What happened if you opened a new office in January, 2020?
Finastra had to battle a global pandemic just one month after relocating. Here’s how the HR team tackled the challenge
“Our new offices in Kfar Saba were opened only in January this year and shut down a few weeks later due to the pandemic,” explained Ronnie Abramowitz, Finasta’s HRBP Payments & Head of HR, Israel. “Many employees are really looking forward to returning to the new offices and enjoying the new working environment.”
The coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic surely caused millions of offices around the world to close - but what about ones that were barely open to begin with? A victim of some unfortunate timing, Finastra was forced to close its doors mere weeks after opening them.
This HR Post-Covid entry focuses on how Abramowitz and the rest of the team helped employees battle the ‘fatigue’ of endless lockdowns and working from home.
Company name: Finastra
HR leader: Ronnie Abramowitz, HRBP Payments & Head of HR, Israel
Field of activity:
Finastra is building an open platform that accelerates collaboration and innovation in financial services, creating better experiences for people, businesses, and communities. Finastra is currently serving 8,500 banks and financial institutions around the world including 90 of the top 100 global banks.
Finastra Israel is leading the payments line of business and has built the largest and the golden standard of the Payments systems. Finastra Israel is serving the largest banks in the world, enabling our customers to transfer over 20 trillion dollars a day.
Number of employees/locations:
Finastra’s Payments business unit employs over 700 employees in four main locations: 350 in Israel, 300 in India, and the rest in Germany and the United States.
Professional background of HR leader:
Ronnie is an MBA graduate with her B.A. in Economics and Management (both from Ben-Gurion University). She specialized in HR data systems and Compensation & Benefits at 888 and joined Finastra, then called Fundtech, in 2012.
On a scale of 1-10, how much did the Coronavirus disrupt operations at Finastra?
As a global technology company, we are well equipped and trained for remote working around the globe and working from home is no different. During the first lockdown we were surprised to see how easily and quickly our employees adapted to working from home and productivity even increased slightly. The recent second lockdown took a toll on our employees mainly as a result of fatigue caused by this prolonged out-of-the-ordinary situation and the need to deal with complicated technological challenges while also taking care of their children who are studying from home or their “at risk” elderly parents. Our employees are highly committed and professional, but these unusual circumstances are challenging for everyone.
What interesting technological tools do you use in employee management/recruitment?
Right before the Covid-19 outbreak, we completed the move to our new offices in Kfar Saba. These offices were built in the highest standards and included digital technologies built into our offices to enable digital interactions between our sites worldwide. This included top-notch video conferences in every meeting room, file sharing, professional groups, and more. That definitely played a key factor in our readiness for the new situation.
Our People management and recruitment processes are based on a digital infrastructure which we have been using regularly for a few years and more so during the pandemic. ‘Workday’ is our major HR digital system which encompasses the full lifecycle of our employees including recruitment, on-boarding, career building, performance and talent management, and many others.
During the pandemic and the inability to meet applicants in person, we have started using an advanced system called Codility which provides remote professional tests for developers and that gives us tools to assess their qualifications. Interviews are conducted using video conferences and overall, these online tools meet all of our standards without compromising on the quality of the process. Of course, we will always prefer to meet applicants in person and we hope to go back to doing that soon.
What positive and/or negative impact did the outbreak have on the human capital of the company?
Our employees in Israel and around the globe have proven themselves to be resilient, with the ability to solve unique technological challenges and cope with such an unusual work environment. No doubt, a positive was that working from home allowed our employees to spend on average an additional one to three hours of leisure time which otherwise would have been spent in traffic jams heading in and out of the office. What we have been witnessing is that some of our employees are less effective working from home and this is a challenge our talented managers need to address.
Our employees are proud of themselves and of what they can achieve and we, the management, are extremely proud of them.
What are the major challenges you are coping with these days?
Our employees tell us that they miss the office interaction they have with their colleagues and the joint effort to conquer new technological heights. Cross pollination and collaboration between team members and different functions plays a pivotal role especially in development groups. Working from home presents a challenge and requires extra effort for tasks that were easier and common prior to the pandemic.
Our new and exciting offices in Kfar Saba were opened only in January this year and shut down a few weeks later due to the pandemic. Many employees are really looking forward to returning to the new offices and enjoy the new working environment.
To care for our employees’ wellbeing, we have initiated a number of activities that we used in order to take a break from the day to day tasks. Dancing lessons, a cooking session with a leading chef, and a variety of interesting lectures are some examples. Our People team conducted personal meetings speaking with each and every employee, listened to their feedback, and provided assistance and guidance as needed.
Our GM, Sagive Greenspan, had often sent video updates to our employees and we started using Yammer to better engage and interact among ourselves in various dedicated groups and at the broader company level. It is also very important for us, especially during these challenging times, to continue Finastra’s support to the community. Our employees were involved in bringing food donations for the needy as well as fund raising for the less fortunate. We strongly encourage these efforts and where possible, the company takes an active part such as in matching money donations.
Are you actively recruiting? If so, what is the process and where can the applicants find you?
At any given moment, including during the pandemic, we have 20-30 openings in Israel as well as roughly the same number in India. The open positions are published on Finastra’s Linkedin page and website and are available for applicants to access. We regularly use social networks to seek for talent but occasionally we may use a recruitment agency.
Based on the successful track record, we also strongly encourage our employees to recommend candidates and we provide incentives for them to do so.
Once in the process, interviews and exams are conducted via Microsoft Teams and where needed, the Codility system is also used.
Which changes forced upon you by the circumstances will stay in place and which are you most eager to revert back to normal?
Our two key priorities are our people wellbeing and the business continuity. Whether we do that fully from our offices or using a different setup is something we will need to decide when time comes. We know the value of professional and personal interactions together with the fun and creative brainstorming taking place when people are together. What we have come to learn and appreciate is that we also have tools that allow us to bridge situations of social distancing and remote work. We will probably need to wait and see how things evolve.