All-In Recruitment is a podcast by Manatal focusing on all things related to the recruitment industry’s missions and trends. Join us in our weekly conversations with leaders in the recruitment space and learn their best practices to transform the way you hire.
This transcript has been edited for clarity.
Lydia: Welcome to the All-In Recruitment podcast by Manatal, where we explore best practices, learnings, and trends with leaders in the recruitment space. If you like our content, please subscribe to our channels on YouTube and Spotify to stay tuned for our weekly episodes. My name is Lydia, and with us today is Vanessa Ferris of Moove.
Hi, Vanessa, thank you for joining us today.
Vanessa: Hi, Lydia. Thanks so much for having me.
Vaneesa’s Moove from Agency to In-House
Lydia: So, Vanessa, tell us a little bit about your role in Moove. I understand that you’re heading both internal comms and the employer branding function. What does it take to bring the two together?
Vanessa: I joined Moove almost a year ago and originally joined in an employer branding capacity, heading up an employer brand. I actually knew someone at Moove before I joined. He used to be a client of mine when I worked on an agency side. So, I’d worked with him before. And he told me about the journey that Moove was on, which sounded really exciting. We were very rapidly scaling at the time. So, I came in to focus primarily on employer branding. And between us, we built a really robust onboarding plan for me.
So, I was very fortunate, I was able to speak to both the CEO and the founder of Moove on my first day, and then over the next couple of weeks, got to speak to over 50 people at all levels of the organization or the leaders. And that was a great opportunity. Just to explain what employer branding is, because not everyone knows. And just to hear about what their challenges were and then sort of offer up what how do you think that can help.
And that led to a whole host of initiatives off the back of it, really. So, helping the recruitment team with resources, helping other team members with finding up-to-date information, and making sure we’ve got consistency around how we describe Moove, and which markets we’re in. We were constantly having to update information online on social media, and things. So I was just making sure that everything was consistent there.
As part of that, I was able to provide quite a lot of feedback to both the CEO and the founder. And the leaders as well, sort of say, ‘I’ve spoken to loads of people. This is what I’m hearing, this is what people’s feedback.’ And originally that was through the lens of the employer brand.
But over time, I think they saw the value in, well, this is also stuff that we should be looking at from an internal comms perspective as well. So, when my colleague went on maternity leave, I also took care of the internal comms team as part of my role together.
So it was quite organic, really, the two coming together. But more and more, I’m seeing the value of employer brand and internal comms working very closely together. I’m now actually sitting in the office of the CEO and working much more closely with the Chief of Staff and the CEO as well.
Lydia: So do you work with the talent acquisition team or with HR in any capacity?
Vanessa: I was originally part of the people team. And I think, maybe spiritually, I am still part of the people team. We attend all of the people team meetings, we’re very active on the people team’s Slack channel. We are very much working very closely with them all the time because a lot of internal comms is through the lens of the people team.
So, when we’re doing more recruitment activities, we’re working with the recruiters. And when we’re working on more internal comms initiatives, it’s working with the people, partners, and the transformation team. But one of the aspects and elements that I think sits nicely between the two is things like our policies. So we’ve obviously got, what the policy is, which is great from an attraction perspective, or from an engagement perspective, but also how we communicate it, as well. So are people aware of the policies? Are they worded in a way that people understand, especially from a global team as well? Are we being really clear about what the nuances are per market? That’s where I think employer brand by position and comms work really closely together.
Navigating the Competitive FinTech Landscape
Lydia: Moove is in a very competitive space, right? It's in the FinTech industry as I understand it. So, what's your approach towards employer branding that sets the company apart from others in this space?
Vanessa: It’s very challenging. We are on a journey to become a FinTech organization. But the reality of the business today is we have a very large operations department and big country operation teams. What that means is that our competitors for talent aren’t exclusively FinTech. So, they will be for some roles. But because of the country-level operations, we also need fleet managers, security, local marketing, and lots of different roles like lawyers and accountants.
So while we do have to compete against FinTech, we’re also competing against a whole host of other organizations as well. Both on a global level and on a local level.
But for me, what it comes down to is impact. We are an impact-driven business. We were born out of a need to democratize access to vehicles for mobility entrepreneurs, which started in Nigeria, scaled across Sub-Saharan Africa, and now global as well.
So, the impact that we have, or are able to have on our customers is massive. Primarily, it’s about financial inclusion and sustainable job creation, we’ve created over 8000 jobs for our customers.
Lydia: Across how long was that? 8000 jobs and in terms of growth of the company?
Vanessa: That statistic was from our most recent impact report in March, but we’ll be developing beyond that. I’m sure it’s at a higher number now. The impact on those customers’ families is massive, as well. And we’re talking about sustainable job creation. So, we have the financial inclusion aspect, but we also have gender inclusion as one of our impact goals as well. We’re doing lots of work around that. We also have a focus on green energy. We have electric vehicles in our fleet. So, that’s just another way that we are developing impact as an organization.
And then the other side of the coin is the impact on your career. So, working in a scale-up startup environment is very fast-paced. But, in terms of the skills exposure, different things that you can work on are just massive, as illustrated by the fact I joined an employer brand now doing sort of internal comms as well. There’s just a massive opportunity.
And every time we have a new challenge and some problem that we need to solve, it’s not a case that we go, “Okay, who do we go to? Who’s got the process or the template?” Because quite often, you’re starting from scratch. And what that means is you just get a group of people together, and we say, “This is the challenge we’ve got. Who do we think we need to involve in fixing this problem? What ideas do we have?” And then we’ll just work together to try and come up with the best solution.
And for me, that’s massive because you don’t think, “Oh, I’m not going to contribute my opinion or my idea,” because we’re all just figuring it out as you go along. And everyone’s opinion, everyone’s idea is valid. So, it’s a massive impact on the customer but also can be a huge impact on your career as well.
Lydia: That’s interesting that you say, in a fast-paced environment, you’re also sort of organically tweaking your strategy as you go along. There’s no one set strategy in terms of employer branding when the identity itself changes. And to get these kinds of input from the different people that you’re talking about, different stakeholders, right? Is it a challenge to keep this on the priority list? Does it become a sort of challenge to get this person’s time, for instance, to contribute to this effort?
Vanessa: So, I always think that employer brand professionals and comms professionals, we have so many different skills and so many different things that we can offer to an organization whether it’s research, focus groups, analysis, or comms strategy. I see my role as always flexing that to what the business needs at that time.
If we’re going through a transformation, where there’s lots of change, and we need to be communicating really transparently with people, we need to be making sure that people know what kind of expected of them or what’s coming up. It’s not the right time for me to be banging the drum saying, “Can I have investment to do a careers website or an employer advocacy program?” My role there is to be doing listening sessions, sharing feedback, and sharing communications. So, I think that if you’re struggling to get attention on something, then you’re probably focusing on the wrong things for the organization.
Shifting the Dial with Pulse Surveys
Lydia: So, Vanessa, employee branding is what you're heading up right now, it goes beyond just attracting new talent, right? It's also about retaining existing employees. So how do you align your branding efforts with a positive employee experience?
Vanessa: Before joining Moove, I was [on the] agency side. And when you’re developing an employer brand, or doing a brand strategy from that external perspective, you’re quite often looking at, “Okay, what’s in place? What are the current benefits? What’s the current proposition?” And you’re effectively communicating, that sort of nuancing that to an audience.
Now that I’m in-house and looking at it from the inside, my focus is very much on well, “How do we develop an employee value proposition that is both attractive to our external candidates but also helps us retain the people we want to retain and encourage the right behaviors?”
So, I’m seeing it very much as a listening role, and sharing the feedback and what’s on the minds of employees and sharing that with the office of the CEO. When we’re making business decisions, when we’re designing strategies, when we’re making changes, or launching new policies, I’m able to be that advocate and that ambassador for what employees need, and also how that will impact our employer brand and our reputation as well.
So very much, it’s about having that focus on what our external audience needs, but also always being that champion voice for the internal audience as well.
And I think what’s so powerful about doing listening sessions, making sure that we’re having check-ins with leaders as well, is not just the benefit that has for the organization and for our leaders, and for myself when it comes to decision making, but also to provide that opportunity for people to just feel heard, really.
Especially when we’re a global organization, we’ve got a mix of operations roles, which are typically in the office versus some sort of individual contributor role, which might be remote. Having those kinds of listening opportunities, regular town halls, and that sort of regular cadence of communication is how we help develop that proposition on an ongoing basis.
Lydia: Developing an employer brand strategy and brand identity itself can be a lengthy process. It’s an ongoing process, in fact, right? And also executing that and ensuring that your internal audience constantly has the feedback channels in order for you to continuously improve your employer brand.
That also leads you to be able to look into how you measure the success of this employer branding campaign or strategy, right? So, how do you go about measuring the success of your employer branding strategy?
Vanessa: I think this one very much depends on how sophisticated you are as an organization in terms of your tech and HR processes. I mean, personally, from my experience, I like to have a dashboard or a Google Sheet where I just populate based on the information that is available to me. So that might be things like Glassdoor scores, including the various different ratings on inclusion or culture or work-life balance, but also things such as the CEO approval rating, or recommending a friend, which I really like.
Things like the approval rating and things that as an employer brand, or internal comms professional, that you can shift the dial on because you’re communicating, you’re providing that feedback, you’re making leadership more visible.
I think the challenge with some of the more traditional recruitment metrics, such as time to hire and quality of hire, these things are influenced by so many different factors like, “Did the interviewer turn up on time had they looked at your CV beforehand?” And sometimes I think it can be a bit, maybe unfair, perhaps that employer brand would get blamed for a score decreasing or staying the same because they can influence but they ultimately can’t control.
So, what I tend to do is just do lots of pulse surveys. Whenever I’m doing transformation work from an internal comms perspective, such as recently redesigning our internal tech calls, or one of our internal calls, I do a survey beforehand, ask people what they thought of the format, the slides the content, the duration, asked for their feedback, their recommendations, make changes, and then go back out to that same group and ask them the exact same set of questions. And for me, that’s really rewarding to see how you’ve shifted the dial so quickly on how engaging something is or how it’s helped people understand the content. So yeah, big fan of pulse surveys.
Lydia: Pulse survey is definitely, and what’s the interval that you prefer between these surveys?
Vanessa: I’ll tend to do a survey rather than do it quarterly or periodically, it’s about a transformation project. So for example, our next focus on the team is our company newsletter, which goes out every month. It’s got loads of great information on it, updates on our markets, what people have been up to socially in each market, lots of photos, announcements of weddings and babies, and who’s listening to what books and podcasts. There’s just loads of information in it. And what we want to understand is, what’s the information that’s most beneficial to people? What do they look forward to seeing? What do they enjoy seeing? And then to gather their feedback.
For example, if they really like a section, but actually they’d rather like us to communicate it via Slack or in a different format, what’s their recommendation there? And also a bit of a call out for people if you want to contribute as well. So we have our monthly “Meet the Mover” profile. We’ll feature that in our newsletter, and then we’ll also flip that to the external employer brand content as well.
We’ll get all of this feedback and make changes to the newsletter based on it. Then we’ll do the exact same survey again, and look to compare the difference between the two.
The Power of Employee Advocacy
Lydia: I think it’s great that you have these different surveys and also feedback on the newsletter to be able to inform how you should disperse that information and what channels and what platforms you use, right? I think that it’s great, that it happens internally that way.
Now, employee advocacy is definitely a go-to, in terms of amplifying your employer brand organically. So how do you encourage employees to become brand advocates and maybe share their positive experiences not only internally, but also externally?
Vanessa: I love brand advocacy and employee advocacy, and certainly when I was on an agency side, this was something that I’d worked very closely with my clients in order to encourage. And I think quite often, it can be easier if you’ve got a big multinational company with tens of thousands of employees, because I always recommend, rather than starting from scratch and asking people who have never posted before, to all of a sudden become content creators and writers. Even if you design a really good training program, it’s not something that people will find comes to them naturally or easily, it will be part of their habit.
So, I always think it’s better to first identify who’s doing that already. And that’s quite easy to do from a LinkedIn search or an Instagram search. And we’ve got some Moovers who are already writing great articles on LinkedIn. So, one of our marketing managers, for example, she went to a conference and wrote her learnings on a LinkedIn post and how this applies to her role at Moove. And so for me, it’s okay that someone who would be a great person to engage maybe incentivize, maybe bring it into their objectives or targets to create more content for me because they’re already doing a really good job.
And we’re not there yet with Moove. It’s certainly on our agenda, and I work very closely with my counterpart in external comms and marketing. And what we’re doing next actually is some internal and external comms workshops with our colleagues. So, we’re going to be asking them to be brutally honest about our internal and external content, channels, and formats, and help use them to help us build a really effective internal and external comms strategy.
What we’re hoping to do, as part of that is to identify some external spokespeople that we can start using and amplifying the voice of our colleagues more, whether that’s at conferences or podcasts such as this or writing blogs, that rather than just telling people that you can come on work at Moove and work with really inspiring or bright people that were actually just providing that platform and an opportunity to show rather than tell.
Lydia: Collaboration with other departments is definitely crucial, especially for these two functions, internal comms, and also employer branding. So, how do you ensure this alignment leads to an extent between your teams and other areas of the organization?
Vanessa: I think it quite simply comes down to building a relationship and trusting each other. And also, it’s a small organization relative to some of the organizations I supported in my agency days. And so, it’s small enough to be able to know everyone in the marketing department or the marketing managers to know everyone in the people team.
And what’s really important for me, is to just build that trust with people so that I will see things that I think would be useful for Sarah in external comms, to see or have visibility of, so I’ll quickly text her or message her and say, “You know, FYI, I’ve seen this. Or, FYI, I’ve heard this.’ And she’ll do the same for me. For example, if she’s speaking to someone, and they’ve shared feedback, which was, or have we thought about communicating there, so we should talk more about this, she can come to me and say, “Have you considered this? Just want to give you a heads up,” and always sort of looking out for each other and building that trust and building that relationship.
I think it is the best way to collaborate. And also, we’re very small teams and we quite often have to wear different hats and cover for each other. If people go on leave, and it’s down, wherever possible, just over-communicating what we’re doing, always looking out for each other.
Just make sure that we’re always leveraging each other’s experience and knowledge, whether that’s in the people team or marketing team or comms team.
The Ongoing Journey
Lydia: Now, this may not be directly linked to you, because we're going to talk about recruitment technology. But what would you say is the impact of recruitment technology, like, perhaps an Applicant Tracking System or any other tool out there, especially with AI these days, when it comes to attracting the right talent? And what might be some benefits that you see?
Vanessa: So, just thinking back to some of the things that we’ve already discussed. The data side of things can be really powerful if you’ve got effective technology in recruitment. And also just looking at how you make processes more efficient. You’re not reinventing the wheel the whole time. For example, we’re doing a big project at the moment where we’re looking at standardizing job descriptions and job templates. That’s a very manual process at the moment, but if you have an ATS system, or HR technology, which can help hiring managers build that themselves, that’s a great win in terms of efficiency.
But then just sort of more widely and more generally, as a candidate experience. The quicker you can get back to people, the quicker a candidate can find out about the status of the application or what’s going to happen next, or who to reach out to anything you can do to improve that increases how a candidate will perceive your organization. And I think it’s really important for tech organizations. The more tech that you’re able to demonstrate and show to candidates throughout the process, you’re just building that credibility.
So, I think there’s definitely a huge number of benefits to recruitment technology if deployed correctly.
Lydia: Which then spills over to employer brand and then spills back into internal comms and then the whole thing becomes as ideal as we'd like it to be.
Vanessa: Yes, the job’s never done. All you can do is look at what needs the most attention now and focus on that.
Lydia: Data is a huge, and actually mandatory these days, to be able to make those decisions in fast-moving industries such as tech, right? There’s really no space to stall when it comes to tweaking strategies, etc. You’ve shared a lot today, Vanessa, about your own transition into in-house building two functions and sort of just going with the flow like that. So, what advice would you give someone starting out in employer branding today?
Vanessa: I think, similar to what I said earlier about the skill set of employer brand professionals, it’s just about making sure you get involved with lots of different things. So we do, as a profession, have these skill sets with analysis and research and facilitation, as I mentioned earlier. Just always be looking for opportunities to use those skills or develop those skills, even if it doesn’t immediately seem relevant to employer branding.
Today, the role of an employer brand professional is to know as much as possible about how the organization works, what the different departments do, and why someone in finance should come and work for your organization. So, if you’re able to expose yourself to a finance workshop, or a people workshop, or a marketing workshop, even if you’re not up to speed with subject matter expertise, if you’re able to practice that and act both analysis skills and facilitation skills, that’s going to pay dividends in terms of your career development and learning those skills. But you’re also going to learn more about the business that you are championing as well.
So, just keep getting involved in random things, keep volunteering to be part of things, whether that’s an employee network or volunteering within the organization as well. And just positioning yourself as a useful person, I think you’ll find that opportunities will come to you. And then you’ll just continually be learning more about the business and developing skills as you go.
Lydia: Well, thank you very much, Vanessa, for your time and your insights. I think it’s an exciting journey that you’ve had over the past year with Moove, building different functions and looking into where the business is going, meeting the people as well as the brand that’s out there for an employee. I’m sure someone from the audience will want to find out more, or maybe take the conversation a little further with you. So, where can they find you?
Vanessa: Feel free to reach out on LinkedIn. I'm happy to speak to anyone who’s either starting in the employer branding space, or anyone who's working on employer brand and internal comms and startups as well. I’m happy to answer any questions
Lydia: And we have been in conversation with Vanessa Ferris of Moove. Thank you for joining us this week. Remember to subscribe and stay tuned for more weekly episodes of All-In Recruitment.