Alfred Gerum has built products that people love for 30 years and has, amongst other things, a background in software for the fashion industry in New York. Alfred is Benify’s new Chief Product Officer (CPO) and here he shares his views about what he calls the big shift in HR during the last few years.
What does a CPO do?
“My job involves developing and working with products that are connected to the company’s goals. The evolution in our professional role has been incredibly unbelievable because now it has become more recognized to work as a Chief Product Officer and there is a school for this. In my time, it was enough to “get something done” to become a Chief Product Officer.
Tells us about your previous experience, before Benify?
“I come from a professional life within ERP and marketing tech but also e-commerce and fashion. It’s about some of the biggest companies where a lot of money is pumped in. I spent around six years within software for, amongst others, the fashion industry in New York, and I remember when Richard Branson spoke about taking care of employees. The biggest companies started to move money from what they invested into their customers to their employees. The trend from the industries that I see now have moved to HR.”
Can you elaborate?
“The fantastic shifts that we are seeing now have absolutely been strengthened by the pandemic where people have sat at home. This has led to a great focus on HR, and I can see what I have done in retail for five to seven years has trickled over to HR. More concretely, I mean that before this shift employees would have “felt lucky” if they were able to order a gym membership through an HR software. Today, the user experience instead is a big focus we all talk about and we have a new generation of leaders that whole-heartedly care about their employees. The pandemic has diluted this. There is a huge difference giving your employees an offer on paper – compared to actually showing how much you want them.”
What demands does it place on a company like Benify?
“The benefits have to mean something. Today, the companies and organizations don’t want to have a list of suppliers and offers, but also have to think about things like how the brand is perceived, how it is presented in the platform and how it can be stitched together with the IT structure within the company. The Benify Platform should provide a seamless experience and the time has passed where HR had a list of offers for their employees.”
What else do you think the pandemic has led to?
“Suddenly, it’s about the employer’s brand being more than just filling up a cup of coffee at work. How responsible are you for people who sit at home? How is someone a leader when someone or several people feel bad psychologically? I look there at the possibilities for the end-user where the employer should have benefits such as therapy that can be taken seriously with help from the Benify Platform. There, I feel very humble to be able to pass on good products.”
What trends do you see in the future?
“Something I find very interesting is the industry of digital coaching, which is a trend that is growing. One example of this is instead of someone sitting in a classic ring and speaking, they get to do an experiment with a chatbot instead. Without being judged, you can have an honest discussion with a digital coach – a chatbot. We see a rising trend within companies where this software pops up, and it’s also the same with coaching but digital, but no one can judge you. Benify has a platform that can make a difference – if we are quick in understanding trends, we can offer employers something deeper. It is my job to take Benify to the next level."
Last question. What trends do you see in regards to ethics and the environment?
“Something I think is very interesting is to see how ethical choices start to become truly ethical. Take, for example, companies who practice greenwashing – we now have a younger generation that can imagine a financially worse deal as long as the choice you make is ethical. This generation demands that someone must be green and ethical for real. The word integrity is something I hope leaders within HR can bring value back to – because this is important for the younger generation. I look forward to delivering good products that can make a difference.”