Summer camps are back! DocNetwork — dedicated to supporting and streamlining the process of keeping campers healthy (and therefore happy) — is also getting a pretty good bill of health.
Ensuring that daytime or overnight campers get all the right medicine at the right time —aligned to the right health record— is a hard job for camp administrators. In fact, DocNetwork was created by a pediatric physician, Dr. Michael Ambrose, after a summer stint at a kids camp taught him, firsthand, how labor intensive it was. His prescription? He wrote a software program to give camp administrators secure access to their campers’ Electronic Health Records and all of the related medication, immunization and allergy details.
Moving away from pen-and-paper health forms also reduced the challenge of reading hastily-scribbled handwriting by frantic parents being asked to convey critical information. The idea was a hit, and interest was bigger than painting pet rocks, braiding friendship bracelets and canoeing.
As demand for DocNetwork’s software solutions started to take off at youth camps across the country, the organization needed to grow to keep pace, adding developers, sales and customer service team members. The tech-savvy founder, affectionately known as “Dr. Michael,” also recognized the need for technology to help support his quickly growing team, while minimizing paperwork and manual processes that took up too much of his time.
A newly-hired office manager, Nigel Berry, researched HR technologies and presented Dr. Michael with a short list of five vendors: they chose Zenefits. A year later when the team mushroomed to 50 employees, Dr. Michael invited Nigel to pioneer the role of People Operations at DocNetwork. Full circle: Nigel was now in charge of managing with the software he’d short-listed and recommended.
“Everything we did prior to Zenefits was manual, mostly captured in Google sheets and ultimately not sustainable. You can do a lot with 10 people and a bunch of spreadsheets, but we were growing and needed a system to scale with us. Tracking PTO, remote work days and who was in or out of the office, was a very scattered process.
“Zenefits gave us back time that we then used to enhance our work culture and structure.
Now, I can’t imagine going backwards and working without it.”
Zenefits gives me the automation to scale and measure my impact, the community to learn with and the tools to build my professional acumen. As the ‘People Ops Pioneer’ at my company, I am grateful for all of it.
Head of People Operations
The DocNetwork Opportunity: Calming Camp Chaos
Paperwork frustrations were the catalyst that launched DocNetwork as the demand for accurate and accessible electronic health records was on the rise. When the demand and adoption took off across the camp industry, input and opportunism drove what came next. Today, DocNetwork is the A-Z online camp management provider, offering solutions from tracking camper Allergies to systems that helped administrators catch more Z’s. Today the company also offers a variety of helpful add-ons including a robust, online camp registration system, medical supplies to support camp health centers and even partnerships to cover details like labels to add to camper’s wardrobes.
Happy, Innovative Culture Creates Lifeline Through COVID
Things were looking bright for the young startup. Then COVID rained on DocNetwork’s campfire. In the late spring of 2020, the thriving business hit a wall. Due to rampant camp closings due to COVID, DocNetwork’s path toward success looked uncertain. Consequently, the company reduced staffing, including Nigel. But eight weeks later he was brought back on as the organization regained its footing and digital healthcare management proved more critical in a post-pandemic world. Today, the organization is working to expand into new markets and actively demonstrate product value to those who need it most.
As the business is resurgent, now Nigel is managing a different issue in a very different hiring market: growing the team.
“We have always had a really good culture,” says Nigel. “It’s a place that values honest work, growth and innovation. But in the wake of the pandemic and the ‘great resignation,’ it took time to rethink how to play up our culture in our hiring. Turns out, our biggest advantages were other companies’ disadvantages.
“We often ask in our interviews what was lacking that made them open to leaving their job? And the majority of the time, we can say: ‘We have that.’ People come here for jobs and a work environment that is a great fit for today’s needs including: increased pay transparency, hybrid work structures, and a culture of collaboration, innovation and inclusion.
“Better, yet, our Glassdoor reviews underscore it. It’s one of my favorite parts of my day – reviewing and responding to anonymous team member and candidate feedback on Glassdoor.”
DocNetwork has a culture that employees want s’more of. (Just like this writer can’t get enough of these camp puns!).
Bringing Everyone Around the Campfire
In 2022, the DocNetwork people operations priorities are about doing the right things, the right way.
Nigel and his team are focused on smarter, more inclusive and transparent hiring and onboarding, as well as insightful and fair offboarding. He’s also worked with an internal team to develop a 12-month strategic Diversity, Equity and Inclusion plan and is helping to build out a leadership team and succession plans.
Nigel’s hiring process, candidate pool and people development process now reflects – and measures – how well the DocNetwork staff represents the community it serves, at all levels. “What started as a DEI grassroots conversation in our organization is evolving into coordinated conversations, to ensure parity in interviewing. But hiring is the easy part, the real work is ensuring the day-to-day work environment, interactions with managers and peers continues to make everyone feel welcomed and included.”
To that end, Nigel conducts manager training, regular team engagement surveys and an annual DEI survey to ensure the focus is delivering the right, meaningful results. And, he helps to ensure that DocNetwork is continuing to build on a culture of good communication through the habits of weekly one-on-one feedback with people managers as well as coaching to correct and/or praise others in real time. “We want to avoid creating a culture where critical feedback or recognition for jobs well done come as a surprise. It’s a core value of ours to be ‘mindful’ and to practice being present with each other so we can draw out the best in one another.”
He’s also aided the organization in transitioning to a hybrid work model where each group comes into the office on a staggered schedule, to encourage collaborative work time, but preserve remote work as well. He says an “ah ha” advantage of Zenefits in this new work order is the built in organization chart. So if people don’t necessarily see colleagues from other groups often, they can understand how the functions connect at a glance — from the moment they onboard.
As a new People Operations leader, Nigel absorbs all the training and examples he can to ensure his programs are informed by the most current, resilient and engaging practices for the new world of work, including:
- People Operations Platform product training. Nigel optimizes his use of the Zenefits platform, with “deep dive” online training, learning how to configure the tool to meet his organizations’ specific needs. “Customizing automated emails, prompts and reporting on hiring and payroll was a game changer; we set it up right the first time.”
- People Operations professional certification through the POPS Academy. He’s expanding his strategic context to build a foundation for measurable employee engagement practices.
- Member of the ClubZen professional online community where he goes to learn from —and with— other HR leaders. “As a team of one, to have an accessible and engaged network to ask questions and learn from other people’s questions, was great and really encouraging”
- Program insight from business analytics in the product. “This is the most valuable part of the platform for me. I wouldn’t consider leaving Zenefits unless someone else could top the ease and breadth of this tool. I don’t think they could do it easily.”
Nigel’s work reflects his personal ethos and the company culture when it comes to professional growth: “Leave things better than you found them – whether that is a spreadsheet, a strategic plan, or a person. This will help you to enjoy where you are and where you are going.”
What’s next on his priority list? Creating a shared narrative for growth. “When each of us share our own stories about why our work matters, it can drive inspiration, innovation and progress momentum whereby we establish a shared purpose and vision for our clients, our team and our future.”
An organizational kumbaya around the virtual shared campfire. That is goodness.