MBA Mondays: Guest Post From Susan Loh

When I introduced this series on People, I stated that it was going to have a bunch of guest posts because there are many people who know a lot more about the people side of business than I do. One of them is Susan Loh who is Head of Talent at Foursquare.

I asked Susan to write a guest post explaining how they manage both recruiting and HR at Foursquare. And she has done just that.


Foursquare’s approach to Recruiting & HR

In Fred’s previous post, he described the importance of having a tight relationship between culture and hiring. I agree 100%, which is why I’ve always struggled with HR and recruiting being separate teams. At my previous companies, Google and Yelp, there was always a swift hand-off from recruiting to HR on the new hire’s first day. It made life easy for each party, but was it the best for the employees? For this post, I’ll describe the challenges I experienced with having split teams and how I’m trying something different at foursquare.

Recruiting vs HR

As a recruiter, the most important part of the job is to close offers. This often means setting high expectations for how wonderful the new opportunity will be. Whatever it takes – always be closing. But what if we over-promised? At previous companies, it was tough to keep tabs on my new hires because I was so focused on the next set of recruits. Sometimes I didn’t know what team they landed on. Often, I didn’t know if they were happy and engaged. There was no feedback loop for me to know that what I was selling to my candidates was actually true. This is risky and has potential to cause serious turnover.

On the flip side, as an HR manager, your ultimate goal is to retain great talent. You build compensation structures, learning & development programs, performance management systems, and rewards programs to help you achieve this goal. But to succeed, you have to gather feedback from employees and know what they need. You have to be accessible and provide a safe haven for employees to come vent to you. You have to have a pulse on the entire organization.

But in reality, think about how often the average employee interacts with HR. Based on my experience, I only saw HR on my first day and on my last day. If I had a question, I emailed a ticketing system and they got back to me a couple days later. There is no feedback channel or safe haven. For so many reasons that could warrant a separate post, traditional HR departments have a tendency to be pushed to the side, disconnected from the organization, and as a result, ineffective at having a positive impact. And this is a huge bummer because every HR manager I’ve met wants to do so much more.

A new approach

When the time came to figure out how to scale HR & Recruiting at foursquare, I felt that I could solve the above issues by merging the two organizations into one unified Talent Team. I view the Talent Team as a full service organization that is with you from the day you apply to the company to the day you leave the company. We are responsible for recruiting, onboarding, training, developing, and retaining great people. Our performance is measured by the performance of the people we hire, not by the sheer number of people we hire.

In practice, this means recruiters need to be so much more than just recruiters. My team meets monthly to find ways to tweak and refine the onboarding experience for new hires. We schedule regular check-ins with each person we hired to see how they are doing and figure out how we can better support their career growth. We come up with innovative programs to develop and motivate employees. We escalate feedback we’re hearing to the executive and management teams. Above all, we provide one trusted point of contact for all candidates and employees to turn to when they need something.

The Talent Team in action

Here are just a couple of examples of where I’ve noticed the advantage of a Talent team over Recruiting/HR.

1) Fulfilling promises – When recruiters have to play the role of HR, they are held accountable for fulfilling the promises they made during the closing process. For example, many of our candidates have strong entrepreneurial spirits and talk of founding their own company. To close them, I sell them on how much they will benefit from being part of the foursquare story, helping us get from small startup to big successful company. It’s these ambitious, entrepreneurial employees that become the stars of your company, so the more you make good on this promise, the longer you’ll retain them. So how do you do it? The company has to be transparent on everything – company decisions, user growth metrics, competitive threats, etc. It’s ultimately up to senior management to lead by example but the Talent Team serves as a gut check. If we notice the culture changing, or morale dropping, or frustrations building, we have a vested interest to inform management immediately and help them troubleshoot the situation.  

2) Compensation reviews – In the traditional model, recruiting determines the starting compensation package, usually working within bands provided by HR. When review time comes, HR works with management to determine performance-based raises. Some companies have standard percentage-based raises for ‘meets expectations’ and ‘exceeds expectations’ but there’s a key piece of information missing. How hard did the employee negotiate their initial offer? Some candidates accept on the spot while others push their recruiter so close to the edge that the recruiter almost gives up and walks away from the negotiation table. If HR works purely off a compensation analysis spreadsheet and assigns standard raises, the candidates that accepted on the spot will always be paid less than their tough-negotiating peers. This is unfair. Recruiters have to be part of these conversations and with the Talent Team model, they are.

3) The little details – During the traditional hand-off between recruiting and HR, you are at risk for dropping the ball on something. There are just too many moving pieces in the onboarding process – start date, offer paperwork, relocation, immigration, IT preferences, team allocation, and more. With the Talent Team model, you have fewer cooks in the kitchen. The recruiter should know everything the new hire needs so it’s more efficient and reliable for the recruiter to be responsible for the onboarding process. First impressions do matter – do everything possible to ensure your new hire’s first week goes smoothly.

Upcoming challenge

The Talent Team model is still new and we haven’t figured everything out yet. So far, what I love most about this model is we have such a strong pulse on the organization. If employees are unhappy about something, we are usually one of the first to know, and employees look to us for help.  And the best part? We can help. Information and feedback from all directions flow through the Talent Team, and we are uniquely positioned to take everything we are hearing and turn it into constructive action.

Our biggest challenge is staying small and lean, while the larger organization continues to grow at a quick pace. The only way we can keep up is if we do a good job of building the foundation. Off the top of my head, I think that means a culture based on open feedback, strong hiring values that sync with company values, and a well-trained management team that we can leverage for help. But I’m sure I’m missing pieces of the puzzle and I look forward to continuing the conversation with you. Thanks for reading!

#MBA Mondays

Comments (Archived):

  1. David Semeria

    Who monitors the morale of the Talent Team?

    1. Matt A. Myers


      1. Roger Ellman

        I think in a company that has one, the board could also be a great help.

        1. Matt A. Myers

          It certainly would be good for them to know, though is that traditionally something they are involved in?

    2. Susan Loh

      Great question. Luckily, our team’s morale has always been quite high but if it were to drop, the executive team is ultimately responsible. They check in with us constantly to gather feedback so I think they would pick up on it quickly.

    3. Kim

      I love this question – We communicate with each other (and I am very vocal with our CEO) to make sure we don’t get into a “cobbler’s children have no shoes” or “plumber’s house has leaky pipes” situation! Luckily, the folks on our “Company Team” are naturally inclined to pay close attention to morale, so we check in with each other to make sure we aren’t forgetting to take care of ourselves as well!

  2. awaldstein

    How does Foursquare prioritize recruiting? Presuming that there are more needs than individuals to focus on a position.People naturally form teams but individuals make decisions. Curious to know how the dynamics between need and priority from the management team to the Talent team work.

    1. Susan Loh

      In terms of prioritizing what roles to hire, we go through an exercise at the start of every quarter to gather a ‘wish list’ from each hiring manager. From there, we filter it down based on business needs and resources. We try to make sure that no one team is trying to hire more than they can handle. By around the 2nd week of the quarter, we’re all in agreement on the hiring plan and we get to work on it.At that point, recruiting becomes everyone’s top priority – it’s ingrained in our culture and we all know that the best way to become more productive is to hire more great people. We announce new open roles at company meetings, we hold brainstorming sessions with the teams to identify best places to source from, and we constantly ping people for referrals. Hope this answers your question!

      1. awaldstein

        Thanks Susan!

  3. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

    How big is the talent team managing the 120+ 4sq team?Just to get an idea of what is the approximate ratio it builds so that every employee is being taken care well… I am more interested in retaining employee ratio…. 20/1? so that each employee gets a day with a talent team member every month?

    1. Susan Loh

      We are currently only 3 people strong – 1 engineering talent lead, 1 business talent lead, and myself. This month, we are bringing on a university lead, an SF lead, and a talent programs manager (someone to build learning & development programs).To answer your other question, each lead is responsible for recruiting and retention. Retention can mean a lot of things – for us, it mostly means checking up on your hires, gathering feedback, and bringing it back to the team so we can figure out what programs to build. E.g. we started to hear that our more tenured employees were curious about their career path. To address this, the talent team is currently working on a framework for ladders and levels (which is not an easy task, btw!).

      1. Kim

        This is great, @8930f18f61cf53c9a6ae150fda11d4a7:disqus ! Thanks for sharing so openly — I’d love to chat offline about this framework you guys are working on 🙂

      2. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

        Thanx @8930f18f61cf53c9a6ae150fda11d4a7:disqus for sharing. We are of the same size as 4sq (but into Engg and manufacturing) and are struggling retaining Engg talent. so was interested in knowing little details and really appreciate your open feedback.

  4. Aaron Klein

    I’m curious as to how you structure the talent team. What are the different positions on the team? Do you end up with separate people focused on recruiting vs. retention but reporting to the same manager? Or does each person do both, specialized by area of the company?

    1. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

      did not see your’s duplicated the same question in a different way.

      1. Aaron Klein

        Saw yours after I sent mine…but I think they are slightly different and both answers will be interesting.

    2. awaldstein

      Great question….I know great recruiters and great HR people. I’ve never known them to be the same person.

      1. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

        I thought you know Donna 🙂

        1. awaldstein

          There are exceptions to every rule obviously. Just don’t build your systems expecting them to be the norm 😉

        2. Donna Brewington White

          Thanks, Kasi and @awaldstein:disqus — I appreciate the vote of confidence, but I am not really HR. I “get” HR from a strategic and “business partner” standpoint — that actually comes naturally. But I am wired quite differently than those who do tactical HR work. Although lately I have wondered if I could run the people or talent aspect of a business if I had someone to cover the parts that would make me crazy, like compliance.

      2. Aaron Klein

        Exactly. I’d like to think you could train someone to be great at both but I’m curious if that has worked in practice.

        1. awaldstein

          The hunter/farmer discussion although old school has some truths about human nature, focus and goals that drive people.Think about sales people and the challenges on building compensation that addresses both closing and retention on subscription model services.

          1. Donna Brewington White

            This hunter v. farmer distinction is not to be taken lightly.

        2. Susan Loh

          Hiring for our talent team has definitely been tough – we can’t just take any great recruiter or any great HR person. What’s worked so far is finding a great recruiter that buys into this approach and is willing to put in the extra work to learn some HR pieces. They have to be passionate about the big picture, not just their role and their success.

      3. Anne Libby

        The key is for the founder to keep someone *at the top* holding ownership for both and keeping watch over the whole picture.(I think that’s what we’ve seen described here at Return Path, someone who leads on People who owns the entire chain of process and relationships.)

        1. awaldstein

          True…But the hiring manager is ultimately responsible for building the team and getting the job done. They are the one who ultimately cares at both the detail and higher level.

          1. Anne Libby

            Agree — and yet in the disaggregated world that grows from separation at the top, a hiring manager’s hands might feel pretty darn tied.

          2. awaldstein

            I’ve been lucking in my team building but the process is never perfect.No matter how well you plan, you never really have enough time, resources, dollars or foresight to make it smooth.

          3. Anne Libby

            That’s a life truth!

          4. Donna Brewington White

            This is absolutely true. But what happens when you have several hiring managers in a company?

        2. Donna Brewington White

          Good point. In order for hiring and retention to be done really well over the long-run, I believe someone has to be responsible for developing strategy and then translating this into tactical execution.The feedback from your people on the ground is vital, but someone has to pull this together into strategy.

    3. Susan Loh

      Currently, we have 1 engineering lead, 1 business lead, and myself. We are far too small to handle 130 people so we’re trying to grow. I’m adding a lead for our SF office, a university lead, and a talent programs manager.The leads are responsible for both recruiting and retention for their respective teams. The talent programs manager is the only role that doesn’t have a designated team to watch over. Instead, the programs manager builds learning & development programs (manager training, interview training, etc) and then educates the talent leads on how they should utilize these programs to improve recruiting and retention.

  5. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

    And again does the recruiter manages the same candidate through retention? I suppose you don’t again have a separate recruiting team and retaining team.

  6. Anne Libby

    Great post. Your smart, holistic approach harks back to some of the way that those of us with a few more years on us may recognize as the way “HR” once worked in companies that managed people well.

  7. William Mougayar

    You’ve laid a great foundation for Foursquare’s Talentmanagement and where it’s going. Given the high-growth you’re in, you seem tohave found a great balance of objectives and structure, and kudos for that. Inmy mind, Foursquare is aggressive on the recruiting side, and a happy place towork at from an employee perspective- at least that’s my outside perception.But I will play devil’s advocate in saying that the separationbetween Recruiting and HR works well for much larger companies (of the size of Googleand others), and your approach makes a lot of sense for smaller/startupcompanies. Ultimately, it’s whether HR/Talent continues to have a strong pulse about the organization or whether they get disconnected at some point.In a perfect world, Recruiting knows as much as HR about the company. But whenthe company is big and in fast-growth mode, Recruiting is often outsourced, startsto look like an assembly line, and you start to loose the linkages you talkedabout it.But it is incumbent on the hiring managers themselves totalk about company values and set the right expectations with the employees DURINGthe hiring process. They have every opportunity to do so during theinterviewing and follow-up process. Recruiting’s job is to screen, shortlist and close insome situations. But it’s with the hiring manager and the team being joinedwhere the buck stops on employee job satisfaction and setting the rightexpectations.

    1. Cam MacRae

      Great post — it’s alway interesting to hear how others are doing things.In my little part of the world the 3 roles are quite distinct. A recruiter sources candidates, the hiring manager interviews, negotiates and closes with cooperation from the recruiter, and HR concern themselves with compliance, performance management, succession planning, and sometimes payroll.Occasionally the odd ball gets dropped here and there, but responsibility always lies with the hiring manager.

      1. William Mougayar

        Exactly. The hiring manager still has to do their job and check things off with talent, recruiting, and HR. When I worked for a large company and we were in high-speed recruiting, I got to know my recruiters well and coached them individually on each candidate I was looking for. And once, they assigned me a recruiter I didn’t think was the right fit, I asked them to replace that person.

        1. Cam MacRae

          Right. The interesting thing about Susan’s configuration is that the Talent Team are in a position to a) make promises to a candidate, and b) fulfil those promises for the employee. My suspicion is that today Foursquare has a relatively non-hierachical structure e.g. either heterarchy or responsible autonomy (or a benevolent dictatorship).

          1. Kim

            Totally. I work very closely with my team to make sure we’re all on the same page when it comes to recruiting/talking with candidates, communicating about the company, and keeping up with folks once they’re here to make sure we’re connecting the dots. I won’t say that we never ever drop the ball (nobody’s perfect!), but having a team that is so committed to the success and happiness of our employees makes a huge difference.

    2. Susan Loh

      I completely agree with you on the role of the hiring manager. It’s a team effort all around. And I think it comes full circle back to the talent team because we lead manager training and interview training.

  8. Abdallah Al-Hakim

    it is simple approach yet it has significant implication. By merging two processes together and creating a better more transparent communication between them – you create an effective Talent Management department. I will be interested in your thoughts about differences between big and small companies when using this approach as @wmoug:disqus mentioned

  9. reece

    awesome post @slohagree that “HR” if often overlooked as a valuable department within companies. really dig your innovative approach with the Talent Team herewhile it certainly seems like foursquare is killing it and building a great culture along the way, i am curious if the Talent Team has had a noticeable impact on churn?

    1. Susan Loh

      It’s tough to draw a direct correlation. Our churn rate is around 7%, which is pretty low for a high growth company. Can the talent team take credit? Yes, but no more than anyone else at the company. It’s everyone’s responsibility to make this a great place to work.

      1. reece

        totally makes sensethanks for sharing Susan

  10. John Revay

    Hi Susan,Thank you for writing a great post. One Question, Two CommentsQuestion – how big is the Talent Team @ 4SQComment #1 – I like the linkage you laid out between recruiting and HR – Makes perfect sense.Comment # 2 – Seat at the Table – I was struck from a sentence in your post.”If we notice the culture changing, or morale dropping, or frustrations building, we have a vested interest to inform management immediately and help them troubleshoot the situation.”My sense is that your role in heading up the Talent team – you should have a seat at the table

  11. Robert Thuston

    Yes, cool and interesting. To hire entrepreneurs, they want to know the 50,000 foot view (yes). What’s the CEOs role in all of this you’ve mentioned?

    1. Susan Loh

      Transparency. At the end of my post, I linked to a recent NYT interview where Dennis talks about a couple of his communication methods. Snippets are huge here at foursquare. It’s the best way to get a glimpse into Dennis’ world. We learn everything from big company strategy to advice he received over dinner with other founders.

      1. Robert Thuston

        Thanks. Also, for you, who seems to be doing a great job… “The director of human resources should be at the same level as the CFO and COO, if not higher (which is rarely the case for larger companies)” –Larry Bossidy, the manufacturing CEO that beat Wallstreet expectations for like 20 straight years at Allied Signal (now Honeywell). He builds a solid argument for this notion in the book Execution: the Discipline of Getting Things Done.

  12. Richard

    ” We schedule regular check-ins with each person we hired to see how they are doing and figure out how we can better support their career growth”  There is  HR  enterprise foursquare business model here.  

    1. Abdallah Al-Hakim

      that does sound interesting – can you elaborate more on this business model?

      1. Susan Loh

        Our regular check-ins are very casual and lightweight – coffee runs, lunch, afterwork drink. In a quick 20 minutes, you can gather tons of feedback and show the employee that you care and are vested in their well being.

        1. Dave McLaughlin

          I think this is awesome. It’s my experience that stuff comes to the surface in those conversations, even if they’re short.

        2. Kim

          I just did this for the first time, and had 30-45 minute “career chats” with every single full time employee to find out how things were going so far, and how they wanted them to go in the future. This was HUGELY informative, and I’m planning to continue the conversations in casual conversations moving forward, much in the way that you mentioned. It’s amazing how much you can learn from folks just by letting them know you’re listening and taking the time to meet 1:1.

          1. Anne Libby

            The other day we were talking here about the “atomic unit” of various products, and I blurted out that the atomic unit of management was “relationship”. On reflection, I actually think that the atomic unit of management/leadership is “conversation.”

        3. JamesHRH

          MBWA, basically? This post clearly shows you are doing super sound work for where you’re at. No surprise, congrats.

  13. ShanaC

    Thank you for inserting some logic into how HR should work.Why is HR + Recruiting split though in the first place? It seems to provide bad incentives for anyone in a company who is supposed to make sure the people in the company are happy in the company.

  14. Dave McLaughlin

    This is my first time chiming in on the AVC comments, so I’ll start by thanking Fred for all the insanely helpful content.I really like this idea of merging Recruiting and HR. I haven’t thought enough about it to have an opinion as to whether this kind of full merger is necessary, or whether we just need new tools and tactics to create more cohesion and alignment. My belief on this is that the problems Susan itemizes derive not just from a difference between the two teams’ goals, but also from the fact that the hand-off from recruiter to HR generally marks the moment when things transition to text-based communication. It’s the people side of the business, as Fred said in framing this series of posts, and yet more often than not these dialogues quickly migrate to a format that is woefully impersonal, i.e. email, or the kind of ticketing system Susan references. Email is quick and easy for sure, but many interactions benefit from having all of the rich non-verbal components (tone, enthusiasm, concern, etc) that text doesn’t capture very well. People stuff falls in that category.Disclaimer: I’m totally biased here because that belief in the power of non-verbal communication is more or less the foundation for my company, which helps businesses send easy, short video messages with attachments. I’m chiming in here in part because we do see a number of recruiters using our tool to more effectively source prospective candidates, and so I’ve been spending more and more of my time thinking about the nuances of this process of engaging candidates. Susan’s idea got me thinking about ongoing uses beyond those early interactions. Thank you!

    1. Susan Loh

      Great point! It’s definitely more efficient for HR to operate in a text-based world, but it doesn’t need to be that way. HR teams need an incentive to get out there and interact with employees face-to-face. Incentive can come in a lot of different forms. Here, I try to hold the recruiters accountable for the performance of their hires. If an employee doesn’t seem to be thriving, it’s the respective talent lead’s job to work with the manager to figure out why. The recruiter is motivated to do this because:1) no one likes to see someone fail, especially when it’s someone you were responsible for hiring2) you can learn a lot about what you should look for in the next person you hire for the team

      1. Kim

        +1 to this whole comment 🙂

    2. Techman

      Well, welcome to the comments section (as a commenter).

      1. Dave McLaughlin

        Thank you!

  15. kirklove

    Great post.Bonus points for the Glenngary Glenn Ross line, “Always be closing.” Somewhere Alec Baldwin is smiling.

    1. fredwilson

      i bump into Alec at my local coffee shop in amagansett quite frequently

  16. Trevor McLeod

    Great post, thanks Susan!Especially like your focus on having a “strong pulse on the organization”. Sometimes a manager or the CEO doesn’t get the honest feedback/input they need.Often times, when the CEO is in the room, people paint a pretty picture. But then as soon as she leaves, the morale drops because the reality is quite different.I noticed this a lot at my previous job. Your strategy at foursquare seems like it would help a great deal with this challenge. Foursquare’s pulse sounds like it is being monitored from all angles and the feedback loop is strong and healthy.

  17. Brian Manning

    Brilliant post. This perspective on managing talent is not much different than good client management: set high expectations during the sales process and deliver over the life of the relationship. There’s no reason companies why shouldn’t manage their employees the same way.

  18. Jim Follett

    Susan – I think you have it right. The two activities need to be integrated to be effective. Separating pure recruiting from the rest of the HR process is nuts. The combined HR team should be close to the business to really understand talent needs and then translate that need to recruiting (whether it is an internal candidate or an external candidate). Recruiting can be managed as a separate function within HR but needs to be a part of HR. HR’s role is to acquire, develop and retain outstanding talent. Good luck with your approach – don’t blink – you have it right! Jim FollettCEO, Authentic Response, IncNYC

    1. Susan Loh

      Thanks so much for the vote of confidence!

  19. Florence Thinh

    Great post Susan. I’ve known Susan for years and I think the key to leading an effective and valuable Talent team like the one Susan’s been heading up is for HR/Recruiting to stay nimble and versatile with a growing and dynamic business like Foursquare. The model is challenging us to think differently about what a Talent team could be and to iterate where/when it makes sense.

  20. JLM

    .Brilliant post. Well played.Well written, reasoned and argued.This notion of challenging the manner in which many organizational concepts are re-thought, re-argued and realigned is exactly what should be happening and in some small measure is the fulfillment of quicker and fuller information flow.This is the result of better technology and a more analytical approach. This is harnessing hardware and software and being able to use it to manage a larger portfolio of records in a smaller period of time. Broadening the span of control.I do want to observe that a team of 6 persons for 130 employees seems a bit strong though I can see and appreciate the differences in focus and responsibility.As a numbers guy, I like to see the costs of recruitment and personnel expressed as a % of gross revenue. Once a company is more than 100 employees, this could become a meaningful performance metric.Thanks..

  21. Guest

    Susan,I think you said it all when you said, “Above all, we provide one trusted point of contact for all candidates and employees to turn to when they need something.”As you scale, what you need to do is remember your own feelings and prior contacts with HR and you need to initiate the contacts with all new hires; don’t wait for them to initiate contact. Maintain a check list of new hires and make everyone on your team responsible for making contact; nothing formal, maybe just a quick cup of coffee, or a little note of some sort (no emails) and plan it out for three to six months.HR is a lot like social media and brands, where the advice is to have “a voice.” If you operate from the “one voice” perspective then your current employees will refer new employees to HR, thus scale does not become an issue. Once HR has developed a reputation of being “a force” that follows through then reputation will solve a lot of the issues that you are struggling with.When you start a company you do not have an HR department but as you grow, especially if you self fund your own benefits then before you know it you have 6 people in HR, 4 people in PR, and a benefits department of 5. That can be overwhelming (especially if you have a lot of employees at various sites where they cannot meet HR face to face) standing at the door wondering who to talk to and as with any organization the buck never seems to stop at the desk of the person an employee is talking to. But if you have one person, “a voice” who leads and directs then HR is easier and less threatening to employees and everyone knows where the buck stops.The key is to ensure, as you scale, that everyone on your team is seen as “honest brokers” and not just as paper pushing flunkies of management.

  22. Luke Chamberlin

    Hi Susan I though this was a great post.I have a question for you about how you judge engineering talent. I’m assuming not everyone on the talent team has an engineering background.How do you know when a prospect for the development team is a really great engineer, versus an average one? Do you rely on assessments from your own engineering team? Do you do coding tests? Any other tricks?(cc @8930f18f61cf53c9a6ae150fda11d4a7:disqus )

    1. Matt Grimm

      You use references of direct supervisors for work relevant to the future opportunity to validate specific skills and abilities. My company frequently performs working interviews to also get an in house check. Candidates get paid for the time spent in the “working interview”.

  23. Kim

    This is great – here at Disqus, we employ a similar model – our “Company Team” consists of myself and two fantastic ladies (and our CEO as well), and we work holistically together to get things done. We do each have separate responsibilities, but we know that it’s on all of us as a team to make sure our wonderful people are taken care of from the time they apply to the time they move on.

  24. Donna Brewington White

    Susan — It is always exciting and encouraging to see innovative approaches to managing the “people” aspects of a business. Kudos to you for creatively thinking of ways to combine recruiting and retention.As an executive recruiter, I know that recruiters are a goldmine of information to tap for developing retention strategies. It is my policy to remain in contact with the new hire and the hiring executive for a year after placement, which has resulted in many opportunities to be instrumental in the transition and retention process.I am not familiar with the practice of separating recruiting from HR — except in one instance to encourage a very close relationship between the recruiter and the hiring manager. I think that this is another angle from which to approach retention. Many bad hires occur due to insufficient communication and information exchange between the hiring manager and the recruiter. The relationship between the recruiter and the hiring manager must be transparent, as you well know. But, the recruiter must be a bulldog in getting the information needed to assure the right match. Obviously, recruiting doesn’t need to be separate from HR to accomplish this.Many of the functions that you describe are in the “employee relations” category in many companies and I can imagine that a company the size of Foursquare does not require a separate ER person (it is not lost on me that ER can be “employee relations” or “emergency room” which is sadly funny since for many companies ER does not kick in until there is an emergency). I’ve seen a promising trend in ER where in many environments it is becoming more proactive rather than reactive. This type of employee engagement seems similar to what you are trying to accomplish at Foursquare.Great success to you!