Starting up with Alex Simmons

He’s the co-founder and CEO of Boon Health.
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Boon Health

· 5 min read

On Tuesdays, we get into the weeds with the founders of HR tech startups. Want to tell us about your company? Get in touch here.

Alex Simmons is the co-founder and CEO of Boon Health, a personalized professional coaching platform for employees. The company was founded in 2019 and hasn’t accepted money from any investors. Boon Health strives to help workers advance, develop new skills, or take stock of their well-being through virtual career coaching and exercises pertaining to wellness and resilience. We talked to Simmons about how personalized coaching can boost retention, and about the future of HR tech.

What product or service does your company offer? We are a personalized one-to-one coaching platform for businesses. And we really see it as bridging the gap between mental well-being and professional development in the workplace—whether it’s coping with stress and anxiety or becoming a more effective leader…We have coaches that are a combination of [International Coaching Federation]-accredited coaches…[and] masters-level therapists who have formal coach training, as well as executive coaches with business operating experience.

How does the service work? Say we were to launch at Morning Brew. We would get the first name, last name, and email address of everybody at the company. The head of HR, or whoever is championing this internally, would send a message out to their team basically saying, “Here’s your new personal and professional growth resource.” We’d be sending their welcome email in the next 24 hours. It’s an introductory email, 100% confidential, and there’s an opt-in button to get started. If you’re an employee who wants to engage, you just fill out a quick survey, basic demographic information, age, tenure, role at the company, etc. Then we ask, “What are you looking to work on? Is it more coping with stress and anxiety? Is it leadership development? Is it more personal or professional in nature?” From there, we are sending you to coach-matching options that are the best fit for you.

What specific issue in HR does your company intend to solve? Throughout Covid, we’ve seen universal challenges that employers have been dealing with: One [is] around recruiting and retention related to employees coping with stress, anxiety, and burnout, and [another] is just an inherent lack of professional development resources in the workplace. We’ve seen a lot of companies that have focused on beefing up their mental health resources over the course of the pandemic. We’ve found that the modern day employee is really looking for a bridging of the gap, or the intersection between mental well-being and professional development. We are really trying to solve that by serving as a one-stop shop and approachable mental well-being resource for small to midsize businesses.

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How does your company solve that specific issue? From a recruiting and retention perspective, we’ve actually measured employee turnover after six months of working with Boon and we’ve found that Boon users are 50% less likely to turn over than non-Boon users. Obviously, there’s some subjective bias there, where the more engaged employees are more likely to engage with Boon in the first place. But the reality is, retention has been an issue universally across our customer base, and Boon users are more than 50% less likely to turn over. We’ve also seen dramatic improvements in productivity, work satisfaction, and work–life balance across our customer base.

What kind of companies are your primary customers? Our primary target market is white-collar businesses spanning across healthcare, technology, [and] financial services, and logistics has been a really interesting industry for us, and marketing and advertising.

So, how do you think the HR tech field will evolve over the next five to 10 years? It’s become so much more than just your traditional benefits and HR functions in the HR tech space. It’s really been about, how do we build culture? How do we get the most out of our people personally and professionally? We’ve seen a lot of companies start to invest a lot of money in building more robust mental health resources for their teams. We’ve also seen a lot of different executive coaching and professional coaching-type businesses. But I think what Covid has really exacerbated is this intersection between mental health and professional development.

How will your company help drive that evolution? Our ability to flex in either more of a mental well-being direction or more of a professional development direction, or both, is ultimately serving that trend in the market. If you’re on the mental health side of the equation, you’re really seeing this one-stop shop behavioral health platform, or a one-stop shop leadership development platform. That service now needs to be customized to employee needs in more of a way that blends personal and professional. We feel like Boon Health is able to do that.

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