Sunday, 27 September 2015

The Future of Work, new SMiLE Guide

"The future of work is right here, right now," says Chief Executive Officer at Jive Elisa Steele (pictured below). The expectation of flexibility and choice that people have in their home life is becoming the case with work life.

We are used to make choices on online sites such as Amazon or Ebay, and communicate on social networks like Facebook and Twitter, which can be accessed via a number of channels, whether it is from the laptop, smartphone or tablet, all day, every day. The same is expected at work. As a recent report by Capita puts it: "Different people want different ways of accessing information; people want to do things at different times.”

Indeed, technology is part of our lives, in almost everything we do. And technology will continue to be part of our lives, in ways we have yet to dream of. 
While today digitisation is already enabling innovation and business growth, new models such as the Internet of Things (IoT) and the Internet of Everything (IoE) are also emerging. It seems as if they are the future of the enterprise - the value at stake has been estimated to be $19 trillion (£12.35 trillion). Most importantly, people and process represent 60% of the IoE value.

Strategy Analytics predicts that the global mobile workforce will increase by 1.2 billion in 2013 to 1.7 billion in 2018. According to CIO Magazine over 15 petabytes of new data are created every day. Cisco expects video to represent 78% of all Internet traffic by 2018. Meanwhile, IDC anticipates that 46% of all IT delivery will happen through the cloud by 2016.

Those numbers are quite telling. "It’s not the 'tied to the desk' immobile office any longer. The workplace will see many more changes that are coming even faster. This makes having a single user environment that extends across devices and geographies - a necessity to meet the changing demands of today’s mobile workforce," says AT&T's Vishy Gopalakrishnan.

But, to fully explain what Steele means by "the future of work is now" tools alone are not enough. In truth, she refers to a type of transformation that is about the individuals. "To accomplish great things, people need to know each other very well. Colleagues need to find the way to connect and collaborate together as a competitive advantage."

Liberating as well as challenging: despite all the conversations around the importance of social collaboration only a few companies today are really working that way. Yet, Steele believes that if collaboration were a standard, then the entire world would be a very different place. "Faster innovation, better connections, more transparency and greater efficiency."

Jacob Morgan, the author of The Future of Work and co-founder of the Future of Work Community, believes that there are a couple of important trends to consider. "Firstly, the big global trends that are impacting the future of work - from globalisation, to Millennials entering the workforce, new behaviours invading the company and the rise of mobility.

"Secondly, the specific changes that we are going to see in the future of work. Over the next ten years we will see a focus on employee experience. It is about thinking of how employees interact with the company they work for and create a great experience for them - from how the individual finds that job to how they work there and what happens when they leave."

Such trends also include thinking of new ways to help staff shape their careers, giving them the technology that they want to use - giving them a workplace environment where they feel they can succeed. “It is basically re-thinking what it means to work and create a place where employees want to show up.” 

A Multigenerational Workforce

There is a lot of talk around Millennials. The common belief is that this generation works and communicates very differently than Baby Boomers and Generation X. Steele believes that this is true because "Millennials have grown up with technology at their hands." However, she also sees that the digital workplace transformation is impacting all.

Laszlo Bock, the Senior Vice President of People Operations at Google and author of the new book ‘Work Rules!’ doesn’t think that Millennials, who are often described as if it were a 'different species' entirely, are that different after all. At Atmosphere, a virtual event run by Google for Work in June, he said: "If you talk with them [Millennials], what do they ask for? They want freedom. They want control over their destiny. They want to do meaningful work. They want well-being and to be able to chart their course."

This may seem contrary to received wisdom, but, Bock who is now over 40, claims that when he was 20 he wanted exactly the same things. And, he goes even further. "My dad, when he was 20, he wanted the same things too." The only big difference today is that Millennials are more connected and vocal. Bock shares an interesting perspective: "I do not think that we should manage them differently. I think that we should manage just everybody the way that Millennials are asking to be managed."

Indeed, Kathryn Everest, Strategist for Collaboration and Communication at Jive, says that it is crucial to consider the multigenerational workforce and how collaboration can support them. “One of the things that internal communicators need to be aware of in future is that despite everyone generalising that the Baby Boomers and Generation X are leaving and everything should be built around Generation Y and Z, the reality is more complex. People are staying in the workforce longer.”

Everest describes the Bringing Your Own Workstyle (BYOW) phenomenon. “Everyone has a unique workstyle, which includes their favourite digital platforms and devices on which they feel comfortable and productive.”

There are many different workstyle, but as a communicator, it can be helpful to see BYOW through the use of three different personas:

• ‘Single place’ - they want everything to go to one channel. Those are the employees who likes to find all their stuff and create all their content in one place such as the intranet or the email

• ‘Traditional’ – they recognise that there is more than one place where they can get their work done; yet they like to stick to no more than two or three channels

• ‘Modern’ – they are very comfortable with using many different channels and applications; this group understands the purpose of lots of application and happily flip between using each of them accordingly on a daily basis

One workstyle doesn't fit all. Hence, Everest suggests figuring out how to meet people where they are. “Each person has their own strengths and weaknesses and all workstyles are equally valuable. The successful organisations of the future will be the ones that engage and inspire all of them. Organizations have to be intentional about creating an environment that supports every employee’s workstyle. While a diverse range of employees with a diverse range of preferences put pressure on the internal communicator who needs to consider a variety of channels, it becomes the opportunity to really differentiate themselves."

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About the SMiLE Guide on 'The Future of Work'

Everybody now knows that the world of work has been disrupted. During the past years, many organisations have learned slow and painful lessons about how to adapt the way they do business. I wanted to write a SMiLE Guide on The Future of Work as I believe it is crucial to identify the key trends that are shaping our experience of work, explore how the workplace is evolving as well as what organisations can do to thrive in this marketplace.

To create this white paper I combined my reporting experience with research. The guide looks at the impact of technology in the workplace; the intrepreneurial mindset; the on-demand economy and more. Ultimately, it aims at challenging conventional thinking, and hopefully supporting readers in navigating this evolution.

A big thank you to Jive Software for sponsoring this work. Kathryn Everest will join our next SMiLE Webinar on The Future of Work on Monday 28th September. You can register here.

 
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This article originally appeared on simply-communicate

Sunday, 20 September 2015

How Deloitte UK communicates respect and inclusion across the firm

Lack of diversity is a pervasive problem inside many enterprises. While modern companies recognise that being diverse can only help them to function well, access top talent, drive performance and innovate, still much needs to be done to turn inclusion into a daily reality.

Deloitte UK is committed to challenge the status quo. As part of a wider internal campaign called 'Respect and Inclusion', they have created ‘Ask yourself…’ - this short film urges everyone inside the organisation to think about their personal responsibility when it comes to treating all colleagues as equal.

I recently spoke with Internal Communications Managers Matthew Gale and Shaheeda Sabir to explore the impact of the campaign on the perceptions of employees towards diversity as well as the actions that the business is taking to diversify its talent.

Gloria Lombardi: What prompted Deloitte UK to launch the 'Respect and Inclusion' initiative?

Matthew Gale: Several reasons. Firstly, Deloitte is a very diverse business - from Audit and Tax to Deloitte Digital we have many different types of people within the organisation. So, we have to create an environment where we can be ourselves and respect everyone for their own strengths so that they can be their best. Additionally, our clients are very diverse too.

Secondly, Deloitte research has shown that a big number of organisations are not investing enough resources in making people feel included. Firms can take many actions to make their organisations more diverse, but they can get the best of their diverse talent if people feel very comfortable for being who they are.

So, Emma Codd, the firm’s Managing Partner for Talent, decided to put together a plan with a lot of different actions to help embed respect and inclusion across the company. Those actions were support by the CEO and the firm’s Executive and involve improving education and training, communication and escalation channels. For example, our 1,000 partners have already attended thought provoking workshops and we are now in the process of doing the same with our directors.

GL: How does ‘Ask yourself…’ fit within the overall initiative?

MG: The film was created to help raise awareness of the actual plan as well as to encourage people to take personal responsibility.

Shaheeda Sabir: ‘Ask yourself…’ is part of a multi-channel campaign which shows what it means to work in a firm where respect and inclusion are considered key parts of the environment. Both from a production point of view and the message itself we wanted to spark wide conversation, interest and self-introspection to make people think about their own behaviour.

GL: How did you create the film? Are the characters actors or real Deloitte employees?

SS: We did consider using our own people but ultimately decided to have actors. It was very important that the film was going to appeal to different people and spark a variety of reactions.

MG: We do have own people in many different internal videos but we felt it was not right for this one. We thought it was too hard for an employee to convey that message and emotion without speaking – one of the requirements of the film was for it to work on our digital signage – and so we opted for actors. However, the casting was very important to us. This is something that we debated a lot internally within the communications team and the talent team that commissioned the film to The Edge Picture Company.

Diversity is a difficult topic to communicate anyway and we were keen that this film was reflective of the whole organisation. We wanted to ensure that anyone could potentially see themselves in one of the characters and that they could relate to that.

SS: We did not want to create a sense of disconnect among our people; we did not want them to watch the film and say 'This is not us'. It had to be authentic.

GL: How did you launch the film to your employees?

SS: The film was launched on our internal video platform called Dplayer. Engagement was high; over 3,000 people have watched the film through the platform alone, our highest figure since the platform was introduced last year.

GL: What other channels did you use to communicate the existence of ‘Ask yourself…’?
 
MG: The film was communicated across Yammer - Dplayer integrates with the enterprise social network, the intranet homepage, posters, emails from the Head of each Deloitte service line, as well as during new joiner inductions. It was also shown at events ran with the 30% Club, our LGBT network summer drinks and an event to celebrate Trans inclusion.

Additionally, while we would not necessarily make an internal communication activity available externally, this time we thought that the relevance of the topic would make an appeal to external organisations too. So, we uploaded the film on YouTube and allowed our people to share it on other social media channels such as Twitter.

GL: What types of reactions did you receive?

MG: We have received great feedback both internally and externally. On Yammer as well as on Twitter, our people were saying that they felt inspired by the film and were very proud to be at Deloitte. Other Deloitte organisations from across the world such as Deloitte Australia and Deloitte Canada wanted to use it internally. The same was with Europe and America.

The film on YouTube also went viral with over 12,400 views so far. The beauty was to see our employees genuinely inspired to share the video across their personal social media accounts. Additionally, some big international clients from the UK and the US asked us whether they could use the film with their own staff.

SS: The reactions we saw show that sometimes a video can help to think through things and change the perceptions of people. As part of a wider campaign a film can help convey behavioural shift.

GL: Can you give me an example of your last point Shaheeda?
 
SS: Last week I was in a meeting talking with a part-time mother. She said, 'I really love the film. To me it sends the message that just because I am not a full-time employee does not mean that I work less hard than anyone else; it does not make me less valuable.'

GL: Did you receive any controversial reaction to the film?

MG: We did not receive negative feedback. Probably, this is because the film was not made in isolation; it was part of a wider plan, which outlines the specific actions that we are taking to deal with diversity. It has been made very clear that those actions are going to be taken.

SS: While the video wanted to raise awareness about respect and inclusion, we made it clear that we certainly did not want to stop there. The film was actually the starting point.

GL: The most successful business initiatives often rely on the commitment and involvement of the leadership. Is this the case with Respect and Inclusion at Deloitte?

MG: The focus on respect and inclusion is strategic. It is happening with great commitment from the top and it is part of the way of managing talent in Deloitte. Our CEO David Sproul is actively leading the way. For example, he used one of his town halls last year to talk about inclusion, with a focus on women in leadership.

Our Managing Partner for Talent Emma Codd is the person responsible for driving the firm’s talent strategy. It is a big agenda for her. She often speaks publically in press on agile working, gender balance, unconscious bias and inclusion.

Also, the Executive group were the first to attend the workshops we talked about earlier, and felt so strongly about the subject that they agreed that all other partners, without exception must also attend a session.

GL: You talked about taking action. What are you going to do now?
 
MG: One of the key actions points is to have a number of senior people to act as Respect and Inclusion advisers. Currently, around 20 leaders are having tailored training to be able to support our people and provide confidential advice if and when they come across any instances on disrespectful behaviour. This is a model that we have already applied successfully with mental health.

We have launched big initiatives around women in leadership as well as programs where straight employees are showing support for our LGBT colleagues. In terms of numbers, we have set some public goals such as achieving 25% of female partners by 2020 and 30% by 2030.

SS: With regards to the film itself, we will continue to use it to keep the conversation going. We are very keen on promoting the longevity of the film and its message. As an organisation probably we are not alone here - there are other companies that have the same challenges - and we want people to know that there are actions that can be taken to change. If people see or hear something that is not appropriate, they should know that they could go to someone and talk about it because this is not tolerated. Ultimately, we want people to choose to work for an organisation that is respectful and inclusive.

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This article originally appeared on simply-communicate

Friday, 11 September 2015

Leading the customer experience from within

"Employee engagement has today become the holy grail of customer experience because it has been shown that customers who score the highest in customer engagement measures have experienced a service delivered by employees who in turn are highly engaged with their business." - Sarah Cook

In 'Leading the Customer Experience' Sarah Cook makes a strong case for building an internal climate that is conducive to customer-centricity through inspirational service leadership. What I particularly appreciated about this book is its ability to describe the behaviours of leaders who successfully create and execute a clear vision around both customer and employee engagement. In addition, I like its pragmatic approach to the topic: Cook offers a rich collection of practical tools, techniques and examples that organisations can start using today.

Respect

There are many definitions of employee engagement. Cook likes to talk about harnessing discretionary efforts which, she believes, relies first and foremost on respect: "it implies that employees have a choice in how they behave and whether they go out of their way to deliver above and beyond.

"Respect means trusting people and interacting with them in an adult way, trusting that their intention is positive."

However, four other elements need to be considered.

Humility

Humility is important becomes it lets employees and customers feel good about themselves. "People realise that they do not have to impress this individual, they do not have to pretend; they will not be judged and they will be accepted for who they are - a human being! A human being is not perfect and we all have our faults. When we don't need to impress, we can really push the boundaries to realise our potential."

There are a number of ways a leader can demonstrate humility to others, for example by expecting the best from others, trusting them, showing kindness and forgiveness as well as saying sorry. The latter is worth highlighting: "everyone, including leaders, is not perfect. We will make mistakes, we will say wrong thing and we can do something unintentionally which will upset someone. The power of saying 'sorry' cannot be underestimated and is a great way of showing you can admit your mistakes and take responsibility for your own behaviour. The outcome of this is that the individual on the receiving end feels valued and understood and the likelihood of your relationship growing stronger is greater."

Connection

The ability to relate to others, which Cook likes to refer to as 'connectedness', is another characteristic of great leaders. It is about stepping into the world of customers and employees to truly understand their concerns and perspectives. "It means being able to genuinely listen and value those ideas and work with them. It involves being genuinely curious about others and seeking to understand their viewpoint rather than pushing your own."

The author provides leaders with some useful questions to consider in order to improve their area of connectedness:
  • Who do you need to listen to more - customers, team members or other department? What steps will you take to make that happen?
  • Who do you need to spend more time with so you can 'step into their world' and appreciate their agenda?
  • What can you do internally to encourage more questioning and challenging? How can you build an environment of curiosity?
  • What external conferences or forums could you attend or become a member of to increase your connectedness outside your own organisation?
Care 

As a customer we soon know whether the person we are dealing with cares or not. But as an employee how do we know if our leader genuinely cares about us? This is a question Cook has asked leaders over the last few years. The answers have been always the same and include:
  • Acknowledge and notice others for example by saying 'Good morning, how are you? How was your weekend?'
  • Give the person your undivided attention and maintain eye contact during conversations
  • Ask others questions and their opinions and actively listen
  • Provide on-going feedback
  • Regularly compliment people both publicly and privately
  • Spend time finding out what is important to others

When we look at this list, there is nothing really new - all those activities have been succinctly discussed in many business management books. Yet they are a good reminder since practice shows that they still are easily forgotten and avoided in many workplaces. As the author puts it, "as leaders we always have choices and if we know that spending a few minutes with others chatting about them and how they are doing can make a difference to their day and ultimately how they perform, then why would we not do it?"

Indeed, there are occasions when a few minutes of 'chatting' can become the best time investment of a leader.

Learning

Being tolerant of others' mistakes and seeing them as an opportunity to learn is another quality of great service leaders.

I found the example of toymaker Lego, particularly appropriate to make this point. The company has built a 'Future Lab' to explore new products and experiences for the Lego customer, particularly. "The aim of the lab is to deliberately disrupt the organisation from within, rather than wait until a competitor disrupts their business. They learn as much about themselves and their customers from failure as they do from success. Their attitude is 'How could we have learnt a better way of doing things for the customer if we had never made mistakes?'
Why EQ is so important

The position the author takes in relation to the notion of emotional intelligence (EQ) is also worth considering. While the ability to empathize with others is critical to every service organisation, EQ is still not universally developed and encouraged.

Oftentimes, people reach positions of authority because of their technical ability and capability to think logically. Such managers pay attention to facts but can overlook emotions and feelings, an approach that often affect the ability to create and maintain rapport.

Similarly, the fear of 'letting go' can cause many leaders to be reluctant to empower, which in turns leads to lack of trust. "Employees of large organisations frequently do not feel the personal impact of their decisions."

However, there are approaches that an organisation can use to improve its EQ, and Cook makes available a succinct selection:
  • Ask your team to experience the service they provide from a customer's perspective and to identify the feelings this experience generated
  • Encourage your team to bring in examples of best practice in customer service and those which display EQ
  • Provide training skills needed in handling difficult customer situations. Put particular emphasis on showing genuine empathy to the customer when things go wrong
  • Give feedback to your team on how they are performing - motivational feedback will develop their level of confidence and developmental feedback will help them to improve. Be prepared to listen to feedback on your own performance
  • Talk about what causes your team stress as part of your regular team meeting. Take steps to overcome causes of stress
  • Acknowledge what individuals in your team are feeling and offer them help and support

The power of praise

If there is something that creates feelings of pleasure and pride at work, this is recognition. A few words like 'Well done', 'Great idea!', 'Thank you', and "I am proud of you' can make all the difference in the day-to-day life of an employee.

Yet, our tendency is to pick up what someone has not been doing or achieved rather than successful behaviours. But, any leader can make improvements in this area if they are committed to recognise their people and Cook once again, offers some tips:
  • In the past seven days have you given someone at work some praise?
  • Was it timely and genuine?
  • Do you share praise for an employee with their co-workers where appropriate?
  • Is the recognition you use appropriate in size to the level of effort and achievement?
  • Do you encourage peer to recognise one another?
  • Do you recognise employees for developing new ideas or showing initiative?
Conclusions

Increasingly businesses are realising that the culture of their organisation is particularly relevant when it comes to deliver an exceptional customer experience. However, the challenge for many companies is how to work on their existing culture(s) to change behaviours and practices.

It is refreshing to read Leading the Customer Experience, a manual that not only helps you to reflect on the culture you are currently operating but also to take concrete actions. As Cook puts it: "if you don't understand and manage culture, it will manage you."

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This article originally appeared on simply-communicate

Sunday, 6 September 2015

Hired me - goodbye to the traditional job description

"We all have read articles about the traditional job description being dead - that is because it is a 'wish list' of the perfect candidate. In reality, no one has all those skills, which puts many people off applying for jobs, resulting in companies missing out on the best talent."

Sophie Adelman (pictured right) is UK General Manager at Hired, an innovative online platform for tech and sales talent that is turning the conventional approach to hiring on its head. This fast growing tech company was born in 2012 to support the job search of top technical talent, such as, data scientists, product managers, engineers and designers, by creating a marketplace approach to recruiting.

But the success of the business so far and its ambition and mission to help millions of people across the world find the job they love is positioning Hired to serve many other industries in the not too distant future.

I wanted to speak with Adelman to explore how Hired is enabling people to discover new opportunities in a transparent way. In this interview, she talks about how to improve the communication process between companies and candidates, what the latest trends in technology are, the differences between the UK and the US hiring markets, and how the Hired.com online platform can help hiring challenges for the company in the global talent market. In addition, Sophie discusses how Hired itself is approaching their internal communications as they continue to grow.

Gloria Lombardi: How was Hired born? 

Sophie Adelman: Three years ago our founders Matt Mickiewicz, Douglas Feirstein and Allan Grant met at a conference in Dublin. They were all serial entrepreneurs and they started to talk about how they felt the recruitment system was broken. Before Hired, people generally found a job either through their friends or through recruitment agencies. For candidates, the challenge with working with some recruitment agencies is they tend to work for their clients - companies come to them saying 'We have to fill this role', and then recruiters will go out to find candidates.

Hired was set up to turn this model on its head, by instead focusing on the candidate experience first and foremost. The idea was to get candidates onto the platform by giving them an outstanding experience and enabling them to discover opportunities that would interest them and create a marketplace approach to recruiting.

We started in San Francisco; then we launched in 12 markets in the US including New York, Boston, Chicago and DC. We launched officially in the UK in March this year and things have been going amazingly well since then with over 300 companies using us here already.

GL: How does the Hired platform work? 

SA: A good analogy to explain how Hired works is online dating, a curated Match.com for recruiting. 
 Candidates apply to be on the platform by uploading their own profiles. Hired then curates these candidates for quality - we only allow the top 5-7% of candidates onto the platform so companies only see the top talent. If we aren’t sure about their technical ability, we send them a technical coding test to complete. We then pair every candidate with someone internally called a Talent Advocate who helps the candidate prepare for their Hired experience and coaches them on what they want to do next and how to best present themselves. The Talent Advocate can also decide if a candidate has the right intent to interview with employers. It is this combination of quality curation and intent vetting that makes the Hired process so powerful.

Once people get through the curation process they go live on the platform on a weekly basis, depending on their availability. Companies can log-in and see all the candidates who are available from across the US, Canada, UK and Europe – these are all the people who are looking for an opportunity today. They can filter by their needs in terms of experience and location.

Candidates give lots of information about what they are looking for in terms of role, location, size of company, industry and salary. Companies can make interview requests and all conversations take place directly between company and candidate via the platform. Once the company has made an interview request, candidates can see the profile of the organisation and decide whether they want to decline or accept the interview request. Because there is so much transparency and alignment between companies and candidates in this process, the interview acceptance rate is over 50%!

The platform is not a database. Hired is a marketplace platform - you can go there and search for people profiles of candidates who are interested in engaging in new opportunities; on LinkedIn you have no idea whether that person is interested in looking for a new job or even interested in your company. All candidates on Hired are in the process of looking for a new job at any moment in time - companies can look at their profiles and say, 'Oh, that person looks perfect for the job that we are looking to fill'

GL: How does the communication happen between candidates and companies? 

SA: We try to create transparency and alignment upfront between companies and candidates. When companies make an interview request they have to fill out some information about the role and the organisation, but importantly they can submit a personal messages to that candidate. We try to coach organisations to make their messages as personal as possible, such as describing why that person might find it exciting to work with them and why the candidate looks like a great fit for the role. In fact, we have found that the more tailored the message the better in terms of response rate from candidates.

At the same time, each organisation has a company profile page, which is not a repetition of the company's career page; instead, it is an opportunity to brand themselves and reveal a little more about their corporate culture, working environment, perks and benefits to interested and engaged candidates.

GL: It is an interesting and refreshing approach to hiring, which tells a lot about the new world of work. Before it used to be the candidate who was trying to create the perfect CV to send to companies; now business need to put resources and think carefully about how they address their own 'profile' to attract the best talent.

SA: You’ve got it exactly! We have all read articles about the traditional job description being dead - that is because it is a 'wish list' of the perfect candidate. In reality, no one has all those skills, which puts many people off applying for jobs, resulting in companies missing out on the best talent."

On Hired, it is quite the opposite, you’ll often hear us guiding clients and saying 'You need to sell yourself to the candidate'.

GL: Are the companies who apply to Hired just technology companies? Nowadays, technology is everywhere; I cannot think of any industry not being impacted by it in one way or another. Many businesses that are not necessarily classified as a technology company need great technical talent. I was recently talking with a financial institution that told me, 'We are thinking of ourselves as a technology company as much as a bank'.

SA: Any type of organisation can apply to Hired. In fact, a variety of businesses are in need of great technical talent including finance, retail and fashion. In the UK we have currently over 300 companies using us - they range from the tiny start-up to large companies like the Financial Times, Just Eat and BetFair.

GL: In terms of trends, what are the most required skills and roles?

SA: Front-end developers who work in Javascript are the most in-demand candidates in the UK right now. 

There is also high demand for programming languages, such as PHP and Ruby.

Interestingly, given that everyone says we are going mobile these days, we actually do not see that much demand for iOS and Android developers.

GL: How about machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI)?

SA: Candidates are excited about the idea of getting involved in AI and predictive algorithm machine learning. While some companies don't have that need right now, others have started to require those skillsets.

Within Hired itself we are building a data science team to innovate around predictive matching and make the marketplace more efficient.

There is a growing desire and need in this space, and I expect within one year to see an overwhelming demand. In the past it was all about collecting data; now it is all about what you do with that data.

GL: What are the biggest differences between the UK market and the US market?

SA: One of the biggest differences is salary. Recently, we ran the numbers on salaries in the UK for technical talent against all the markets in the US. On average, salaries are 20% lower in the UK, even when you account for the exchange rate; and salaries in San Francisco are 30% higher than their equivalent counterparts in London.

GL: How about investment in start-ups in the UK? 

SA: Over the last few years there has been an improvement in investing capital in UK start-ups; we have seen a plethora of early stage VCs being set up who are willing to invest in Europe. And, we have also started to see firms like Andreessen Horowitz investing in UK companies such as Transferwise and Improbable.

GL: I would like to talk about gender gap and diversity. We hear again and again about the need to bring more female talent into technology. What's your perspective?

SA: There is definitely a difference between the number of women and men in the tech space in technical roles. At present there is an imbalance. But it is not a problem of quality of the candidates – it’s just a numbers and balance issue.

Companies are really keen to hire female talent too – for example, right now we have a lady on Hired with over twenty interview requests, as she is very impressive and companies are really excited to speak to her.

Companies are not discriminating either; many of them are actually desperate to hire great female developers because they do want to add diversity into their teams. But, there is a pipeline problem in terms of female developers - there are just not as many out there.

GL: How can a platform like Hired support women?

SA: We are putting many resources into place to ensure that they have a great experience on the platform. For example, our Talent Advocates who are Hired's career coaches, help candidates going through the hiring process. The service is free for everyone and advocates are completely independent. For a female developer who might be unsure about how to position herself, this is a good opportunity to speak with someone who can give her impartial advice.

Secondly, the way the platform works puts the candidate in a position of control of their career. It is well known that when women look at a job description, they read it and say 'Gosh, I only have 50% of experience and skills for this role', whereas a man will look at it and say, 'Great, I can do 50% of that!".

On Hired candidates just need to put their profiles up and say 'This is who I am; this is what I have done; this is what I want to do'. Then, they can sit back and let the opportunity come to them. This seems to work very well for the female professionals who often tend to be more modest about their experience and competencies.

GL: Going back to Hired itself, how do you communicate internally between the San Francisco HQ and the rest of the offices?

SA: Interestingly, we have just hired a Director of Communications. We are 120 people right now - not many still, but we are in a lot of different markets. We felt it was key at this stage of our company life to bring someone who is dedicated to communications. As we continue to grow it is important to have a consistent message that can be understood in any local market. That involves a huge amount of skill: you want to ensure that the thread is the same but the way it is communicated may need to be subtly different to resonate with the local market.

Not surprisingly, we use a lot of technology to communicate internally: we are big advocates of the Slack platform; we also use Blue Jeans for video conferences and we adopt a tool called Kindly for up-voting new product ideas.

Additionally, we make use of TINYPulse to elicit employees' feelings about working for the company. You can ask questions such as, 'How happy are you at work?' and people can answer anonymously. We have found this tool very beneficial for understanding how our teams think and feel about different changes inside the organisation.

We also get together as a company twice a year in San Francisco during what we call 'mega week' to talk about what is going on in the company and plan for the future. Our founders come to visit the London office regularly too - it is important for them to see how different things are here and to spend time with the team.

GL: What's the future look like for Hired? 

SA: We are constantly innovating. We have just launched a new feature on the platform by merging the UK and the US marketplaces. So, if you are a UK company you can see US, Canadian and UK candidates. The aim is to create a global marketplace eventually.

The plan over the next three years is to expand into 50 markets in Europe, Asia, Australia and South America. We also want to launch new verticals - last December we launched the Sales vertical alongside the Technology one - finance, legal, HR and marketing amongst others!

Ultimately, the long-term plan for the next 10-15 years is to help millions of people find a job they love. That is our ultimate mission and that is what we are aiming for - everything we do as a business, all the innovations and expansions that we are implementing, are around that and about changing the industry for the better.
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This article originally appeared on simply-communicate