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Using automation to build efficient people processes at Cytora

Cytora is a technology company that transforms underwriting for commercial insurance. Cytora’s products leverage artificial intelligence to enable insurers to underwrite more accurately and deliver fairer prices to their customers.

Cytora have over 70 employees and their head office is based in Clerkenwell, London.

We sat down with Ben (People and Talent Director) and Lucy (People Operations) from Cytora. Lucy described herself as “the face of onboarding at Cytora."

More broadly Ben looks after the People and Talent functions. “It’s my role to bring people into Cytora, give them the best possible experience during that and then keep them happy during their employment here.”

You only get one chance to make a first impression

A great onboarding experience helps the new starter feel included and builds solid foundations for them within the company.

In order to grow and retain top talent, the team knew it was crucial to “create a brilliant onboarding experience where new hires felt welcomed, settled and happy.”

“It’s one of our main goals in terms of people ops. A well inducted new starter is going to get up to speed faster, and ultimately stay with the company longer.” Lucy told us, “Lots of companies don’t bother with it as much and so having excellent onboarding can make you stand out.”

As a fast growing organisation with an extensive hiring plan, there are “a lot of different moving parts.” Ben explained, “We’re trying to set new team members up for success, not just give them  a laptop and tell them to get on with it.”

“You only have one chance for a first impression and I think onboarding is really critical to that. It’s about setting up the people that we hire for success and getting them to the point where they can contribute to Cytora as quickly as possible.”

Why to-do lists don’t work

Every week; two or three times a week, Lucy would spend an hour at her computer preparing for a new hire’s arrival. Sending out invites to introductory meetings with all the different heads of teams and moving things around as start dates and availability changed.

She also had to send out any emails to the new starter, the team and their managed office before someone started. “It could so easily get missed if I wasn’t there, it was all just another manual aspect of the onboarding process and it took up a lot of time.”

Cytora previously used another piece of software to help them keep track of onboarding. “It kind of generated a to-do list and didn’t really do very much more than that.”

Ben agreed, adding: “that’s what a lot of these other systems are, a to-do list and what you end up with is a big list of stuff. We would come in on a Monday and think ‘ugh there’s so much to do.’”

Looking for a tool that completes the tasks

Ben and Lucy made the decision to switch to Personably. “We wanted something that, rather than just telling us what we needed to do, would actually do it for us.” Ben said: “I don’t think you can overstate that just building a to-do list is not that useful in a piece of software. They already exist everywhere.”

Using Personably means they “can focus on some of the more high touch elements of onboarding - speaking to and introducing people.” Now Lucy’s role is less about admin and firing off emails but more about “working on constantly improving our process and making sure people feel welcome.”

For example, the emails that Lucy was previously sending manually are now in Personably. She can rely on the product to populate the right details and send the emails without her having to think about it. “It’s set and forget, it never gets missed and is no longer a thing on the to-do list. Personably proactively helps you with onboarding.”

The product also improved communications between the talent and ops part of the People team.

When a new hire is hired, they automatically come through to Personably from Workable and Lucy is notified. “It means I no longer have to chase anyone to figure out if this new starter is still turning up on a certain date, especially when the start date can change if people have 3 month notice periods or a visa to arrange. Now, we don’t miss a beat.”

Personably connects with the other tools Cytora use. As Ben explained: “it puts people into PeopleHR, Peakon and Google straight away. It even adds them to the right Google Groups saving not just Lucy’s time but lots of other people’s.”

Getting set up

There’s always a concern when bringing on a new piece of software that it will take a long time to implement. Cytora found getting set up on Personably “very quick and easy.” Ben told us “we were able to create an MVP (minimum viable product) onboarding process within 10 minutes.”

“The step by step nature is so user-friendly. Being able to quickly edit the tasks or sessions is super useful, especially as our onboarding process changes and develops,” Lucy added.

When Cytora have any questions they use our chat tool (Intercom) to get in touch and have found most of their questions are resolved “inside 5 minutes.”

“This has really helped us have confidence in the product. The team know the software inside out and are honest about its capabilities. The response to a feature request is usually: ‘It’s on the product roadmap!’”

Improving time to productivity in a fast-growing organisation

There has been a marked impact in the experience of the new employees. Ben showed us, “our average engagement for onboarding [part of their Employee Net Promoter Score] is sitting at 8.5/10. In just these first few months that we’ve been using Personably, it’s gone from 8 to 8.5. It’s a pretty impressive improvement and well above the 7.7 benchmark for tech (measured using Peakon).”

“It’s much smoother now,” Lucy went on, “I’ve got more time with the new hire. I’m not running around double checking what’s been sent and what logins they have. I can give them my full focus and put my energy and time into other things that make the onboarding even better than it was.”

Ben added: “for the new starter, there’s a lot of information to take in, and Personably really helps us distribute that information through different parts of the process and deliver it automatically. It’s helped with the time to productivity.”