'Ensuring safety is a wonderful act of service'

Canada Icons: How Hootsuite leveraged its tech expertise to enhance worker safety

'Ensuring safety is a wonderful act of service'

Hootsuite is a modern-day Canadian success story. The Vancouver-headquartered social media management platform has millions of users around the world, over 1,500 staff, and an estimated value of up to $750 million. It also recognizes how vital technology is to ensuring employee safety.

As one of the country’s leading internet companies, it was able to leverage its expertise to keep its workers as safe as possible during the pandemic.

“Today we really do rely on tech to help us manage health and safety,” says Mark Goldberg, VP, IT & Global Facilities at Hootsuite. “It’s so important to leverage tech in this day and age.”

Through its cutting-edge set-up, Hootsuite connects and communicates with all of its employees, making sure they’re safe and asking if they need support.

One of the hardest things during the pandemic was ensuring workers had open lines of communication after being used to daily office life. At the outset of the pandemic, Hootsuite closed all of its offices. “We went from one extreme to the other and we had no idea how long it was going to last,” says Goldberg.

As the pandemic stretched on, the company was hearing from its employees that the lack of physical proximity was hard. As with many organizations, this lack of in-person contact had a huge impact on employee wellness.

“We can have plans and monitor health and safety – physical safety – but it’s so much harder to monitor mental health and wellness. It has been one of the biggest challenges for us,” he says. To counter this, Hootsuite pulled together a cross-functional group across the company to come up with creative ideas to help people feel connected virtually.

Goldberg says that his role at Hootsuite combines tech and worker safety, two passions throughout his career. In high school and college, his interest in technology grew from a hobby to a potential career.

After graduating, he worked in the information technology field and then worked with some companies where tech had the opportunity and the need to support health and safety. This piece “really drew me in,” says Goldberg, “I’ve worked in a number of industries where safety is a top priority.”

Goldberg says that he also has a passion for combining customer satisfaction with keeping people safe. “Ensuring safety is a wonderful act of service.”

He says that his biggest challenge has been the pandemic and finding ways to keep over a thousand of employees safe across the board. “Fortunately, tech was able to follow the shift.”

With restrictions loosening, Hootsuite has started reopening offices with the knowledge that the company can be run remotely, but that they could be flexible so as to accommodate employee preferences.

“Some people want to be in the office. Others enjoy remote working […] people really appreciate the flexibility.” You have to find that balance, Goldberg adds, between reopening while also keeping employees healthy and safe.

Safety is woven into everything the company does, from checking facilities to ensuring that employees have the proper assistance when traveling for work. “We have really made the effort to ask and listen to our workforce. At work, we don’t just talk about health and safety for our employees, but we really walk the walk.”

Years ago, Goldberg took part in a safety leadership program. “The awareness, and always having safety top of mind, is very much the mindset that I carry from that program. Being aware of the situations around you and the risks. I find myself always looking at being mindful of the situation that I’m in at work and in my personal life.”