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Forter’s ‘Appreciation Sundays’ initiative helps alleviate Covid-19 stress

HR Post Covid

Forter’s ‘Appreciation Sundays’ initiative helps alleviate Covid-19 stress

How does a company with more than 270 employees in three time zones help each member with their wellbeing during a pandemic?

CTech | 09:39  24.02.2021

“The entire industry is suffering from the blurring boundaries between work life and personal life,” explained Noam Wakrat, Forter’s HR Director. “Our Appreciation Sundays initiative is just one of the ways we tackle this issue by encouraging employees to take the time to invest in their personal needs.”

Every company took the initiative to help the wellness of their employees during Covid-19, and Forter is no different. “In order to provide some balance and relief, we gave our employees Sundays off every other week at the expense of the company so that employees can take the time to invest in their personal needs,” Wakrat told CTech.

Noam Wakrat, Forter’s HR Director. Photo: Forter Noam Wakrat, Forter’s HR Director. Photo: Forter Noam Wakrat, Forter’s HR Director. Photo: Forter

Forter joined CTech for ‘HR Post Covid’ to explore how the company, which is valued at more than a billion dollars, can help each employee in every way it can.

Company Name: Forter

HR Leader: Noam Wakrat, HR Director.

Field of Activity:

We build trust in e-commerce by eliminating fraud for online merchants and marketplaces. We do this by delivering fully automated and highly accurate credit card transaction approval or denial decisions in real-time. We streamline the customer experience for an easier and more secure shopping process which also boosts revenue for our clients. We focus on the fraudsters so our clients have the peace of mind to focus on their own business opportunities.

We recently announced that Forter has raised $125 million in a Series E funding round, led by Bessemer Venture Partners. We raised this round at a valuation of over $1.3 billion, officially giving Forter the coveted “unicorn” status.

Number of employees/location:

Over 270 employees located in offices around the world: Israel, North America, EMEA and APAC.

Professional background of HR Manager:

I joined Forter in August 2019 after 10 years in various Learning and Development roles. In those years I developed leadership programs, designed organizational processes and policies, and led the learning department in a major defense industry organization.

I enjoy working closely with managers and employees and making an impact on their day-to-day experience at Forter. We are lucky to work in a company that, on top of doing very well business-wise, has a strong and unique culture.

On a scale of 1-10, how much did the coronavirus pandemic disrupt operations at the company?

Forter did very well and the business accelerated. The HR team at Forter started early and made the adjustments to our mode of operation. We made it a priority to communicate and engage virtually with employees much more often and keep our employee’s safety as our number one priority.

Appreciation Sundays - One of the things we acknowledged was the challenge of balancing working from home during the pandemic. In order to provide some balance and relief, we gave our employees Sundays off every other week at the expense of the company so that employees can take the time to invest in their personal needs. Additionally, we promote flexible working hours to better suit the home situation.

We hold an All-Hands meeting twice per month, each time in three different time zones from the west coast in the U.S, London, and Tel-Aviv and all the way to Singapore.

In addition, the HR team led open sessions with HR and Happy Hours. We also tried to make employees’ home situation as comfortable as possible by encouraging employees to take any needed equipment home to set up their home office. Finally, we established different channels to meet randomly in order to replace our usual office coffee-break conversations we miss so much.

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At the same time, we adjusted the way we onboard new employees completely in order to create the optimal experience and we got, and continue to get, amazing feedback from new hires regarding our welcoming and personal approach.

The pandemic has made many HR organizations rethink the employee experience and the way we work. There are many different reactions and thoughts on the permanent effects the pandemic had on the way we work, travel, communicate, hire, collaborate, and more. This unprecedented time arose challenges for many companies with remote work however Forter is more comfortable working remotely than we ever have been. We will continue to keep in mind the evolution of the workplace experience in a post-Covid-19 world.

What interesting technological tools do you use in employee management/recruitment?

We use a variety of tools and tactics to create more engagement for our employees and for candidates. Forter Academy is a tool created by our very own engineering team that is a knowledge hub with material from all areas of Forter which helps employees during onboarding. Immensely impactful during the pandemic! In addition, we use Zoom, Google Meet, and Slack for our day-to-day communication and online gatherings. Although we use systems to engage in recruitment and employee sensing, we do lean on the old-school methods of round tables and HR open hours to keep the personal touch.

Above all, our most effective tool is that our employees feel proud to be a part of Forter and want their friends to join on their successful journey.

What positive and/or negative impact did the outbreak have on the human capital of the company?

I believe the outbreak brought Forter’s culture and values to the surface in the best way possible. Just before the pandemic outbreak, we completed the work around our values, and the pandemic brought them to life in the most significant way. Our “be transparent, trust each other” value is a great example of how we communicate very openly with our employees, allow maximum flexibility and trust them to make decisions during this challenging time.

Forter believes in communities, inside and outside. As part of our responsibility to our community, we established the Forter Gives initiative and cooperates with several non-profit organizations to donate in several ways.

We were happy to rediscover the power and energy of the amazing people in our company. The engagement level and the commitment I have been seeing are incredible.

At the same time, the entire industry is suffering from the blurring boundaries between work life and personal life. Our Appreciation Sundays initiative is just one of the ways we tackle this issue by encouraging employees to take the time to invest in their personal needs.

What are the two major challenges you are coping with these days?

Serendipity - Forter is a very transparent workplace. It’s in our values and in our actions. When people work together in the office new ideas emerge from an unplanned conversation when you walk into someone’s office or random hallway chat. Those actions are hard to replicate in an online meeting environment and it’s a challenge we are constantly working to solve.

Providing a personable employee experience - each employee’s experience varies, and we are trying to support young parents, young couples, singles, and employees with a wide range of tenure (from one week to seven years). Each of them presents different challenges and we are doing our best to not fall into the one-size-fits-all routine.

Looking forward I believe that designing the workplace of the new era would be a challenge we will have to tackle both the physical space and the office attendance flexible solutions.

Are you actively recruiting? If so, what is the process and where can the applicants find you?

Yes, absolutely!

Our awesome recruiting team is working around the clock with new positions opening constantly. Since the beginning of the pandemic, we recruited over 40 employees to our Israeli site and we grew by 20%. As we mentioned in our Unicorn announcement to the press we aim to recruit another 100 by the end of 2021. You can find us through the company's career page, contact proactively on LinkedIn, and find us in Facebook groups for high-tech destinations in Israel.

Once again, we consider the interviewing process to be a personal experience for each interviewee. I can honestly attest to an exemplary experience and excellent adaptation to Covid-19 restrictions in our recruiting process. The recruitment team is always happy to assist the candidates and explain the recruitment process and the main topic of each interview so that each candidate can express themselves and prepare in the best way.

Which changes forced upon you by the circumstances will stay in place after Covid-19 is over, and which are you most eager to revert back to normal?

The hybrid workplace is here to stay. I can’t imagine we will go back to an industry with a mandatory work-from-office policy.

One thing I’m sure of is that everyone is eager to go back to some normalcy - joined sessions like Happy Hours, lunches, and even simple face-to-face coffee breaks with no masks on. Cross-organizational mingling is something we most definitely miss.

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