Skyscanner reveals the secrets behind high staff happiness

| Nov 03, 2016

Skyscanner – as well as taking the travel world by storm over the last few years – is one of the finalists in this November’s Scottish Business Awards in the People Innovation category, sponsored by PwC in Scotland.

The travel search site, listed at number five on the Sunday Times Best Companies to Work For 2016, is known as a people leader not only in the Scottish market but in the digital market where staff incentivisation is more developed than in other, more traditional sectors.

Skyscanner's offer to staff

What Skyscanner offers staff to keep them incentivised in addition to salary and bonus structure:

  • employee holiday self-sign-off,
  • working from home, flexible hours and family-friendly
  • Skyscanner Explorer Experience programme, allowing staff to work from another of office for up to 30 days
  • share incentive scheme (at a rate of 2 given for every 1 bought).
  • multipurpose relaxation rooms for meditation, breastfeeding mums or spiritual purposes
  • training to ensure T-shaped agile working staff
  • growth hacking programme to ensure strong talent pipeline and engaged, talented staff

David Hunter, Talent Acquisition Manager has shed light on what it is that makes people see Skyscanner in such an innovative light and how the company keeps staff motivated.

Staff as ambassadors

Treating staff well appears to have been a founding mantra at Skyscanner. Why is this?

“Our view is that employees are the lifeblood of our business. we work to build world-class travel tech solutions and we need equally world-class talent in our business to achieve that. Our founders wanted to create an environment where people loved to coming to work and could work passionately and innovatively. So the way we treat staff is influenced by these founding workplace goals.

“Additionally, by having staff who are happy to work here, they are not only more motivated but are fantastic ambassadors for us when it comes to further staff recruitment, though we do also have a well-used employee referral scheme which we find to be a valuable method of recruitment.”

How do others adapt when they come in from more traditional companies?

“For those who come from a more traditional background, the switch to working in a relatively flat structure, where holidays are self-signed off and flexible working is more than simply lip service, may feel unusual. However it’s very much part of our culture and a style of working that everyone really embraces."

Have any initiatives not worked out?

“Not really -many of our initiatives are trialled on a small scale and reviewed and iterated upon before being rolled out, so we know that they’ll be of value to staff."

The role of Glassdoor and LinkedIn

Sites like Glassdoor and LinkedIn are being used more and more by potential staff to learn about companies, to see what existing staff think of a workplace. Do you see any value in these sort of sites?

“Sites such as Glassdoor are an important source of research for candidates as it provides an open and transparent view of what an organisation is like to work for. They are able to read real reviews from real employees. We’re continuing to recruit at pace so employee review sites are obviously of some importance. However, we also undertake internal staff surveys several times a year which means that we have a very close understanding of what our employees want and need internally also."

Staff engagement seems to go beyond just making everyone happy to improve Skyscanner as there’s a lot of charity work carried out. How important is this at the company?

“We changed our charity format this year to dedicate a single day to charity giving. Over 78 good causes were supported so too many to say! Last year our charity of the year was Children 1st, who won the ‘best corporate partnership’ award at the Charity Champions’ awards for the work we did together."

Should other firms be copying Skyscanner?

“Our workplace environment is a reflection of our culture and so it is difficult to compare with other businesses. Certainly we believe that we can get the best out of employees by giving them the tools and environment to do their jobs in whatever way suits them best.

Given that you are seen as being fairly innovative at the moment, where does Skyscanner go from here in treatment of staff?

“We’re constantly looking at what can be improved or what else could be introduced within the business for our employee benefits. We’ve a number of working groups looking at various areas and potential new projects around employee support and culture.”

Scottish Business Award People Innovator blog posts

In Pursuit of a four-day week for happy staff




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