Gil is currently leading the HR team at Fiverr and helps the company and employees follow Fiverr’s mission – to change how the world works, together. Gil comes from an impressive background, working for companies like Google to improve their HR strategies. He’s managed everything from executive search to the full HR cycle. He joined Fiverr 3 years ago to take part in what the company is doing around building the future of work.
Gil’s motto is always “it’s all about people” and he implements this ideology in everything he does.
Thanks for joining me. Can you start by telling me a bit about yourself, your background and how you got into HR?
I actually got into HR by accident. I was first introduced to the HR world by a psychologist friend after graduating with my psychology degree. I had a great meeting with one of Israel’s leading person in Executive Search, and that conversation started my path into the HR world.
One of the first projects I managed was hiring a VP of HR for a large company. During that process, I had the opportunity to interview a lot of HR managers from various sectors and industries, with a wide range of personalities. I had a lucky break during that — I learned what stepping stones I needed to take in order to ultimately get to where I wanted to be. It was a bit of a reverse engineering process. And that was it, I fell in love with HR and was on my way towards being an HR professional.
What do you think makes a strong HR professional? What are the main qualities required?
There are massive trends that have been changing the HR world lately, from the original “manpower” as a service provider or CV-pushing role unrelated to the business, to becoming a true business partner involved in strategy and high-level decision making with management.
HR is a critical role and in my opinion, it’s the most important role in a company these days. Everybody understands that the human factor is the most important one. This reminds me of a TED Talk about the evolution of COOs from operations managers who knew the business best — now HR leaders have the opportunity to become CEOs. They have the best knowledge about what the company does, what everyone feels like, how they operate, and how to manage productivity. It’s only natural for HR to be both business and data-oriented and very strategic as opposed to a CV-pushing service provider. That’s why I love bob.
As you mentioned, the HR role has expanded. How do you prioritize/ divide your time at Fiverr amongst all of the various aspects of HR? Recruiting, onboarding, culture, engagement, and retention, just to name a few.
You mentioned a lot of the buzzwords. At Fiverr, recruiting is separated from HR. The HR team manages everything that happens after an employee signs their contract all the way through offboarding.
My team is in charge of the employee lifecycle: organizational and managerial development, employment laws, processes, policies, compensation and benefits, data-oriented analytical domains, retention and everything that involves our employees’ experience within the company. It’s very hard to address ideas like retention, engagement, and culture directly but everything we do points to that. We need to have great managers in order to retain our employees, to help them grow and to be more productive and engaged. Wellbeing is managed by our wellbeing manager and covers helping with recruiting efforts and employer branding, as well as socializing and bonding which generates cooperation and communication amongst the teams. Everything adds on to everything else so it’s hard to separate the efforts and focus on one thing or priority.
Can you tell me about the culture at Fiverr and how it’s changed with the growth and scale of the company?
This is a hot topic at the moment that we’re currently discussing. We had a massive hiring effort last year, which had a significant impact. It’s very hard to keep the same culture when more than half of the employees onsite are “new” to the company. Fiverr is a company that encourages social activity. One of the things we hear most from our employees, and mainly new employees, is that everyone is kind, approachable, open, and willing to help. This mentality creates a positive social onboarding that is contagious. It’s a subtle thing, not always actively generated by HR (which defines “culture” to me), but HR support and promote it.
We recently started an internship initiative where we took two people from different departments and switched them for 3 hours a week for 3 months. This gave employees the opportunity to develop new skills and learn about things they were interested in. It also gave them the opportunity to apply their own knowledge to a new department and their challenges. It doesn’t matter if you’re in marketing, engineering, or HR, you can contribute to anything. A lot of bonding and cooperation took place, and we saw many positive ripple effects. For example, a marketing employee interned with a front-end developer — he thrived in the role to the point that we ended up moving him to the front-end developer position without any prior experience or degree. This is an example of the opportunities to grow and to learn that we provide employees. This topic is more relevant as we grow because we have these resources without sacrificing the workload.
We launched another cool initiative called eDOcatePro (Fiverr is a company of DO-ers, we use DO in everything). eDOcate is a knowledge-sharing program related to personal development, learning and personal empowerment. We asked people with specific skill sets to share with others, such as, Python, SQL, time management, presentation skills, or ideation. This helped empower people to both teach and learn from each other. It also aligns with Fiverr’s mission around changing how the world works, together.
How do you facilitate employee feedback at Fiverr?
I have the huge privilege at Fiverr in that my amazing boss pushes me to think outside of the box and out of my corporate mentality. She allows me to hire as many HRBPs (HR Business Partners) as needed, which gives me a better sense of everyone’s “pulse”. We take a lot of time to get to know employees, we sit down with them, and keep in touch with them on a consistent basis. We have a structured process with roundtables (ten within the last year) to share about the Fiverr culture, tips for new employees, suggestions, etc. We make sure employees are encouraged to give feedback. As HR, I like to step back and see the full picture; management and employees alike, to see what works, what doesn’t, and how we can help solve any issue. Then we break it down and improve what’s needed.
Where do you see the future of HR?
In seven years, HR won’t be anywhere near where it is now, it’s changing really fast. Most of the traditional aspects of HR are disappearing. Millennials (as much as I hate using that word) have really changed the relationship employees have with their employers. Josh Bersin actually mention this on his HR trend summary. My parent’s generation expected only a salary from their employer, -it was a clear obligation for them. Nowadays, people have many incentives, and money is one of the lesser important ones. People need to feel important, impactful, and that they are given the opportunity to grow as professionals and as people. In high-tech companies, employees look for gym memberships, office amenities, and flexible working hours (from home or another country or even the beach). And that should be okay as long as they’re managers are able to keep them effective in their work and communicate properly with their teams.
HR data is also changing things on a regular basis — and bob has been helping us a lot with this. It helps us understand our employees better through the use of numbers and data and not only by a gut feeling. Though I respect people who work by instinct, at a company of our size, it’s just not scalable. You can’t keep in touch once you are over a certain size.
Our CEO, Micha, talks about how you can keep an intimate relationship with up to 150 people (well, he can do more than that), but beyond that it’s redundant and you can’t keep up. Once you scale, you need to find the right infrastructure to support it. HR data is the way to go, as it teaches us a lot of things that we’re not aware of. Employment surveys generate information but it’s a challenge to understand it at an employee level, so we must keep the personal high-touch.
Lastly, what is your advice to someone who wants to get into HR?
People tend to think that HR people simply are just “good with people”, which obviously is a must, but it’s not enough for the role alone. You need to have a clear understanding of the business, and the function and impact of the people within the company. We need to be business-oriented and process-oriented. Our work compels us to focus on projects and processes. HR data requires an analytical muscle and number orientation to scale. A lot of HR people are technophobic, hate documentation in systems, hate massive HRIS systems, but they need the ability to manage HRIS functions to close the gaps. HR tech is going well, but we need to incorporate it into our day-to-day work.
A lot of HR representatives see themselves as the “caretakers”of the employees and as points of contact to hear them out on certain issues. This is an extremely important part of what we do, however it’s not our main function. We have many more things to focus on for the larger organization in order to fulfill what we are here to accomplish — truly changing how the world works together.