Yesterday we hosted our first ever Berlin HR breakfast, in the funky yellow event space at Space Shack Co-Working.

We looked at how People and Talent teams manage company culture and values during periods of growth, and there was one clear takeaway that arose from the discussion:

Culture can change as organisations scale. And that’s OK! The important thing is to keep checking in with both existing and new employees, ensuring your people initiatives are giving them what they need. Unsurprisingly, tech plays a key role here! 

The panel was moderated by Ayse Semiz-Ewald, Lead Talent Acquisition Excellence and Innovation at Zalando, and featured insight from some of Berlin’s fastest growing brands:

  • Chris Brown, VP People & Culture at Zenjob
  • Maren Marcelis, Head of Business Recruiting at GetYourGuide
  • Marleen Roesler, Senior People Operations at Checkout.com
  • Tina Chater, Head of People & Culture at Movinga

If you missed the discussion or didn’t get a chance to take notes, here’s our quick round up of the key learnings:

When moving into the scale up phase, use your longer standing employees to help maintain the intimacy of start-up culture.

A couple of years in a start-up life can feel like a lifetime, thanks to the pace of change and growth. This means employees with a couple of years in your business can be real champions of your employer brand! (if they are utilised correctly). 

Loyal employees can be an excellent source of knowledge for new joiners, and will likely feel appreciated and valued when given the chance to share their expertise. It’s also a great way to buddy up and mentor new joiners.

With improved technology and communication making it possible for employees to work from anywhere, remote working is becoming the norm. So it’s essential that virtual teams still feel like a part of the culture.

It’s the small touches that go a long way here! For instance, when managing teams in different time zones, it should be your priority to turn up on time to meetings, and to be present. Or if it’s a group meeting, why not use video chat for all attendees to avoid alienating remote employees? Little gestures that show you’re thinking of your remote workers go a long way in creating a sense of belonging

For some roles in the business, people and culture initiatives might be perceived as being too expensive, or preventing productivity. So a key skill for modern People and Talent leaders is to be able to pitch to C-level stakeholders.

The key to stakeholder engagement, is the same as the key to employee engagement. Know your people, and present your initiatives in a way they can relate to! 

If you need sign off from the CFO, have data and costs ready to present around how this project can add to the bottom line of the business. Or if you’re speaking with a CMO, understand how your initiative can drive brand from the inside out, and how it can be measured. 

CEOs will want to understand the bigger picture, but whoever you’re speaking with, be prepared and well researched – with numbers to back up your business case. 

To scale quickly, you need a flexible HR tech stack, with everything all in one place.

Ultimately, the more you can get your people to engage with your existing tools, the smarter you can be with the data you have. And on top of that, the less time you need to spend implementing and managing platforms!

Creating a central HR hub prevents information getting lost in multiple systems, removes the need for multiple log ins (and multiple opportunities to forget passwords). 

This makes it so much easier for your employees to engage with the systems on offer. Selecting tools with open APIs and integration options is also a great way to create a streamlined tech stack. 

A massive thanks to our incredible speakers for all of the practical advice, and to the People professionals of Berlin for coming to chat with us. 

It was also a lovely surprise to hear Hibob being discussed amongst the panelists, and understand first hand how our platform has supported and grown culture throughout the scale up phase. 

As a business that has experienced hyper growth ourselves, this meetup was not only beneficial to our audience and clients, but to us too!

Want to learn more about remote working and global culture? Sign up for our webinar on this 30th October, where we’ll be encouraging an open debate to help tackle the challenges faced.


from Verity Raphael

Verity Raphael is a Senior Marketing Executive based in the London office. Since graduating with a Masters in English, she has progressed from sales to marketing at Hibob: helping the European People and Talent community feel more valued and connected to their company and colleagues. Outside of work, her passions include modernist literature, underground music, Scandinavian design, positive people and art galleries.