Signifyd: As business accelerates, so must employee wellbeing

  • Sync NI chatted to Matthew Hamilton, Signifyd’s Senior HR Manager. He is responsible for establishing and developing all aspects of the HR function for the company's UK operations in Belfast and London

    Signifyd is a global ecommerce fraud protection firm that started out as a remote company. Headquartered in Silicon Valley, the US firm reached over 100 UK employees in February of this year and in March reached 300 globally. 

    Matt talks about the hyper acceleration of the ecommerce world during the pandemic, which in his words, “hasn’t really slowed down”. 

    “Whenever I started [with Signifyd] I think we only had about 180 or so people, so it's been massive growth over 2020,” he said.

    “With Covid, everyone's shopping online so there's going to be people who inevitably take advantage of that as fraud increases, so we’ve been really busy. 

    “We definitely saw a spike that would be the equivalent of the Christmas holidays or Black Friday spikes, and that was sustained. What we saw was a massive progression to online shopping that we wouldn't have expected to happen for another five years. It's sped up the online shopping movement, where maybe people have never shopped online before and now are doing it for the first time.

    “More people as well were shopping online two or three times a week where maybe they've only done it once before, so we definitely saw that kind of trend, and it was very interesting as well. 

    “There's lots of articles about it on our website, and it was really interesting to see the types of markets that really boomed. There’s less of the luxury brands but more things like homeware and more casual consumer sectors started to pick up. I mean obviously toilet roll was one!

    “A lot of retailers that didn’t previously have ecommerce offerings have been exploring new things as well. In the US, we've seen a lot of curbside pick-up, so you order online and pick up curbside, and here in the UK a lot of restaurants are now doing takeaway services, but obviously to place those orders, you're doing them through an online platform. I think that's something that's probably going to stay with us for the foreseeable future as well.

    “We've been really lucky because Signifyd was actually built as a remote company so we've always had remote workers. From my perspective, we’ve always trusted our teams so because we have that trust, there was no major issue for us switching to full remote work.

    Minding staff mindfulness 

    Speaking about the future of work as we (hopefully) begin to plan a post-pandemic transition over the coming months, with decreasing R rates and increasing vaccinations, Matt said that from Signifyd’s perspective, “if people continue wanting to work from home or they want greater flexibility, then that's definitely something that we're going to look into.”

    His key focus throughout the interview has been on mindfulness and staff wellbeing, which he believes is the stance all employers will have to take even after the lockdown.

    “Things have changed and they probably have changed in some ways permanently going forward,” Matt continued.

    “Over 2020, I was very cognizant of a lot of societal change in both the US and the UK. We've had so much of this change going on and it's caused a lot of anxiety for a lot of people. 

    “I think employers are starting to wake up and realise that actually, they need to be really mindful of all of these sorts of societal changes that impact on their staff and they have to be very aware of what is happening. I think COVID definitely pushed it to the forefront. 

    “Whenever COVID hit one of the things we started to do was have one-to-one calls with our entire employee team.

    “HR set up meetings with every single person to see how they were and it wasn't a check in to see how many hours you were working or how your work was going; it was, “Are you OK? Are your family OK?” to see if there’s anything that you need.

    “I think a lot of people really appreciate that. So yeah, I think that's the main thing for me; employers are just going to have to spend a lot more time focusing on the health and mental wellbeing of their staff.” 

    Prospective progression is key 

    In terms of the future of work, Matt added his belief that a lot of companies “just need to be a lot more progressive”. 

    “One of the things that we've been really proud of is the Diversity Mark we’ve recently been awarded,” he commented.

    “We took 2020 to really work on a lot of internal projects and one of those was the launch of our new diversity, equity and inclusion programme. We've really utilised the fact that we're all working virtually to deliver seminars, guest speaker sessions and lots of learning webinars to try and build our company culture and bring people together.

    “This has taught companies as well that even in crazy times there are opportunities to bring your teams together and develop company culture. I think it's been great because I think probably for a very long time remote workers have often been overlooked or other firms have not necessarily engaged with the remote working teams in a very effective way. 

    “There's lots of things that we've been doing online, between virtual comedy sessions with stand-up comedians, live quizzes for the UK team and virtual yoga and tai chi too. It's definitely been an opportunity for us, even though it's been a very difficult period.”

    “We're still looking at ways we can augment the mental health services we provide our teams and I don't think we'll stop looking at that, as well as our online learning. 

    “We’re just going to continuously develop and continuously work, taking the opportunity to see how we can make the most of that. You just have to keep going forward and keep doing new things.”

    This article first appeared in the Spring 2021 edition of the Sync NI magazine. You can download your FREE copy and sign up to recieve future digital editions here

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