Géraldine Kupper from PayFit UK sat down with us to tell us why prospective job candidates are invited to staff drinks as a part of their hiring process and why their annual island getaway improves employee retention. As a specialist in employment law, she expresses why she is passionate about equalising the gender pay gap and having improved tax benefits for SMEs, in the UK.
Tell me a bit about what you do in your job.
I'm the HR manager for Payfit UK and I deal with everything that's related to office management but also HR matters, contracts, hiring, recruitment are all in my role, at this stage.
You have a history of working in recruitment. Tell us a little bit about that and why you think that affects your role now?
I think when you hire the right people and especially in this startup environment, we can really change everything and make sure that we make the best from Payfit and from any company. As you know, if you hire the right people, the right talents, it will drive your company into the right place.
Is there anything interesting you can tell me about your current recruitment process within Payfit UK that might inspire some others watching today?
Obviously there's different stages during the recruitment process, the sourcing, the screening but then at the very end of our recruitment process we have what we call staff drinks or team drinks where we invite the candidate. It's very clear that it's part of our recruitment process and it gives the opportunity to them and to us basically to get to know each other, to understand if the fit will be okay for them and for us. There's also the last stage, which I feel is really great. At this stage, we have one of the founders talk to them for a short call to validate the whole recruitment process. I think that it's a very nice opportunity for candidates to understand who we are and what type of values we try to have in the company.
What's it like being a HR Manager of a HR company?
Clearly, for me, the reason why I joined Payfit, is very important. One, because I felt like I could have a footprint, some impact on HR and HR matters in general. As you know, they are all dealing with different aspects of HR so, I thought, I could have my say in it. That was really important to me, the reason why I joined.
How would you advise small to medium businesses that have just started and have a couple of employees? What could they implement in order to ensure that their staff are as happy as they can be?
I think we've realised over time that what makes a huge difference, especially for new employees, is the onboarding process. We have a very, very nice onboarding process here at Payfit and there are different steps to ensure their engagement level is very high from the first day they start. Obviously, it's making a difference compared to other companies who are not offering this and I can see that employees enjoy it, value it very much, and want it. It's one of the reasons why we have very good employee retention as well, because it's part of our culture and our process to have this very strong onboarding in place.
What would you say is the most important part of the recruitment process?
The screening obviously and making sure that you take the time to analyse each and every CV you receive is extremely important. Asking the right questions, making sure that you make people feel comfortable, that they get the opportunity to ask their questions. Reassured about things that are important today, like ‘What's your work-life balance at Payfit?’ I've had this question many times. These are not questions I would have asked ten years ago but they are coming constantly now, so it's very important to be able and to give a safe place to respond to them.
What would you say that Payfit UK do specifically to keep their staff happy?
I think it's about the employee experience. There's a lot of effort made in that sense. Not only around the onboarding process as I mentioned before, but also around making sure that employees are happy every day in the office. It's a part of our values to care about our employees and make sure that they know that we're there to listen to what they have to say, and that they can raise their voice if they want to but also making sure that they enjoy every day in the office.
Is there anything particularly you do for team building in order to ensure that your team stays a team and that everybody gets on well? Anything in particular you could advise the small to medium businesses?
Clearly we have team drinks every week, and that's simply what we put in place so it's nice at the end of the day and especially since here in the startup environment we're extremely busy. It's also recognising that we need time to to enjoy a moment where we can relax and talk about something other than work. It's important. We have Christmas parties, Christmas jumper day and we have a summer party. We also have a three day weekend. It's not a weekend, it's during the week but we go away for three days. This year we went to an island. It was the whole company so all the different teams could get a chance to meet each other. I think it's amazing but obviously it has a cost and not every company would be able to afford this, but I still think that putting a budget in place for that in the long run would be rewarding for a company because it will stimulate engagement. We see that there is increased productivity related to employee engagement in a company, it's as simple as that.
Sounds amazing, an island! That sounds absolutely incredible, can I come next time? There's a lot around at the minute, especially in the media and it's about work-life balance and how people are currently struggling with that. For you as an HR manager, is there anything that you put in place in order to help your employees have a better work-life balance?
They can enjoy one day a week working from home, so they can decide the day they want to work from home. Obviously, everybody needs to make sure that the team is aware and the manager agrees with it but that's, I think, a very good one to enjoy. I think there are a lot of companies putting this in place as well, now, because they realise it's important for their employees to be able to deal with a few things at home while still working.
So, Geraldine, as an expert in employment law, is there anything that small to medium businesses might not be aware that they should be adhering to and they currently aren't?
Yes, I think probably one of the questions that's been there since the seventies is, the gender pay gap. It's still there, unfortunately, despite all the efforts made so far, so it's clearly something that when I hear about it, when I read about it, it's still making me a bit frustrated. But there are a lot of changes, and I can clearly see working in a tech company that we attract fewer women as well. I hope this is going to change soon. It will change, I'm sure, it's just a matter of time. But I hope it also triggers things around this pay gap that I was talking about and that it will change over time and we won't be talking about it anymore.
Is there anything currently that you're aware of here in the UK, a law that you think should be changed?
Yes, I think one thing that's interesting is that there's a lot of benefits in other countries that are not taxable, where in the UK, they are most of the time. I feel that it's a bit difficult sometimes for small businesses because they have not only to pay these benefits but also to pay the taxes on the side. I believe it would be really good if the benefits were not taxable so it would be more affordable for SMEs because in the end it's only affordable for bigger businesses. I think it's a bit unfair, to be honest. So yeah, that would be a good piece. I think that would change things. I think it would stimulate some businesses to make employers go for these type of solutions so it would generate more businesses for these different benefits.
Are there any benefits in particular that you would like to have on board that might not be taxed anymore?
We have lunch benefits in place at the moment. It's lunch vouchers and, unfortunately, because it's not held as a canteen and there's a few other conditions we would need to comply with, its taxable. Whereas, if we had a canteen and could afford this, we would not be paying taxes. I think this is clearly unfair for a smaller business, but hopefully over time it will change.
So this is a question we asked quite a few people. What would you say is your secret weapon that you use in order to make your staff more productive and more positive in the workplace?
I think, especially with my role, it's talking with each and every employee I have. I defined certain moments in time when I speak with each one of them. Initially, it's probably every month, every week, even at the beginning. Every month, then every two months. It's really a moment that's very interesting for me and for them. For me, it's interesting because I can hear their concerns and where they feel that things can be improved in the office but then also for me to give them the opportunity to talk with me and to be able to understand that their voice can be heard. I'm clearly part of management, but I am like a third party who is able to talk about their concerns to the management and give them the opportunity to raise their concerns in a constructive way and also for the management to understand how we can engage someone more