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Growing as they go: How HiBob is developing its people programs

As the world of work continues to change, every company is on a quest to find new ways to support their people, helping them adapt and adjust to the new ways and challenges they bring. For some companies, this means embracing the change, using it as time for experimentation and innovation. These companies, these rebels as I call them, are intentional and strategic in their approach, not letting traditional ways prevent them from meeting the changing needs of their people and businesses.

This is especially true when it comes to decisions impacting how, where and when our people work, with companies experimenting with new ways to combine and blend work in and out of the office. From remote work to hybrid work to anywhere work to 4-day workweeks, we’re seeing companies experimenting with what will enable their people and business to “be their best,” and at the same time stay competitive.

At HiBob, a global HR technology provider, it’s no different. Their 743 employees (or what they call “bobbers”) are not only learning how to adapt to this new world of work, but they’re learning how to work in a growing and more global business, one that supports their increasing number of clients from around the world.

The HiBob people team approached these challenges in the same way they address their technology and clients, leaning into and living through their company values.

As I spoke with Toby Hough, People & Culture Director EMEA, two of these values were front and center as he described the new programs and changes they’ve put in place.

1. The first is their value Build the exceptional, which talks about the concept of being trailblazers, having a mindset and approach that ticks the three boxes of functional, flexible and fun. This means that they’re not afraid to try new things, ones that may not be done in other organizations, but worth giving it a go at HiBob. “Everyone contributes to building the exceptional at HiBob. From our constant platform development, growing into new geographies, innovating with new practices and processes, to building amazing relationships with our colleagues and customers” says Hough.

2. The second is Grow through what we do through, which talks about building the exceptional in an ever-changing environment, recognizing that not every day will be a good day or an easy one, where you need to be agile and adapt. This means they see every challenge and experience as a way to learn, improve, and remain resilient. They see things as a journey, one where there are constant iterations, evolving what and how they do things to meet the changing needs of their people and business.

“In our HR team, ‘grow through what we go through’ means we must be willing to pilot and experiment, and be humble enough to say to the business ‘this didn’t work’ or ‘this needs changing’”. And of course this means listening to our bobbers, understanding their changing needs” says Hough.

Now that I’ve shared HiBob’s approach to their change strategy, let me share just two of the programs they’ve put in place.

1. Work from Anywhere program

More and more companies are looking for ways to build freedom into the workplace, giving their people the freedom to decide where and when they want to work. My favorite quote that I believe sums this up is “Work isn’t where you go, it’s what you do.” At HiBob, in addition to a hybrid approach to work, they’ve also put in place their Work from Anywhere program. It was put in place based on a need to support their people in visiting and reconnecting with their family once the COVID-19 lockdown rules were removed, and could be taken for up to two months. As time went on, two changes were made as follows: The first is the reason, with more and more requests being made as a way to combine a desire to travel with the ability to continue to work. And second, while bobbers can still go away for up to two months per year, it should be in maximum one month blocks. They made this change as they found that as a business bobbers being away for a solid two months was getting in the way of the natural rhythm of coming together in person as teams.

“We made this change to balance supporting our people in their love for travel and whilst listening to the needs of our teams to create meaningful connections together” says Hough.

2. Balance days

As with any global company, especially one having people in seven countries working different time zones and work days, HiBob was facing the challenges associated with this. So based on feedback from their people, they put in place balance days as a way to support the wellbeing of all Bobbers globally. The way it works is that at the end of each quarter, HiBob shuts down for a day with clear instructions that there will be no meetings, no messages, no notifications! It’s a time to completely disconnect and switch off, a time to refresh, relax and rejuvenate. And since everyone is doing it at the same time, bobbers don’t have to stress and play catchup. They had an interesting learning when piloting this in 2022. Originally they had decided not to have a balance day in January at the end of the quarter as they didn’t think it was necessary since people were coming back from the holidays. However, in listening to their people they found that the stress of their biggest quarter of the year, kicking off the new year with new targets and goals, and the stress of holiday backlog actually made it a critical time to have this wellbeing-focused day at the end of the month. Another example of grow through what we go through in action for the HR team.

Let me end by thanking Toby for sharing how they’re supporting their people at HiBob. These are great examples of a commitment to delivering on their mission to “change the world of work forever” one meaningful day and one meaningful action at a time.


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