In the first episode of the People Over Perks podcast, we sit down with Till Neatby, the Co-Founder and Head of Culture at Marley Spoon. Till shares why the Head of Culture role was created, the big levers that have helped them scale their culture as they’ve grown to over 1,500 people, how they run employee engagement surveys, and a whole lot more.
- Till's book recommendation: “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable” by Patrick Lencioni.
- The Slack App that Marley Spoon uses to schedule coffee meetings with colleagues is called “Donut”.
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Full episode transcript
Andy Parker (Host) (00:04)
Excellent. Till, thank you for joining us on the People Over Perks podcast.
Till Neatby (Guest) (00:08)
Hi Andy. Thanks for having me. Nice to meet you.
Andy Parker (Host) (00:11)
And so to begin with, tell me, whereabouts are you right now? Where in the world?
Till Neatby (Guest) (00:17)
I'm sitting in my Berlin flat — in the study of my Berlin flat. I'm working from the home office right now. We have our offices in Berlin and most of the cities open at the moment. Usually I spend two days per week at the office and the rest of the time I work from the home office, so currently at home.
Andy Parker (Host) (00:38)
Okay. Excellent. And so you are the Co-founder and Head of Culture at Marley Spoon. Before we jump into to some of the topics that obviously we're going to discuss around around people operations and culture and HR, to begin with, can you tell us what Marley Spoon is?
Till Neatby (Guest) (00:55)
So we always say we bring delightful market fresh and easy cooking back to the people while building a sustainable supply chain for a waste free world. So a lot of things that we were trying to achieve is on the one hand side, me help our customers to cook better at home. We deliver all the ingredients that you need, we inspire with new recipes on a weekly basis. We really take care of all that whole topic, take the hassle out of the cooking, send it home. And at the same time we are, fighting food law, food waste. We are trying to shorten the supply chain and we are shortening the supply chain by directly connecting customers to producers and that's what we do in a nutshell.
Andy Parker (Host) (01:41)
Okay. Thank you for that. And just so everyone listening can can understand, can you tell me a bit about the scale of Marley Spoon? I know it's an international business and you recently also had a a big milestone in Q2 that I saw was publicly announced around the company being profitable for the first time.
Till Neatby (Guest) (01:59)
Indeed. Yes, we’re operating in eight countries globally. We have roughly 1,500 team members. We grew within the first half of this year, we grew roughly 90% to about 160 million Euros in revenue for the first half of this year. Q2 even 73 million in revenues. So on a nice upward trend there right now, this whole [is equivalent] to 21 million meals, I believe that we shipped in the first half of this year.
Andy Parker (Host) (02:32)
Till Neatby (Guest) (02:33)
So quite a few boxes.
Andy Parker (Host) (02:36)
Yes, I can imagine. Absolutely. Excellent. And so let's talk a little bit about your role specifically then. As the Co-Founder and Head of Culture, obviously the co-founders of any business implicitly, typically set the culture, or are at least, you know, a large contributor to what the culture becomes. But what made you decide to explicitly give yourself a Head of Culture title?
Till Neatby (Guest) (03:05)
I agree that the founders to players certain role in creating a company culture. At the same time though culture is built on a daily basis by the whole team. So really that's something that we try to emphasize always. And when, when onboarding new people, that it's really all of us building the building the culture on a daily basis, I had a bunch of different roles at Marley Spoon. And as you can imagine, when you, when you start a company so one and a half years ago, my fellow co-founder Fabian and me decided to, for me to focus on our culture and people team. And that's when I took on that role. And we explicitly wanted to have the word culture in there are to emphasize the importance that we believe company culture at the end has on building a good team and company success in the end.
Andy Parker (Host) (03:57)
Okay. And was this something that, you know, is an area of expertise of yours or something that between you and your co-founder felt that it was something that a co-founder should oversee?
Till Neatby (Guest) (04:09)
Rather than latter to be honest. We always over the last couple of years brought in a lot of experts from outside that at the end know a lot of things much better than we as the founders do. And that's a little bit the same case here in our Culture and People Operations team, we have a large number of highly, highly skilled, amazing people in my team that know the classical traditional HR area, much better than me. No, I don't, I didn't have a particular background, but I've been building companies over the last 20 years. I've worked in numerous management functions, so I have a good idea of what, what I believe is important, but again, there is a lot, a lot of experts in the team that know most details much better than me.
Andy Parker (Host) (04:57)
Okay. So let's dive into that then. Obviously as you, as you touched on with that with 1,500 team members across the company you know, you obviously need a strong People Operations team to support that. What does the structure of that team look like?
Till Neatby (Guest) (05:16)
So we have a bit of, we have a matrix organization overall at Marley spoon. So we have, on the one hand side, we have regional teams, we have our Australian team, our US team and a European team. And we have local CEOs is for all of these regions and we have local Heads of Culture and People operations team that report on the one hand side, directly into the local CEO role. On the other hand, we're currently in the process of creating the position of CHRO that's also part of the executive team. And eventually you will have this matrix organization set up where you have two direct lines, one to their, to the regional CEO and one to there the CHRO, in a central function.
Andy Parker (Host) (06:06)
I see. Okay.
Till Neatby (Guest) (06:09)
And then of course, you know, on a, on a more, on a more functional level on the one side, you have your operational service centers where, well, which traditionally, of course, we had to focus on most in the past, we always had a rather lean setup, but at the same time we are running, we're operating seven fulfillment centers globally. And a huge part of our team are the production associates, our team members at the fulfillment centers actually picking and packing all the boxes so it was always very, very important of course, to focus on really operating these fulfillment centers and onboarding team members for these sites. And at the same time, of course, we have our HR business partners, we have our center of excellence and our community of expertise where we try to focus on individual areas.
Andy Parker (Host) (07:07)
Okay. That makes sense. Thank you. And so you touched on the fact that you're looking for a CHRO. Why is now the right time for that role?
Till Neatby (Guest) (07:18)
We've luckily already identified a very, very good candidate. And well, we believe that, you know, we have reached a certain level of maturity as a company. At the end of the day, you know, this topic was always a very, very important one for, for us at Marley Spoon, really from day one the focus topic for Fabian and me. But over, you know, we have grown now to a certain size where we really feel that certain processes are getting more and more complex. It is not the same to run a team of five people or 50 people or 1,500 people. And we're growing strongly. We still believe we're at at the very beginning of a long journey. So we decided to take the step now. We could have as well, I've taken that a year ago already, or a year into the future but you know, I think it's, it's definitely a good signal also internally that we are even doubling down on our efforts with regards to culture and, and our team and people, our team members.
Andy Parker (Host) (08:20)
Okay. And did you have any any like specific requirements for that, that role that you're willing to share? Like, what are the, what is the sort of the makeup of of that person?
Till Neatby (Guest) (08:33)
We were looking for someone with on the one hand side with a very, large experience in this area. So we really wanted someone that had the experience of running, such a function in a large organization and an organization larger than ours. At the same time, we are a very agile company. We still consider ourselves to be a startup, in a lot of ways. So you have to be able to work very hands-on, very autonomously, not necessarily with this huge support staff that you might have an in larger companies. So that was very important for us that, that the person joining us brings all of this.
Andy Parker (Host) (09:24)
Okay, excellent. Thank you. And and so, so coming back to the processes that you say that you know, obviously need to be in place to create a high-performing culture. Can you talk me through a little bit about what the calendar looks like as such for you? What are some of the people operations processes that your team is in control of and how does that operate throughout the year?
Till Neatby (Guest) (09:49)
So we have a number of processes that we organize as the Culture and People Operations team, but where the ownership then at the end sits within the team, so with every single team lead. So, you know, we have for example everyone at Marley Spoon is doing a monthly, at least monthly 1:1 on a really on a, on a cultural level, on a team building level. So it's not, not, it's not the weekly jour fixe where you talk about operational stuff about have you done this? What's the plan for the next week? But it's really this, how are you doing? What can I do to help you? And how happy are you with your development at Marley Spoon etc? So it's really, there's a very, very open communication where we really expect every team lead to do that at least on a monthly basis with team members.
Till Neatby (Guest) (10:41)
We have formalized processes such as 360 degree reviews between, obviously, team members, leads people on the same level above, below.
Andy Parker (Host) (10:54)
And how frequently do they happen?
Till Neatby (Guest) (10:56)
So we do them always after three months for new joiners. We do them always for role changes, and we encourage leads to do them on a regular basis. Very often, most of them do them on a yearly basis to get feedback and they are they are anonymous, so people can do them completely anonymous over the tool. I personally always write my name on there underneath when I give, when I give feedback, I would tell people that it doesn't have to be anonymous, but for some people it feels more secure and there's, there's more open communication. And then there is a bunch of you know smaller cultural topics, donut dates.
Till Neatby (Guest) (11:42)
So something that we've heard, especially now in this COVID-19 situation, we had that before, but we encouraged that now even more so that, you know, randomly people meet up when you don't have this meeting at the, at the coffee machine anymore at the water cooler that now at least you have this random 20 minutes, half an hour, with someone in the company where you really chat about, about you and not about yeah, what do I need to get done this week? And then there is a bunch of other like regular meetings where we are supporting, we have a weekly, TJF all hands on deck meeting that we always have on Friday, where all team members participate. We always communicate big updates to the company. So again, it's not, this is not a cultural people operations meeting, but we are the ones facilitating it.
Till Neatby (Guest) (12:42)
Weekly team meetings, monthly MBRs, business reviews, quarterly business reviews. Quarterly OKR sessions is something that we facilitate also with, with our, with the tools that we have using, using Leapsome in this case where we really, everyone on a quarterly basis aligns goals top down, bottom up at the same time. So this is some of the processes that we do. Monthly lunch and learn sessions is something that we've recently introduced from my team where we said, Hey topics that topic X, Y, Z, also remotely of course, that people from all over the world can can learn about specific topic, choose, vote upvote topics that they want to learn more about. This is like some of the topics that we do on a, on a regular basis.
Andy Parker (Host) (13:36)
Excellent. And so, so just to jump back to the, the random coffee meetings did I catch it correctly that you're using the Slack donuts app to, to match people?
Till Neatby (Guest) (13:45)
Yes, that's correct.
Till Neatby (Guest) (13:47)
Really quite. I find it quite amazing. I mean, especially like before the, you know, there's this Corona crisis, we had them localized, so I would meet up with other people from the Berlin office and we would actually go outside, go for a walk, grab a coffee, a walk along the canal Paul-Lincke-Ufer; beautiful, really nice. I always was much looking forward to this like half hour of, you know, get some fresh air and exchange a few idea ideas, but what's also nice now that you know, that we can't really do this in person anymore and not as much anymore that we've extended that where it works time zone wise. So just like this week, actually beginning of this week, I had a, I had a donut date with someone from our fulfillment center in Texas, where a lady that started with us two and a half years ago as her as production associate; really on the line picking and packing boxes and, and worked her way up to, to become a team lead there. It was super refreshing, you know, to talk to someone there, to, to hear how they are experiencing the whole situation at the very moment, and to really get a completely different view of the topics that we're facing at the very moment. So that I quite enjoyed.
Andy Parker (Host) (15:06)
Yeah, really cool. And I imagine that's a, that's great learning for you and obviously a nice as well for you know, w the employees that randomly get matched with you.
Till Neatby (Guest) (15:17)
She was a bit surprised, I have to say.
Andy Parker (Host) (15:20)
Yeah. Excellent. And I wanted to come back to the topic of OKRs. Can you tell me a little bit about Marley Spoons OKR setting process, and you mentioned how you facilitate these quarterly meetings. But what does that process look like in terms of communicating the goals? You know, whether that comes from the top down or whether it comes from bottom, or how do you work that across the business?
Till Neatby (Guest) (15:44)
Yeah, so it's really both. On the one hand side, always in the month, beginning of the month before a quarter ends, we sit together on the executive team and think about, okay, what did we achieve in the last quarter and what are really the big topics for the next quarters? So we, we do also have strategic offsites where twice per year, we get together and think more about their midterm long-term vision, but these ones are really the quarterly based on the midterm long-term vision, what is, what is there, what should be the priority topic for the next quarter? And we kind of higher level define them at this very moment already and already start communicating them, into the company so that then every single team member can think about, okay, in my area, what could I potentially do that links towards the big company goals?
Till Neatby (Guest) (16:43)
And obviously not every single OKR links to the big overarching company goal, but the vast majority do. And then it's really, you know, team by team quite, quite time-intensive process. But I believe that this, you know alignment process this so thinking about a) what did we achieve in the last quarter? Why did we potentially change priorities during the quarter? And then sitting with the team to define this is really what we as a team want to commit to for the next quarter. I think that's always a very, very good exercise. I usually try to combine, and my teams, I tried to combine that also is with an offsite be it a real offsite, or some, some digital version of it, but to really take a full day to, to, to go through this and really rather have the team then come up with their goals.
Till Neatby (Guest) (17:35)
So where we say, Hey, this is what we want to achieve in the next quarter. And yeah, and then we will, at the very beginning of the quarter, we all would always do like a "mise en place" meeting as we call it where we communicate the high level goals for, for already, for the company and for all regions towards the teams plus a few midterm projects that we have like a sustainability project, for example. And we always give updates and say, Hey, for the next quarter, this is going to be a focus topic here.
Andy Parker (Host) (18:07)
I see. Okay. That makes sense.
Till Neatby (Guest) (18:10)
as well, it's part of our Friday all hands on deck meeting, or it, it, it's a dedicated one to that one and a half hours really, where we only talk about next quarter's goals and last quarter's achievements or fails and, where it's a big Q and A session where people can ask a lot of questions.
Andy Parker (Host) (18:27)
Okay. Yeah, that's great. Then obviously everybody gets the visibility as to what's actually going on across all the various parts of the business. Excellent.
Till Neatby (Guest) (18:35)
And, and I mean, the goals are visible of course, as well. And then everyone can go into the tool. Everyone can look at anytime. What's what's, what's your particular goal? What's on the company or what's in this team, what what are they working on with, with biggest priority? So that's of course also nice that you have this constant visibility in the tool.
Andy Parker (Host) (18:56)
Yeah. Excellent. Great. And and obviously as you continue to grow, you know, there's, this, this alignment is going to obviously become so important as the company continues to scale. And what are some of the other challenges that you have faced as the company has grown? In terms of, in terms of head count, obviously that you've already had to overcome.
Till Neatby (Guest) (19:20)
So we had a few tough situations when it came to restructuring, you know, in the course of six years, obviously there is events, or there is moments when, when, when certain teams are being restructured. We had fulfillment sites or fulfillment centers where we had to close down certain sites because it was more or they, they became too small and we had to find a new place and sometimes a new place for a fulfillment center was not in the same region. And this is of course from a people operations perspective, but also for me as a founder, or was it a tough decision to, you know, to, to, to go towards team members and say, listen, this particular position will unfortunately not exist anymore. And then of course you try to offer. We also had the situation when we built a short service service center, Lisbon, where we had a number of really fantastic team members where we said each and everyone is more than welcome to join us on this and come with us to Lisbon, but obviously not everyone was able to for personal reasons.
Till Neatby (Guest) (20:30)
So these are of course challenges where that, that are moments that are, that are tough, that are not fun. And I always found, you know, the most important part in this was a very, very open, transparent communication from as early on as possible and show people that you genuinely care and that you try to find a solution for them. But I mean, obviously you have to accept that you will not be able to find a solution for everyone. So that was like, you know, we had a few of these events and then obviously, you know, you kind of need to reinvent culture on a on a continuous basis when you grow this quickly. And as I said earlier, 5 people, 50 people, 500, 1500 culture is changing all the time. And it's that that's, that is a big challenge. It can be a lot of fun as well. But you're, you know, you really have to think hard, how can you, how can this culture continue to grow? And it's really has a lot to do with how you recruit. Our whole team is involved in every single recruitment process how you onboard people and in the end, how you give autonomy to people to, to build that culture and help build us, build this culture on a daily basis.
Andy Parker (Host) (21:54)
Interesting. And when, when you speak about reinventing culture, are there any like kind of formal processes that you've been through along the way on the journey? I dunno, perhaps have you sort of like redefined your values at some point, or is there anything that you've had to kind of completely overhaul or re document when it comes to the culture? Or would you say it's more iterative based on, you know, kind of small tweaks here and there to to to improve the culture in certain directions?
Till Neatby (Guest) (22:23)
I would say it's definitely more iterative. So we have we have changed our values and we are we always tell new team members when we onboard them, Hey, these are our values, we try to work according to them every single day. We also fail on them every single day. And it's fine as long as we keep reminding each other and trying to hold each other accountable to them. We always tell them if there is something that you don't like, approach us, let's change them. You know, nothing is set in stone. So we have changed them in the past a bit, not, not massively, to be honest, we had them really since day one and we've changed the wording here, a little bit, and we've added a few things that we saw were missing or that team members saw were missing. That was certainly more of an iterative process. We are constantly as part of every major, every strategy offsite that we have from, we are always talking about these topics. I mean, especially, well, over dinner, or after dinner over a couple of, couple of bottles of wine or so, but it's there it's, it's, it is a constant topic for us, but we did not really have this massive overhaul though, no.
Andy Parker (Host) (23:42)
Okay. And so you, you mentioned, then obviously it comes down to onboarding and training and things like that. Are there any like big standout changes that you made along the way that you think were particularly big levers for, for changing or improving the culture?
Till Neatby (Guest) (24:01)
I believe one of the biggest changes that we made was the recruitment process. I mentioned that earlier on that now we really involved the team. In the first two years of Marley Spoon, we hired very, quickly, very traditionally maybe that the team lead, must said, Hey, that person sounds interesting and the person started the next day and that worked in some cases and others, obviously it did not. I mean, which I guess it's normal, but some point we said, no, we, we would like to, have this hiring process a bit more objective and include more team members. I believe as soon as you include more team members, it does become automatically more objective because unfortunately we all have our biases and, we like someone dislike someone usually within the first 30 seconds that we speak to someone.
Till Neatby (Guest) (25:00)
So it is very difficult to over what's the right word to, to ignore or to, to be aware of this biases that you have and, and, and then ignore them. So that, that process we changed probably after two years or so. This new process, we already now have it since, since four years or so. But the responsibility for hiring remains with team leads. It's not, the culture and people operations department that's responsible for hiring. That was always something that was very important for us. So the team lead is really responsible to build his team, to build the best team. That's really their main number one priority, and he's doing scale interviews and thinking about, okay, do we need, do I need to do with some kind of challenge with that candidate or, but then once that, that box is ticked, we have a round of cultural interviews where really at least three team members from any team potentially come in and ask a bunch of questions based on our, on our company values.
Till Neatby (Guest) (26:16)
And it's really, we don't tell, we don't tell the team members, which questions to ask, we give them an idea. We say, okay. I mean, the team leader basically decides you go for topic one to three or area one to three, you go for area four to six and the last one, seven to nine. And then there is a bunch of in all of these areas, there is a bunch of potential questions that you could ask, but at the end, you're completely free to ask whatever you want to, but we do recommend if you do multiple cultural interviews that you always ask the same kind of question, so that you are also less biased and that you can also objectivize the answers a little bit. And then try to really dig, dig deep, using like a STAR methodology where you're, you know, trying to get to their situation, task, action, result, and, this process, then you know, then it goes, it goes onto a hiring committee where everyone gets together. Only if everyone agrees, we then move on to a final interview, to CEO interview and then to extend an offer. So this is a hiring processes probably, or it's at least one of the things that changed massively since, since we started. And I really believe for the better, because I really believe that, people that now join usually are a very good cultural fit and it's at the end for both sides, of course, always very painful if you have to decide or if you realize one of, one of the two sides realizes after a few months that it's not a fit. Um, I think we've, I know that we've been able to, to really, improve on that.
Andy Parker (Host) (27:57)
Yeah, absolutely. So that's really interesting. And then with the, the cultural questions, are those questions defined by, by the people and culture team?
Till Neatby (Guest) (28:08)
Oh, we have them since a long time. Yes, I believe so.
Andy Parker (Host) (28:11)
Yeah. And are the interviewers then are they then like — what's the word I'm looking for — are they, they're they're then basically evaluating the candidates against a set rubric or you know, there's certain things that they are looking for in candidate's answer that they're then evaluating against the question.
Till Neatby (Guest) (28:32)
No, it's really, you know, we have our values and and then let's take an example, like one of our values is to be data-driven and so that could be an area for, for question. And so if you would be doing the cultural interviews with candidate X, Y, Z, we would say, okay, this is one area for you. And the other one is to be, I don't know, to build the best team. And the third one would be, you know, work autonomously and entrepreneurial, et cetera. And then within each of these areas, we would give you, again, the number of questions that you could potentially ask, but you don't have to, if you have a great question, it's really just to help people to give them, a bit of guidance, to conduct these cultural interviews. We do train on these cultural interviews as well, that, because we really try to involve every single team member here.
Andy Parker (Host) (29:32)
Okay. Okay. Excellent. And and so as you continue to grow what are some of the challenges that you are already foreseeing that you might need to overcome?
Till Neatby (Guest) (29:46)
I mean, currently we're facing the same situation as everyone else, and it's not necessarily that much grocery related, but this whole remote work or hybrid work is of course, a very big topic for us that we expect to continue at least for the next year, but probably this hybrid remote, hybrid work set up will, will remain. We are planning to offer that indefinitely to our team members. We've seen in surveys, internal surveys, that a lot of team members very much enjoy the flexibility to also work from home. But the flexibility to work from home also has a downside that actually the majority of our team members work much more than before. And, you know, a lot of them don't take about proper breaks. Cause it's, of course it's easy, you know, in the morning to just grab your laptop, sit down and start typing away.
Till Neatby (Guest) (30:42)
And then all of a sudden you realize it's eight in the evening and you haven't done a, you haven't taken a proper break and you've worked 10 hours straight or so. And that's, of course, not healthy and not sustainable. So that's a big topic. And we do also see that in internal surveys that people say they are they, they feel stressed, but work-life balance is a topic. So that's a big one for us where we, that we're trying to, to, to work on that we're working on, trying to lead by example, give people tools. And also in that context, of course, onboarding new team members, you know, creating this glue, creating the culture. We have a very good solid culture build over the last couple of years. And that, that helps us of course, but, whenever you bring on new team members, they, you know, they don't, and that might potentially work fully remotely or almost fully remotely. That's, that's a different situation. And so that I believe will remain a challenge for the upcoming upcoming years. And then as you said, I mean, we are growing strongly. And that has a lot of challenges on its own. A lot, a lot of processes where we are still working very agile at this point will need to be more formalized and that, you know, always comes at a cost as well.
Andy Parker (Host) (32:13)
Yeah. And do you have any examples of that that already come to mind?
Till Neatby (Guest) (32:18)
I mean, compensation, is one of these, it comes, you know, compensation, fairness is a, is a very important part in our perception. How do you- what, how happy are you with work? And this is a topic that always comes up and it's much easier in a smaller team where, people know each other. And we're not transparent as some companies are, we don't have full transparency on, on, on salary. But people tend to have a good idea or they, they speak to each other, et cetera. And that's okay. And I believe while it's, while it's a small team, they understand much better contributions. But it's also not just the, the cash component of offering renumeration and some people, we also have an equity component in our remuneration scheme, and also some people choose to, to go for a position where, they might have seen exceptional growth learning and development for themselves, and, and don't necessarily go for the, you know, the highest cash option, et cetera, et cetera.
Till Neatby (Guest) (33:29)
So the larger the team gets, the more difficult, of course it is to, to know this about the next person and the other person. Then you start wondering, and you're like, Hmm, am I, am I really fairly being fairly compensated? So there is, of course, you know, this is one of the topics where we're discussing, what, what, what will we do as a next step, external benchmarking data, et cetera, et cetera. Diversity inclusion in this context is this is of course also big one is there. And we, he are, we have a super diverse culture when it comes to nationalities. I believe we have over 50 different nationalities working in the Berlin team alone. And, and we love that. And we always, in our internal service, score very highly on any diversity and inclusion question. At the same time though, we haven't in the past formally, looked at this in a way as to, female leadership participation.
Till Neatby (Guest) (34:27)
We've changed that about a year ago. And going forward, I think we'll have the majority of exec team members will be, will be women at Marley spoon. Our board members are majority women as of today, but there's a lot of other areas where we haven't really looked into in the past. If you look at the black lives matters discussion in the United States, we have a huge US team and ethnicity, wasn't a topic for us in the past. We did not, not one that we actively discussed and probably we need to. And, and so this is all, again, not based on the larger you get, you need to think more and more about these, these kinds of processes.
Andy Parker (Host) (35:11)
Yes. Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. All all extremely important topics, obviously, as you say to, to tackle as as you keep scaling. And I'd love to jump back quickly to the internal surveys that you that you mentioned how frequently are you running them? What kinds of things are you asking? And how do you, how do you use that data?
Till Neatby (Guest) (35:32)
So we have twice per year, we run a global survey where which is fairly extensive — 50 plus questions, or so — where we're really touching touching pretty much all areas. And that, that one, we run truly globally to be able to benchmark all the regions and teams against each other. And then pretty much after that, it's a very different, there is, you know, pulse surveys on our, on a team level happening on a weekly basis, or like during, the height of Corona, we sent out surveys on a weekly basis to understand, Hey, how are you coping with the situation how you're doing? There is monthly regional topics where, you know, in Europe, we might have a different topic than, that's pressing at the moment then in the US or in Australia, etc.
Till Neatby (Guest) (36:31)
So it's really starting from these two huge biannual ones, and two small local pulse surveys on a very frequent basis. And that, of course also then defines what we do with the data. So there are these big, biannual surveys. We tried to sync them in a way that we always have that data available for our strategy offsite meetings. So we can use fresh data to really see, Hey, what are the pain points? What are their celebration points, but also what are pain points? How did they develop over time, and define action items based on these. And other than that, we really try to be very democratic with, the data that we have more of these survey results so they are available, readily, so that the individual team leads can compare themselves also to, to other teams and say, you know, what does this result actually telling me, am I doing with this result?
Till Neatby (Guest) (37:34)
Or am I here I'm better or worse than, than the average of Marley spoon who are good people that I could go turn to learn from them to understand why, I dunno, if my team is doing particularly well or bad in work-life balance, I might look for someone that has a good score and discuss with that person. Hey, how do you manage? Why, why is your team perceiving that situation very different from, from my team? I think that is probably the most important. There's really very granular follow up. The big high level company level one is also important, of course, not to miss any major trends, but it's really this working on it on a very local, granular level, where I believe you can have the quickest wins.
Andy Parker (Host) (38:27)
Okay. That makes a lot of sense. And then, and obviously the employee engagement metrics are obviously something that, as you said, like even your team can use for taking the strategy offsites and obviously that's something that you keep an eye on. Are there any other big metrics or how else would you define success for you and your role as head of culture?
Till Neatby (Guest) (38:54)
I mean, the eNPS you already mentioned is of course, a very, very important one. And so at the end, all the survey data, around, engagement, recognition, growth, wellbeing, the cultural topics, that's really, one of the main KPIs that we look at. And then of course there is the lagging indicators, like, turnover and tenure that is of course, something that we look at, exit poll surveys that we do with, team members that leave us, why do they leave us? Where did they go? But this is all rather the lagging indicators around the leading indicators is really the surveys that we try to run very, very frequently. And of course also very soft data as well, you know, just, coffee chats where like, you know, you get feedback from people or over a beer after, after work. I do believe that it's also very, very important.
Andy Parker (Host) (39:54)
Yeah, Absolutely. Yeah. There is a there are qualitative conversations that, you know, are never going to show up in surveys. Yeah. Interesting. And and then finally, how, how do you see the role of people operations is developing? Are there any like trends that you're particularly excited about for the future?
Till Neatby (Guest) (40:16)
I think what we've seen over the last few years is that the, this whole field becomes much more data-driven and you know, using analytics to, to then deliver insight and, and deliver impulse towards the wider team. I believe that's a very exciting, exciting part of, of what's happening in our area.
Till Neatby (Guest) (40:47)
And, and yeah, and I guess, you know, that, that you can really then extend to all potential areas. I mean, it goes to workforce planning, to talent, acquisition and talent management, overall performance and succession planning. And I mentioned the diversity and inclusion topic before, learning development is of course is a huge one for us as well, where, you know, a ton of new opportunities nowadays with blended learning. I think there is a number of very, very exciting, exciting trends. But at the end, it's really, trying to objectivize what you do and trying to build business cases around projects that you do and really trying to, not, fuzzily talk about are our people happy? But to be able to show this has actually a great impact on the bottom line.
Andy Parker (Host) (41:51)
Yes. Yeah. Interesting. So, yeah, that really, it sounds sounds like, you know, connecting the work that the people operations teams are doing to the whole strategic objective of the, of the business and how, how that, as you say, really, really connects to profitability.
Till Neatby (Guest) (42:06)
Yeah. I mean, it is like, I mean, we see it really starting at our fulfillment centers, you know, where the bulk of our 1,000 out of 1,500 team members are the production associates. So they are the most important ones to, to ensure that our customers are happy. At sites or fulfillment centers, where we have a higher turnover rate we see it immediately and in complaint rates and also in productivity, so if, you know, we, we managed to keep them happy and show them career paths, et cetera, we see it immediately in complaint rates and productivity. So it's really very, very simple maths to do. And it's the same at all our offices, people couldn't can work everywhere on this, on this planet nowadays. Now we have, you know, as I said before people from all over the world working here, but they could be working, you know, tomorrow that could, they could go somewhere completely else. So well you need to give them a reason to be working for Marley Spoon and that's, that's the us working on that culture and having an exciting challenge for them and working on it on an important topic.
Andy Parker (Host) (43:20)
Absolutely. Excellent. With that. That was a, a, I think a really nice note to end on just one final question from my side. Do you have a book or any other sort of resource recommendation, that you would recommend our audience to check out?
Till Neatby (Guest) (43:38)
So book, I do believe I have to stick to the, you know, the classic Lencioni 'Five Dysfunctions of a Team'. That's you know, it's very quick read, but that's, you know, not, not just for People Operations but really for everyone in business, because it really explains why, you know, trust is so important and why this is really the underlying function. And, and because it's so nice and simple I like it a lot, and that's why it's like probably the one book that I would always recommend.
Andy Parker (Host) (44:11)
That's a, that's, that's a good one. And we will link to that in the show notes. So thank you for that recommendation. Till, this has been an amazing conversation. Thank you very much for joining us, and I hope you had fun as well.
Till Neatby (Guest) (44:23)
Yeah. Thank you very much. And no, it's been a pleasure. Have a great day.
Andy Parker (Host) (44:27)
Excellent. Thanks. Bye bye.
Till Neatby (Guest) (44:29):
Thank you. Cheers.