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TecHRseries Interview with Dawn Glockler, Sr. Director, People at Act-On Software

Dawn Glockler, Sr. Director, People at Act-On Software dives into the team’s workplace culture and employee initiatives in this chat with TecHRseries while sharing a few thoughts on enhancing hiring practices for the tech marketplace. Catch the complete story:

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Hi Dawn, tell us a little about yourself…how has your journey in HR been at Act-On? We’d love to hear about your experience during this time and the key people culture changes and HR transformations that the last few years have seen at Act-On?

I’ve been at Act-On for more than 8 years now and have seen a lot of great growth during my tenure. From moving our headquarters from Beaverton to Downtown Portland to our recent rebrand, I really appreciate being a part of a company that’s always evolving.

One of the most crucial moves we made as a company was the massive restructure we went through in early 2018. Not only did we hire new leadership, we consolidated our offices and brought product, customer success, and other key departments in the company under the same roof. This worked wonders for improving our communication and workflows.

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2020 was a different year for modern businesses with the Covid-19 pandemic throwing a lot of things out of gear, what were some of the employee initiatives undertaken at Act-On during this time?

In terms of internal initiatives, meaningful collaboration and connection are an essential component to keeping up team morale during this crisis. We utilized our internal blog for work-related updates, created new and targeted Slack channels, and encouraged engagement through daily polls, contests and various virtual events like luncheons and happy hours.

The executive and management teams also doubled down on our employee-first approach. This means leading with the understanding that each employee’s situation and needs are unique. It also means being as flexible as possible with this abrupt transition to remote work. To really provide our people a platform to share their honest opinions and feedback, we’ve sent out anonymous surveys each quarter that gauge comfort levels about returning to the office, specific home life situations (i.e. caring for young children or elderly family members), and mental health statuses.

How do you feel HR leaders in tech and the global business marketplace should take more initiative to help businesses and employees bridge the gaps the current pandemic is causing between the two?

Offer safe and anonymous opportunities for employees to share their voice and feel heard with absolutely no judgement. More importantly, you need to listen to these insights and integrate them into your day-to-day HR strategy. Mere platitudes are transparent and simply not going to cut it. Your employees are paying attention to every move you make and will remember the times you exercise flexibility.

We’d love to dive into your best practices for talent retention and acquisition- what are some of the HR Technologies or tools that you use to help drive hiring or other HR goals? What best practices would you share when it comes to hiring in tech during a pandemic?

While many of our prospects come through our website, we proactively reach out to candidates via LinkedIn and JobVite. Both are versatile tools for talent acquisition. Networking locally is crucial too. We stay in constant communication with a handful of organizations, such as the Technology Association of Oregon, Portland Women in Tech (PDXWIT), Women Who Code, and local coding schools like Epicodus.

We also like to tap into our people power. Our employees have wonderful networks and peers and we always welcome them to connect us with anyone they think would be a great addition to our team. Preserving our culture is important and we want to make sure everyone meshes well.

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With flexible work, social distancing and a remote culture becoming what we now know as the new normal, how (in what ways) do you feel HR leaders in tech should take steps to increase employee activities to keep everyone connected at this time? 

Creating virtual spaces for employees to interact, be themselves, and share milestone moments in their lives (or just cute photos of their pets or kids) is crucial. Now that we don’t have the break room or hallways to interact, these virtual spaces are important areas to “take a break” from work mode and professional conversation and simply be human.

This will become especially important as the holidays approach. Traditionally, this is a time to celebrate with Halloween costume contests, Thanksgiving bake-offs, and company-wide parties. While we can’t replicate the above remotely, HR professionals can still honor the spirit of the season with fun alternatives. From virtual Halloween costume contests to food photography challenges centered on seasonal baking creations, there are several ways to get creative and keep your team smiling.

Can you talk about some of the most innovative hiring trends in tech you’ve seen in the recent years? Closer home, at Act-On, what does a typical talent on-boarding and candidate screening experience look like?              

I think a lot of companies are working through how to hire and retain more diverse candidates, but that code has yet to be cracked.

In terms of onboarding, we try to be as personal as possible with candidates amidst social distancing. After receiving a resume and showing initial interest, I kick off a phone call with the candidate. This gives me an opportunity to talk shop and get an idea about what his or her goals are professionally. If it seems like a good fit at this point, I will pass the candidate off to the senior manager of the department they are applying for a Zoom interview.  In addition to an on-screen interview with the manager, the candidate meets with several key team members, all of whom will provide honest feedback afterward.

Before we wrap up, we’d love to hear a little about the employee culture and experience at Act-On, what’s ‘’life at work’’ like?  

While “life at work” tends to vary from team to team, we pride ourselves on maintaining a positive environment for all our employees. This means a steady stream of lighthearted daily polls in our Slack “fun” channel to sharing funny remote work life photos. It also means keeping all our people in the loop in regards to important business news. We keep our internal employee Jive blog updated in real-time with product initiatives, customer support success stories, new marketing campaigns and sales wins so the entire company can celebrate together even if we are far apart.

We also have implemented an option to come into the office through “sign-up” sheets so capacity can be monitored. A chunk of our staff really wanted the option to work in the office, so we took every safety measure possible and found a way to make it happen in accordance with local regulations.

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A few parting tips on what companies and HR heads should keep in mind as they shape their strategies in 2021 amid the new normal? 

I cannot express just how important it is to remain flexible and to continue to listen to the needs of your employees. It’s important to keep you ear to the ground and remain nimble and proactive as we all continue to navigate this new norm. The more empathy and compassion you show, the more likely you are to lead your company through this pandemic better than you entered it.

act-on software


Act-On Software a growth marketing leader that offers solutions to empower marketers to move beyond the lead and engage targets at every step of the customer lifecycle.

Dawn Glockler is the Sr. Director, People at Act-On Software


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