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Star Interview

Jenny Shiers,
Vice President of Employee Success, Salesforce  


For Jenny Shiers, Vice President of Employee Success at Salesforce, creating an outstanding organisational culture starts with letting employees guide the decision-making process…

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Creating a welcoming company culture is of paramount importance to any successful organisation. Not only does a positive organisational culture help to attract and recruit the best possible talent, but it can also play a crucial role in retaining employees too. This chimes with data from project management firm Teamstage, which found that 46% of jobseekers believe that ‘culture’ is one of the deciding factors in whether or not they take a job. Additional statistics from jobs board BuiltIn found that 47% of active job candidates cited ‘company culture’ as their main motivation for finding a new role.

One employer that appears to be acutely aware of the benefits that a good company culture can bring is Salesforce. In 2022, the San Francisco-headquartered software firm ranked highly in Glassdoor’s 'Top 10 Best Places to Work in the UK' list, as well as appearing highly on the rankings in France, Germany, U.S. and Canada too, with culture being a key factor in this accolade. Working as the Vice President of Employee Success at Salesforce, Jenny Shiers, has an important role to play in carving out and maintaining a culture that employees and prospective talent want to be part of.

In this exclusive interview with myGrapevine magazine, Shiers – who has held several roles at Salesforce since joining in 2011 – sheds light on the keys to creating an outstanding culture, which she said is “ultimately about letting your employees guide you”, and also discusses her involvement in creating this award-winning culture.

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CV of Jenny

Experience

Salesforce
 
Vice President, Employee Success
Jan 2022 – present
 
Senior Director, Employees Success UK&I
Aug 2021 – Jan 2022
 
Senior Director, Employee Success UK
Jun 2018 – Jul 2021
 
Senior Director, Legal
Feb 2018 – Jun 2018
 
Senior Corporate Counsel, Labour & Employment EMEA
Sep 2011 – Feb 2018

Bird & Bird LLP
Senior Associate
Jan 2007 – Aug 2011

Yahoo!
Employment Law Counsel (secondment)
Feb 2008 – Aug 2009 

Herbert Smith
Associate, Employment Law
Jun 2006 – Jan 2007 

BP
Employment Law Counsel (secondment)
Oct 2005 – Aug 2006

McGrigors
Solicitor
Sep 2002 – Jun 2006
Maria
Salesforce ranked highly in Glassdoor’s Best Places to Work UK 2022 – how do you feel about this accolade? 

It’s great to have been recognised for our company culture in this way. At Salesforce, helping employees find inspiration and deeper meaning starts before they walk in the door. We make an important commitment to be a different kind of company, where we take care of each other, have fun together, and work collaboratively. These aren't just words; they've been part of our company's DNA since inception.

It’s important to us that when it comes to our people and culture, we’re intentional and we really walk the walk for our employees, new joiners and potential candidates.

We want to intentionally transform ourselves – offering flexibility for employees, while retaining the essence of our culture. For example, we know that our ways of working are forever changed so we have introduced Flex Team Agreements (FTAs). FTAs provide a shared set of guidelines that enable us to create a consistent experience for all, while allowing teams to establish guidelines that support day-to-day practices, business cycles, and accomplishing their goals, together.

Employees tell us that greater flexibility is leading to more productivity and a better work-life balance. We are listening to them, and our employee surveys have guided our reopening strategy. Data has shown us that 90% of employees agreed that their team is able to work effectively in our Success From Anywhere environment, only three per cent of employees said that they want to be office-based, 27% preferred to be fully home-based/remote, and 34% preferred ‘office flexible’.

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"Culture is our greatest competitive advantage"

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What sets Salesforce’s internal culture apart from other employers?

Culture is our greatest competitive advantage. In 2022, we were rated #1 great place to work in six countries (by Glassdoor) including the UK. We rely on our core values – trust, customer success, innovation, equality, and sustainability – to shape our culture and inform how we serve our employees, customers and communities. Our core values guide everything we do as a company and as people. We strive to bring out the best in one another, deliver success to our customers, and inspire the entire industry through our actions. We strongly believe that people are our greatest asset. 

We’re committed to creating a diverse workplace that reflects the communities we serve, and an inclusive culture where everyone feels seen, heard, and valued. Hearing diverse perspectives fuels innovation, deepens connections between people, and makes us a better company.

This commitment to equality has allowed us to create an open and welcoming community where employees feel empowered to open up and be themselves. We believe a continuous commitment to education and maintaining an open channel of communication with employees allows organisations to be sensitive and ask employees the right questions. 

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Getting to know Jenny:

Why did you choose a career in HR?

It wasn’t intentional. I started out my career as an employment lawyer, working in city law firms. I later moved in-house to run Salesforce’s EMEA employment law team, then later took a lateral move into our Employee Success (Salesforce’s name for HR) Business Partnering team. My past experience gave me a really solid grounding for the role. HR professionals have always been my client group so I very much feel at home in this professional community. Ultimately, I care about people and, given we spend so much of our lives at work, it feels like a gift to make that a better and more fulfilling experience for people.


What's the most rewarding part of being in your position?

I get a lot of my energy from being around people and in this role that’s the name of the game. I particularly enjoy the coaching aspect of the job, helping a leader unlock a people challenge through asking questions rather than suggesting the answers can be very rewarding when you can see progress and facilitate a desired outcome.

Salesforce
Salesforce
 
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How important is internal culture to the business? What does it contribute to the overall business? 

At Salesforce, we’ve fostered a community where employees have the opportunity to have an impact on the company, and shape our culture. Ultimately, it is these individuals that make our internal culture so unique and such a great place to work. We provide opportunities for our employees to have an impact on the company, our customers, partners, and their communities. We then connect the dots to demonstrate their impact.  

From volunteerism to pro bono work, from customer and partner engagement to talent development, we empower, motivate and inspire employees. All of this essentially contributes to the exceptional quality of work that ultimately drives our businesses success. By fostering this robust company culture, the benefits we reap are tangible business growth.

 

"I get a lot of my energy from being around people and in this role that’s the name of the game"

 
What are the keys to creating an outstanding company culture?

Ultimately, it’s about letting your employees guide you. If you create an open, safe space for employees to challenge and ask difficult questions, they will and you can learn from that. We actively encouraged openness throughout the pandemic, beyond holding regular all hands with Q&As. We also tweaked our pulse surveys over time to take into account the questions that our employees really wanted to answer.  

From its very inception, values have driven our culture and how we operate. We remain committed to our core values – trust, customer success, innovation, equality and sustainability. These run deep across our entire business and workforce. Salesforce also pioneered the 1-1-1 integrated philanthropy model, dedicating one per cent of employee time, one per cent of product, and one per cent of equity to help improve communities around the world.

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"Ultimately, it’s about letting your employees guide you"

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How has culture changed since the coronavirus pandemic?

The pandemic has changed the way the world works and we’ve been working hard to reimagine what success looks like, and design a better workplace where everyone can feel supported and connected. To give you a flavour of what we’ve been up to: 

Success From Anywhere: We created a model that we call Success From Anywhere which is all about embracing flexible ways of working, and empowering everyone to do their best work no matter where they are.

Wellbeing: We’ve put a lot of focus into supporting our employee wellbeing. Our new benefits policies, which are informed by employee surveys, include expanded caregiver benefits, ‘Wellbeing Days’, and additional paid sick leave.

Equality: We’ve worked hard to create a culture of equality, which isn’t just the right thing to do, it’s also the smart thing to do. Diverse companies are more innovative and better positioned to succeed. Our new UKI Equality Board drives new initiatives to elevate our diversity and inclusion efforts. We constantly review and adapt our initiatives and recently announced new global Gender Inclusive Benefits to provide transgender and non-binary employees with the critical financial and emotional support they deserve.

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