“We’re making Nexus so attractive that we don’t need recruiters”

GET TO KNOW Sofie Nyreröd, chief human resources officer (CHRO) at identity and security company Nexus Group. “All of the leaders at Nexus have a big HR responsibility, and we’re making Nexus so attractive that we don’t even need to use recruiters or headhunters,” she says.

What did you do before you joined Nexus?

“I studied behavioral science and business administration at Stockholm University. Then I worked with HR at Västerås Municipality for 2 years, before joining the consulting firm McKinsey & Company. I stayed there for 20 years, and worked with finance, HR and back-office functions. After that, I was the CHRO of the Swedish part of insurance company If for 10 years,” says Sofie Nyreröd.

What have you accomplished since you joined Nexus in September of 2016?

“Nexus consists of several merged companies, and the different HR structures had not been merged when I joined the company. So, we began by creating an organization chart and a title structure, and then we implemented a common appraisal dialog process with calibration meetings. We have also structured the wages, so that we can align them step by step. And we have aligned vacations and benefits, and many other things. It has been a big task to align all the acquired companies and set common structures and processes.

“We’ve also gotten a new tool for employee surveys, called &frankly. Instead of these dull, 4-page long surveys once a year, all Nexus employees continuously get a few quick questions in their email or in a mobile app. It’s a pretty exciting tool, which helps us to work with and increase employee engagement and commitment,” says Sofie Nyreröd.

Nexus has 300 employees and the HR team consists of only 3 full-time employees – why so few?

“If we hired a few more HR professionals, they wouldn’t be idle. But I truly believe that Nexus becomes an even more attractive employer when our leaders themselves feel ownership for the HR agenda for their employees. I tell our leaders that they are the true human resources managers, even though I have the formal title.

“My ­and the HR team’s role is to support the leaders with training, tools, processes and coaching, so that they can be marvelous leaders that feel that they are truly responsible for their coworkers and their prospering and development,” says Sofie Nyreröd.

What are the benefits of having the leaders playing a big role in HR?

“It’s paramount for creating a successful and attractive company with engaged and committed employees. A recent Swedish, nation-wide study showed that only 16 percent of employees felt engaged and committed, and that some actually actively worked against the best interests of the company. So, all HR teams’ main task is to make sure that the engagement and commitment among the employees increase. That is what truly makes a difference for a company’s future. You of course also need the employees to have the right skills, but that is usually an easier task.

“There are two main parts to getting engaged and committed employees. First, you have to recruit the right people, with the right inner driving forces and personalities – and the results are much better when the leaders see it as one of their main responsibilities to attract and recruit great people. And then you must have truly good leaders, who make people see the goal and the vision, and who see, acknowledge and coach their employees. But the leaders can’t only be cozy and encouraging – they also have to make demands and make sure that the team performs,” says Sofie Nyreröd.

Nexus costs for recruitments have shrunk considerably – why is that?

“Sometimes we still use recruiters and headhunters, but we are increasingly moving away from that. Ideally, our leaders should recruit from their own and our employees’ networks, and among people that actively seek us out. We’re making Nexus so attractive that we don’t need to use recruiters or headhunters. We are also using fewer paid job ads, but we will continue to use them to some degree: job ads are a great way to do employer branding,” says Sofie Nyreröd.

What is it that makes Nexus so attractive?

“It comes down to three things: We work with cutting-edge technology in an industry that is very exciting and vibrant – this means that we offer interesting and developing tasks; we have managed to attract lots of really great people, and that is in itself attracting new talent – everybody wants to work with the best in the field; and we have great leaders who see, acknowledge and coach,” says Sofie Nyreröd.

But Nexus does not have ball pools or fridges filled with free food?

“No. We do have a room with different games, but we will probably not offer free food. This is a balancing act: the tax authorities in Sweden and Germany are not that fond of these kinds of things, and I don’t think our developers would actually use a ball pool that often – but on the other hand, developers compare their work place with those of Google, Spotify and Klarna, and want to feel that they are offered as many benefits and goodies here at Nexus.

“But ultimately, these things are not what make a person opt for a job or stay at a job. What makes a company truly attractive are the things I mentioned before. The fact that we have managed to attract and retain so many highly sought-after people proves that,” says Sofie Nyreröd.

What is next on your agenda?

“We still don’t have a common HR system, so we will implement one during Q2, 2018. This will digitize and automate some of our HR processes, and more things will be done through self-service. It will also lead to more data-driven HR efforts.

“And we will of course continue to develop our leaders, and provide them with continuous inspiration and knowledge,” says Sofie Nyreröd.

How would your colleagues describe you?

“I hope they’d say that I’m positive, knowledgeable in HR, a good listener, without prestige, and not afraid to get my hands dirty. I have no need to be the one who is seen or heard the most, but I want to feel that I affect people. Relationships are very important to me,” says Sofie Nyreröd.

Published 5/1 2018

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