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When I started Vend, my approach to recruitment was very unorthodox. I just encouraged people to walk in off the street and apply for a job.

The first employee who approached me is now our head of marketing Nick Houldsworth. We met a few times, emailed and eventually I hired him full time.

We have been growing fast and recently increased staff from nine to 40. I incentivised the team offering a small bonus if they recommended someone who was eventually hired.

When it came to hiring a marketing officer we wanted someone who was gun with social media. So we decided to use social media to attract the right person – the whole process was designed to show us if they had the right skills and fit. So we posted an Instagram picture of an old-fashioned, handwritten job advert on Twitter. Potential interviewees responded by posting their own versions or tweeting back.

We also like to make interviews at Vend a difference experience. We’ve been known to throw some curve balls by asking ‘what’s your favourite swear word?’ to see how the person copes and also gain an insight into how they may like to blow off steam! We had one candidate who came in wearing a Spiderman costume after reading a Vend Facebook post stating interviewees could wear whatever they wanted to.

Now that we have opened offices in San Francisco and Melbourne we have recently appointed a Head of Talent, Kristi Grant, to help us manage our cultural fit across the jurisdictions. We always conduct two rounds of interviews before someone is hired. First are basic questions to get an idea of the person. The second is to judge how well they will fit in so we might play a game of pool with them.

Below are 6 key tips on how we approached creating a great workplace:

1. Talent: hire brilliant performers

We recruit people who are smarter than us, or have skill sets that complement ours. Instead of feeling threatened, we choose to feel challenged and enjoy the learning that comes from recruiting brilliant people.

2. Culture: hire for fit

We hire for cultural fit. Given the choice between a technical genius with poor cultural fit or an awesome cultural fit needing some up-skilling, we will ALWAYS employ for cultural fit.

3. Fun: have some every day

We endeavour to make Vend a fun place to work. (Which at Vend means zombies on Halloween, a pool table, a lot of birthday cakes and piñatas.)

If anything, we feel fun at work aids productivity. As much as we try to pretend otherwise, our brains aren’t machines. Sometimes they need a break. While we’re off having fun, our brains are often hard at work in the background allowing inspiration to strike.

4. Inclusivity: it’s a partnership

At Vend our metrics are shared openly with staff, so everyone knows where the business stands every day. Open communication about the business and its goals better equips our staff to understand and meet those goals.

Employees already have a stake in the business – we pay their wages, after all. We strengthen that connection by keeping staff informed and included.  This goes back to hiring. When you have the right people, there’s never a need to close doors.

5. Fluidity: relaxed not rigid

We may have hired someone for a specific role, but that doesn’t mean they won’t have something to contribute elsewhere. At Vend we have open invitations to any meetings, in any department. The rule is, if you think it affects you or you’re interested, go ahead and invite yourself along. We never stymy anyone’s creativity and innovation. In fact, we rely on it.

6. Work-Life Blend: children and dogs welcome

We believe in work-life blend, so it is not uncommon to see hangers-on in the office, including dogs and children. We allow the flexibility our team needs to juggle work, family, social, sport and other commitments. After all, we’re all grown-ups and can manage our own time.

Vaughan Rowsell is the CEO & Founder of Vend

Vaughan Rowsell

Vaughan Rowsell

Vaughan is a software engineer of 15+ years, veteran of several start-ups and well known Kiwi internet companies, including TradeMe. Vaughan founded, built, then publicly launched Vend in late 2010. The story of Vend draws inspiration from Xero, who took really bad software (like accounting), and made it sexy, cloud-based, and a pleasure to use. Vaughan took a step back, looked around, and found a lot of industries still use really bad software - probably written in the 90′s in Foxpro. A lot of it ugly, hard to use, offline and expensive. He knew the “cloud” was where things needed to be. It wasn’t hard to find a large vertical that really needed a new product. Retail was obvious.

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