Talking Talent: Ready, Set, GROW!
This time, Talking Talent was hosted in the sporty environment of Urban Sports Club’s office. We invited 8fit, USC, and BEAT81 on stage to discuss how fit-tech companies attract talent and how important their mission is in doing so.
How does Urban Sports Club attract talent?
Andrew Levens, Head of Recruiting at Urban Sports Club, kicked off the evening. USC started out bootstrapped and raised funding over the years. Their challenge is finding the right talent strategy in a time of hyper-growth. How to keep it authentic, make it reflect how it is to work for USC but let it also meet the business needs.
'You can go out there and share your mission with the world, but if it does not tie in with your business needs, are you necessarily attracting the right people to your organisation?'
USC’s mission is ‘to inspire people to lead a healthy and active life’ — from there, the recruitment mission grew:
‘We build a healthy and engaged organisation, and give people the best work of their lives. We make sure it is a match on both sides, both for the business as for the people coming on board. This translated to our employer branding initiatives that take the mission to disseminate this across multiple channels: employer content, recruiting event, social media, multi-advertising, and so on. This is what the potential candidates interact with. But it is as important for our team to stay close to the business and include those needs in the strategy.’
How the mission reflects into recruiting efforts and vice versa
Next, if you want to be a mission-driven organisation, it is crucial that everyone is involved in it to keep the message authentic. USC has a bottom-up approach, with the rest of the company, so employees sharing the job openings. It should be coming from the whole team — as it is easy for the recruiting team, or any recruiters in general, to say this is our company mission and this is what we believe in, and then none of the company shares that. So for USC, any touchpoint that they have on the frontend ensures to be aligned with the mission. For example, PR works closely together with recruiting: whenever the founders are interviewed, they state we are hiring and mention the roles we are hiring for.
'Is USC the right fit for you? That is the question the recruiting department needs to answer in attracting talent, their strategy and the crafting of the employer brand. When the candidate is interacting with any of your recruiting efforts, they should find the answer to this question in the most authentic and real way, that also meets your business needs.'
Do you need to be fit to work in fit-tech?
Do you have to be fit to come work at USC? They have our disclaimer on our jobs, that it specifically points out sports preferences and body sizes. For them, it is important that anyone who comes to USC it not just about being fit, or just using the service, but to believe in the whole mission. Culture interview is most important — although it is also the most subjective interview there is. So they make sure it does not matter who you are, what you look like, or what your body looks like, or how you approach sports, you are absolutely welcome at USC — as long as you believe in that mission of living an active and healthy life.
Three different mindsets in your employees: Hands-on Builder, Growth Accelerator, Professionalisation
Currently, in hiring, the key challenge is more about the way employees want to work. Whenever an organisation grows, it ends up with 3 different mindsets:
- The Hands-on Builders — a lot of people that are hands-on, that do a little bit of everything, no role definition, get products off the ground, and out to the market.
- The Growth Accelerators (as you get a bit bigger) — the focus on growing your customer base, growing your people, growing your product. They want to get on it ASAP.
- The Professionalisation (after a little while) — they will focus on sophisticating your company, sophistication your systems and your output, making you more professional, and making your profitability higher.
All of these start to clash. The Hands-on Builder gets frustrated with the Growth Accelerator, as they want everybody to take an area of expertise. Furthermore, the Growth Accelerator gets frustrated with the Professionaliser, as they want to slow down in the interest of policy. And finally, the Profesionaliser gets frustrated with the Hands-on Builder, as they still want to do a bit of everything. Spoiler alert: USC still has not figured out how to solve this. The only thing they do at the moment is focussing on hiring only for the Growth Accelerator and the Profesionaliser — as they need to accelerate their growth across all markets, while sophisticating and building a profitable company. This comes back in our recruiting efforts, as you will see the words growth and professionalisation a lot.
How does BEAT81 attract talent?
Our second speaker, Tim Dettmann is the Founder of BEAT81. He speaks from a founder perspective while building out his early-stage startup. They are a tech company, that wants to connect people offline. They are now 40 people, and half of it is product- and tech-related.
First of all, he advises staying as long as you can without money and as long as you can without people. They started out with Tim giving a class in the park and trying to answer the question on what kind of problems people have, that come to this class. How can BEAT81 solve these problems? The answer came into one of their values: caring.
‘The problems customers face are beyond fitness but could relate to a mother that is sick or a dog that died. Caring for your users and making them feel great and special. Within a normal fitness environment, you are just a number, nobody calls you by your name. We want to emphasise the hospitality aspect and call them by their name. This then translates into their inner culture, caring for the coaches they hire and the classes they give automatically attracts people. E.g. our first developer — developed the front-end for free — as she was super interested to become a coach and second of all to develop her fitness habits.’
So how did Tim attract the first talent? He was a coach and just talking to people — in a park in Berlin. 30-35% of people are still hired from our work out. Second of all, they created a useful hack on the website. As they put a button with Check Job Openings on the class signup page.
How does 8fit attract talent?
The third speaker, Lisette Fabian, Co-CEO of 8fit, shared her experiences of how to attract and retain talent when the company was at a pivoting stage. She leads a team of 8fitters, that live and breath their values and is really passionate about our product. Their mission states: 'To transform the concept of fitness from the pursuit of perfection to a liberating journey of healthy, body-positive and lasting changes' — they share this through their messaging and as society changes, this translates into their product — to lower the barriers to exercise.
Start with answering these questions: Look at the current team and see “what is the role that we are looking for?” And beyond the role, “what is the criteria for the next hire. How do they fit into the team? What skills do they contribute? How do we work with recruiting to develop a hiring strategy? How are we messaging this? What does the JD entail? How do we make sure its voiced in a way, so we attract the most diverse talent?” Next to sourcing and posting, referrals work really well. 8fit used a bottom-up approach to evolve and refine their mission, this made sure that the whole team felt aligned and 8fitters shared with the world how amazing the company is to work for.
In the interview process, it is important to show your organisation. For example, we are very cross-functional, so structure our interview process in that way as well, making sure that people from different disciplines take part. Next to that, 8fit creates a social space, so the interviewee can learn about their team in a more relaxed setting (lunch or coffee).
The whole of your communication is important, share your mission internally and externally. Focus on flexible working environments, host team events, set strong Northstar metrics, and inform the whole team about projects and development. Next to that, a personal plan is important, where feedback plays a big part.
'For 8fit the feedback culture is very important, internally, but also from our customers. The value and attention we give to creating our product, we also give to our people (a combination of workflows and the right tools).'
We ended the evening with a panel and Q&A
Here, we discussed how you can find out if somebody is bought into the mission or not. Hiring for culture and mission is subjective and Andrew stated: 'You will get about 80% of your hiring right — and that is fine'. Combine data with gut feeling to get the right talent on board. Another question was how to stand out as talent and all speakers agreed to do something different (e.g. going to events), contact employees directly and stand out in your application. Even take it that far to go directly to the founders, find something that adds value to their life and work and start the conversation.
Keep an eye out for our next event by following our Eventbrite page.