How to become the #1 tech employer

Marius Luther
Aug 5 · 8 min read

The Top 10 HR / People / Organization / Culture Hacks we use to turn HeyJobs into a top employer.

In April 2019, HeyJobs was recognized as the #1 tech employer in Berlin based on employee ratings on Glassdoor and Kununu. Yay!

Whilst we are happy about the progress we have made, we believe that this is a long, never easy and never ending journey. But for those of you that just get started, we want to share the 10 things we did to create what we feel is a truly great organization.

1) Transparent Company-Wide Communication

All-Hands

We do a company-wide all-hands every Monday morning at 10 am for about 30 minutes. It follows a similar structure every week.

The goals are to

  • inspire and rally the company behind our mission
  • welcome new joiners
  • update on company numbers, OKRs
  • learn about new product features & clients
  • recognize employees (birthdays, passed probation, anniversaries, special achievements, leavers)
  • communicate people topics

Here is a simplified version of our deck:

2) Happiness Survey

Since incorporation over 3 years ago, we run a quarterly company-wide happiness survey to get a feel for the pulse of the company.

Here is the survey:

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSc4IJq1BOBombO7ligiHR8CMp9Qmmp6FydcvlKU5tCElxelog/viewform

And here are our results for the last 3 times:

Results of HeyJobs Happiness Survey

Super helpful to identify what’s working and what is not. Pro tip is to look at results by department. And hey it seems the new office really made a big difference to the work environment.

Upon conducting the survey, we then share results back in the all-hands and explain how we want to address low scores.

3) Goals / OKR

  • OKR Introduction

We implemented OKRs in December 2018 and are now in the second quarter. The introduction was done for all team members in a full day with this presentation:

OKR Introduction at HeyJobs

OKR Tracking

But OKRs can only work, if you put them in practice. So we devised an automated tracking sheet to enable every team lead on a weekly basis to update their OKRs which in turn updates the company OKR’s

Input sheet for different teams for one company key result
Cascaded upwards to 2 company objectives and 7 company key results

We found it made sense to differentiate between the Key Result (KR) Achievement in % (i.e. for example revenue) and the Team achievement in % (i.e. the average completion of all initiatives under the revenue OKR). This way we can spot where we are actually completing initiatives but not having impact on the intended KPI.

4) Values

  • Setting Values

We believe it is crucial for an organization to have strong values. Our values were defined early on by the early core team to set a bar for hiring and performance management thereafter. In 2017, we defined 3 core values:

HeyJobs values

We then described the behaviour we intend to follow by living up to the values:

Drive as a value
Entrepreneurship as value
Team work as value
  • Putting values into practice

There is the famous example of Enron having Integrity as one of their core values and clearly they were not lived. So we decided to integrate our values into two core parts of our people processes: recruiting and performance management.

5) Career Development

In performance management, we wanted to give everyone full transparency around where they stand and what are the behaviours we expect from team members on various levels. As a result, we introduced 7 levels and 2 tracks.

We introduced 2 tracks — team leadership + individual contributors as we value different inputs into the company equally and want everyone to be able to progress at what they do best. The best engineer or sales employee may not be the best VP or Head of but may well contribute significantly to the success of HeyJobs.

We then went on to define our expectations in terms of value-based behaviours, impact and management for each level.

HeyJobs Level expectations

Every six months, during our performance review cycle every team member reviews himself and gets reviewed according to the same standards.

We noticed that by integrating values into performance reviews, everyone could recite them by heart :)

6) Winning the best talent — most aligned to our values

In recruiting, we have trained the team on interviewing for the values and score each candidate on how well we see them display our values + their potential impact on our OKRs. These are the same assessment criteria for any hire at HeyJobs independent of level or area. The only dimension that differs is the expectations we have with regard to impact.

Recruiting — Winning

We believe that one of the absolute key skills of any high-growth company is recruiting the very best people. Still way too often, the interview process is perceived as a one-sided assessment process. We train hiring managers to switch to “winning the candidate” the moment the assessment has shown a clear vote to hire.

HeyJobs Academy on Recruiting and Winning Candidates

7) Feedback

Twice a year, before our summer and x-mas party we take half a day for our Feedback Day. Though it takes time invest and cost to take everyone out of their daily work for half a day, we value the feedback day as it gives everyone the chance to give input to current company wide topics and learn about their own development.

Our Feedback day consists of 3 elements:

a) Company-Wide Retrospective

Here we ask all team members to take 10 minutes to write down everything they felt was really good in the last 6 months (+) and things that need to get better during the next 6 months (++). We then have everyone present their points and tap the post-it’s to the wall. This is a super powerful exercise to give every team member a voice and to see which areas are most ripe for improvement.

b) Upward feedback for team leads

Here we ask team members to prepare feedback for their team lead in the same way (+ and ++) in the week leading up to the Feedback Day. During one hour team members will give feedback to their direct reports. Whilst we were initially scared, it turned out to be a really great exercise full of appreciation for the team lead’s work garnished with actionable improvement points.

As an example, my feedback had positive points such as:

  • Very direct, timely feedback
  • Honest & transparent opinion
  • Living and embodying company values
  • Superb Input

as well as clear points for improvement such as:

  • Stop interrupting before team members finish their presentation
  • Spend quality time with employees vs. short check-ins
  • Give more context why goals are changing
  • Close your notebook during 1:1s for proper focus

c) Peer-to-Peer Feedback Sessions

Last but not least, probably the most important element are peer-to-peer feedback sessions between employees. Using the same methodology as above (+ and ++), team members spend 20 mins with a couple of colleagues they work with the most outside of their own team. This opens a feedback channel that is non judging but super important to improve cross-team collaboration.

8) Recognition

We noticed that often “small” but really cool initiatives of employees go unnoticed during a company-wide presentation. To mitigate this, we implemented a small typeform survey which gives employees the opportunity to recognise employees. In 4 questions, they can say who they recognise, for which value and add a comment.

Upon submission, a message is sent to the Slack channel #general, we mention it in the all-hands and the recognised team member enters our X-mas recognition raffle.

Recognition through tyepform and slack

9) Diversity

It has been proven numerous times that diverse teams lead to superior results and we very much believe in this at HeyJobs. We try to actively address known biases such as the gender pay gap (through objective levels and performance criteria) and build a most inclusive environment based on a culture of respect for anyone.

A lot of companies claim to be building a culture of respect and diversity, but it does mean zero tolerance towards ‘the odd’ racist or sexual remark. It’s only when you fire top employees for such incidents (as happened twice in 5 years) to protect your company culture that people truly buy into it.

As a result, we have a higher share of women in tech & leadership positions as well as as a % of total workforce than Facebook, Google, Amazon and Uber.

Source: Statista, HeyJobs

But it is not just about gender. We truly believe that the most open environment is the right environment and are proud to have team members from over 15 countries, different religions and different sexual orientation.

HeyJobs at Christopher Street Day 2019 in Berlin

10) Celebrate together

HeyJobs Summer Party 2019

Summary

In the end, we believe that culture is not HR. Culture and workplace is how everyone shows up, how leaders lead and how the organization acts. However, there are 10 things that we have seen work well in our company and maybe they are helpful in yours too. Good luck!

Marius Luther

Written by

Founder & CEO @heyjobsofficial — the Predictable Hiring™ company.

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