“The pandemic made our key brand message of putting employees at the center of business success more relevant than ever,” explained Centrical’s VP HR Ella Davidson. “Companies realized how important it is for the survival of their business to keep their newly remote employees engaged, aligned, connected, and trained constantly.”
During all of that, Davidson told CTech that “it sometimes felt like after 2020 we are more connected than ever.”
Centrical, which is a platform designed to help employees succeed from wherever they are, is now experiencing hyper-growth as it prepares to meet its 40 new employees in the flesh. Until then, this is how the company has fostered its community during Covid-19.
Company Name: Centrical
HR Leader: Ella Davidson
Field of Activity:
Centrical is an employee-centric success platform. We provide enterprise organizations with a technology platform that helps frontline employees improve their performance. It utilizes real-time employee performance data (e.g. product sales, call times, etc.) to guide frontline workers on their targets, offer them personalized training activities, and motivate them to excel.
Number of employees/location: 70 in Israel and 40 in the U.S.
Professional background of Manager:
I have over 20 years’ experience in HR leadership roles in various startup companies and conducting leadership workshops.
On a scale of 1-10, how much did the coronavirus pandemic disrupt operations at the company?
We were shaken by the pandemic much like everyone else in the world. In an interesting way, however, this year tested our capability, flexibility, and execution and helped reveal who we are as a company.
In March we paused many of our plans in cautious anticipation. Very quickly though, we realized that by working together fast, we could seize the moment and turn this into an opportunity. We rallied all our teams together and, in under a month, released a new offering to the market that we call “Centrical Connect”. It packaged existing and new capabilities in our platform to support our customers’ transition to remote work.
As a result of this process, we didn’t just gain reaffirmation of our belief in our company and employees, usage of our product also increased by a factor of six.
The pandemic made our key brand message – “putting employees at the center of business success” – more relevant than ever, as companies realized how important it is for the survival of their business to keep their newly remote employees engaged, aligned, connected, and trained constantly.
Beyond that, during the last eight months, we hired 40 new employees. All this while transitioning to working remotely, and during this worldwide rollercoaster.
During all of that, it sometimes felt like after 2020 we are more connected than ever.
What interesting technological tools do you use in employee management/recruitment?
Our own platform “Centrical” is the most important tool we use. We get new employees started on it, offering them a gamified onboarding experience and introduce them to their new colleagues with videos on our platform. We give employees an opportunity to express themselves and get more personal by spotlighting them on the platform, where they share their passions and hobbies.
Employees use the platform to learn about each other, themselves, our clients, as well as about our tools and capabilities. They interact, support, and acknowledge each other while moving up levels in our internal virtual game. Looking back at this experience, these things didn’t start with the pandemic, but they significantly increased.
Thanks to our platform we were able to onboard 40 new employees smoothly. I’m proud to say that, in retrospect, we’ve managed to make all of them feel like a part of the company even, though, for many, we have met them only a few times or never met with them at all face to face.
What positive and/or negative impact did the outbreak have on the human capital of the company?
As I mentioned before, while working remotely, it felt like the pandemic has brought us closer together. We celebrated events virtually, sent employees ice cream and cocktails to their homes, and did virtual toasts and holiday gatherings. It helped us stay connected but it was not the only thing about this year. The need for immediate action, the flexibility needed, and the intensity of the past year, revealed that we are truly living out our core values.
About two years ago, we decided that putting customers at the center (both internal and external) is very important for us. We defined it as one of our core company values. This year, we have seen people supporting each other, offering assistance, mentoring, and cooperating in an even greater capacity than ever before.
We also put into practice another one of our company’s core values, – always growing and learning. During 2020, we were able to change many old ways of doing things. Many people changed roles and responsibilities, some were promoted, and everyone was involved in tons of different initiatives. We launched a soft skill coaching program for our team managers (called “Growthspace”) and we held leadership sessions for a combined U.S and Israeli middle management team.
For me personally, it was a clear reminder of what is needed for a company to succeed. We have so little influence on so few things, so we should focus on the things we can affect and on the things that really matter. We should surround ourselves with great people, engage them, provide a space for their growth and the rest will follow.
What are the two major challenges toy are coping with these days?
Our theme for 2021 will be getting ready for scale. We are preparing for a year of hyper-growth, so our challenge will be to engrain the good foundations that we have built and try not to lose them as we grow and change fast.
We are in this phase of a company where we need to start getting things in order and build control mechanisms and standardized processes so that we can scale up and be more predictable.
Also, this year, it’s time for us to give back to the community. As always, we are thinking of ways to make an impact. We are currently working on providing our platform and support to a large national non-profit organization. If we can help them drive better engagement, learning, and performance in their teams, on a personal level, I feel it will have more impact than any other project we take on.
Are you actively recruiting? If so, what is the process and where can the applicants find you?
We are growing in Israel and in the U.S, UK, and Australia. All of our open positions are posted on the career page on our website. The hiring processes are very transparent, personal interviews followed by simulations or exercise depends on the role. It’s important for us to find people with both a professional and cultural fit to join us.
Which changes forced upon you by the circumstances will stay in place after Covid-19 is over, and which are you most eager to revert back to normal?
Obviously, we all want to see each other more, face to face. We hired so many great people both in Israel and the U.S that we feel are part of our company, community, and culture and we can’t wait to meet them in the flesh. Having said that we probably are not going to revert to fully working out of the office and will adjust with a hybrid model.
There is so much to learn from this year, in so many ways about us as individuals and then as a company. I’m not sure yet about all of it, but I’m sure of one thing, we will learn and grow and change.