Robert is the Group Human Resources Director at Reward Gateway, an employee engagement platform. The business has over 1,800 clients using products to attract, engage and retain the best employees.

He is the lucky custodian of the People & Experience teams at Reward Gateway. He is responsible for all of their people worldwide across these numerous teams and departments, including Employee Engagement, Learning & Development, Reward & Benefits, Diversity & Inclusion, Office Experience, People Ops, Internal Communications and Recruitment. Basically anything and everything people related.

Robert spoke to Futureheads as part of our FFS series, a regular interview series where business and industry leaders share their insights and personal experience. Other articles in the series can be found here.

Tell us about the impact that Covid-19 and the lockdown measures have had on your business?

COVID-19’s impact on businesses is immense, but it has also put a spotlight on just how important employee engagement is, especially in unprecedented situations. Many businesses who have offices around the world are feeling more connected than ever before because of the encouraged use of video calls and conferences.

We’ve also seen a rise in internal communications. According to a poll we conducted that looked at year-over-year increases for the months of March and April across our 1,800 clients and 5 million users, there was a 96% increase in internal communication blog post frequency and a 560% increase in internal communication blog post views.

It’s also been a time where leaders needed to show compassion which is crucial when going through a crisis. We launched and delivered a work from home support package where employees received a budget to purchase items like desk chairs and laptop stands to make remote work easier. This was received very well and saw a huge take-up by our people.

How have you adapted your operational and hiring practices?

Operationally we have fine-tuned our processes to be more remote, and we’re always reviewing this on a regular basis to ensure we’re supporting our employees the best way we can. With that being said, we’re taking real value into the feedback being given by our colleagues.

We have been putting out frequent pulse surveys specific to the current environment as we want to know how and what our people need to be most effective whilst working remotely. Taking full grasp and understanding of the needs of our employees is our main priority.

We’ve also had to make some adaptations due to the current circumstances, and this meant that recruitment for some roles has been paused. However, this has given us an opportunity to look at the talent we currently have and focus more on the health and wellbeing of our team.

What are your top tips for successfully managing a remote recruitment process?

Setting expectations early is key, as well as providing transparency on our core values and processes. We want to ensure we’re recruiting people who align with our core values, and it’s equally important that we’re the right fit for the person we’re speaking to on the other end.

Organisation and communication is also important as you work out the timings and logistics of the interview process. As we’ve shifted to a remote workforce, we’ve made it clear on what our expectations are, so both parties can come prepared. It’s also important to keep the interviewee engaged without overwhelming them.

Lastly, make sure you have approval for an offer as you move a candidate through each stage of the recruitment process to make sure you maximise your time efficiency. This step is important to ensure your capabilities are being used where needed.

Has this crisis made you look at your business differently or consider changes moving forwards?

I think we’re seeing many discussions arise on flexible work, specifically around whether organizations should put a more formal work from home process in place as offices begin to reopen.

At Reward Gateway, the rise of internal communications has inspired us to keep this going whether in lockdown or not. For many businesses, that may mean the need for more communication and collaboration tools to be formally brought into the workplace.

What advice would you give to anyone in a similar position to you at the moment?

My advice would be to support your colleagues, be transparent, honest and most importantly, show compassion during this time. Don’t keep anyone in the dark; include everyone in decision-making and give them the opportunity to share as much as they can.

We have also seen a significant increase in our peer-to-peer employee recognition solution across our company and our clients. It shows that employees are supporting each other and want to say thank you. It has made a big impact for us by connecting our people and I encourage organisations to make it easy for their people to do the same.

Lead from the front and be accessible, accountable and approachable. Your employees will need you now more than ever and it’s important to show you are available should they have any questions.

Be Kaler Pilgrim


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UK +44 (0)203 319 4720

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