Recruiting with kindness aka the Footasylum Way

Forget Shock and Awe, it was Wow and Woo when Footasylum came a-knocking

Andy Tabberer
4 min readFeb 13, 2020


Finding a job is hard, as is the joining bit. You do all the running and you have to go the full Liam Neeson at times (I will find you). Contracts take an age to appear. Candidate-friendly orgs switch into auto onboarding machines once the ink is dry. Pay and reward negotiations are adversarial. Flexible working turns out to be a permissions-based pipe dream. But, hey, a signature chocolate bar, some pens and a Moleskine book on your desk the day you join make up for that, right?

Well, that was my expectation. Working in Digital Agencies has left me doubting my abilities and sometimes unloved.

And then Footasylum and Kim Morley - their Head of Delivery - came into my life…

It started with a Slack message posted by Kim. 11.50 am on 3rd January. A Delivery Manager role based in Federation House in sunny Manchester. I was in whippet fast and DM’d Kim. We arranged to meet. It was 9th Jan as you asked, Fed Hse.

What was - in my mind - meant to be a quick chat ended up being two hours of delivery filled quality time. I knew then that I really wanted to work with Kim and at Footasylum (FA) - which I keep calling Footloose in my head (it’s my age). She’d talk to the folk back at FA and we’ll see what we’ll see. I began to pray this would come off. I did contemplate a few modest animal sacrifices but I’m a veggie now so a no-go really.

Kim kept me warm, asking my advice about bits and bobs. I thought it was a test. No, she just wanted another view. I switched to a 3-times-a-day prayer routine and started ritual finger and toe crossing. Please, Lord, just this once do the right thing.

In between all of this, I’d agreed to give a talk at the Deliver Sessions about nudges and behavioural science in the workplace. To my surprise (and delight), a band of FA delivery people came along - or should that be ‘parcel’? Few people I've worked with have shown an interest in hearing any talk I’ve done. Not even promoted it at work. I began to feel wanted and warm inside :)

Then Kim said Paul Martin — FA IT Director - would like to meet you at the Head Office to talk about the role. I travelled to Rochdale. HOPING. I followed my wife’s words of wisdom in full - don’t be mad, don’t drink too much coffee, don’t be a scruff bag.

When I walked in the door. I saw a Wardley Map on the wall. Be still my beating heart...I just knew this was where I wanted to work. Paul and I talked for two hours. He said—->

‘Surely you will be in demand, why do you want to work for Footasylum?’

I felt wanted and some.

Money was discussed and taken off of the table. Paul said he’d like me to come and work at FA. Was it really about to happen?

Now the waiting game. In between, FA delivery folk started to connect with me on LinkedIn, follow me on Twitter. Some sent kind words about my talk. Did they know something I didn’t?

After two long days I got a call from a mobile number I didn’t know. It was Daniel Kirk, an internal recruiter at FA. It was 31st Jan. 15.52. He rang to offer me the job.

I accepted. Cue bedlam, forward rolls, a shimmy, and a round of jazz hands.

Since then it’s been a wave of wooing, with a sprinkling of wow thrown in. FA delivery folk have been talking with me on Twitter. People have said publicly they are excited about working with me. EXCITED. That’s the first. This was also confirmed by the estimable @neil_vass, who had chatted to FA delivery people at the MTP gig. Third party verification no less. And no money changed hands.

Kim arranged for me to meet a few people I am going to work with at Fed Hse - she bailed again, which is twice now (not that I am keeping count). This was a good move by Kim as we - Nat, Chloe and I - had a chance to chat about our team. What lovely, kind people. We’ll do good things together I’m sure.

All along, Kim has been sending me Slack messages saying how much I’m needed and starting to let me know more about FA.

Finally, a parcel arrived at my house yesterday. It had my name on it. When I opened it I was genuinely shocked. A box of delights from the FA team (see image above). Not the usual stock items. No. Two books, chosen with care and with my interests and worldview in mind. Loads of bird-related stuff including a card with hand drawn parrot on the envelope and replete with bird puns. Perfect! And the team worried I thought it might be weird. You can see my (hand drawn) reply below :) ps I FREAKING LOVE BIRDS

What’s the lesson here for companies? Be authentic. Recruit with kindness. Use this process to colour your values and celebrate your work culture. Be human. Draw little pictures. Make funnies. Be your SELVES. It works.

Turns out sometimes something too good to be true can be true and good.

Thank you, (Footloose) Footasylum, from the bottom of my heart.



Andy Tabberer

I'm curious about quality, systems and people. Proud to be a Principal DM at Coop Digital ❤️