For our latest employee story, we’re sitting down with Anna Jakovleva, our Head of Human Resources. Anna joined Adjust over three years ago, and since day one has helped scale the business from 40 to over 250 employees, shaped our HR processes, and developed our great – and extensive – benefits system.
During her studies, Anna focused on what workplaces can do to support a good work-life balance. This ignited her drive to work in human resources, and particularly to implement systems that help working parents. Adjust has a number of fantastic family-friendly policies, so we wanted to find out more about Anna’s role, her motivation, and the perks we offer to moms and dads.
What prompted your decision to go into human resources?
The first time I realized I wanted to do something with HR was when I was studying for my bachelor’s degree, and writing my thesis on work-life balance. After that, my master’s thesis focused on employee engagement – which as a whole looks at quality of management as well as work environment and conditions.
After my studies, I started my career doing business development for a kindergarten organization, and realized what a difference these services make for both children and working parents. From there, I knew I wanted to focus specifically on HR, as I was really interested in the diverse streams within the subject – from recruiting, to onboarding, to training. A big motivation was also to build family-friendly workplaces, and I took this goal with me when I started at Adjust.
I joined the company over three years ago, as the very first member of the HR team. Now, as head of the department, I manage a team of five spread out across our various offices worldwide. My dream back in the day was to earn such a title – but I didn’t think it would happen for at least another 20 years!
As Head of HR, what are your responsibilities?
Much of my job revolves around strategy, headcount, forecasting, international growth and resources planning. Saying that, my role is still very hands-on: whether that’s supporting my colleagues with the on-boarding process, or acting as a business partner to the members of our tech team. Business partners are seen as mentors for managers and employees, helping with unbiased advice and support if there’s a need for it.
I really enjoy this aspect of my work, as it helps me better understand my colleagues’ perspectives. The stronger my relationship with the team, the better an overview I have of their feedback and concerns.
What kind of employee culture does Adjust strive to establish?
Although we’ve outgrown the typical start-up size, we strive to stick to our roots in terms of culture. While we might have more processes in place now than before, we encourage the same entrepreneurial atmosphere we started out with.
“Enrichment” is one of our key values, and we want everyone to be proactive about improvements to themselves and the company. That means implementing a real learner culture, which in turn empowers everyone to give their best.
Collaboration across the company comes hand in hand with this. Of course, that requires more effort and attention as we grow – so building bridges between teams is a priority.
Can you tell us more about the benefits we have in place to support new parents?
Sure! First up, we have to differentiate between our office locations, since the default state benefits and teams’ needs vary across each market. This is the first thing I take into consideration when I look into implementing new benefits.
For our Berlin office, we work with a great third-party provider that offers support at every stage of parenthood – from advising on hospitals during pregnancy, to helping decide on schooling and filling out the required forms. They also provide services such as emergency babysitting (partially covered by Adjust) and 24/7 after-school childcare (fully covered by Adjust). German maternity and paternity leave is very flexible, although the average is generally a year’s leave.
For our New York and San Francisco employees we offer maternity leave of up to 18 weeks, while compensating up to 100% of the state benefits. Paternity leave can be taken for up to eight weeks (or six weeks in California), and Adjust complements the state benefits with 40% of the salary for the first six weeks. And because most of our American colleagues work in sales-related functions, commission is also considered in these salary payments. I’m particularly proud about these newly-introduced benefits for parents in US, as it’s a big increase on the legal obligation – which isn’t very supportive.
Leave beyond the defined scope can be discussed with managers, and it makes me really happy to see our managers being accommodating to colleagues’ needs as more become parents.
Introducing our family-friendly policies gives me a huge sense of pride and achievement, especially because it’s been a long-term goal of mine. When I started at Adjust, there was less call for these benefits, and so there weren’t as many processes in place. As the company grew, there developed a real need to formalize things.
Let’s talk longer-term benefits: how does Adjust support parents when they come back to work?
Overall, the company is really mindful of parents’ needs, with flexible working hours, work from home policies, and a robust system in place for family emergencies. You’ll often see kids in the office too, and our Christmas parties have a “kindergarten corner” where they can join in the fun.
In addition, the occupational health insurance we offer can also be extended to family members, both in Berlin and the US. And when we relocate employees, we cover transportation and temporary accommodation costs for partners and families.
Implementing all these family-friendly policies came at the right time – we’ve welcomed a number of kids in the US and Berlin offices recently, and now count 42 children across the company. As Adjust continues to grow, we want to make it as inclusive and accessible a workplace as possible. There’s a number of additional procedures in the pipeline to help support working parents, so watch this space!