In our third inspirational interview of the HRD Summit series, our editorial team sat down with Natalie Brock, Director of Talent Acquisition & Employer Branding at Gympass Europe, to hear what she has to say about her challenges in talent attraction and engagement and the future of HR.
The HRD Summit is coming up on May, 22-23 in RAI Amsterdam, but you can start to get inspired by great leaders here.
Enjoy the reading!
Can you tell us a bit more about your background and what led you to your job today at your company?
I spent 7 years at a global recruitment agency based in London, mainly recruiting for big multi-national clients like Amazon, Deloitte and HSBC. Five of these seven years were spent working alongside with my friend and colleague Luke Bullen, Head of Business Development at Gympass UK. Luke had told me lots about Gympass over the months he had been there and I felt it was such a cool and innovative concept that I was keen to be a part of it. He introduced me to Pietro Carmignani, the company’s Country Manager, and I got the job! I joined as Head of People for the UK and now I am the Director of Talent Acquisition & Employer Branding for Europe.
What does Gympass represent today? For you and for the industry?
Gympass represents the changing face of corporate wellness. Our mission to defeat inactivity is bold, but powerful and I think a lot of companies are really buying into the importance of physical and mental wellbeing as well as employee engagement. Gympass gives companies a great way to care about their employee’s health and engagement by giving people access to hundreds of different types of physical activity. There are companies out there who offer a fraction of what we do – but no one has the same concept, model, breadth or global capability that we have!
What challenges is the HR department facing today?
Rapid growth, which is hugely exciting but means we are constantly changing our processes, systems and methodologies to ensure they are built to deal with the expansion of our business. My remit is talent acquisition, which has its own significant challenges as we want to attract the best people from well-known brands to come and join a scale-up organization that is not as well known because we are B2B, rather than consumer facing.
What are the HR strategies implemented to solve them?
Investing in new systems, trying to automate functions where we can, innovating processes and hiring the best people to help make that happen!
What are the major programs that you have or will launch in this context?
We recently had an HRIS roll-out, which will help us to accurately track HR data. We are also preparing to roll-out a new ATS (applicant tracking system), which has some amazing functionality that should really help us to reach the best talent in the market and also acts as a CRM and allows us to keep in contact with passive talent. Lastly, we are working on interview & unconscious bias training, to ensure all our managers are equipped to conduct the best interviews possible.
How do you evaluate your Corporate Wellness approach today?
My own personal approach? If so I am a firm believer in work-life balance and as a corporate wellness business, we need to lead from the front on that. We have very aggressive goals and we only hire people who are super passionate to hit them, but we also need to recognize that sometimes we need to take a break from work and have some downtime. Get things done and do a great job, but take time to be with your friends, play sport, have a drink and enjoy life!
Do you have a recruitment policy limited to young talents?
No, definitely not. Diversity in recruitment is something I am hugely passionate about. I am one of the original members of Gympass’ global diversity committee and I was also a committee member in my last company. Diversity isn’t just about age, but also gender, ethnicity, sexuality… the whole spectrum of what makes us different is what can help to make a business strong. There are tonnes of data which shows that more diverse businesses a more successful; have better revenues, profits and are generally more enjoyable places to work. For me, it’s about how we attract more diverse ages and groups to be interested in joining our business and that is a challenge that Talent Acquisition globally are looking to tackle.
What actions do you have in place to engage your employees?
The way I see it is that engagement is a mix of several things – being interested in what you do and finding it a (manageable!) challenge, wanting to do a good job and also enjoying spending time with the people you work with. We need to hire people into the right roles, train them and challenge them to do exciting work, offer new and exciting opportunities to people internally (not just externally) and make sure we create a positive environment to work in. We spend so many hours at work that we want to be able to build real relationships and get to know the people we work with. I’m a big fan of office events, Friday drinks, work-out sessions, quarterly parties. Spend time and get to know the people you work with, you’ll have fun :).
How do you envision the future of the HR function?
HR used to be viewed as a very separate function, that was there to “support” not add value. I think that’s changed. I think HR is key to any successful business. The most important asset any company has are its people. HR is there to hire, train, retain and look after those people – it’s a big job! I think a lot of HR admin processes will become automated through technology in the coming years – which is great for me because I am super unorganized!
What is your vision of Quality of Life at Work?
Trust that the people you have hired will do a good job – don’t worry about what they are doing all the time. Remote working, flex hours, dialing into meetings – this is the future of the workplace and allows our People time to manage their work around their lives, not the other way around. Give people belief and autonomy and they will deliver.
What advice would you give to a newcomer to the HR function?
Be prepared to juggle a lot of different things and priorities. Be adaptable and flexible too as things change, frequently!
If you liked Victoria Grzesiak’s interview and ping-pong session, you should definitely read Natalie’s!
Quality of Life: Fashion or reality?
Reality! It’s here to stay – deal with it!
Stress: Engine or Brake?
(laughs) This is a tricky one. I like to ride the wave of “good stress” and get in the zone, however, if it gets too much, slam the brakes on, ask for help, take a bit of downtime – don’t let it overwhelm you.
Home Office: Solution or Problem?
Flexible hours: for or against?
Sports at work: for or against?
For – although I think we shouldn’t force it upon people.
More about Gympass