Customer spotlight blog: talent tips from ben
Thanks Ben is an all-in-one employee benefits platform. Organizations can use the platform to offer flexible benefits to their team, enabling them to give more choice and flexibility regardless of location. Ben provides organizations with an efficient and seamless experience as everything is all in one place. It's much easier to manage, making benefits and rewards work for everybody, everywhere (we use Ben at Zinc and it’s great!)
We spoke with Alicia Riley, the People & Talent Lead from Ben, to find out about the problems they’re solving, some top people and talent tips, and why they chose Zinc as their background checking provider.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your role at Ben?
I had quite an unconventional path into people and talent. I actually started my career as a teacher, teaching English as a foreign language. I did that for 5 years and then went into talent working for Reed which was awesome. I moved from Reed and went in-house as an HR & Recruitment Manager at a company called Spitfire, and they put me through my CIPD which was just amazing. That really gave me the kind of base knowledge that I needed for my career and then I joined the startup world when I worked at an edTech company and did some consultancy gigs prior to coming into Ben. Having mentors during this time has been a game changer. I joined Ben in October as the first people and talent hire, which I was really excited about. When I joined Ben the company had only 24 people, we’re now 35 and growing fast! With a fast-growing startup, there's always that worry about burnout and people working long hours, so it’s important to have the people team onboard to make sure that we have a good and healthy culture with a good work-life balance. It's been really nice and really refreshing and I absolutely love it. I love overseeing HR, recruitment, and people operations. It’s been really fun so far, and I'm very excited about where we're going. I think it's going to be an amazing journey!
- Number one, if you’re scaling you’ve got to have your ATS in place. I think that's really important. There are some great ones out there. I would advise anybody looking into this to do your research. Think about what stage you're at as an organization and where you're going, and what you think is going to work for you depending on where you are. There are ones that are more suited to larger organizations with much more in-depth reporting, and there are ones that are better suited to smaller organizations.
- The next one is investing in a good HR system. It's always worth it. I've been in quite a few organizations that have scaled and there are some HR systems that scale really well, and some that don’t. Do your research. Look at what's out there, think about what you need, get recommendations from people and get feedback. It’s important to have that because you need to have a single source of truth. Who's employed at your organization? How are you keeping track of things that are important? Where are your workflows? Where are you storing documentation? How are you looking after people's data? How are you checking access levels? An HR system can help you do all of that.
- In terms of other HRTech, something like Culture Amp for employee engagement or getting a really good payroll system base would be helpful. For us, identification checks and getting DBS checks are absolutely crucial. Having a platform to streamline it can make a big difference to your onboarding process and how that works, and making sure you’re doing things in the right way. It depends on your company and what's important to you, but for us, it's absolutely essential because we handle a huge amount of data, so it’s really important we have that in place.
What makes the culture at Ben great? Any tips?
What I love about the culture at Ben is that everybody is really different and we've got a very diverse team. Everybody comes from a different background and has varied experiences, which is great because we see a lot of diversity. We have a very international team. This diversity feeds into how we approach things, brainstorm, and communicate with each other - it’s great. People bring different examples of what they've seen before. Not everybody comes from a startup or a b2b SaaS background either which I think is great. Different experiences bring really valuable insights which are very useful as you grow. So I love that about our culture and I think that's one of the key things that makes it so great.
I think the other thing that I love about our culture is that everyone is very entrepreneurial and this brings a different mindset. A mindset of innovation and growth, and a real sense of autonomy and drive to how we're all working. That's really important for the stage that we're at. We're very small, a lot of our teams at the moment are just one person.
We all work collaboratively and make sure we see each other every week. We also organise regular get-togethers, whether it's remotely or in person.
Is there anything you do to ensure you hire a diverse talent?
There are a few things.
- We've got an anonymous setting on our ATS system so when profiles come in, we can't see any information like location or name or anything like that. It helps remove any possibility of unconscious bias that could happen in the screening process.
- We then use a screening question that's relevant to the role as part of the application. When we form these questions, and subsequent interview questions, we always think about the criteria of the role and the core capabilities that we need. This helps to make sure that candidates are given the same opportunity and are assessed fairly. It’s also really important to enable applicants to make you aware if they require any reasonable adjustments throughout the process.
- When interviewing I’m always thinking about the potential of people, thinking about what their core competencies and abilities are. I always try my best to ensure I do things in a really fair and consistent way and to make sure that I’m making decisions about applications for the right reasons.
- If you're doing this correctly, you should be able to give applicants really good constructive feedback. And if it’s a no, you should be able to clearly explain why and how it relates to the role. I very much believe in clear, constructive feedback, and I’ve had multiple occasions where a candidate has said, ‘oh, yeah, that makes complete sense.’
- If people take the time to talk to you, it’s only right that you give time back to give them that feedback. I get so many people being like, ‘thank you so much. That is so helpful.’ So yeah, lots of different things that we do to try and make sure that we give everybody a chance regardless of their background, and make sure that we're removing any potential bias in the process.
What problem(s) did you face before using Zinc?
I know that the process of not having a proper system in place that meets your compliance in the right way can be detrimental. Completing checks manually can be really time-consuming, and important data might get missed. For example, if you’re doing ID checks manually it’s easy for information to be missed or to have information that hasn't been completed on time when it should have been.
But using a system like Zinc can eliminate all of that so that it’s all done. And it’s super easy! I go in and add the email and it’s done! It’s always completed really efficiently. That’s one of the things I was most amazed about - I log in and check the outcome and it's really easy to see the results. When you’re hiring people into your business, you are responsible legally for hiring that person. So you should be making sure that they are eligible to work in the UK, that they are who they say they are and that if they have access to certain data, that you've done the correct due diligence to protect your customers as well.
Have you used any other background checking providers and how does Zinc compare?
Yes, I have and 1000% Zinc is better than the other providers. I’ve used two before that were much more complicated when filling in the application to start the process, to do the checks on the candidate.
You had to log in and answer several questions and tick different boxes. If you put one field incorrectly it wouldn’t go through so it was much more complicated and time-consuming. Whereas with Zinc, it’s name, email, and bam! You’re done. The process has been a lot simpler and smoother than it has been with previous platforms I’ve used to conduct background checks. I would also say that when the result comes through it’s a lot easier to see than what I’ve seen before. That’s been one big thing I’ve noticed since joining Ben which has been a huge relief because we’re super busy and growing really quickly, so I’m dealing with a large variety of tasks every day. I’m also going to be onboarding hundreds of people, I don’t want it to be an arduous process. I want it to be really simple and effective. Zinc does that for us so I was really happy when I joined and started using it.
I can say from my sanity and happiness it’s been very positive!