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On Board for Change: Insights from Two Members of SmartRecruiters' Employee Board

Posting date: 12/07/2023

At SmartRecruiters, our dedication to continuous improvement is deeply rooted in our #smarter value. We put a lot of focus on our listening strategies and employee feedback to identify where we support our strategic goal of being a people-first workplace. This commitment to workplace evolution became even more evident when an internal survey highlighted areas for growth, leading to the establishment of the Employee Board. This group, made up of non-executive Smartians, works closely with senior executives. 

Their objectives? 

  • Being an ear for the employees: host listening sessions and moderating Ask Us Anything segments during our regular Town Hall meetings.
  • Being a voice for the employees: through monthly meetings with representatives of the senior executive team, as a sounding board for the  strategic initiatives to be rolled out to the business.
  • Acting as a multiplying force: spearheading the Quarterly Recognition Program, the annual Golden Bulbs, once a year Smartian News takeover, Reverse Recruiting events, sustainability actions as well as initiatives they suggest based on listening sessions. 
  • Developing their own leadership skills: each member of the Employee Board was individually paired with a representative from the Leadership Team, establishing a unique mentorship experience. 

While this role requires some additional time, it's designed to complement and not overshadow their primary job responsibilities.

As the current tenure of SmartRecruiters' Employee Board draws to a close, we're looking forward to exploring the experiences of its members. Join us as we feature two board members, Anna Ziebicka, our Head of Finance, and Jonathan Cote, an Enterprise Account Manager, uncovering their journeys filled with challenges, achievements, and invaluable lessons. Listening to them sharing their experiences was truly inspiring for us, and we hope you're going to enjoy it too. 

Introduction & Motivation

What motivated you to apply for a position on the Employee Board, and how would you describe its purpose to someone unfamiliar with it?

Anna: The Employee Board was established with the aim to be a trusted entity that makes a tangible impact within the company. We serve as a direct link between employees and management, ensuring that the concerns, suggestions, and feedback of our staff are not only heard but also promptly addressed.

My aim was to strengthen connections within our organization. Being a part of the Board seemed like a great way to support my team and our colleagues in Poland, fostering better links with the wider company.

Jonathan: The Employee Board was an opportunity for both access and connection to our Executive Team and connections across our global organization. It aims to keep a pulse on our employee base, understand their thoughts, motivations, pain points, and areas for improvement. The goal is to ensure the Executive Team is inclusive and considers different perspectives when initiating company-wide actions.

Significance & Impact

How do you believe the Employee Board can contribute to making SmartRecruiters a people-first workplace?

Anna: Our role is instrumental in creating a workplace environment where every employee feels valued, respected, and genuinely appreciated. This dynamic is not driven solely by the People Team; the active engagement of the Employee Board, with its diverse representation from various parts of the company, brings a wide range of perspectives and deeper insights. Our diverse membership is pivotal in fostering a more inclusive and understanding workplace, truly putting people first in every aspect of our operations.

Jonathan: The Employee Board contributes by listening first. Initiatives like holding office hours and regular listening sessions with the People Team help understand employee sentiments. The board serves as a connection between employees and the senior leadership, ensuring effective communication and steps towards improvement, emphasizing transparency and inclusiveness.

Collaboration with Executives

How has your experience been working directly with senior executives, and were there any surprising insights from these interactions?

Jonathan: Despite our organization's vast geographical spread, it became clear that Senior Executives are more closely knit than it might seem. The Leadership Team showed a genuine interest in understanding the thoughts and feelings of employees. Their openness to listen and engage, rather than just giving out directions, was striking. They approach challenges not as distant executives but as part of our team, seeking collaborative solutions.

A key insight for me was their focus on proactive problem-solving. They encourage us not just to raise issues but also to be part of the solution. This has taught me the importance of taking initiative, not only as a board member but also as a part of the broader SmartRecruiters community, actively contributing to a positive work environment and bringing forward constructive solutions.

Feedback & Influence

Can you share an example of how feedback from the broader team influenced a decision or initiative discussed at the Employee Board?

Jonathan: One key example was improving our Slack communication based on feedback. This led to initiatives for more effective communication. Also, employee feedback pointed to the need for clarity and transparency in our regional human resources policies and practices, leading to the development of an Employee Handbook and appointing new specialists on our People team tasked specifically with ensuring equity and consistency in our global total rewards program.

Personal Growth & Mentorship

How has the mentorship from an executive team member impacted your professional growth?

Anna: At the beginning, the Employee Board had a plan where each member would be paired with a member of the management team for mentorship. I had the opportunity to be mentored by a senior executive deeply involved in people-related matters. This mentorship allowed me to express my views, receive insightful feedback, and gain a deeper understanding of the activities and projects within the People Team that affect our entire organization. This experience has been invaluable to my professional development, providing me with unique insights and enhancing my understanding of broader organizational dynamics.

Advice for Future Members

What advice would you give to other Smartians considering applying for a position on the Employee Board?

Anna: Participating in the board is a voluntary commitment. If you're interested in being more involved with the company's organization and decision-making, joining the board is an excellent choice. It's an opportunity to connect more closely with the heart of our company. The key requirement is simply your willingness to be involved; no specific skills are needed. The board is designed to bring together diverse personalities and viewpoints, enriching our understanding of the company's activities from various perspectives.

Jonathan: Be open and curious. However, serving on the board also means being ready to contribute to its organization. The first year was a formative period where we accomplished a lot, but there's a need for more structured planning. My advice for new members is to be proactive from the start. Time passes quickly – days turn into weeks, then months, and soon, a year. By taking the initiative early on and setting clear personal goals, as well as goals with your colleagues, you can make a significant impact in your time on the board.

Closing Thoughts:

Reflecting on your experience, what has been the most rewarding aspect of being a part of the Employee Board? 

Anna: For me it was the opportunity to build closer connections with different departments and collaborate with the management team. It allowed me to interact with colleagues I usually don't meet in my regular job duties. This experience was not only a refreshing change from my everyday tasks but also kept me deeply involved with the life and values of our company. It was a nice break from the usual routine, but still closely connected with the Company life and values.

Jonathan: One of the most rewarding aspects for me has been the opportunity to be involved in employee recognition, a process where we acknowledge and celebrate the achievements and contributions of our colleagues. The experience of reading the nomination entries, where colleagues enthusiastically nominate their peers for exemplary work and embodying our company values, has been incredibly fulfilling. These acts of recognition, while they may seem simple, greatly contribute to our company culture. They help people feel acknowledged, seen, and appreciated. It’s truly gratifying to see how our team members, whether they're across the globe or in the next office, recognize and celebrate each other's efforts. Being a part of selecting and showcasing these winners during our Townhall Meetings has been a highlight of my time on the board. It's these moments that underscore the value of appreciation in our daily work life.


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