First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID19 times?
Mats Röjdmark: We are doing very well, thank you! We are happy to have been moderately hit by the situation. Things are, under the circumstances, relatively business as usual, we have our jobs, our health and our loved ones close to us. We try to remind each other every day how relatively lucky we have been and still are in these times.
Tell us about you, your career, and how you founded or joined Universum
Mats Röjdmark: I joined Universum a year ago as a result of the acquisition by Stepstone GmbH. I was formerly with an international talent acquisition company that was doing a scaled down version of Employer Branding when I was asked to join Universum as the CEO. It was certainly an offer that I couldn’t refuse.
How does Universum innovate?
Mats Röjdmark: Universum has been innovating since it was founded back in 1988. By then, there was nothing like Employer Branding. When Universum launched the first surveys and started comparing companies with each other based on young professionals’ perceptions, it was something completely new, giving companies new insights and methods to execute and craft their talent strategies, a new industry was born. Since then, Universum has constantly developed the way of working with data driven Employer Branding to reach and climb to new levels.
As part of our corporate vision, we declare that we will continue to “Shape Employer Branding” and by that we mean that we have every intention to keep developing this method of working and how companies can make and execute on Employer Branding strategy. I’m proud to say that in a short period of time, we have been leveraging this innovative culture. We were able to launch two new products, both from idea to product as a reaction to Covid-19. These products make it easier for companies to manage and deliver their Employer Branding strategies in a remote working environment.
To manufacture an innovative culture, we try to involve as many as possible in processes. We work with a central product development process as well as decentral customer centric product development in almost every product.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business and how are you coping?
Mats Röjdmark: Already in the first half of March we decided to adopt a strategy to protect our employees’ safety and employments through the crisis and that way remain strong throughout. That has meant that we shifted to working from home offices at an early stage which has proven to work really well. Also, we decided to keep a high level of customer activity, talking to the clients often.
This has also paid off as we have learned a lot from our clients’ different ways of handling the crisis. Through this, many clients have perceived us as the hub for knowledge on ways of handling the crisis in terms of the Employer Brand. That way we have also been able to adapt and develop our products and services to better match the shifting needs of our clients through the crisis.
Naturally, the Corona crisis has affected our business volume just like any other business. Meaning we will not be able to achieve the high growth numbers we had planned for during 2020. But in a comparison to our 2019 results, we are not far behind and most importantly, we have not had to cut one single job so far as a result of the crisis. We will now continue our strategy of protecting jobs and the safety of employments as we gradually move back to a more growth-oriented strategy supported by the things we have learned through the crisis.
Did you have to make difficult choices and what are the lessons learned?
Mats Röjdmark: As a result of the business volume not reaching the targets we set in our budget for 2020, we have had to postpone a number of investments and made some tough reprioritizations. But we have also been able to prioritize and find time for some things that we feel confident will make us stronger coming out on the other side of the crisis. Such as developing our technological platform and develop our products to better match the clients’ new needs. We have not had to cut any jobs as an effect of the crisis, which is part of our strategy.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety, how do you project yourself and Universum in the future?
Mats Röjdmark: We have substantially increased our internal communication through this crisis. At an early stage, we decided that we really wanted to invest and develop ourselves in this area. And we certainly have. Now, we run biweekly Townhall meetings with the whole organization with the whole management and a completely open Q&A session. And every other week we run a Q&A session with all the managers of the worldwide organization to support them in their management of the teams. We have also tried to redo office and social routines from the office to work in a home office environment, such as virtual coffee breaks, virtual After Works and increased spontaneous virtual communication.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Mats Röjdmark: As the Employer Branding business has grown so have the number of competitors. Many of them are offspring of Universum in different local markets. However, there is still no other global data driven Employer Branding provider than Universum. We will stay ahead in the game by continuously developing our offering and make sure that Universum together with our clients shape the world of Employer Branding.
Your final thoughts
Mats Röjdmark: I am thrilled by the opportunity to work for Universum and after one year I feel that the journey has just started. Both for me and for Universum. If you are interested in shaping Employer Branding, this is the place to be.