4 Ways we Aspire to Next-Gen HR

Interview with Estelle Roux, Global Head People Operations

There is a real shift in focus happening in more forward thinking HR departments globally.

It isn’t just about Silicon Valley’s Tech companies with their extravagant perks – though Panda Fridays, free on-site acupuncture and life coaching don’t sound half bad! This shift if not just about the benefits on offer to employees, but also the "why" behind the business and the benefits of joining. This represents a new way of thinking about the people who make up a company and how to unify, inspire and engage them.

It’s about engaging the whole person, not just their corporate side.

Inspired by a recent article posted on the Greenhouse blog about the huge success of Rapid7, I’ve been speaking to Estelle Roux, Head of People Operations at Cloudreach, about her own approach to growing a successful and happy workforce.

There are some baseline differences between more traditional HR departments and People teams.

"At Cloudreach, our people are not resources," says Estelle ,"We hire smart individuals who all contribute to our business in one way or another. The People Operations department works very closely with the business to create much more of a partner approach to people acquisition, management and development".

The People Operations team has changed dramatically since Estelle joined Cloudreach at the end of 2011. Back then, the main function of the team, as with any fast growth company, was recruitment. One of Estelle’s key goals was to design a new People function that would meet the needs of a rapidly growing business. The structure of the new People Operations team reflects the four key areas that Estelle knew would play a key role in the growth of Cloudreach as an organisation.

"Recruitment was a clear one, since it’s vital for our growth". Cloudreach recruiters are more like business partners to the hiring managers, they are firstly business focussed, often technically certified in their area, and completely aligned to a specific vertical which they get to know extremely well. They feel like they are really part of that team they’re recruiting for, and they have total visibility over the needs of that region. If a recruiter is finding somebody for their own team, then it becomes about something more than just the candidate’s technical skills, but also about if that person is somebody that would gel with the team.

"The Engagement Leads at Cloudreach work very closely with our line managers. It’s really important to me that all Cloudreach employees feel cared for, and can contribute to achieving our mission." Employee engagement is the extent to which employees feel passionate about their jobs, are committed to the organisation, and put discretionary effort into their work. The Engagement team goes out of their way to achieve this. The Engagement team is entirely separate to the Talent team, because embedding people into Cloudreach and our unique culture is a role in itself! Estelle thought it was really important that this next stage was concrete, carefully designed, and as automated as possible. Changing jobs is always an upheaval, so it was vital to make this process as smooth and welcoming as possible.

"Growth and Development is very close to my heart. If, as a business, you invest in someone’s future, I’ve found they are usually far more engaged and return this gesture with commitment and passion." Cloudreach runs a two day training program to help new Cloudsters understand our business model as a whole – how each Business Unit operates and how they contribute to the bigger picture. "We call this Roots which, for me, is about getting firming embedded into the mission and culture." Through our Cloudy Uni, there is a vast array of training courses available (from soft skills to leadership training, and many more), as well as a company Udemy account and, if what you’re looking for isn’t there, you can just ask.

The fourth and final team within People Operations is the Branding team. Here we enable our People Ops teams to do the best job possible by giving them the tools, products and voice they need. We develop and manage a distinctive and consistent ‘Cloudreach People’ voice which engages with potential candidates and differentiates us from our competition. This team aims to give snapshots of life inside Cloudreach and what it is really like to be part of the Cloudy Family!

Each team is also aligned with one of the four Cloudreach Values: be one step ahead, respect the individual, promote personal growth, and be easy to work with. This helps keep all teams unified and aligned with the Cloudreach culture.

Supporting this new structure is a new set of benefits and collaboration tools.

"As part of my 2015 People Strategy, I wanted to take a few small risks on some employees benefits we offered. Our uncapped holiday policy is a key one for me. It’s about more than vacation. It’s about allowing people to take the time they need to recharge. We all know that "life happens" and with a very busy work-life it is sometimes extra hard to juggle things and often family life suffers. Most people never switch off and we have smart phones and all sorts of things to keep us connected. Why not give people the freedom to manage their time off in a smart and positive way. Healthy, happy people make happy, healthy working environments for all! I think it’s also the mature thing to do to let people manage their own time."

In terms of tools, Cloudreach uses Greenhouse.io for Talent Management and automated on-boarding, PeopleHR as an HRIS, TalentLMS as our Cloudy Uni L&D portal, and are now on the lookout for a new tool to help with Branding! All these platforms also integrate with each other, so that each team has visibility and can stay connected as the department grows, providing a cohesive and engaging experience for employees.

The results of these initiatives speak for themselves. "I’ve been blown away by the positive feedback externally on our people processes. We are particularly proud of our Glassdoor reviews, since that’s totally anonymous feedback that we can’t alter or control".

The journey the People Operations team has been on since 2011 has been particularly evident for Estelle at the yearly company Kick Off , going from a handful of people in a small meeting room in Lisbon to a massive auditorium in Majorca last year.

The next big challenge for Estelle is the graduate program. "The extension of our Cloudy Uni is our new Cloudy Campus where we run the Cloudreach Graduate Program. Good grads are like gold dust! We want to allow them to extend on their education in a way that goes beyond theory, and quickly! Giving them the tools and opportunity to start a truly rewarding career at Cloudreach is my next key goal".


Estelle’s top tip for building a successful People Operations team?

"Remember the why, always! Why does the business exist? And what do they want to achieve? You should link your people strategy very closely to these business goals to ensure a joined up approach between Founders and People Operations."


Follow us on TwitterFacebook and LinkedIn to learn more about careers and culture @Cloudreach. It’s not your average job, because Cloudreach is not your average company. Keep It Cloudy!