What’s the secret to Bolt’s growth and high employee retention? Iwona Potajczuk-Pomarańska, Regional People Partner at Bolt, shares some of her key insights with us.

From a small Estonian startup to the fastest growing tech company in Europe, Bolt has made a leap that many can admire. Today, it’s the leading European mobility platform on a mission to make urban travel more affordable and sustainable.

As we are entering 2022, the company employs over 3000 people worldwide and continues to hire intensively. At the time we wrote this article, there were over 994 job openings at Bolt – and 112 of them were in Poland, the company’s second largest entity after the HQ in Estonia.

Why Poland? Iwona Potajczuk-Pomarańska, Regional People Partner at Bolt, has no doubt.

We have a large talent pool in Poland. There are many very talented and experienced people in this market. People – including foreigners – want to live and work here.

Iwona Potajczuk-Pomarańska

Bolt expands in Poland

Currently, Bolt employs over 200 people in Poland, but the number is growing steadily and, surprisingly to some, this growth is due to the pandemic. For Bolt, the Covid-19 crisis proved to be both a challenge and an opportunity from which the company benefited. Instead of reducing the headcount during the lockdown, Bolt created 500 new jobs.

“We had already implemented a hybrid work model before the pandemic, so when the lockdown started, we could transition to remote work with ease. This, in turn, showed us that we could work effectively in a remote environment and prompted us to change our approach to global hiring,” Iwona Potajczuk-Pomarańska explains.

“Before the pandemic, we performed global tasks in our Estonian HQ. Today, many global roles are located in different countries, including Poland. This has helped the Polish market grow so quickly,” Iwona adds.

She clarifies that Bolt still hires employees for local roles in certain markets. On the other hand, some teams and departments – such as recruitment – are structured under a shared services model and operate globally to meet the needs of local teams.

Iwona’s role as Regional People Partner is to look after the Polish, Czech and Slovak markets, supporting the local teams and bridging the gap between their needs and the HQ’s expectations.

How people grow with Bolt

Poland’s central location in Europe and the large number of top universities make it an attractive market for employers, while the presence of other top European brands attracts talent. But what kind of talent is Bolt looking for?

“We want to hire people who have great skills and experience, but what’s key for us is their entrepreneurial spirit and ability to act like an owner. These values are embedded in our culture,” says Iwona Potajczuk-Pomarańska.

Bolt values experience, but also looks for drive, intelligence and integrity. In other words, Bolt seeks people who work hard, learn quickly and care about their fellow human beings. Dozens of the company’s employees started with no relevant experience but quickly grew into leading a large team.

I have seen a lot of ‘American Dream’ careers at Bolt.

Iwona Potajczuk-Pomarańska

“People start as support specialists and become managers and leaders over time,” Iwona Potajczuk-Pomarańska adds. “That’s the promise we make: you can grow quickly with us and have endless opportunities. If you want, if you are committed and work hard, the sky’s the limit,” she adds.

No red tape and an agile mindset

The speed of the company’s growth is impressive, indeed. New business lines are launched in a matter of months. Last year, Bolt launched a car-sharing service in just four months and a grocery delivery service in one month. That’s two new business lines in five months.

To move so quickly, Bolt needed two things: the right people and a lack of bureaucracy. Rapid growth means processes and procedures can sometimes lag behind reality.

“That’s why we automate everything we can and act very quickly. When we launch a new product or market, we set up the operational team first and only then build the company’s local structure.

Our teams tend to be small and very agile. We give our people a lot of freedom in decision-making. But in order to do that, we must trust them. This means we need to hire people with a certain mindset and core competencies.

Iwona Potajczuk-Pomarańska

Many students or graduates start their careers at Bolt. Since there is no glass ceiling, they can be easily promoted and develop both vertically and horizontally by moving across local and global teams and different business units.

How does HR analytics help?

What about the critical metrics and HR analytics at Bolt? Is Bolt a data-driven company?

For me, it is crucial to express certain processes and problems through numbers. They allow us to check if we are on the right track”.

Iwona Potajczuk-Pomarańska

The first level of analytics at Bolt are basic demographic metrics that help monitor diversity and inclusion or gender balance. In addition, the HR department focuses on qualitative insights collected from employees, such as a quarterly engagement and eNPS surveys.

“What I find most valuable are responses to open questions that we can segment and aggregate in order to answer them appropriately. The tools we use allow us to provide personalized feedback while keeping the sender anonymous. I must say that I really appreciate this,” says Iwona Potajczuk-Pomarańska.

Low turnover rate

Iwona admits that the company boasts a high retention rate and an average tenure of 4.5 years, which is 1.5 years more than the industry average. Nevertheless, the reasons for turnover are carefully investigated.

“We conduct extensive exit interviews. We conclude, however, that a change of job can be a good practice. Our task at Bolt is to educate people, to bring out the entrepreneurial spirit in them and show them how to do business. Bolt teaches them that it takes the right people, trust, collaboration and data to build a successful business.”

“If someone wants to take on the world with what they have learned – we cheer them on. We are excited to see Bolt employees build their own businesses that are sustainable, socially responsible, and people-oriented. We know they will succeed because we hired them. If they come to Bolt as good “ingredients”, they will leave us as a great dish,” Iwona concludes. 

What is the turnover rate at your organization? If you want to investigate the reasons for turnover and discover the correlations between data points, sign up for a demo of Human Panel and see how people analytics can help you achieve your business goals.

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