocker while 52 percent said excessive emails.

Juggling multiple applications, digital interruptions and communications options is adversely impacting productivity. Specifically, employees are not able to get all their work done efficiently because of the number of apps and programs they must deal with (42%); the number of communication options (42%); and digital interruptions from social media or instant messaging (28%).

Companies can take a few measures to increase worker productivity. Deploying comprehensive workforce technology will support them. After all, 71 percent want a single destination to manage work. Shifting to strategic work management will make it easier for employees to find information and to spend more of their day on their primary work duties.

Another measure is to establish meeting best practices to eliminate unnecessary meetings and increase the effectiveness of those that are held. Also, companies should make certain that employees understand their role in helping the company achieve its strategic objectives, giving them more incentive to do their best work.

7. “Modern work. Reimagined.” Can you explain this phrase?
The world has changed. We search on Google, buy on Amazon, connect around the world via social media. But the way we work is stuck. We took analog tools and processes—documents, mail, folders, spreadsheets—and made them digital. We didn’t reinvent how we work. And everyone feels the pressure. If companies are going to keep up, let alone succeed, they will have to change the way they work. That means re-imagining work with a more modern approach: one place for managing work that’s easy to use and configurable, connected to tools you already use, so people can see everything, and measure anything. Really, it’s about helping people do their best work.

8. What advice would like to give to the upcoming HRTech Start Ups?

The first hires will be pace setters for the culture, focus not just on pedigree, but who they are and their values.

9. What work related hack do you follow to enjoy maximum productivity?
Signature/response templates for email that helps jumpstart most common responses.
I learned from Julie Morgenstern, auther of Never Check Email in the Morning, the concept of the ‘min, mid, and max’. Often when approaching work we think of the best, or max outcome, rather than what the minimum outcome could be. Thinking it needs to be perfect can stop anything from even getting started. For example, I was recently asked to do a presentation. I had a lot of research I wanted to incorporate, and the task was so daunting I kept putting it off. Then, remembering this concept, I realized the minimum would be to use a presentation I had given before, and update a couple of slides. I was able to quickly finish it with this reduced scope. The audience never knew one way or the other, and because I wasn’t stressed I was able to present the information much better.

10. Which Book are you reading these days?
Ego is the Enemy by Ryan

Laura Butler SVP of People and Culture, Workfront

As Workfront’s SVP of People and Culture, Laura is responsible for creating and reinforcing a culture that the most passionate, innovative, and customer-focused talent wants to be a part of and has spent the last 20 years shaping global talent management strategies for Fortune 500 corporations. Laura has received multiple awards and industry recognition for her work in diversity and inclusion including Diversity Inc. Top 5 Utilities, 2016 ERG Above & Beyond Award for PG&E Woman’s Network, Human Right’s Campaign’s Best Places to Work and the #14 spot on the Training Top 125 in 2017 for strategic leadership development. Laura has been recognized as a global thought leader in Human Capital Management and was named to the San Francisco Business Times Most Influential Women list. The White House also recognized Laura, resulting in an invitation and face-to-face meeting with former Vice President Joe Bidden, for her work focused on veterans.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here