On Episode 80 of The Talent & Growth Podcast we were joined by Michael Carter, the Talent Acquisition Manager at Warner Brothers Discovery. We talked specifically about how to use events for sourcing talent. Running events can be a great way to attract new talent and get new eyes on your business and your product, if done correctly. We asked Michael for his insights into the process ahead of our own live event, which is happening at the Warner Brothers Discovery offices where Michael works. 

Read on to learn more about how you can utilise events to attract talent to your business or recruitment pool. 

How effective do you find events are when it comes to attracting new talent to your brand?

I think it’s very effective. To be completely honest, for the talent acquisition team it’s a really fun and engaging way for your teams to grow as well. I think there’s three main points where its effectiveness can be measured. One element of events is that you can really bring in a really diverse range of talent, not just from a geography standpoint, or a coach perspective, but from a neurodiversity perspective. You can get people who are working on different products and in different pockets of the world with different goals in mind and bring them together. You can target separate areas and really work across that. 

The second point of effectiveness is you can test a lot of the stuff that you’re doing within the events. So for example, there’s three ways in which you can source these events. One, you can run a recruitment event where the goal is to hire people at the end of it. Two, you can just host a meet up that gives you a sourcing map afterwards. Three, you attend events yourself, and try to spread like oil in those and network as much as you can. In the second one, if you’re doing an event specific to recruitment and hiring, you can A-B test a lot of strategy, you can change things up, try different interview teams or panels, test structures – it’s pretty cool. The third way is useful if you’re trying to scale up a specific team very quickly and you need to reach more talent. Those are the three main effective ways to utilise events to find or attract talent. 

How can teams use events to leverage engagement with potential new candidates? 

There are a couple ways. One is when the marketing of the event is purely down to recruitment. Obviously, you lean on a comms team and a marketing team and a branding team to create the assets and the content that you’re pushing out, like you do with any recruitment project. The actual marketing and the gathering of an audience is done by recruitment though, because we have the LinkedIn licences, we have the reach, so that’s a predominant reason why you’re involved. We all do LinkedIn messaging, multi messenger threads, the follow up, and this can really build out a different strategy. 

If you have two sources in one region, one sourcer has tapped out engineers in Budapest for example, you can lean on the other’s LinkedIn to send messages to a similar group about an event for a change. It gives you a rejuvenated avenue of search and conversation so you can talk about this event. You want to market it as an engineering focused event with a recruitment advantage, that is the whole point of these things generally. It just gives you a different discussion point, and more importantly, it gives you something to provide these engineers and these people that you’re speaking with. You’re not just knocking on the door going, ‘Hey, look, come work for us’, again. You’re offering them value and saying ‘Hey, this is what we do. What do you reckon if we have a chat after you’ve been to the event?’ A lot of the time, people who are already looking for work will shortcut it and just ask you straight away, but they like having that asset and some reflection of what the work is actually like. 

The other way that you can leverage engagement is with attendees for generic meetups. You can search their companies and that gives you a whole market map to see where they’ve come from and where they’ve gone without that much interaction. It gives you a whole matrix of sourcing materials. We’ve found that from one person who comes to an event, there’s four companies that they will have worked for or interacted with who then become part of our wider market matrix, so you can just tap into that as you go.

Follow up is key, so how do we make that work?

That depends on your tools. If you’re using Eventbrite, for example, you have a signup page, which asks people to tell you their first name, last name, job title and current company, which you can set up to give you an excel sheet of at the end. That gives you all your people or your companies with emails or contact details or whatever they want to add in. That gives you a list for messaging and networking afterwards. One note I would say on this is when you do the sign up, make sure the sheet reflects who attends, because I have done it before where I’ve run an event, then you’ve messaged everyone and said ‘Hey, thanks for coming’ and I got replies saying ‘I didn’t come, what are we talking about?’ Otherwise, the follow up is pretty simple. From a recruitment perspective, that follow up message is really just about giving people the access to knowledge about what’s going on and access to you. As long as it’s fast (within 48 hours), it’s relevant. Follow up actions in terms of whoever spoke on this topic, you can find their LinkedIn here, or you can contact them on their email. You can give them follow up resources and then just reiterate at the end ‘Hey, obviously, as you heard, we’re recruiting. Give me a shout if you can’.

What advice would you give to somebody who’s looking to start using events for sourcing talent?

Just have fun with it. We all have ideas and stuff that we want to try. Doing it in one project that has bookends on either side and a goal can sound quite restrictive, but there’s so much freedom within that. There’s so much interconnection with the group that you’re recruiting for that you really need to dig deep to give you an idea of the culture that you’re bringing people into. It gives you access to employer branding, marketing, columns, relocation… It’s really fun. I think as long as you have the support of the leadership, it can’t really go wrong. My other bit of advice is, even if you think you know something, ask and check it anyway. Just double triple check. At the end of the day, the company will realise it’s at least a good bit of employer branding or product, so even if you don’t make hires out of it, there’s so many intangible benefits that you can do for these things.

To hear more of Michael’s insights on how to create great events and tips for running successful recruitment campaigns at them, listen to the full episode of The Talent & Growth Podcast here!

On Talent & Growth we speak to talent leaders about the challenges they face and their solutions for attraction and retention. If you’re interested in hearing about how companies are building a more diverse talent pool, how you can attract top people from the big players, ways to create a more inclusive interview process or learn about the latest and greatest automation software to make your life easier, then this is the podcast for you.

Last week we dropped our 100th Talent & Growth episode, a review of 2022 and look forward to 2023 with Hung Lee.

I began the series to help give my new business, The Animo Group, a little bit of momentum and figured we would run out of steam after 6 or 7 episodes.

There can’t be THAT much to talk about in talent acquisition.


T&G took on a life of its own, and I am incredibly proud of the journey we have been on and thankful to the people who have listened, liked and shared our pod.

Most of all, I am grateful to the guests for spending time with me and allowing me to learn so much from them!

I am better at my job because of the conversations I have had on these pods this year, and I hope if you have listened, then you are better at your job too 🙂

There are countless learnings from these hours of conversations, but I wanted to share some which jump out at me as I reflect on the year.

  1. Feedback is king. In terms of the candidate’s experience, the feedback loop is crucial. Of course, candidates must receive feedback from your business if they have interviewed with you. They should be given reasons why they have not been successful. The ghosting of candidates in 2022 is criminal. But if you want that candidate experience to be on point, then you should also be generating feedback from the candidates who have been through your process – there are plenty of tools to automate this for you.
  2. The exit experience is as necessary as the onboarding experience. Creating an ecosystem of advocates will do your brand much good, and a great way to do that is to ensure that those who leave do so in a significant way so they can continue to carry the flag for you. Plus, you need that data to find out why they are leaving and see if there are any trends to help you next time. TA should also be a part of this process because who better use this data? And who better than TA to stay in touch with the exited to get referrals down the line?
  3. Stakeholder relationships are as crucial as any ability to source talent. I have found this myself this year, and it has been one of the biggest differentiators between agency and in-house recruitment. You can be the best recruitment agency in the world, BUT you cannot build as good a relationship with the stakeholder as you could if you work in-house because there is the elephant in the room – the fee attached to your placing! You don’t have the trust of the stakeholder in the same way. Working in-house, you can build relationships, influence, manage expectations, and work together better. Disagree? Come at me!
  4. Talent acquisition should be involved in Internal Mobility AND retention AND everywhere else. Gone are the days the TA is just responsible for finding CVs. TA should be EVERYWHERE! They should be focal in any internal mobility schemes, helping make them work and ensuring people know how to move to new roles within the company. And they should be involved in retention strategies and learn all about them because keeping people is more important than finding people. TA should not be siloed. They should be in the middle of everything.
  5. We must redefine our definition of talent if we want to increase diversity. There is a labour shortage—a skills shortage, particularly in tech. But to paraphrase Asif Sadiq, we need to stop asking people what they have done and ask them how they would do things. We must stop thinking people must have this qualification or background. We must look forward, not back.
  6. The Recruiter is the most critical person in the business. Big love to Chad Sowash, who gave me my favourite soundbite of the year. We are the most crucial person in the business. Without us working in TA, the company cannot grow. And if you don’t grow, you die.

What have been your biggest lessons in talent acquisition in 2022?

Catch up on all the T&G podcast episodes right here –

On Episode 77 of The Talent & Growth Podcast we spoke to Jonathan Durnford-Smith, who is the Portfolio Partner at Octopus Ventures, about how to implement hiring processes in your business, particularly those which are at an early stage. He gave us some really great insights for any company who is looking to put together a strategy around their hiring, what it should look like in terms of processes. 

If that’s something that interests you, read on for some of the key points from our conversation. We hope you enjoy it! 

We’re talking about setting up hiring process processes today. At what point should this be a focus for a business? 

That’s a great question, I think you should start thinking about it from day one – that being when you’re making that first hire. I would never advise people to start to put together a really rigorous or overly structured process at that point, but you should definitely start thinking about it. The core elements for a very early stage business are to take time at the very beginning to define the roles. A lot of people have jumped to the conclusion that they need this type of person, or a VP of engineering, or a VP of sales, and that’s largely influenced by somebody who has told them that they need that, or they think they might need that because they’ve read a job spec. Actually, what you should really do is actually think about, what are the goals of the business? What do we need to achieve? What are the skill sets that we need to be able to achieve in the next year where we’re only going to have 20 people? How do we think about where they fit? And then ultimately, what does success look like? Ask yourself, ‘if any person is in this role, what will they have accomplished at the six month mark? What will they have accomplished at the 12 month mark? How is that contributing to the broader organisation?’ That’s the best way of defining the role and I think that’s really important for the early stage. 

I also think the decision making element is really important as well, a lot of bias can creep in at the early stage. There’s the old adage where you just hire people who are very similar to yourself, or you hire friends or people that you’ve worked with previously. I get why people do that, because they’re known entities and people that you know will work well with you. It’s okay to hire some of those people, don’t get me wrong, but then I also think there is a real need for difference in perspective, and bringing in some fresh perspective. I think the other thing in decision making is to remove bias from that process wherever possible, when you’re actually getting to the point of deciding between one candidate or another. Don’t necessarily compare candidates, but compare them against the role. It’s a really hard thing to do, right? But a lot of people make the mistake of saying, ‘Well, we’ve got these two candidates, let’s compare them with pros and cons’. But actually, you shouldn’t really be doing that, you should be comparing them to the role that you’ve defined clearly at the very start and seeing which one of them matches the role, not which one of them is better than the others. I think that’s a really crucial point as well. 

Later on, as you start going beyond 20 employees to 50 or 100 people, that’s when you need a bit more scalability. You now need to build a structure around things because we’re hiring 20-30 people a year and we need that consistency. That will come with time. I think once you’ve made those first few hires, that’s when you need to slow things down. And startups are afraid to slow things down, obviously, but having the courage to slow things down even for a few months to take stock and think about the point where they need to be is so important. Make sure that before you start any of that you know how you’re going to approach those situations, and you know what that process is going to look like.

What is the blueprint for putting together hiring processes? 

Something that I’ve seen over the course of my career is velocity. Velocity in the sense of not hiring as quickly as possible, necessarily, but setting out a time to hire and knowing realistically what that looks like. I think fairness and consistency are really important, in the sense of are candidates doing the same type of interview? Are decisions being made in the same way? Are we avoiding any unfairness creeping into the process? 

I think candidate experience is like one of the very core pillars that everyone should think about. There are very quick and easy things that you can implement that can improve that.  A lot of people think, ‘I’ve got to have an amazing Glassdoor rating, I’ve got to have like an EVP consultant come in and do all of this kind of stuff’. I don’t actually think you do. The other pillar is diversity and equity. Inclusion is a massive thing that everyone is thinking about, quite rightly so at the moment, and thinking about that should be wrapped up in everything I’ve just said. All of those different elements should be created alongside your D&I view, so asking ‘how are we building D&I within that process?’ as you go. I think the second part is ‘how do we build it within the culture internally’, because what I have seen done is a company whose focus is only on D&I during hiring, but they don’t actually mirror it in the final culture. People are joining and they’re kind of thinking ‘this doesn’t match what I was told in the interview process’. That’s another thing to keep your eye on. 

Those are the core pillars; velocity, consistency, candidate experience and D&I. That’s what you should apply throughout when thinking about a hiring process.

What should the hiring process workflow look like?

In an ideal world, you’d have this perfectly shaped funnel, where it starts wide and it comes down and every single interview process serves a purpose. That’s what you should aspire to. It’s really important to always question the workflow. Every year, if not more often, review your processes, look at whatever metrics you can gather and see what that workflow looks like and try to identify what could be the weak points or the areas that could be improved. In an ideal world, you want that workflow to be very clear in terms of every single stage should have a purpose, and you would want to be able to measure how many candidates have been at that stage, and how many have then gone through to the next stage. I could probably talk for hours on how data can help inform your hiring processes, not enough people do it, but I think that’s a super important thing as well. Ultimately, if you spend enough time in your interview process, even if those numbers are lower but you’re ensuring that they’re quality hires, I do believe that 10 amazing hires are better than 30 okay hires. 

Another thing I’d always consider is that link with your people team or your HR team is there mapping what a hire’s success looks like over the first year. It can even start with the amount of people that are passing probation, which sounds like a brutal metric, but I think is one that that gives you a good idea of how well you’re hiring. Beyond that point, you can consider promotions, ratings and performance reviews as well. If you could afford to, I would say to track those as well.

What would be your message or advice to business leaders who are just starting to hire, what do they need to stop and think about and implement?

Take a step back and take a breather. Don’t be afraid to pause your hiring, even if it’s for a week or two. That’s an uncomfortable thing to do for a lot of people, but see what you’ve done, what’s worked and what hasn’t. Start from the very basics, like what are the main roles that we need to hire for this year? Let’s just take three of those roles and think about how we are going to hire those people. Who do we have internally that can help give us a read? If we don’t have those, how do we think about external help coming in to assess those potential candidates for those roles? 

Start small. I think a lot of people put a lot of pressure on themselves. Often you don’t need all of your new hires that quickly, and you can actually get them a lot quicker if you just take a step back, take a breather and assess what you can do a little bit differently. I’m a big believer in trying to get a recruiter into the company early on if you can. Allow for that. I think it’s super important in startups because it’s often their CEO or member of leadership who’s leading recruiting until they get somebody on board. They will burn themselves out by trying to juggle that with everything else that’s going on, or they just won’t do it that well, because they’ve got so much on. Get in somebody who can own that, that’s really important to do as early as you physically can. 

To hear more of Jonathan’s insights on how to streamline your hiring process, check out The Talent & Growth Podcast here. 

On Talent & Growth we speak to talent leaders about the challenges they face and their solutions for attraction and retention. If you’re interested in hearing about how companies are building a more diverse talent pool, how you can attract top people from the big players, ways to create a more inclusive interview process or learn about the latest and greatest automation software to make your life easier, then this is the podcast for you.

On Episode 90 of Talent & Growth our guest was Eleanor Gooding, the People & Culture Director of Boost Drinks. She’s a passionate HR professional with a fascinating history in various different industries. Most importantly, she’s a mum who cares deeply about other people. During the podcast we talked about people manifestos – what are they? How do you make one? What difference do they make? Just in case you missed it, here are the answers in a handy blog!

What does a ‘people manifesto’ actually mean? 

It’s like a constitution that sits behind other HR and people policies in our company. It outlines our beliefs, our pledges to our people, and our expectations. So it’s a written piece of work, and it’s quite concise. It guides us in lots of things that we do and gives our people a sense of security about our environment. 

Where did it come from? What did the creation process look like?

It came about because I was looking at our contracts one day and I just thought they were just awful things. That’s one of the first points of contact anybody has when they join us, so I wanted to update them. I got talking to an employment lawyer who specialises in doing contracts and I explained what I was trying to do. She said it was worth doing a piece of work to identify all of the things that we really believed in, then people like her could figure out how to get those things into a contract that makes signing sound friendly. It would be written in Boost’s voice rather than that legal contract voice. 

We formed a small Working Committee, sat down and decided that this was not about the business or how we work, this was about how we wanted to treat our people. This wouldn’t be a code of conduct. This was really about the overall experience that we wanted to give to our people. We ended up putting in three sections, which were our beliefs, our pledges and our expectations. It forms a contract between our people and us. That’s how we started the process. 

What does your people manifesto look like?

The first section is what we believe. We believe that the boost spirit is unique and special, and we all have a responsibility to look after it. Your experience of working at boost should be positive and rewarding. There’s an equal give and take between you and boost. Our values and behaviours live, breathe and evolve over time according to the needs of our business. We believe that being a high quality progressive employer is worth the effort. 

We also took the time to assess where we were with things, because in some aspects we are really advanced, while other parts are still a work in progress. That translates as us identifying where we need to grow saying ‘this is important to us’. We have an energy or spirit, which, when you walk into the building, you can feel it. You can see it in the way we do business, you can see it in the relationships that we’ve made with people and so on. We’ve been trying to capture what this spirit is in our values and behaviours programme. 

The second part of the manifesto is what we strive to do. We strive to create a fun and rewarding environment where you can develop and be your best self, to treat you well, to support you and work through challenges with you and to be fair, ethical and transparent. We started with D&I training for everybody in the business to understand why diversity in every aspect is a positive, and how we’re going to benefit as a business if we all can come to the door as ourselves, not the person we think we’re supposed to be at work. As a leadership team we’re working to create an environment where everybody can develop and be the best staff. Putting all these things on paper requires work from us. That’s a manifesto that we have to live up to. 

The last section we have is what we expect from our people. We expect you to help us to grow and win and be the best it can be. We expect you to fully immerse yourself with our vision, your strategy and your job. We expect you to be accountable for your actions and behaviours, we expect you to live by the Boost values and behaviours and be a positive ambassador for Boost. If you think about all of those things, writing down ‘you’ll be a positive ambassador to boost’ means that your contracts can refer to it. If you’re having a conversation with somebody about their behaviours, you can say, this is what we’re striving for here, it’s all written down, it’s all really clear, but your behaviours right now aren’t aligned with this. You can also use it positively and say ‘here’s a medal because your behaviour is aligned with our manifesto every single day’.

What advice would you give to other businesses who are looking to create their own people manifesto?

Do it. Pick your moment, because this is the kind of thing that if you did it too early it might backfire on you. Don’t try and say ‘we’re perfect’. You should always be clear that there’s an aspiration behind it. It’s got to be transparent too. It’s got to be something people can look at and resonate with, and you have to live up to it too. Where possible, be open with people about what you’re trying to do. My advice for any company would be do it, you won’t regret it. Just be careful of your timing, because you need to be able to walk the walk once you’ve put one in place.

To learn more about people manifestos and how they have impacted the culture at Boost, tune into the full episode of The Talent & Growth Podcast.

On Talent & Growth we speak to talent leaders about the challenges they face and their solutions for attraction and retention. If you’re interested in hearing about how companies are building a more diverse talent pool, how you can attract top people from the big players, ways to create a more inclusive interview process or learn about the latest and greatest automation software to make your life easier, then this is the podcast for you.

On Episode 76 of The Talent & Growth Podcast we were joined by Kel Hartman, an amazing chief people officer who’s got an incredible story and plenty of experience, and most importantly, she’s passionate about looking after the people in your business and she’s got some great ideas around how to do that. We asked Kel about how to promote the wellness of people in our businesses. 

We’ve seen a lot of news around a recession being touted, so the power seems to be shifting into the hands of the companies rather than the candidates. It’s very different from last year when companies were pandering to people because there was a lack of talent. With that in mind, do you see the emphasis on staff’s wellbeing taking a backseat?

I think it will, and these things are worrying employees, people are worrying now for their finances and asking if they can provide for their family. That has an impact on mental health, because there’s stress, there’s anxiety, they can’t sleep, can’t eat. I think with wellbeing, whether it’s financial, physical, mental, spiritual, emotional, they all tie in together. People are being let go, and are those companies giving them psychological support? Are they helping them with their CVs? I see a lot of CEOs making this crisis about them and not their people, it’s really crazy. This is the time where they could show the employees what type of organisation they are. How are they taking care of the people that are let go, and the people who have stayed there that will feel so guilty with remaining there, because surviving a recession has a psychological impact on people.

You have a wellness programme at Chipper Cash, could you tell us a bit more about what you created there and how it worked and how it looked?

Sure. They didn’t have a wellness programme at all before I arrived. They’d put together a proposal but it mainly focussed on budgets, it wasn’t about mental health. I really wanted the programme to be holistic, and it really changed things. For a lot of employees, like those that were dealing with work stress there was a lot of burnout. In a scale up company, there was a lot of personal stuff that was going on to people who were just coming out of COVID. There was loneliness – I think that’s a big factor – and there was a lack of connections. 

One of the first things they did is listen. I was speaking to a lot of people, just checking in, getting to know people from wherever. One of the first things I wanted to address was stress and burnout, so we had a session with a psychologist, Dr. Babb and she ran a session on stress and burnout. People were just ‘like, wow, this is incredible’. Then there was one that they wanted on having a positive mindset, where we had around 80 to 90% of attendance for the whole company, including all our senior execs. We bought Composure Psychology in and African psychologists too, because we needed to reflect our people. That was one holistic fit, so then we started running monthly workshops, where we had breath work, then Angie Cole running our male mental health programme, we had Emily Paolo who was incredible in creating within your power for women. We looked at all the different spectrums. We had the parenting programme as well, which was incredible when we did that. So the parenting programme had three cohorts, as well, so there were different programmes going on simultaneously. But you know, not everyone’s a parent, not everyone’s a male or identifies with them so we had different communities come up. We didn’t have a pride community, but now we do. We ran committed connection workshops, just for people to connect. As you can tell there were so many different elements of the programme. We had a budget for working at home stipends, that was a new one, we gave equity to all sorts of organisations. We ran a bazaar to do a boxing session with the employee. There were so many different elements that people could pick and choose from, so we had a very high percentage of take up in our programme.

What advice would you give to businesses who want to start to create a culture that allows their staff to bring their whole selves to work? 

Go out and speak to your people and really, truly listen and be vulnerable. Share something about yourself to make sure that you’re creating a safe space, because when you ask for help you share some of your stories. I think that is the best way. It’s a start if you’ve got no budget for some of this stuff as well. Another thing is making sure that everyone takes their holidays and their time out, I think that’s so important. I never used to take my holidays. I thought it was so cool, but it’s not. I’ve learned a lot and now I love my holidays. When people are on holidays, as a manager, don’t phone them and email them and slack them and message them all the time. Support people’s time off and make sure that you know that they’re having the break. People don’t think they need time off, but they do. I think flexibility is cool, too. I know some people can’t always use them to travel, they’ve got to go to appointments and things like that or have different needs. I think every individual is different, so they’re going to thrive in different ways.

What advice would you give to individuals who want to support their own well being a bit more consciously?

Set boundaries, and be really clear about what yours are. If you don’t do that (and I certainly used to be guilty of that), what happens is people just get used to it. If you just say, ‘yeah, I’ll do that’ they come to expect it, but as soon as you say no, or ‘I’m not coming to this meeting, I’m on holidays’, no one really cares. So I think really make sure that you’re setting boundaries, and doing something for yourself that relates to your well being in any way, find something that is gonna work for you. Eat properly, make sure you exercise, do neck movements everyday, get out, go on walks. I do walking meetings, so if anyone can do a walking meeting for their one on one, do that. I think getting out and moving about and not being stuck to your desk all day is really important. 

I think the boundary thing is so important. I’ve just found myself going ‘I love what I’m doing’ and just working every day. It got to the point where my brain was just ready to explode with it, so I needed to say ‘right I’m not going to do any work Sunday, I’m not going to look at anything’. You’ve got to set those boundaries with yourself as well. 

To learn more about how to promote wellness within your business, listen to the full podcast episode here.

On Talent & Growth we speak to talent leaders about the challenges they face and their solutions for attraction and retention. If you’re interested in hearing about how companies are building a more diverse talent pool, how you can attract top people from the big players, ways to create a more inclusive interview process or learn about the latest and greatest automation software to make your life easier, then this is the podcast for you.

One of the highlights of The Talent & Growth Podcast is talking to people who are truly passionate about what they do. We were recently joined by Hannah Litt, the Head of Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, Anti-racism and Resourcing at Mindweaver. She’s really open and honest about her own experiences and journey, and gives great advice for businesses who are either looking to go on that remote journey or are wanting to go back on that office-first journey. She outlines what adjustments companies need to make in order to provide an equitable workplace. 

We’re talking about equity in the workplace with remote working, why is this a topic that you’re so passionate about?

Because if I didn’t work remotely, I wouldn’t be able to do what I do. I’ve worked remotely/hybrid for the last 10 years or so, maybe a bit longer. If I couldn’t do that, then I wouldn’t be able to ever stop. There’s no way I could go into the office five days a week, and there’s no way I could work nine to five either. Having a flexible approach is something that’s really important to me. Seeing comments and posts and conversations and stuff that are taking place now that we’re ‘going back to normal’ is something that I can’t ignore because it’s really really important for me. I use my voice for people that need to have their voice represented. 

I have hidden disabilities, so if you were to look at me, you probably wouldn’t guess that I’ve got anything wrong with me. I have fibromyalgia that I’ve had since the age of 13, I’ve recently been diagnosed with ADHD and I have something called idiopathic intracranial hypotension, so I can’t sit for long periods of time. Even going into an office and sitting in a chair is agony for me. Walking more than probably 10-15 steps can be agony for me. Just sitting in my car driving is tough. I suffer from chronic migraines so I don’t know a day where I don’t wake up and have a headache. On days where I do have to go into the office I have to set my alarm for 3am to take pain relief, so I can get up and function like a human being to get into the office at 9am. 

I’m really lucky with the employer that I have now, because everything we do is centred around equity, diversity, inclusion and anti-racism. There are days where I don’t log on to attend, and that’s okay. The actual physical act of getting up and not having a headache and functioning is hard, so there were days where I would just get up and I would sit there and I would just look at a screen, I wasn’t doing anything. I would be in excruciating pain just to be there. It was pointless. I could just take my time and accept my life and identity and be a little bit more human and do what works for me. Have I ever not delivered? No. Do I just need to work in a slightly different way? Yes. Being given the flexibility to work from my sofa with my feet up or work from bed is essential for me. That’s what I need to do. I saw someone say ‘people just working in their PJs in their bed makes them lazy’, but it makes me able to do what I need to do some days. When people had long COVID and they were like, ‘Oh my God, my body hurts so much’, that’s what people with chronic pain feel like every day. For a lot of people with hidden disabilities that’s just life. Having the ability to work how I need to is so important. 

People are putting out the negatives around working from home, how does it make you feel when you see people with influence on social media talking like that?

The people that are making those comments are generally people that get to walk into rooms and feel like they belong. I don’t think that people like Malcolm Gladwell and Alan Sugar realise that they have the privilege of walking into a room – any room they want to – and feel like they belong. People from underrepresented groups, especially global majority groups, don’t have that privilege. Aside from the fact that I have hidden disabilities, I am a woman of colour, and remote working has really benefited me because I don’t have to go into an office and I don’t have to deal with microaggressions. In previous organisations that I worked in, I didn’t want to go into the office because I had to deal with microaggressions. It’s not just people with disabilities that people just don’t want to go back into the office. People just don’t want to go back. They don’t want to have to deal with the nonsense that comes with it. I don’t want to go into an office five days a week because it’s mentally and emotionally exhausting.

From a business point of view, what can the positive results be if you do promote equity using a remote first workplace?

From a cost point of view, it’s a no brainer. You don’t have to pay for travel. Your building costs go down. For anybody that’s worried about it, this isn’t an employee issue, this is a leadership issue. I never had an issue leading my team remotely, and people who have an issue because they can’t micromanage their teams either haven’t hired the right person or need to look at their own leadership style. 

There are loads of benefits from a business point of view, because you’re giving your team the opportunity to increase their wellbeing, to have more time with their family, to be able to switch off, to be able to do your household chores… All of these little things actually are a huge benefit to your employees’ well being. For me, it’s all about choice. It’s not about going, ‘we are remote’, because that isn’t for everybody. I do like to go into the office every now and again. I do like human interaction. But it’s about giving people the choice to do what works for them. It’s not about imposing an office culture or a remote culture on anybody either, it’s about asking your employees what works for them, and doing what works for them and having that balance. That’s that’s all it is, it’s about doing what’s right for your employees.

Which talent pools are we opening if we create a remote first business?

You’ve got Gen Z, disabled people, the neurodiverse population… it opens you up to everyone. I’m done giving people the benefit of the doubt. We’ve kind of gone past that. I’m here for holding people accountable. Google is free. It’s quite clear to see who we could be alienated by not doing the right thing. You can just ask questions within your own organisations to see who you would be including or excluding, because all you need to do is listen and talk to people.

What message would you like to personally send the business leaders out there who are driving back an office first culture?

Stop thinking about yourself. A lot of business leaders can walk into a room with no aids quite easily and feel like they belong. They have that privilege. There are demographics of people out there that do not have the privilege of walking into a room being physically or mentally comfortable enough to walk into a room and feel that they can belong. If I go into an office, I have to come home and sleep afterwards, and I’m unwell for days. They need to understand their privilege and recognise that privilege and understand that when they ask people to do that they are basically excluding a huge population of people and basically saying ‘you’re not welcome in my organisation’.

To hear more of Hannah’s insights into creating equitable workplaces and her tips on how to promote inclusive behaviours, listen to the full episode of The Talent & Growth Podcast here. 

On Talent & Growth we speak to talent leaders about the challenges they face and their solutions for attraction and retention. If you’re interested in hearing about how companies are building a more diverse talent pool, how you can attract top people from the big players, ways to create a more inclusive interview process or learn about the latest and greatest automation software to make your life easier, then this is the podcast for you.

On Episode 72 of Talent & Growth we were joined by Gary Clarke-Strange, the Head of Inclusion and Diversity at Green King. We spoke about how to start building an inclusive culture and why it’s important to do so. Here are some of the highlights from that conversation that we hope will inspire you to build a more inclusive culture in your own workplace.  

Something Gary champions in his own workplace is building an inclusive culture in the company. We asked him why it’s crucial for businesses to build an inclusive environment, below are his insights. 


I think it’s important to focus on having an inclusive culture where your diverse talent can thrive. We could go out and actively work to recruit diverse talent into your organisation, there are ways and means to attract diversity into your business, and that’s great! If you’re bringing diverse talent into an organisation where the culture and the environment doesn’t support them, encourage them to grow or make them feel welcome, ultimately you’re damaging people’s careers, because you’re not enabling them to come in and be at their best.  

In my view, inclusion and diversity shouldn’t be seen as a standalone topic. It enables a business to achieve success and therefore enables its people to achieve success. What we’ve really been focused on as part of our overall cultural change at Green King is teaching how embedding inclusion as a concept and an everyday narrative helps to drive that culture change forward.  

There’s a way to focus on bringing in diverse talent at the same time as working on your inclusion culture. If you are working with recruiters or internally or externally hiring and you’re talking about bringing diverse talent into the organisation, being honest about where the company is on their diversity journey is the first step. If you go out with a message that says, ‘We’re great, we have this nailed’, and you haven’t, you’re overselling yourselves. If you can talk openly about what your intent is, where you’re aiming to be, and also how you’re going to get there, that will help build a great conversation with any new hires about what you can build together. Clear vision and strategy around the changes you want to make allow you to begin that open conversation that gets people on board that journey towards inclusion. Having open, honest communication from the start is essential to building an inclusive environment. 

I talk a lot about removing fear. I think sometimes people are scared of inclusion as a topic, and that’s because they aren’t allowed to be vulnerable, or aren’t allowed to admit that they’ve got things wrong, or that they don’t know things about certain topics. Exposure to vulnerability enables people to be more free. Starting to have the conversation across our business that says ‘It’s okay to not know everything, but it’s better to know more, so how we’ll help you grow and empower you to learn about different diverse characteristics, people and experiences’ can only ever be positive. The message is ‘Don’t be scared, it’s okay’. We could go into a whole debate about privilege and etcetera, but it’s not about being ashamed of what you don’t know, or not having lived experience in a certain area. What’s more important is you learn more, you become an ally, you become an advocate of that change. 

Inclusion isn’t the answer to everything when it comes to culture change, but it can enable it. We’ve been really pushing around the activities that we run internally, focussed around our communications about the journey, narrative and intent of our cultural change journey. We intend to be an example for people, because often in recruitment you offer false hope and there’s a lack of intent, whereas we’re really pushing for that willingness to talk openly about where companies are at. At Green King we wanted to capture diversity data to a point where we now have just under 95% of our employees profiles, and we understand our diversity profile data. That resource has enabled us to create a strategy that’s real, and it’s based on data. We wouldn’t have gotten there unless we had already started enabling a culture of trust, where people were willing to give us that data. I think that then helps us to then start to build a really strong foundation for what the future call for change will be. 

To hear more about how to improve your company’s culture, listen to the full episode of The Talent & Growth Podcast here. 

On Talent & Growth we speak to talent leaders about the challenges they face and their solutions for attraction and retention. If you’re interested in hearing about how companies are building a more diverse talent pool, how you can attract top people from the big players, ways to create a more inclusive interview process or learn about the latest and greatest automation software to make your life easier, then this is the podcast for you.

I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Parul° Singh, the Senior Talent Acquisition Partner at the company xDesign. She is quite an exceptional human being, and we had a fantastic conversation.

We dove into her views on how businesses can open their hiring processes to neurodivergent talent and create an inclusive culture. This is the recapped highlights in blog form, so read on for valuable insights on how you can be a better employer and recruiter.

How can we make our businesses available to neurodivergent talent during hiring?

I just want to preface that this does not just benefit neurodivergent talent. If you make some of these tweaks, you’re probably going to cater to a wider audience as well. One of the key pointers that I would give is presenting a variety of media. For example, using videos in your recruitment process, and I don’t see a lot of companies doing this. Pretty much all job adverts are just text, right? It’s very difficult to get a feel for and an actual understanding of the company from that. There tends to be a lot of underlying language and reading between the lines, which can be quite difficult for somebody who has ASD and needs literal explanations. If you have a video which is explaining certain elements of the job, presented by different people who are in that role as well, it just gives variety, it’s a little bit nicer, and it’s quite uncommon. You’re standing out against other people that are not offering these things. 

 Another big one is to reduce your list of required skills. In one of the inclusivity guides, there was an example of where a company talked about a requirement for client-facing communication skills, but it turns out that this was actually not a part of the job. I’m not saying people actively do that, but when you’re putting things on there, and you kind of like, oh, yes, this is a nice skill to have, put that in the required skills, and that’s wrong. There should be literally a few bullet points, be specific about it as well. What do you mean by goals? Communication? Why is it needed? What kinds of communication? Having an easy application format is so helpful because people who have ADHD have procrastination barriers. It’s ridiculous because, working in talent, you’ll see this all the time; there are so many companies out there who ask you to upload your CV, and then it asks you to fill in all the fields of all the stuff they’ve got on your CV. It makes absolutely no sense. That is just going to put people off. Make it easy and straightforward; just a CV, phone number and email address. That’s all you need. 

 One of the other key parts is to actually explain the flexibility in this role. Are you expected to work certain hours? What’s the flexibility for taking your lunchtime? How long is lunchtime? What happens if you have to do this? Again, it benefits everybody who wants to know the specifics about flexibility in a role. This isn’t the norm at the moment, but it’s something that I would also really like to see. 

My final point would be to always include a line at the bottom about your commitment to an inclusive hiring process as well. Do not make this a performative statement because we can tell whether you actually care about it, if you will make adjustments, or whether you just care from an illegality perspective. When I send candidates an invite to schedule the first interview with myself, I also add it again at the bottom of that email, ‘please let me know if you would like any reasonable adjustments during the interview process. It’s a few minor changes, all the way from start to finish. 

Another thing which has come to mind is you can highlight the interview process to reduce the element of surprise. Tell people what to expect and what your timeline is, such as ‘when you apply, you’ll hear back in 48 hours, ‘we’ll let you know even if you’re not successful, ‘we’ll give you feedback, ‘the next stage is this’, ‘this is how quickly we’ll turn it around again’ – people actually really appreciate seeing those things. It helps everybody out. 

How do we proactively tap into neurodivergent talent pools?

I thought this was a really interesting question because I think you can apply it to other kinds of minority groups as well. There are no job boards that I’ve ever found that have a filter for neurodivergent talent, for example, that will be a thing in the future. If people want to say, ‘Hi, I’m neurodivergent, I’ve got ADHD, I’ve got these great skills, you should hire me because of this, that might be the thing for the future. 

 Being somebody who recruits who is neurodivergent has actually enabled me to grow a community around me that is also neurodivergent. I’m personally quite active on Twitter, and Twitter’s got a great neurodivergent community. You also have to be seen as a neurodivergent-friendly employer. When we talk about your employee brand and your employer brand, it might be quite controversial, but I think the employee brand is much more valuable than the employer brand. People are always a little bit sceptical. For example, I post on LinkedIn, and I talk a lot about how my employer has made reasonable adjustments and how I’ve been supported at work in terms of my ADHD, and that will just naturally end up on people’s feeds who actually want to see that. I added a guy on LinkedIn, and he accepted, and then he sent me a message, and he said, ‘I see you posted that you know about ADHD and stuff like that; I would love to learn more about it. I didn’t expect him to be looking for a role when he messaged me, but a few weeks later, we hired him. He’s been with the business for the last few months. That little bit of advocacy will naturally attract people. You have to make it organic; you want it to come across as genuine. It’s quite difficult to do, but I am a neurodiversity advocate, so people know that you know what we’re actually doing internally as well. You can’t ask somebody to do that. You can’t be like, ‘Hey, you are autistic; would you like to be our neurodiversity advocate?’ That comes from the individual, but if they feel comfortable doing that, you might have advocated for different things in the company. 

 Another thing that we are in the process of doing is the disability confidence scheme. It’s basically an assessment to say that you are a friendly workplace for disabled folks. These can obviously be physical disabilities or hidden ones, and they can also tap into candidate pools who class themselves as disabled. Again, it’s a rigorous criterion that you have to pass, but when you’ve gone through it, you can say, ‘Hey, this is a great place to work!’

How do we build an inclusive environment internally that is right for neurodivergent people?

I think the first thing that you need to have is a fixed and comprehensive process for when somebody discloses a neurodivergent condition. I put this on my onboarding forms. This helps HR process and discuss any support or reasonable adjustments a new employee may need. I was told to think about what sort of support I need because everyone’s an individual. With my ADHD, what I need is different from somebody else with ADHD and what they need. I submitted my reasonable adjustments request to my people partner and my line manager, and within less than two working days, I had a formal letter sent digitally confirming that they have approval for reasonable adjustments and also set a date to like review them. If you don’t already have this process, you need to get one in place. 

 A lot of people who are neurodiverse class themselves as disabled, so if somebody submits a reasonable adjustment request and you do not follow due process, you’re liable for legal ramifications. I’ll tell you now, the disability discrimination awards in tribunals are hefty, I think they’re uncapped, actually, so from a legal perspective, you definitely need to do that. From my perspective as being human, I feel like I’ve thrived because I’ve been given the tools and support and the flexibility to work the way that I like, and that increases my loyalty to the company because they’ve given me everything I could have ever asked for. As long as that continues, as long as I’m happy here, I’m gonna stay, because I’ve got no reason to go elsewhere. Don’t make assumptions about what somebody else needs. If somebody has a visual impairment, a yellow screen filter or a screen reader might not actually do what it needs to do. Actually, ask the individual what they need. 

 Another thing is that advocacy from the individuals actually really helps. Make sure that they have the ability to make an impact. There’s no point in me running internal sessions and writing stuff on LinkedIn if, when I make suggestions to internal processes and policies, that doesn’t get approved because I’m not in an HR or leadership role. If somebody is an advocate or even they’re coming to you with some improvement, actually listen to the people who are in those shoes. Keep on improving on it. 

 Flexible and remote working is the way forward too. I really struggled when I was in an office because I felt like I had to be on it all the time, especially working in recruitment, you cannot be seen to putting your feet up for like two minutes. I cannot work like that. I need to work in short, intense sprints. It’s like a HIIT workout where I have 25 minutes where I am going and then I might have like 10 minutes off, but that can be frowned upon in an office. Create an environment which is flexible, and give people the option to work remotely to choose their hours. Some days, if I feel like I’m on a roll, I’m in the zone, I can work a bit more. Can I take that off the next day? That kind of stuff is really not that hard to do. A lot of it actually doesn’t cost employers any money as, well.

What advice would you give to talent teams and businesses who want to start appealing to this talent pool?

 Start with some training and consultancy. There are neurodiversity consultants who are specialists in their fields, who can come in and do an assessment of your hiring process, your internal policies, literally everything from the ground up. They can run awareness workshops as well, which is a brilliant place to start. Get your interviewer some training, and make sure that you move away from this fake interview style and practice hiring based on specific competencies. Once you can truly embrace neurodiversity, the benefits are literally tenfold. As a person with ADHD, I am highly capable of taking calculated risks. I am great at communicating with people and building relationships, which has brought me the success that I’ve had in the last four years. Sometimes I struggle with task management and priorities, but these are really easy things to fix. When you compare it to the positives, your business is just going to do great. Don’t tolerate, embrace. That’s my advice.

To hear more about how you can attract neurodiverse talent to your business, listen to the full episode of The Talent & Growth Podcast here. 

On Episode 71 of the Talent and Growth Podcast we sat down with Alia Khattab, who is the Director of Talent Acquisition at ServiceNow, where she leads all of sales hiring across EMBA. She is also the diversity hiring pillar lead in the region as well. She shared valuable insights into the importance of diversity in hiring for your organisation.  

How good or bad a place do you think we’re in right now when it comes to diversity hiring, and the importance businesses are placing on this? 

I appreciate the question, but I don’t think it is a matter of how good or bad of a place we are. It’s ‘where are you on that journey?’ Because it is an ongoing journey, there is no end destination. So where are you? What’s the level of maturity and understanding? But most importantly, how committed are you on that journey? There’s no black and white answers when it comes to dismantling systemic racism or gender inequity. It’s about really planting the seeds in your organisation to hopefully create long lasting change and impact. 

Where does the responsibility lie when it comes to hiring inclusively?  

So when it comes to hiring, my philosophy, personally, hiring is the recruiter’s responsibility, but it’s the hiring manager who is accountable. There’s a slight difference, so talent acquisition cannot do it on its own. When it comes to a diversity programme, my recommendation would be to work with your HR business partner, your DNI specialist, and the business because there needs to be a common understanding and common purpose. Now, we should not underestimate the power that TA actually has in increasing representation, enabling and educating hiring managers. So in short the answer’s no, TA cannot do it on its own, but they can actually play a critical role.  

I’m going to give you some some examples, to illustrate the fact that there’s been a push since 2020 when most businesses were under pressure from employees who wanted more representation in the wake of George Floyd’s murder. When I say TA cannot do it on its own, let’s also not underestimate the power that some leaders have. One of our senior sales directors, who attends one of the biggest LGBTQ job fairs in Berlin every year. He’s made two hires out of this job fair, hiring on competencies, which shows that everyone can play a role. When there’s a will, there’s a way, but I agree there needs to be a common understanding. Leaders also have an incredible power to make change happen.  

How do businesses make sure that they’re pushing diversity hiring for the right reason? 

I’m going to be a bit controversial now. If you ask the hiring manager why they want to increase the number of women or people of colour in their team, you’ll probably still get two or three different answers. I don’t know about your experience, but in mine some leaders will say, ‘it’s the right thing to do’. Other leaders might say, ‘I need to increase representation earlier, I only have white men on my team’. Before even thinking about pushing a diversity hiring strategy you need to bring everyone around to what the hiring philosophy of your organisation is. At ServiceNow inclusive hiring is one of the core pillars of our hiring philosophy. So how do we provide a meaningful experience for everyone? How do we engage? Most importantly, how do we assess based on personas and competencies and how we try to mitigate the bias? As with anything, that purpose needs to be shared in almost every single conversation. I think there’s a rule that says if you’re leading change, you have to say the same thing at least six times, or seven times, ‘this is always going back to the hiring philosophy’. I will say 99.9% of people have the right intention, but there is a risk of falling into tokenism and saying ‘we absolutely need the woman. We absolutely need an underrepresented and untapped talent on the team.’ The risk is that you take away the long term objective, which is why you’re hiring a diverse team, which is an opportunity for you to build a high performing team that will bring different perspectives and backgrounds, and this is key to building a healthy organisation.  

How can businesses retain diverse talent once they’ve been hired? 

That’s the biggest question. For us the answer is in our strategy. We actually never look at the hiring ratio as an isolated data, we always compare it with the workforce mix and how that percentage has evolved. It goes back to having that cross functional approach when it comes to diversity hiring. As a TA team, we don’t have the power to control attrition. However, what we can do is increase representation. At ServiceNow, we’re not just increasing hiring, we are also comparing this percentage with a workforce mix. I wouldn’t say that because the attrition is spiking you shouldn’t increase representation. When it comes to attrition there might be some trends that you can identify, but there’s also the macro environment where we know that most businesses and in particular in the US where attrition for sales reps in the tech industry has reached 30 to 40%. It’s the great reshuffle. I’m hoping that we are starting to have the great stabilisation and not a recession, but there’s a lot of elements that we can’t predict. Looking at attrition without its context can also be counterproductive.  

Ultimately what we want to do through our work is increase the representation. But the North Star is to give everyone access to the same opportunities, and that goes way beyond hiring and into promotion cycles. You need to look at your internal movement as well as your hiring policies. Ask yourself ‘are we promoting the more confident one as opposed to the most competent one?’ What’s interesting at ServiceNow is that I was promoted as a first line manager last year. When I did my first performance review with the team, I had people coming up to me, warning me about biases, saying ‘are you sure about this person, are you aware of those affinity biases when you think about promotion?’ That actually made me think because yes, I do have bias, like anyone, and it did help me to be challenged like that. So for us, the question is are we building an organisation that gives everyone access to the same opportunities, regardless of their gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, and so on. We have a powerful role, and this is only the very first step on that journey. 

If we’re going to diversify our talent pipeline, how and why do businesses need to rethink their view of talent? 

Someone I’m a big fan of is Joan Williams, who studied race and gender relations in the workplace for the last 30 years. I think she actually studied over 100 organisations. There’s a lot of great findings in her research around the notion of talent, which can be highly biassed. Now what does that even mean? Talent? Let’s think about that definition. Now, the research shows that when we interview, we think that past experience is going to be a predicator to future performance. Well, it isn’t, actually, so let’s spend time to dismantle what that notion of talent is. We all always encourage leaders to challenge that notion. We’ve taken a methodical approach, actually, in our company, so we have defined personas based on job level and job role. We have a clear persona for sales and we know the type of behaviour that you need to display in order to perform in your role. Those personas are aiming at mitigating biases, because no personas says you have to work for a competitor. There’s nothing in the persona that says that you have to come from the tech industries. However, they do say that you have to be a great orchestrator and you have to work cross functionally, and you have to rally a matrix team around you. By defining those personas, we have actually embedded those in how we assess, attract and retain talent. That’s a great way to rethink how you look at talent.  

Now, another example you can give, is that if you work in the tech industry, we just have a tendency to just to hire within the industry, because we think it’s a shortcut, and we believe that people will ramp quicker. If you have an example of what I call a non conventional hire, that hire often turns out to be a top performer. Sometimes it’s also the power of storytelling.  Data will help manage everything that talent. You can say ‘X person in this team actually didn’t come from the SAS industry, but they’re one of the top performers, so let’s bring that back to the personas.’ Ask yourself what are the core behavioural competencies you want to assess? And let’s try not to focus too much on previous employers or even education. That’s how you effectively assess talent.  

To hear more about how to improve your company’s culture, listen to the full episode of The Talent & Growth Podcast here. 

On Talent & Growth we speak to talent leaders about the challenges they face and their solutions for attraction and retention. If you’re interested in hearing about how companies are building a more diverse talent pool, how you can attract top people from the big players, ways to create a more inclusive interview process or learn about the latest and greatest automation software to make your life easier, then this is the podcast for you.

On Episode 70 of The Talent & Growth Podcast we invited Charlie Winton, the founder of OK Positive, to talk about how we can help take our people on the journey of our business. Not only is developing a purposeful culture important for engagement investment, but the nature of Charlie’s business is centred around mental wellbeing and what we can do to look after our people as well. 

Read on for some of the highlights of the episode!

On Episode 70 of the Talent & Growth podcast we invited Charlie Winton, the founder of Ok Positive, to talk about how we can help take our people on the journey of our business. Not only is developing a purposeful culture important for engagement investment, but the nature of Charlie’s business is centred around mental wellbeing and what we can do to look after our people as well. 

Read on for some of the highlights of the episode. 

When did you decide the type of culture you wanted to build internally at Ok Positive, and how did that play out?

We sat down as a founding team very early on to talk about our values and what they meant to us. We asked, what are our morals? What do we care about? That focus came down to helping individuals become more self aware and have access to these tools that they may not have had. What was the longer term goal of that? Well, it’s to stop people from taking their lives, to stop them from going into a downward spiral into more severe mental health issues. Technology was just the vehicle for us. But we wanted to, as a team, believe in our values, and our values were based around how we looked after each other, how we looked after ourselves, and our lived experience. 

So everyone in the business had lived experience of mental health in some form, so they understood the significance of what we were doing, and we would never falter from that path of helping people. That was a big reason why we started off very lean and did it all self funded and bootstrapped, because we didn’t want someone coming in and telling us we had to do things differently. We had our focus, and we still do. That was what we built our values around, and we built those the Four C’s values around what we believed in, and how we’d want to look after and treat each other. We prioritise commitment, connection, courage and communication. We focus on those four areas. If we do that, and treat each other that way, then we’ll succeed. It’s kind of performance versus outcomes; the outcomes you can’t control, but the performance you can. If we deal with that, hopefully the outcomes then come as well, because wellbeing is a very busy market with a lot of people doing great stuff. You need to have that substance and you need to have those ethics, otherwise, you’re going to falter. That’s a big reason why we started off and set that up from the get go.

Why is it important to you to take your people on the journey of Ok Positive?

Ultimately you’ll have a longer term strategic vision that aligns with what you want to achieve, and the business will perform alongside that. So for us, it’s a marathon, not a sprint. I’ve openly always said that wellbeing is still nowhere near where it should be in terms of priorities for business, so it’s not about getting a market out there. That fizzles out after a year, two years. I’m doing a massive amount of market knowledge and research. We’re finding that businesses that have traditionally put in applications and platforms are losing engagement. They’re losing uptake to it, they’re losing the support of the businesses that they’re working with. The reason for that is that they’ve rushed into it saying, ‘this is what we think will work’, rather than ‘this is what works’. You need to speak to people, you need to have conversations with them, get feedback, reiterate, you need engaged and inspired employees and founding team members rather than people who’ve just come in because they’re jumping on the bandwagon that you’ve got a great salary and a great benefits package and the hours are good. From my perspective, it’s about bringing people on the journey. 

I was reading research through a partner of ours called Discover Your Bounce, and they said that engaged employees are 45% more productive than disengaged ones. Obviously, you’d expect that, but actually inspired employees are 55% more productive than even engaged employees, so what that means is people that actually believe in what you’re doing care about it. I’ll give you an example; when I worked with financial payments, you wouldn’t think that was something that would make you really keen to go out there and say ‘I’m selling financial payments to a company’. Actually, it was positioned as helping small businesses to fight the big giants and actually have a say, in the light of giving that person who’s setting up a store a chance to live their dream. That narrative gives you an inspired employee, that narrative motivates you to do well. It’s similar to recruitment. Most recruiters are focused around how many fees they made, but for me it was how many jobs I got for people. When you look at it that way, why am I getting up at five in the morning to go and work, go to the gym, work early doors to go and hit numbers? Be motivated by the fact that it could potentially change their lives, it could lead to something that does really well for them. That’s the bit that inspires people to do it. That gives you a far more successful outcome, I believe.

As you as you scale as a business, how are you going to ensure that every member of the team or the company can come on that journey with you?

Factor in the values. As companies grow and scale, obviously, that’s a great problem to have, but they do it very quickly. You rush into recruiting, you potentially don’t take as long as you want to have done to recruit and vet people that come into the company, and whether they’ll fit or whether they’re different and will provide new insight. One of the beautiful things about diversity and inclusion being much more of a focus is that you now have so many different personalities and people that will have new ideas that innovate. For us moving forward, we will always keep that feedback loop open. We’ll use our own tool within monitoring people’s mental health, making sure that they have a say, and a voice in the company to make changes. For us a wellbeing strategy brings people into that culture. So what do we want out of it? Well, we want happier, healthier, supported people, and we want them to be listened to. That’s grand, but you’ve got to put a number on it to be able to tell if it’s working or not. We say we’re going to spend X amount of money to make sure it gets to X level on a mood rating. We’ll say ‘you know what, we’ll ensure that our mood rating never goes below 60% out of 100’, that as a standard. If it does, we know there is a negative culture coming in, so we’ll need to do something about it. We put in systems that we want to reduce sick leave and those sorts of things. We want to reduce staff attrition, so put numbers in and make sure that we are held accountable to them. 

Ultimately, culture is just caring, allowing people to innovate, to be part of that journey and have a say in it. Whether you’re a new graduate or a senior leader, everyone has great ideas, it’s not just designated to anyone who’s in the C suite level. Just keeping that mentality, as you grow is vital. Why on earth would you not want to do that? Admittedly, businesses will turn around and say, ‘well, we’ve got 30,000 employees, we can’t do that’. There are always methods though – you can get regular real time feedback now from a load of providers. You can look at different areas, focus on different deliverables metrics, but provide people a voice so that they come on that journey with you. That’s the focus we’ll have as we grow.

To hear more about how to improve your company’s culture, listen to the full episode of The Talent & Growth Podcast here. 

On Talent & Growth we speak to talent leaders about the challenges they face and their solutions for attraction and retention. If you’re interested in hearing about how companies are building a more diverse talent pool, how you can attract top people from the big players, ways to create a more inclusive interview process or learn about the latest and greatest automation software to make your life easier, then this is the podcast for you.