Bright Network and Learnitect recently hosted a breakfast roundtable with People Ops representatives from over 40 companies including Bow and Arrow, Mumsnet, and The First Mile!

This month, our breakfast featured three panels which addressed the entire talent lifecycle. We heard from Heads of People from some of the UK’s fastest growing tech companies including Monzo, Market Invoice, and Medopad, and also heard perspectives from Notion VC, CultureAmp and YourMind.

To make sure that everyone can benefit from the fantastic insights gathered on the day, we have collated them below!


How to attract top talent:

  • Attracting talent in London to spaces outside of Shoreditch can be challenging – creative content with a strong narrative that promotes the mission of the business is one remedy
  • Communicate your culture and values clearly – creating a culture deck is the one really good way of doing this  
  • Junior intake want to feel part of somewhere with a great purpose, community, and social impact as well as more traditional benefits
  • Internal referrals really work – offer a cash incentive e.g. £1,500 once the new hire passes probation
  • Hire for diversity by extending your view beyond traditional universities – look at Sheffield / Nottingham which has high academic requirements plus a large proportion of students from lower socio-economic backgrounds (tools to support include BeApplied from the Behavioural Insights team and Contextualised application tools from UpReach)
  • Invest in little extras which people really like – guitar lessons at work; movie nights, snacks etc.

How to select top talent:

  • Notion VC use a three-part framework: (I) ‘Can they’ do the job – by matching the requirements of the Job Description?; (ii) ‘Will they’ do the job – judging by their responses to motivational questions?; (iii) ‘Do we want them’ to do to the job – because they align with your culture and values?
  • Be up front – this will minimize risk from the outset
  • Make it clear that the responsibility for the recruiting process isn’t your Talent/People team’s alone. Co-opt your hiring managers, supporting them with template questions and interview training
  • Hold technical tests for new intake early on in the hiring process (after the screening call) but hold these off until later for more senior positions, for which we recommend hosting a challenge with the leadership team i.e. on how to stage entry into America
  • The best candidates will be sought after by competitors, so be careful to design a process that keeps them warm
  • Start-ups are not for everyone, so communicate how you work clearly and manage expectations properly from the outset
  • Hiring for growth mindset means assessing the potential to excel in challenging situations as well as an ability to get on and do the ‘dog work’
  • Killer interview questions include: why are you leaving your current job?; what single task/project is your biggest accomplishment in your career to date?; is there anything we haven’t asked that you’d like to share?; what’s the most embarrassing thing that’s ever happened to you?
  • Avoid personal questions – there are better ways to assess culture fit and these could land you in hot water – people will exit the process and tell their friends to avoid the company
  • A recommended read for how to approach the search for talent is Kim Scott’s Radical Candor: Be a Kick-Ass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity  

How to retain top talent

  • Give people opportunities to do things they’re passionate about
  • Create a culture of brilliant people helping others to be brilliant
  • Growth and development opportunities should be offered in-house – people shouldn’t have to job hop to find these
  • Invest in mental health training for managers to support their people, spot problems, and be able to signpost effectively
  • Training is very important to individuals – have a blended approach of what you want to learn plus what we want you to learn
  • Be clear on regrettable vs non-regrettable attrition – some churn can be helpful
  • You have a duty of care to prepare people for the next opportunity – you can shape their ability to secure the next great opportunity and help them boss the next interview
  • Helpful tools include share options, remote working, unlimited holiday and a discretionary training budget that you can spend how you like
  • Address underperformance fast or risk losing the faith of your people in the leadership of the company and manage it carefully with those who remain – If someone’s very unhappy, do something before it spreads ie. At Monzo, the manager handles and delivers peer feedback to make confident that it has been heard and considered.
  • The first customers of any business are employees – treat them with as much care, detail and focus as you do your customers

We hope you find the information captured above useful! 


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