Welcome to The Godel POD. This series is about “Recruitment in a Hybrid World”. In this episode of The Godel POD, we are joined by David Harrison, VP of Sales at Godel Technologies.

Sarah Foster: Hi, I’m Sarah at Godel. I’m joined today by David Harrison. David, would you like to introduce yourself?

David Harrison: Hi, Sarah. I’m David Harrison. I’m VP of Sales at Godel. I’ve been in the business now for the best part of five years actually. Effectively I’m responsible for the partners that we onboard into the business. We cap that every year in line with our growth. I suppose when I’m not doing this, I’m trying to keep my 14-month-old son alive as he’s very, very mobile at the moment and grabbing everything that can that can harm him. But yeah, good to chat.

Sarah Foster: So obviously, this chat is all about recruitment within a hybrid world. So, with that being said, how do you feel recruitment has changed within the IT world since the pandemic?
David Harrison: I there’s been dramatic shift really in terms of naturally it’s gone borderless, I think in terms of how recruitments kind of transpired. I think this is a naturally kind of having to go fully remote was the first thing when people were working from home when people weren’t allowed, in certain circumstances to even come into an office environment. So effectively, what they were left with is how do we quickly get into a position where our teams can actually work productively when they’re not in the office?

That was the first question. I think that’s led to people just kind of figuring that out. So as like digital transformations happened overnight, or how to kind of get to that place really, really quickly. The next thing that’s happened, I think that’s the people are starting to come back into an office, businesses are having to develop their view on are they hybrid? Are they fully remote? What’s the kind of business strategy around that? And I think that’s kind of a real knock-on impact, too. I think how people actually go about their recruitment process. So, the things we’re seeing at the moment are organisations that are still operating a bit of a hybrid recruitment strategy.

When I say hybrid, I mean, coming into the office one two days per week, or x number of days per month, effectively that still keeps gives you a catchment area, a certain radius from what your office is, so that still gives the talent pool, a similar sort of region of what you would have recruited from normally. How other businesses have shifted up, we’ve gone fully remote, and then the fact that they can recruit from any location. And that’s kind of been the strength in terms of they’ve got the ability then to hire for completely a whole different kind of geography. The impact we’re seeing at the moment is how people are doing it successfully, or how well organisations and businesses are managing their onboarding strategy. I think that’s been the key shift that we’re seeing in the market, the difference between hybrid versus fully remote. And what’s that mean from a competitive landscape?

Sarah Foster: So, you’ve kind of touched on it there a little bit about recruiting from further afield, and from your conversations with lots of feedback, has it been easier, harder, how’s it affected in terms of salary? Has it affected in terms of people wanting to be 100% remote or putting in one or two days a week?

David Harrison: I think the initial feedback we’ve seen from clients is that kind, say the majority of CTO CIOs, Chief Digital Officers, from what classes kind of mid-market to enterprise businesses. So, when I say mid-market, I’ll probably say, a time to tap track 100 business, right, their way up to a business with a sort of 500-million-pound sort of turnover is that most seems to have the preference of doing hybrid first. That’s kind of what the feedback we’ve seen, then that’s quickly started to shift at the point in which they’re struggling from a recruitment, delivery point, if you potentially even attrition. So, the key ones have seen, for example, businesses in particular in the Northeast, particularly in Leeds areas that had provided quite a competitive local talent pool. What’s quickly transpired is that for those organisations, if they’re competing against an organisation that’s decided to quickly adopt and go fully remote, then they’re having a high degree of potential churn in their business, particularly in the area.

And no discredit but if their salaries in those locations are slightly lesser than, for example, a London waiter salary or somewhere where the salary for the technology role is particularly quite high, then that’s having a real knock-on effect to their business. So, for example, if a software engineer in Newcastle typically pays 30 to 40k, however, you can go and work for a very nice FinTech like Starling or Monzo or whatever hyper sort of growth VC backed ones, and get an extra 40, 50, 60K on our basic and still remain in Newcastle, then is having a real impact on attrition rates. So that’s a typical kind of key trend that we’re seeing, but the interesting thing I noticed was those businesses have adopted hybrid first and then quickly, as recruiting has potentially been impacted. Now they’ve had to perhaps offer to operate a fully remote level.

Sarah Foster: Yeah, definitely. Do you feel that there’s been any new particular roles that have come to market that you’ve seen companies working for, for example, Dev sec ops?

David Harrison: Yeah, we’ve seen quite a few things kind of pop up through that. Dev sec ops is definitely one that’s kind of kind of popped up. I’ve also seen people putting a lot more focus around their what I would almost class as their Engagement Manager onboarding, I suppose almost the approach to the recruitment side of things, heard a lot of conversations around people having to invest in those types of roles, because the having people fall out of the recruitment process, far sooner than they would have expected.

So, for example, if a candidate has accepted a job offer, they typically would refine the process until they get to the point in which they would start they’ve now had, I’ve seen people having onboarding managers who would actually keep in contact with that candidate post offer, to make sure that they’ve managed any kind of counteroffer scenario, which seems to be going on far more prevalent. So, people almost invest in in the forums, call it like the HR experience to drive company engagement, really make sure that they are, I suppose, communicating the value mission statement of the business very, very effectively. So, they can drive a bit of a, think about, an awareness and affinity or helping that person feel like they’re attached to the business prior to starting, I’m seeing that as being a key, a real key focus.

Sarah Foster: Yeah. So obviously, you kind of touched on it there about having HR a lot more in depth, from interview station onboarding. So, let’s talk about interview stage. From the conversations you’ve had, how have you found that interviews have been taking place? How have you found that people have engaged how person fit into a workplace culture? And has there been any changes in format to help assess that?

David Harrison: I think the one thing we’ve made a conscious effort around is shortening, or streamlining should say, our recruitment process. So, we’re typically would have a potentially a three-step process in play. Now, we’ve kind of got that down to a two-step process, and been very, very clear in terms of trying to communicate the culture that we’ve that we’ve got in the business, but also trying to get a very strong feel for the environment that that person would like to work in almost a little bit like trying to ascertain lack of social contracts throughout the conversation. So, they actually go for the standard competency based questions to get a feel for the type of individual their experience where they’ve done things before, and kind of backing that up. But naturally, then it’s also understanding the ways of working that they have been useful and are looking to replicate and like to move towards, and also the management style that they would like to work in that environment. So that they are, they know what they would like, and the culture they would like to step into, which generates the best results for them as an individual. So, thing they do is we’ve made sweet, the other one naturally is doing the interviews virtually.

So, we’ve still changed it slightly, but not, not dramatically. So, what I mean by that is we used to do step by process, typically in the office or meeting the candidates face to face. Now it’s the first stage process what we’ve done virtually over teams, or zoom, or whatever it needs to be. But we’ve still kept the second stage in the office in Manchester for the face to face. Regardless if the person is in London, in Scotland, wherever that might be. The main reason for that is, even if we’re going to offer a role that’s going to be remote, or, or hybrid, or depending on where that person is, it’s basically giving them the flexibility around that, I think it’s still very important to have a sense of what the environment they will be working in with, with some FaceTime, if they’re going to second to the office to get a feel of meeting the people face to face. And talk through some of those things.

Firstly, understand the environment, the business, the culture, communication strategy, where it’s looking to go towards because one thing I’m always worried about is anyone coming into the business, not having a very clear understanding of where it’s been and where it’s looking to go. And then understanding I suppose the expectations from both parties, that social contract really about what you’re working towards, because one of my biggest fears is someone joining the business, even if they worked in a fully remote manner, not feeling part of that business. And that’s key. So, the work you’d have to do after that, so that’s typically how it’s changed at the moment.

Sarah Foster: Yeah. Do you feel that that’s similar across the market within various different businesses for various different companies?

David Harrison: That kind of the feedback I gave there was probably from a Godel perspective, what we’re seeing for the market has been quite interesting really. We’ve had, we ran a wine tasting event previously and some interesting feedback in some of the breakout sessions around a business that is based in Manchester there are a small, smallest kind of FinTech heavily funded, they are fully remote. However, they’ve still got an office in one of the weworks for people wanting to take up a co working space and still give it the opportunity. The challenge they’ve had is people falling out or leaving the business because they aren’t fully remote. They’ve noticed quite a bit of a challenge around attrition because people aren’t not reaching out for little simple questions. So, an example he gave was, one of my key engineers left because they didn’t like a laptop. They have more something as small as almost inconsequential as that.

What the CTO was basically advising well you could change could have a conversation about that’s not a problem, but it’s almost catching these things after the fact because these would have perhaps been picked up at like water cooler type conversations or pull on the side and walk in between certain offices or certain kind of ad hoc conversations, but this Seems to be being missed. So, I’m seeing some businesses have a little bit of a think kind of play about how the tweak to aspects of that a lot of businesses have Well, I know we’ve spoke to Sky Before and they’ve gone, gone down the route of just doing all of our interview processes completely remote. Again, a lot of people doing the same theme around streamlining their recruitment. And to just process because there’s a little bit hearing the word supply shock get mentioned quite a few times from it. And the scary thing is it doesn’t matter almost if you are. The theme seems to be, is completely agnostic of the size of business. If you’re large business-like Sky who’s got huge brand versus, even if it’s a start-up SME business.

The themes, still seem to be ringing true. I’ve seen some of the businesses that have shared that they’re trying to introduce more. So, for those who adopted a fully remote I remember talking to a business at one of the roundtables that we had. And they shared. They’re trying to introduce like they call it now. Almost like candidate assessment but, psychometric profiling, I version of that, not super heavyweight but in a way to understand how driven, and comfortable are these is this individual around work and get around, if it’s a fully remote Setup, what their what the like in terms of autonomy, driven around certain motivators, goals, and that sort of requirement to make sure actually, if this person is going to be working in a fully remote environment they’re going to be self to succeed within that.

Sarah Foster: Okay, that means quite nicely. So, from the conversations you’ve had, if the business has already adjusted to hybrid working, and people’s office days have naturally formed due to lockdown. How do you translate that hybrid policy to new starters, that kind of never done this before? So how do you help decide what’s best for them or how do you how a company that you spoke to help decide what’s best for them.

David Harrison: In terms of the policy process and the transition from what is slightly different ways of working to a new one?

Sarah Foster: So somebody has previously been in the office, five days a week and now you’re given them an option to be able to work from home four days a week and only have to come into office one day a week, as opposed to the five.

David Harrison: I think it’s all the feedback we’ve seen is, it’s purely about over communication as much as possible. Understanding that the communication with the teams is all around. Okay this is a new policy. This is the new process. I suppose some, some companies that talk to us about, it’s been challenging around, if there are certain shared workspaces. I’ve heard of businesses in the travel sector for example where their product owners and business analysts people that typically congregate around the whiteboard have struggled with that most, and they have certain shared meeting spaces where, for example, typically towards the end, the very beginning or an end of a project lifecycle, they have to do the next iteration, that’s typically where these people congregate, around whiteboards, around shared space to actually kind of map some of these things out, and they’ve had to be really quite stringent in terms of how they communicate, who’s going to be in the office and when. So, everyone can have, making sure that they’ve got the ability to use that space when they’re actually in there.

I’ve heard it, for example when last speaking to Manchester Airport group it was they were toying with the idea of having, like, for Governor Tuesdays, for example so that on this certain day of the week, this space is dedicated towards these types of people, and then maybe on a particular day that week, it’s more of a sales teams that can use more of the shared space around, whatever it might be, and then effectively redefining their policies in terms of when to be in the office, who do you have to indicate that to, and then naturally what that might impact in terms of safeguarding in terms of who’s in the office at when because obviously there’s COVID protocols that you might have to follow. Knowing, at that point. So, if there ever was someone who, for example came into contact or unfortunately got COVID didn’t communicate that then to the rest of the office and who was in the office at what time and when so quite a lot around that but it’s all kind of centred around making sure they have those one to one conversations with the team, sharing that feedback and then obviously, updating the policies and rolling them out.

Sarah Foster: So you touched on something there which I’m presuming is going to be the answer to my next question, but how have you heard that onboarding processes of businesses changed, or how is Godel’s onboarding changed? So that onboarding of new starters remotely. So, it’s welcome pack’s, emails to let them know about new starters, or letting them know about Covid procedures, and defusing any anxieties if they are coming into the office/

David Harrison: Yeah, I think that’s changed quite dramatically because it’s a lot of stuff that you may have taken for granted that you would just do face to face it in an office from day one. It’s this kind of theme of everyone’s shifting their onboarding lifecycle to the left where it’s either, it’s a welcome pack that people might be, might be creating. It’s maybe a conversation with the individual prior to starting which shared about their hobbies, their interests, their likes, previous kind of roles and stuff in terms of what they’re bringing into the business to do and where you can kind of reach out to them, say hello if you want to have. So, her business is almost doing like a, almost like is a Get to know your team welcome pack type thing we’ll get to know your new team member, then you have like a certain like virtual welcome lunch that’s kind of in the diary to kind of get to know your team member sessions that are in our in in schedule.

I’ve even found people doing things like a buddy system for some organisations which is quite interesting. Which is let’s say for example, prior to them starting so this person in my world, for example was stepping into sales into my team, but what we do is we almost assign them with a buddy or a mentor, who’d be the person that have a conversation with, and then get to know them, and then before they then step into that kind of broader team. So at least if it didn’t feel comfortable engaging with a wider audience in a big virtual environment, for example, we’ve had that one person that almost like as a friend system that they can go to as either a mentor or a buddy to help kind of outside perhaps ideas officer, definitely seen a lot of that happen.

Probably it works more for an answer for the HR onboarding side, as an output of communication of new policies, new standards, helping them feel safe in terms of, if you are, if those organisations are either still in the office fully or gone hybrid. If you are to come into the office, these are the new policies around, cleaning the office workspace, making sure that certain of the if scheduled treatments of the office desk to make sure that it’s all good that safety protocols are being observed, X number of people in a meeting room screening certain desks up. How many people use the kitchen at a certain time, all that kind of stuff to make sure that I suppose for those people who are naturally, anxious, and if that was part of the offering, they know that it’s a safe environment that they can come into so definitely seen a lot of that. It’s interesting to see how different businesses are trying to try to tackle it. For me, the key thing is engagement, how do they how do they engage with their potential new hires, and their existing staff but how do they then keep them engaged, after they start, regardless if it’s hybrid or fully remote that definitely seems to be a key theme.

Sarah Foster: Definitely, so that’s when new starters officially joining the business, how do you ensure that they still remain part of the team during the work from home situation? So, have you seen anyone do additional team bonding days or anything more than what they’d have done prior to lockdown?

David Harrison: Yeah, definitely. I think I’ve heard of further businesses, particularly across the financial services sector where it would almost be a little bit traditional so for example, you will have a new team member joining you might meet them in the office once, sometimes you might be a welcome lunch for it. And effectively, the next time you might see that would be a either a sales or an operational session in one, two, three months’ time. People are finding that they’ve had to, really kind of scrap that and almost adopt a little bit like an agile kind of way of working where for example they might have stand up. They might have a more informal kind of coffee dropping sessions as a group, going out across the board to start things like word zoom fatigue VC fatigue.

All that kind of stuff that comes with having back-to-back teams meetings and video conference calls, where they have a lot of drop in sessions where it’s like, it’s in the diary. Some people they have virtual coffees virtual lunch where anyone can drop in. There’s other ones where they’re doing like quizzes, random kind of team social events, either for the team itself or for the broader business which has been really quite handy to do those kind of check ins.
And then, additionally, I’ve heard of businesses dropping just more formal ceremonies in the diary around, just checking in with a team member so like retros at the end of the end of a week just to get an update from the team members and making sure that they do have a high schedule at one to ones for those people who aren’t in the office at all, just to make sure that maybe the ones who want might be around, not about work things, but purely just catching up how you getting on, might be a 15 minute coffin to catch up with your direct report. And they use on that basis just to make sure everything’s okay, because you typically would have that in the office, and making sure that that’s replicated.

Sarah Foster: Fabulous. So, finally, how do you feel the pandemic has affected retention across the market?

David Harrison: I think it’s had a massive negative impact on retention, unfortunately. I think the answer to it is probably two-fall. You’ve probably had those people who have conversations we’ve had in the market; I’ll give you an example probably across travel. So, we’ve had a lot of clients come to us, particularly the travel sector either across aviation or their travel ISP or their travel booking provider, and they’ve come to us saying, that we went through a process, travel got absolutely decimated as an industry. Now post COVID touch wood, that the world has kind of opened up again. During that period, they’ve had to furlough 80, 90%, 100% of their staff.

Now, as a consequence of that, a lot of people may, when they came back into the office, or the further restrictions have been removed. People having a really hard conversation about, do I want to do this as a career, if you’re not allowed to move. People are creatures of habit, do you want to perhaps potentially move away from that risk by changing sector, do I want to move into something that’s different, what they might perceive as being more stable should pandemic 2.0 come. Their demand just got turned off overnight. So, I’ve seen a lot of companies come to us and have a conversation about, just when they tried to re-engage people post furlough, they’ve actually decided not to come back the business, and they’ve had a real impact then on trying to find candidates in the market that would be interested in to come in to software engineering, or from technical standpoint. So, things like that from one side, people perhaps think about what they want to do with their career. So, people coming back from furlough, that’s had an impact on attrition rates.

The flip side is the hybrid remote conversation, businesses now competing with, if you imagine most traditional organisations compete with other organisations or a recruitment front for around the geography of your area. Now you could be on a global standpoint, which I think is very hard for those organisations that are slightly lower paying areas, traditionally, because now you can go and work for whoever and get a much higher salary so that’s definitely had a massive impact on retention attrition rates.

I probably say the other bigger problem that I heard a lot of people talk about is mental health, and it’s for all the right reasons I’ve seen a lot good businesses doing some really some positive work around it which is, if a business doesn’t really proactively manage workload, and have a real focus around engagement, keeping on top of how the pulse of your team and also the pulse of your company that people either burn out or they won’t tell you exactly how they really feel it’s gonna have a real knock on effect in terms of how they work because not every not every individual is geared up to work effectively from home, even if your business is offering that, so I’ve seen now have an impact of obviously naturally, people will leave. So, it’s having a bit of an impact on attrition rates. So I’ve seen it go the other way, I think just purely, those kind of three core areas really.

The upshot I think longer term is the businesses that get it right, have a very strong focus on their engagement strategy, double down on the values of the business, the mission statement, the USP’s probably have to be redefined because it’s a far more competitive market now and have a far more focus on equal wellbeing. I think those businesses are really going to thrive because if you think about it, work life balance, it’s going to be the opposite of that in terms of being able to close down your laptop at the end of the day and be with your family or your friends and have more time to have that flexibility, that the upside of that in terms of the productivity gains and the engagement gains and people who actually enjoy where they work and feel part of a business, that’s going to have a huge upside potential longer term as well.

Sarah Foster: Yeah, I think that kind of sums lot of things up. So, is there anything that you’d like to maybe leave at the end of this conversation with it from a hybrid world or anything that you’ve seen that you’d like to impart your wisdom on?

David Harrison: Good question, I would probably say, the key thing for me is to over communicate as much as possible. I think there’s even been times where I myself would properly, notice that things that were typically left unsaid in a face to face environment was easy to kind of pick up on, when you saw, you could read the room in a meeting room and see that person who perhaps has been slightly less vocal or maybe even things where you pick up on, just nonverbal cues that perhaps they. We’ve all got a home life and things that happen outside of work that’s what contributes to towards as an individual, they’re much easier to pick up on in a face to face environment, and it’s not to forget the things that aren’t said, so I think we’ll leave a message there would be to over communicate as much as possible, spend a lot of time and focus around having those ad hoc informal check ins with your team members and also trying to drive as much interaction, collaboration in joint team sessions, so that it’s not, maybe one or two people dominating the conversation so you’re making sure everyone’s kind of voices is being heard. And I think that’s the key kind of takeaway, I’ve kind of noticed, which is, you’ll then find if you just don’t make the call, or the check in sometimes or one yo ones so it’s not always about work, you’re going to get a hell of a lot from that. And that to me is probably the key thing that I’ve learnt.

Sarah Foster: Well, it’s been great to speak with you David, and thank you for your time.

David Harrison: Brilliant, thanks Sarah.