Tuesday, 11 May 2021 10:12

Claimed 'world-first' $1.5M start-up to 'Beam' in improved diversity, tackle employee burnout and support hybrid working


It's not yet the 24th Century where Scotty can beam us up, but in 2021 a new flexible work company aims to tackle new risks from hybrid work, following enterprisingly successful trials with NRMA, Metcash and others that are very "beamible".

Beam Australia launches new cloud-based, data-driven start-up and platform, Beamible, to uncover “workforce insights that help organisations improve hybrid and flexible work design, recognise new risks in a hybrid workplace, create a more inclusive workforce and tackle fast-accelerating issues such as employee burnout.”

We’re told: “Beamible, designed and engineered in Australia, is a SaaS platform that takes a ‘bottom-up, people-led’ approach to people analytics, and includes a simple user interface to enable all staff, HR leaders and CEOs to use it.”

Beam Australia says it received $400,000 from the recent Accelerating Commercialisation Grant via the Department of Industry, adding over $1.1 million raised in private investment.

The platform has been successfully piloted with companies including National Roads and Motorists’ Association (NRMA), Metcash, General Mills, The Tom Co, and not-for-profit B Lab. The feedback, Beam Australia claims, that “Beamible has been a major driver in pilot companies’ gender diversity and flexible work programs, a key issue as top Australian companies struggle to move the dial on diversity, particularly in leadership roles.”

Louise Wright, senior manager, organisational culture at NRMA, attests how Beamible has been useful. “Beamible is a tangible way for us to take action on developing a gender-balanced workforce and mainstreaming flexible work”, she says.

“Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) was particularly interested in this, especially it supports flexible role design for senior roles. We're committed to making real progress on flexible work, gender diversity, and productivity in a hybrid-working workforce”, Wright adds.

Victoria Stuart and Stephanie Reuss, co-founders and co-CEOs, believe there is a real opportunity and momentum among “enterprises to retire the inflexible ways of working that have kept people who need to work part-time or remotely out of the mid-to-senior level jobs market, and improve diversity.”

“We hosted a roundtable with nearly 40 companies and government agencies, including BHP, Xero, Dan Murphy’s, Services Australia, and Woolworths, in March and there is a real impetus to reshape the way we work”, claims Stuart.

“This is about a new era of flexible working and recognising the real business risks that exist around failing to develop inclusion, company connection and leadership capability.”

“While flexible working has become a default promise on job applications, the myth that all roles need to be 40—or in many cases 80 or more—hours per week is alive and well,” Reuss adds.

Reuss says Beamible is paving way for “companies that want to flex but struggle to get there with a focus on outcomes. Research categorically shows that failure to recognise part-time work keeps some of the best talent out of the market, and in the vast majority of cases, the best women.”

One of the key issues the platform aims to address is burnout, with around three quarters of Australians suffering from this last year as they worked on average two-to-four extra hours per day and took fewer breaks. It addresses “this with data, creating visibility over teams and workloads, easy redistribution of those workloads, reduction in unnecessary meetings, and a focus on outcome-based working.”

With the World Health Organisation (WHO) defining burnout as an organisational responsibility, the company believes “putting the systems in place to flag burnout risks, as well as mechanisms to address it, is now a need. But at the moment this data is non-existent for organisations as they attempt to gauge their exposure on ‘gut feel’.”

Buoyed by the successful pilot program and roundtable discussion with leading Australian companies, the new platform aims “to be a catalyst to improve employee well-being, fast emerging as a defining issue in post-pandemic leadership.”

The platform builds on the vision of Stuart and Reuss, Google and CEB veterans respectively, to end rigid, outdated job constructs which keep so many highly capable professionals—mostly women—out of the workforce.

“Beamible supports team-based role design for organisations wanting to give autonomy to their people, while ensuring the work is focused on the right priorities, in the right place at the right time,” Reuss says.

“We’ve created a flexible job marketplace and consulting services to help Australian businesses implement practical flexible work solutions to make their workplaces more inclusive,” Stuart adds.

Beamibile says it is expected to build on the “$25 million incremental jobs that Beam has created since 2016, with female ‘Beamers’ making up 87% of that contribution.”

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