Interview with Alex Richenburg, our SVP of People Part 2: Plans and priorities for The People Team in 2022
The second part of our interview with our SVP of People, Alexandra Richenburg, follows the discussion on the previous year’s deliverables and outlines the People team’s plans for 2022.
What are the key areas of focus for the People team in 2022?
In our last discussion, we brought up four key themes and areas of focus for the people team in 2021 (culture, upskilling, retention and growth) and these will be carried over into our strategy this year. We want to expand and improve our employee experience to be the best possible. Over the last two years, we’ve introduced Diversity and Inclusion initiatives, supported our people through COVID and continued building a culture that supports the entire business. In 2022, we will be building on those areas further. COVID created challenges in not being able to do much face-to-face training or team events. While we now offer the whole team the flexibility to work from home, we are looking forward to carrying out in-person trainings, events and parties this year.
What can you tell us about the People team’s plans and priorities for 2022?
This year we’ll be getting more specific about our plans to make our employee experience the best it can be. When it comes to culture, managers have a huge impact. We will be doing face-to-face training with all managers in the first quarter. The input of a manager is critical, and people will often stay at a company for a great manager and have fond memories of working with them. We want to make sure that we give all our employees maximum context, fully explaining the why of decisions and managers are the key people to give their teams context. We believe that with the right context, people can have autonomy and the ability to make wise decisions. We will be focusing our manager training on giving tools to communicate well and provide maximum context. Our Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging initiatives will also continue and increase in 2022 – I know we will speak more about this, but we have also updated all our policies to have more inclusive language.
When considering retention and making our employee experience as great as possible, we constantly review our compensation practices and career paths, as well as how we onboard new team members. We continuously iterate to make improvements based on feedback from Eigenites – we survey the whole company regularly to understand how people feel, what we are doing well and what we can change or update.
There were over 60 new hires at Eigen in 2021. Is the business continuing to grow in 2022 and how will the People team support that growth?
Eigen is planning to grow in 2022 in every office location and across all departments. The People Team will also be growing with the addition of a Talent Acquisition Director to help drive our recruitment and make sure all our candidates have a great experience. It is important to me that every candidate who is in a recruitment process at Eigen is treated respectfully, fairly and efficiently, so we want every interview session they attend to give a true flavour of Eigen and demonstrate how we can help the candidate grow their career and have an amazing experience as an Eigenite!
Eigen opened an office in Lisbon in 2021. What are the hiring plans for this office?
We opened an office in Lisbon to give us a base in Southern Europe and to be able to hire some of the great software engineering talent there. We plan for the Lisbon office to grow significantly and become an Engineering hub alongside our London office thus giving us three core sites – our headquarters in New York, and significant offices in London and Lisbon.
Inclusion and equality have been high on the People team’s agenda. What initiatives are underway and why are they so important?
We have become part of multiple diversity and inclusion groups including Business in the Community (BITC) and two Portuguese organizations: the Inclusive Community Forum Inclusive Community Forum (ICF) is an initiative of Nova SBE which supports disability in the workplace and the APPDI (Portuguese Association for Diversity and Inclusion) which acknowledges, respects and appreciates the differences between people. Eigen has also signed the Race at Work Charter and Mental Health at Work commitment, and joined the Stonewall Diversity Champions Program. We have advisors from BITC and Stonewall who are reviewing our policies to make sure they are as inclusive as they can be.
We are also increasing our volunteering efforts and pro-bono activities; over the last 18 months, we have worked with Common Impact and NJ LEEP, and well as using the Eigen platform for pro-bono purposes for Extend Ventures to understand the relationship between racial background and how diverse entrepreneurs were able to access capital and growth for their companies.
We have also recently set up a Diversity & Inclusion Committee – made up of 25 people across the organization with a budget to support employee-led initiatives and make recommendations back to the organization on things we can do better.
It is appraisal season. What are your top tips for managers running an effective and fair performance review process?
My top tip is for managers is to get feedback from as many places as possible, to ask peers who that person has worked with closely and think carefully over the entire year going back to performance notes they have made across the year. When it comes to appraisal, you are not just judging the last month, but you are judging the last 12 months in our case, and it is important to consider the feedback points to make a fair assessment.
In case you missed it, read part one of our interview here which takes a retrospective look at the People Team’s contributions in 2021. If you are interested in joining Eigen, browse our careers page for current vacancies.