HRTech Interview with Sara Cooper, Chief People Officer at Jobber

Sara Cooper - Jobber

Sara Cooper who is among the 25 HR leaders building the world’s most innovative, inclusive workplaces amid upheaval in corporate America, talks about how Jobber supports employees at every step.

1. Tell us about your background working in HR.
I’m currently the Chief People Officer at Jobber, the leading provider of home service management software. I’ve spent over 15 years in Toronto’s tech industry in companies that ranged from early-stage startups to enterprise organizations. Prior to joining Jobber in 2019 I was with OMERS Ventures, one of Canada’s largest investors, where I was responsible for advising a portfolio of close to 40 high-growth companies on their HR & talent strategies. During my time at OMERS, I released the Start-up Talent Playbook, which was embraced by Canada’s startup ecosystem, and also built a mentorship network connecting startup employees with executives at other companies for professional development. I also helped grow and guide teams at Softchoice, Lavalife, and Microsoft, and held leadership roles at D+H and FreshBooks.

2. How have the events of the pandemic impacted your view of HR’s role?
Rather than changing my views on HR, the pandemic reinforced them.

HR, unfortunately, has a reputation of being slow-moving, traditional, and process-oriented. It doesn’t have to be that way. I believe great HR is innovative. It’s driving the performance and growth of the business while also ensuring the success of its employees.

The pandemic required HR leaders to be very quick on their feet. To make fast decisions often with little information and in an environment that was changing by the day. There was no pandemic playbook. The most successful companies did this by creating plans that took into account the information that was evolving almost daily and listening to their employees and customers.

Hopefully coming out of this, more leaders recognize that by meeting people where they are today (not where they were yesterday or where they will be a month from now) and investing in their well-being we enable them to do their best work. And that translates into greater success for the company.

3. Jobber ranked Top 5 on the 2022 List of Best Workplaces™ in Canada. How do you manage to keep your workforce satisfied?
Being able to provide a safe, inclusive, and motivating environment that fosters the professional growth and happiness of our employees is our top priority. Over the last two years, we’ve introduced new programs and initiatives to ensure employees continue to feel connected in our hybrid work environment, while also maximizing their development while at Jobber.

One of the top reasons we’re able to keep our employees happy is that we strive to continuously improve and create a respectful environment for all employees by listening to employee feedback. Receiving and listening to feedback from employees on how to improve the workplace and processes is an important way we show we care about employee satisfaction.

I’m also very proud of our Learning & Development program, which provides career coaching and supports learning and growth for employees at all levels, throughout their careers. This program increases employee satisfaction by helping them improve their skill sets and reach their career goals.

4. How has the Great Resignation affected your company? What initiatives have you taken to address it?
Jobber is not only successfully navigating the Great Resignation, but is growing at a rapid rate. We hired 272 people in 2021, have grown to over 500 people and have a regrettable turnover rate of just 10%.

When I joined Jobber I read a lot of research that pointed to the majority of people leaving their companies in order to progress their careers. To address this, I implemented a Coaching & Development department which includes learning experts and two certified Coaches who are accessible to everyone. At Jobber, the ‘corporate ladder’ concept has evolved into a ‘jungle gym’ that provides new growth opportunities to employees, whether that involves taking on more responsibility, shifting to a different role, or mastering a current position. This enables employees to choose between pursuing cross-team lateral career movement (while learning new skills) or following a more traditional career path. This flexible career development structure has allowed employees to reinvent themselves and their careers while remaining at Jobber, instead of seeking opportunities at other companies. Since October 2020, 154 employees have made career changes at Jobber.

In a time when people are looking for change, we were already well equipped to support employees in making that change within Jobber instead of looking to start over with a new company.

5. What are some advantages and disadvantages of a hybrid workforce from a tech perspective?
Technology provides employees the flexibility to work where and when they want. We have found amazing talent that we wouldn’t have otherwise if we were to require everyone to return to a physical location. Empowering our workforce with the ability to decide where they would like to work has also increased the diversity of our teams, and led to better creativity and opportunities for different discussions.

One of the struggles with a hybrid workforce is effectively navigating asynchronous communication.

When communicating by text, people lose tone and body language cues that can help with messaging. During our transition to a hybrid-flex work model, our Coaching & Development team built resources to promote communication best practices. This included guidelines and tips around effective meetings and how to leverage both asynchronous and synchronous communication methods.

Another struggle with hybrid work is that it can make it difficult to form connections and get to know other employees, but technology can be used to address this issue. For instance, Jobber has its own in-house Coffee Tag program, which matches employees via Slack to go on short coffee meetings. As we’ve grown and become more distributed, we’ve been looking for ways to expand our Coffee Tag program. With that in mind, we added “Donut” to our Slack workspace. The Donut is a Slack app add-on that helps employees make connections across the organization by facilitating daily conversation prompts in channel, virtual coffee meetups, hybrid work-friendly celebrations for birthdays and work anniversaries, etc. It’s great for helping Jobberinos to get to know each other a little better, outside of the day-to-day work interactions.

6. How can companies successfully implement a strong hybrid work environment?
When it comes to implementing a hybrid work structure there’s no single solution for every company, but the key to creating a successful hybrid environment requires the input from employees.

At Jobber, rather than making a top-down decision about what the new hybrid approach would look like, we rolled out an initial proposal based on an employee survey and then adapted it to what works best for our employees. We found that what works for our people is flexibility, so the vast majority of roles allow employees the choice to work remotely, regardless of whether they’re within commuting distance of one of our two offices.

Now that Jobber’s two physical offices are reopened, a regular cadence of surveys will be conducted to gauge employee experience within the new office environments and inform any adjustments that may be needed.

Embracing this style of open communication is critical to the hybrid model as it evolves over time to meet the needs of employees. Processes and training has also been put in place to eliminate the potential of in-person bias.

7. How do you like to source employee feedback? What technology do you use for this?
We have multiple channels for feedback (positive and constructive feedback). We have an annual engagement survey and also utilize an anonymous feedback tool where employees can give feedback about any subject, including our programs, policies or even their manager’s performance. The feedback is seen only by a select group of Leadership, and handled accordingly. We also encourage our employees to speak directly with anyone on our Leadership Team, including our CEO, Sam Pillar. Employees regularly utilize this approachability, which starts early on at Jobber. Members of the Executive Team sit down with every new hire for coffee within their first 3 months. We use Culture Amp to collect survey responses.

8. What platforms do you like to use to improve employee engagement or recognition?
Jobber uses a platform called Bonusly to engage employees and improve collaboration, productivity, and retention at every level of the organization. Every month, employees receives 50 “Jobbloons” that they use to reward their peers for living the company values of giving a shit, being humble, and being supportive. Employees can redeem Jobbloons for gift cards to any of the participating retailers allowing them to treat themselves to a nice dinner out or an item that’s been sitting on their Amazon wish-list for months. They can also use the Jobbloons to make charitable donations or regift them as recognition for their peers.

Jobber is proud to recognize folks who have chosen to invest their time with the company through its Jobberversary Program, which includes special swag, Jobbloons, an ESOP review, extra week of vacation, and more depending on the person’s tenure at the company. Part of the Jobberversary Program also includes a visual representation of an employee’s time at Jobber in the form of a customized lego mini-figure. Complete with a Jobber shirt, the lego person comes on a base with a few bricks representing the start of the employee’s journey with Jobber. Each year on their anniversary, we send them a new lego piece.

9. How can customers count on Jobber to keep their business organized?
Jobber’s business management software serves as the command center for home service businesses, transforming the way home services are delivered through technology that helps small businesses better connect with customers, grow their businesses, and compete against big corporations. Unlike spreadsheets or pen-and-paper, Jobber keeps track of everything in one place and automates day-to-day operations, so businesses can provide 5-star service at scale. Jobber also helps businesses provide a personalized customer experience through its client manager, which tracks important customer information, such as past quotes, jobs, visits, invoices, and full billing history associated with each client.

10. What features does Jobber’s mobile app offer for better time and attendance management?
Jobber allows home service business owners to assign and schedule jobs to their employees from anywhere. With the Jobber app, business owners can check availability at a glance whenever a new job comes in, compare team member schedules side-by-side to see who’s free to dispatch, choose an available time slot, and immediately schedule the work with one tap.

When a team member starts a job, they can clock in by starting a timer in Jobber. When they clock out, Jobber updates both the job and the employee’s timesheet to reflect the time spent working. All this information tracked in one place allows managers and owners to have a holistic view of team utilization and implement new processes to boost efficiency.

Sara Cooper Chief People Officer, Jobber

Sara Cooper is the Chief People Officer at Jobber. She spent over 15 years in Toronto’s tech industry in companies from early-stage startups to enterprise organizations. Her most recent role prior to joining Jobber was with OMERS Ventures, one of Canada’s largest investors, where she was responsible for advising a portfolio of close to 40 high-growth companies on their HR & Talent strategies. During her time at OMERS Ventures, Sara released the Start-up Talent Playbook, which was embraced by Canada’s startup ecosystem, and also built a mentorship network connecting startup employees with executives at other companies for professional development. Sara also helped grow and guide teams at Softchoice, Lavalife, and Microsoft, and held leadership roles at D+H and FreshBooks, which more than doubled in size during her tenure.


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