How Jobber supports employees at every step: CPO Sara Cooper explains
When Sara Cooper, chief people officer, joined Jobber — which offers job tracking and customer management software — two years ago, the Edmonton-based company was at a steady headcount of 150 people. Today, the company is at 300 people and expects to hit 400 by October of this year.
“What we really wanted to do was ensure that, before this growth could take place, we were planning ahead and making sure that we put the infrastructure in place to really support our employees,” says Cooper.
There’s a lot of work that goes into refining the hiring process, ensuring employees are on track to reach personal and professional development goals and putting an equity lens into hiring. Building a workforce can be split in two parts, says Cooper: supporting existing, internal talent, and hiring the right talent coming in.
The role of career development programs
In the last several years, Jobber has put an emphasis on career development programs that go beyond just a learning allowance that employees use to attend seminars or conferences. Jobber has a full career development infrastructure tailored to each employee, with a full coaching and development team to help them in this journey.
“For some folks, that means they want to become really good at what they do and become that senior subject matter expert,” says Cooper. “Others want people leadership, other folks, frankly, in one part of the organization are really interested in moving into a totally different direction.”
“We have terminated folks who functionally were doing really, really well in their roles but were not aligned with our values.”
Funnily enough, building this talent infrastructure correctly was done by hiring the right people in the first place. Cooper says hiring learning specialists help with this development.
“Every single role at Jobber has levels to it,” she says. “As you develop in your role, you move up through the levels and then when you get to the top of that level, you're probably up for a promotion right into the next level.”
Employees can work with people leaders to define a plan that can be as short as six months or as long as five years. Cooper gives one example of an employee that may want to be a people leader; to do that, they would have to complete eight modules of training in “people leader foundations,” which all hires, even experienced external hires, have to complete.
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“We also have quarterly assessments with people leaders sitting down with the folks on their teams to go over that development plan, and make sure that people are still on track.”
Cooper stresses that this development is not forced; during the pandemic, many employees paused development. But it provides a chance for employees to have a clear path to their goals, which they are accountable for.
“For every single role at your company, what are the actual skill sets that are required, what are the attributes that are required, and how do those evolve as the position becomes more senior?” says Cooper. “Once you have that mapped out, you basically have almost a career path for that particular role.”
Scaling culture with talent
Culture is constantly evolving, Cooper advises, and should be defined as early as possible. “If you think you're going to have the same culture you had at 50 people or 150 or 300 or whatever the number becomes, you're probably in for a surprise.”
To grow culture deliberately rather than risk it getting out of control, Cooper says focusing on values is important. More than words on a wall, culture has to be embedded into all of a company’s processes, including hiring, promoting and assessing performance.
“We have terminated folks who functionally were doing really, really well in their roles but were not aligned with our values,” says Cooper.
“Our mission is to help the people in small businesses be successful. And everybody gathers around that, and that's what really creates the culture that is naturally evolving.”
In Jobber’s case, their culture is summarized by three pillars: we’re humble, we are supportive and we give a shit.
“Our mission is to help the people in small businesses be successful. And everybody gathers around that, and that's what really creates the culture that is naturally evolving,” Cooper says.
When it comes to humility, for example, Cooper says the company doesn’t look at it like thinking less of yourself: it’s thinking of yourself less. “It's, how can we ensure that every single one of us is positioning ourselves in order to elevate everybody else because when everybody is elevated we all win.”
Two years ago, Jobber hired an external consultant to review its compensation practices, and Cooper says having an external rather than internal expert was important to ensure they were valuing roles in a bias-free and equitable way, since an external expert doesn’t know the jobs or functions.
“We want to do the best we can to make sure that people are being assessed in a bias-free way.”
The consultant spoke to every people leader in the company about Jobber’s roles and asked questions based on the Government of Ontario's pay equity guidelines, and broke down the roles and responsibilities, including whether there's education required, the range of responsibilities, and the impact of the role. The questions were weighted, scored and grouped, and each group has a salary range.
“What this does is it eliminates any of these preconceived biases about a particular role because we're not thinking about the personnel, we're thinking about the job itself.”
Now, anytime that there's a new role that gets developed, Jobber goes through the same scoring process and it's grouped into a salary band. The company also checks once a year that they are still paying equitably.
“It’s such an important part of the employee experience, and ensuring equity is really important,” Cooper says, who notes the company still works with an external consultant to ensure they are maintaining equitable practices, starting as early as the interview process
“We want to do the best we can to make sure that people are being assessed in a bias-free way,” says Cooper.