“HR Suites are for HR people.” When I speak with CHRO’s about their HR Transformation, they often mention this concern. HR Professionals deal with a lot of policies, procedures and legislation, and a system that supports them well can become very complex and does not always provide the best employee experience. It’s a trade-off and it’s hard to be best at both. Or is it?
Many of the HR Suites currently on the market were developed in the 2000s and aimed to improve the interaction between HR and employees (through self-service), to support how we worked in the 2010s. But times have changed fast, and the pandemic has accelerated trends that were already in the making. Your workforce is becoming more diverse, has a global mindset and is more interested in alternative work arrangements that allow them to work from anywhere.
As a result, HR manages a workforce with a different approach to work/life balance and careers: they want the flexibility to schedule their hours a day in advance instead of a month. People want to be paid as soon as they’ve completed the work instead of waiting for their next paycheck. Employees want to work on interesting projects and, once finished, they move on to a new project at the next company. And above all, they expect an on-demand, App-based HR experience, that is completely mobile.
The workforce of the 2020s has different needs. They are not looking to stay with one company and build their career there. They are not interested in a static job profile: they think in skills and activities and choose project-based assignments. The 2020s HR Professional also has different needs: they need integrated data to provide analytics and insights to support business decisions in real-time. They can’t wait months for a new solution to be implemented. Time to value is important and no board will approve a request for a costly implementation.
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Agility, scalability and flexibility
The founders of the new HR Suites take a different approach: agility and flexibility are key. They design and build for the “now” of work and let you try before buy. Solutions are mobile-first, designed with the worker in mind, and fully capitalize on new technologies. These young HR Suites host a web page that gives you insight in the cost of running the platform and where you can sign up immediately. Like any other App, you can start after swiping a credit card, and you pay for use: per employee per month or per year without having to sign a long term contract.
Most new HR Suites are created because the founder ran into an issue, or was frustrated with the status quo. When they go live, they focus on small and medium businesses. But that’s not their end game. Their cloud-based design and scalability allows them to ramp up quickly, both in numbers and geographies. And while not all of them strive to conquer the world, the vast majority pursues a multi-country strategy, designed to support their customers as they grow in the region.
While looking at these new HR Suites, I focused on 2 different types of employees, to best illustrate the needs of a varied workforce and the choices you have when selecting your next solution. I found Everee, a US-based solution focused on hourly workers. And I spoke to peopleHum, a company that originates in India and offers a solution to support your global employees.
The HR Suite space is a fast-paced, innovative place, and I found many more interesting solutions that I wanted to share with you. I chose the companies that have recently received funding rounds: together they pulled in over $0.6B. You can find an alphabetical overview with short descriptions here. Your only problem: picking just one.
Faster paydays with Everee
Everee was created when one of its founders, Ron Ross, discovered that while his daughter Eliza earned enough to cover her monthly expenses, there was a mismatch between the day her bills came due and the day she received her paycheck.
You might think that can be easily fixed: if she saves some money she can use that to tie her over. However, for people who live paycheck to paycheck (an estimated 80% of the American workforce), that’s not an option. They rely on payday loans or credit cards, and the accumulated interest puts them even further behind.
As CFO, Ron had worked with different HR & payroll solutions, but had never considered what the employee experience looked like. With his daughter in mind, he started to think about a solution. Then in 2018, same-day electronic transfer became available and allowed companies to process money between bank accounts much faster. It was the enabler Everee needed: Same-Day ACH (similar to SEPA/PSD in Europe) allows employees early access to wages they’ve already earned.
Everee’s new HR suite was designed differently: to achieve the employee experience they strived for, they needed to unbundle payroll as a process. Traditionally, payroll runs in a sequence of fixed periods, and a payroll admin reconciles all changes shortly before the final payroll run of the period. The new solution needed to allow an admin to fix issues and run payroll in (near) real time. It also needed to allow people to decide when to get paid.
New workers onboard themselves through self-service. They can access their own accounts, enter their time cards, and have all the information they need available on their phone. They can access “Pay Your Way” and pick a flexible pay schedule that allows them to budget and manage their expenses: daily, weekly or monthly. They can also request an on-demand payment to cover an unexpected expense.
Because Everee offers an integrated time clock, once workers clock out, their managers can review, edit and approve time sheets on a daily base. When completed, the hours show up as verified, and admins can immediately approve and release them for payment.
That leaves one issue to resolve: the cashflow. Many businesses can’t accelerate paying workers because their cashflow doesn’t allow that. Everee offers a credit facility with the bank and settles with clients at the end of the pay cycle. In line with their principles, they are not passing any fees for early withdrawals to the workers.
When you have experience with payroll vendors, you know that extra payroll runs cost a lot of money. Then there is the ACH fee, plus some costs for the tax engine. I wondered how Everee solves that without being more expensive than established vendors. They offset part of these cost by running a new, completely digital solution: no paper checks or distribution costs. Tax calculations are mostly automated, and their operational expenses are lower than those of traditional vendors. And clients can save on costs by running payroll inhouse.
Everee also challenges traditional payroll companies in a different way: these vendors earn money by holding employees’ money for a few days until their checks clear. The more employees on payroll, the more interesting this short term interest bearing account becomes. It can add a couple of points to the total revenue of payroll companies. It’s an unsustainable practice, especially in light of the pandemic, as people have difficulties making ends meet. And considering the number of employers introducing “Pay me now” services, early access to wages is just as important for permanent employees as it is for the hourly workforce.
Everee is a country-specific solution and only available in the US. However, with the rise of the platform economy, earned wage access is becoming a prevalent topic in many countries around the world. Considering the complexities of local legislation, I expect these solutions to remain country-focused as opposed to one vendor delivering a global solution.
Peoplehum supports the daily flow of work
Peoplehum was founded by Nayan Jadeja as a full HR suite for SMB that includes all aspects of corporate employment, from hire to retire. The peoplehum team realized that there were a number of vendors focusing on enterprise, but smaller companies couldn’t afford those solutions. They were simply too expensive to acquire and maintain. Yet, employees expect and deserve the same kind of services regardless of company size.
Like Everee, peoplehum focuses on delivering a better employee experience. Their solution is informed by generation-specific demographics, tailored to attract and nurture millennial talent. It also makes optimal use of AI, ML, automation and predictive intelligence, technologies that are part of the design (and not added later). It’s also contextual: eg when you open a chatbot for support, you see some suggestions on the topic and simply clicking on those gets you to the answer. It saves time and provides a satisfactory user experience.
Time to Value is an important driver for peoplehum. The company understands that the SMB market has no time or money for long and costly implementation projects. They don’t have the staff to support that either. And so peoplehum is one of the new suites that lets you try before you buy. When you visit their site, you can sign up for a 14-day trial by entering an email address or signing with in Slack, Google or Office365. If you like what you see, you can continue with a full subscription and onboard your employees. It’s transparent and you know exactly if the solution works for your company.
peoplehum delivers all of the features you’d expect from a modern HR Suite. What works really well is the way they have integrated analytics and feature those on almost every page: small widgets that provide extra insights about the topic. They’ve also thought about “work”: when you open the solution, your home view includes an snapshot of your performance against the goals. The company strives to be more than an HR solution: they want to be part of the daily flow of work. During the pandemic they introduced new features to help remote workers track productivity and deliver against objectives. As example, the suite also includes Ideation, Projects, Tasks and Huddles (for daily check ins) functionality including metrics.
The solution doesn’t include a payroll system, nor does it provide benefits functionality. While peoplehum has a Partner program, it’s not clear who is currently enrolled and which partners are available. Because they offer localization and clearly strive to be a global platform, it’s a topic they need to address more clearly by partnering with local and global payroll vendors.
Nevertheless, peoplehum is an excellent example of an HR solution that leverages the power of modern technologies by providing chatbots, analytics and conversational intelligence. The “Try Before You Buy” functionality has been on the short list of HR teams for a long time, as has immediate onboarding, and it’s finally here. Combined with the short Time to Value, peoplehum surely challenges the status quo in the global HR solutions space. Who’s next?
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