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From job sharing platform to talent marketplace – the story behind the strongest HR-Tech brand in the DACH region

While others are just starting to address the topic of “digitalization”, employees in 58 countries and 276 cities worldwide are already using the Tandemploy software on a daily basis to network internally for a wide variety of reasons – for mentoring duos, job rotations, project work, onboarding, lunch dates, expert sessions and much more. The SaaS offers a broad range of matching topics to choose from, enabling organizations and their employees to transform into a mobile and vibrant corporate organism. Well-known companies like SAP, Evonik, Haspa, and Lufthansa are just some of the customers (and fans) of the matching software. From their Berlin headquarters, Tandemploy is not only conquering the German economy but is also increasingly gaining traction internationally. In 2020 the “brand eins” magazine listed the software in a row with Google Drive, Github, and Slack. Shortly afterward, America’s most famous morning show “Good Morning America” reported on the “Tinder for Businesses” from Germany.

Originally, the idea behind Tandemploy was a different one. Up until 2013 Jana and Anna worked in a recruiting firm specializing in the placement of young digital professionals. There they were responsible for matching candidates with open positions. One day they were confronted with an application that was uniquely different. Two women were applying for one position as a job sharing tandem. Anna and Jana were thrilled by the idea. Just two days later they quit their jobs and started Tandemploy, a platform for people that want to share a job with a tandem partner. And for companies that are open to this new way of working.

Soon after, Anna and Jana were already considered to belong to the pioneers of the New Work movement. After “brand eins” published the portrait of the two founders and their job sharing platform, more interview requests and speaking engagements soon followed. Whether in German media such as Handelsblatt, Spiegel, Die Zeit, FAZ, and Süddeutsche or international media like Forbes, Huffington Post, or BBC – all major news outlets reported about the startup tandem. Suddenly job sharing was everywhere. While Google up to then only had one single outdated search entry on the topic of “job sharing”, it now had several thousand.

Suddenly even large companies were interested in “New Work” because they were realizing that their current structures were not only rigid and outdated but also unattractive for new talents. The deeper Anna and Jana delved into the topic of “new work”, the clearer it became: Something needed to change. A professional world that prefers to chase its own tail and burn people out instead of igniting their creative power urgently needed a new operating system.

With this in mind, Anna and Jana entered the Microsoft Accelerator Program in 2015 for which they were chosen, together with seven other startups, from a pool of 500 applicants worldwide. Also during this time, more and more companies turned to them. But they were asking for something slightly different: a software that would help them to match their existing staff – for job sharing, but also for other topics and occasions. These companies wanted to make a change, starting with their own internal structures.

Through many conversations, the two Tandemploy founders realized that they had much more leverage to promote change from within an organization. More importantly, there were many more people in fixed work structures than there were people looking for a position in the open job market.

During the accelerator program, they completely remodeled their business concept – instead of targeting applicants, they wanted to reach straight into the core of the organizations. The former B2C platform thus became a software whose goal it was to break down archaic structures in companies, driven by employees and managers alike. During this time, the Tandemploy company philosophy, against which all development steps must be tested to this day, was once again manifested: People Matter. The founders were convinced that technology can only make sense and be useful if it benefits people and makes their (working) lives noticeably better.

This idea too had a pioneering spirit and was met with open ears by the experienced players on the corporate side. During a meeting with Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella, Jana and Anna realized that they have hit a nerve. When Jana explained the idea behind the software: “Our software is not driven by HR. It’s driven…” –  she got interrupted: “…by people”, the Microsoft CEO quickly added. A moment the duo remembers as if it were yesterday.

While still completing the accelerator program, Anna and Jana began their search for investors. They held the potential candidates to a high standard, focussing on diversity, expertise, a large network, and integrity – even if this meant starting out with less capital. Towards the end of 2016, they had accrued enough financial backing to get off to a flying start with a 10-person team. Together, they developed the first internal talent marketplace for companies that deliberately follows the “bottom-up” principle, i.e. is specifically geared to the needs of the people in the organization. “People Matter” – also in the realignment of the start-up. The highly innovative and disruptive software breaks down entrenched structures in companies by pulling employees out of their silos and connecting them for collaborative forms of work and learning.

Not only large corporations are interested in the Tandemploy software. More and more mid-sized companies are also becoming aware of the fact that the much-vaunted “change” will not come from outside but must develop from within the organization itself. The official partnership with SAP ensures that the Tandemploy SaaS can be integrated seamlessly into the software provider’s systems, for example into “SAP SuccessFactors”, which is used by many midsize and large companies. But the Tandemploy software can also be implemented quickly and easily in combination with systems from other providers. The switch from B2C to B2B is a complete success.

Besides managing the strongest HR Tech brand in the DACH region to date, Jana and Anna are increasingly involved in influential associations and committees, such as the “Ethikbeirat HR Tech” (HR Tech Ethics Advisory Board), the “Beirat Junge Digitale Wirtschaft“ (Young Digital Economy Advisory Board) of the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology and the “Bundesverband Digitale Wirtschaft” (Federal Association of Digital Economy), which Anna chairs as Vice President. All this is possible because the Tandemploy team, which has grown to 30 people, is able to work at maximum flexibility itself. “Practice what you preach” is the motto. Anna and Jana share the management of the company in tandem. They use the resulting free time to engage in conversations with representatives from politics, business and the media, to inspire others, but most importantly to listen to what moves people in organizations. What do HR managers in particular really need to push digitization to the next level? What hurdles must be overcome? They consistently incorporate all of this into the ongoing development of the Tandemploy software, always fresh, always in flux.

For their pioneering spirit and pragmatic approach to solving real and acute challenges quickly, Anna, Jana, and their team have received over 35 awards, including the “TOP 25 HR Influencer” (Personalmagazin), “LinkedIn Top Voices” and the “HR Start-up Award”. They are two of the “40 HR heads” and can count themselves among the “25 women who are revolutionizing the economy” (by EditionF).

First external skill matching on the job sharing platform and now internal skill matching for companies – is that how you could sum up the story behind Tandemploy? You could if the journey were already over. But it has only just begun. Digitalization will change the economy to an extent that is hard to imagine today. The Covid-19 crisis has given many companies the first real experience of having to change. Lockdowns and layoffs have made many realize that for the longest time they paid far too little attention to their most valuable assets: the people who work for them, with all their talents and experience. Using these to emerge stronger from the crisis while at the same time being prepared for the big changes that are sure to come – that is the key takeaway.

So for Tandemploy this also means: staying as flexible as possible without losing sight of their vision. The vision of a working world in which it is completely normal that two women apply for one job together – and people achieve more with less, but more connected work.

By the way: If you google “job sharing” today you will not get just one but an astounding 1,670,000 hits. Change is coming.

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