Finance

From virtual ice-breakers to weekly wellness surveys, PayPal’s head of talent lays out what remote work will look like for interns and new hires

  • While companies across several industries are furloughing and laying off staff amid the coronavirus pandemic, PayPal is hiring.
  • On May 1st, PayPal saw a record number of transactions as digital payments surge.
  • In addition to hiring remotely, PayPal will host its 350 summer interns virtually.
  • PayPal’s global head of talent expects that some elements of today’s environment will stick, like increased communication from senior leadership and more flexible policies about remote work.
  • Click here for more BI Prime stories.

Companies of every size in virtually every industry have been laying off and furloughing staff as a way to cut costs during the coronavirus pandemic. But for some industries, like delivery services and digital payments, business is booming.

PayPal, for one, saw a record number of transactions on its payments network and its peer-to-peer app Venmo on May 1st. Its stock price surged to an all-time high following the news, and has since continued to climb.

And while other industries are laying off employees or putting recruitment plans on hold, PayPal has continued to search for talent. It currently has over 900 job postings on its website. While many of the listings are for software engineers, the payments giant is also hiring for roles in compliance, data science, and risk management.

“We’re focused on hiring in multiple areas,” Tracy Brown, global head of talent at PayPal, told Business Insider. “What I would highlight is the need for software engineers and risk analysts as key components of our evolving platform.”

And while many of these roles are highly technical, Brown says that PayPal is still looking for candidates with soft skills like collaboration, innovation, and problem solving.

“As we move forward and continue to build out and add to our teams, in addition to those two core skill sets, we’ll increasingly see the value of soft skills as well,” Brown said.

Read more: PayPal is hiring for hundreds of jobs amid the coronavirus slowdown. A hiring executive there lays out the exact skills you need to nail an interview.

PayPal is still hiring, albeit remotely

At PayPal, the recruiting process always started remotely, typically through phone interviews early in the process.

The challenge now is that PayPal can’t invite candidates on-campus for in-person interviews, a key part of its recruiting process.

“In this new environment now, not being able to provide these in-person experiences has been a little bit of a lost opportunity for us and for many of our candidates throughout the process,” said Brown.

The in-person phase of the interview process is also an opportunity for PayPal to sell itself to prospective hires. Without visiting the campus, it can be hard for candidates to get a sense of the company’s culture and what it would be like to come in to work every day.

So until offices reopen, PayPal has focused on increasing communication with its job candidates. For candidates who may ultimately move to work at a PayPal office, recruiters have been able to connect them with employees that have had similar experiences.

“What we’ve tried to do is double down and make up for that with much more frequent and consistent communication with our candidates,” said Brown.

PayPal’s interns will join the firm virtually this summer

Some firms have canceled their internship programs given the circumstances, but for many, internships are a key pipeline for full-time hiring. So in mid-March, PayPal decided to shift its internship program fully virtual instead of forgoing it, Brown said.

“The need to have a pipeline and invest in that junior talent sector is also important for us,” said Brown.

And while working remotely may come easy to many of PayPal’s full-time employees, it poses unique challenges to the company’s 350 interns, who typically spend their summers learning and networking with each other and their teams.

“There will definitely be some challenges that accompany this for interns,” said Brown. “One of the key components that our interns take away from the experience is being able to interact and build a network with other interns.”

In lieu of the usual in-person networking events, PayPal plans to host a series of virtual ‘social hours’ with ice breakers and trivia. Every intern will be assigned a buddy and mentor to help guide them through the program, in addition to cohorts within the intern class.

And PayPal’s annual intern expo where interns present the projects they’ve worked on, will still happen, albeit virtually.

Read more: The ultimate guide to Wall Street’s summer internships: Here’s how they’ll go virtual, and how to impress remotely

Some new norms are here to stay

While shelter-in-place orders won’t last forever, there are some new norms to come out of today’s work from home environment that are likely to stick around, Brown said.

From more frequent updates from senior leaders to daily check-ins with teams, there are some new norms that may be here to stay, Brown said.

“The access to leadership here at PayPal has really been phenomenal,” said Brown. “I think it’s going to change the way that we communicate and what our communication protocols will be post the crisis.”

PayPal’s CEO Dan Schulman has increased the frequency of global all-hands meetings and check-ins with his senior leadership team. And other leaders at PayPal have started hosting group check-ins to ensure employees feel connected and supported.

“There have been a number of new routines that have been introduced that I think employees really have appreciated given the physical distance,” said Brown. “They feel much more connected.”

And as PayPal looks toward a post-COVID world where offices reopen, Brown is expecting that the company’s approach to remote work will change.

“We’ll continue to evaluate the best path forward, but we’re going to certainly take these learnings from this experience and no doubt we’ll adjust some of our policies going forward around working from home,” Brown said.

Read more: Facebook is eyeing offices in cities like Dallas, Atlanta, and Denver to act as ‘hubs’ to support 50% of its workers staying remote — and it’s a move that could upend Silicon Valley and NYC real estate

Working remotely is different, but manageable 

PayPal, like most firms, has been working remotely amid shelter-in-place orders. But before the coronavirus pandemic, PayPal already had employees with flexible work arrangements, as not all its employees were going into its 50 global offices.

“Although now we are physically separated, and that presents a challenge, it was pretty easy for us to make that transition to have a completely virtual workforce [now] ,” said Brown.

In addition to making sure employees had the tech and infrastructure needed to work remotely, PayPal started conducting a weekly wellness survey as a way to check in with its 23,200 employees.

“That was really done to make sure that we had a quick, easy way to get a pulse on how people were doing and managing in the midst of the current circumstances,” said Brown. 

And the survey helped PayPal pinpoint what its employees were looking for in terms of assistance and support during the pandemic.

“The survey helped us understand very quickly that employees what they desire most was mental health and emotional wellness support,” said Brown.

PayPal has also focused on continuing to offer professional development resources while working remotely. In March and April, PayPal saw a 43% increase in employee usage of LinkedIn Learning.

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