For a solution developed to solve the human resources-related headaches of an IT firm, you could expect that the team at HR Central are on top of their tech. But, as its CCO Cath Grawe tells us, there’s much more to it than that.
Cath Grawe, chief communications officer for HR Central doesn’t hold a degree in information tech or human resources, but her background has given her a unique appreciation for the importance of communication and documentation.
And those things also happen to sit at the heart of HR Central’s business, residing as it does at the intersection of HR and IT.
That’s because the team at HR Central need to stay on top of new legislation and tech updates, while also managing the expectations of their clients so that they can sleep easy knowing they’re compliant and their employees are well looked after.
To discover more about the unique challenges presented by developing and marketing an HR platform, we recently sat down with Grawe. The following is a transcript of that discussion.
What’s HR Central’s story? What challenge did the founders seek to solve and how do they go about it?
HR Central was originally created to support the internal HR in a previous IT business that two of the three founders were involved in.
Being an adventurous and smart IT company, they built an app and collaborated with another of the founders who had a major industrial relations role at McDonalds, realised its potential, took it to market and the rest is history. Well, at least history in the making.
What successes has the business realised to date?
It’s been remarkable in the fact that HR Central has stayed a relatively small business, but manages to service a huge market and varying industries.
We now have thousands of app users (and growing), hundreds of clients, and our industries range from healthcare to horse racing. All of this has occurred in the space of a few years.
Has the business evolved significantly over time? What were the challenges being addressed in each case?
It has, in its maturity and understanding of what a business needs.
For example, we’ve had to address some huge HR hurdles for businesses; employee deaths, rogue employees, sexual harassment and bullying, theft. But we’ve also had to really think through the concept of a business understanding the importance of compliance; including recordkeeping, correct classification of staff and correct payments.
Fair Work has really highlighted the importance of managing and employing people correctly and fairly with the introduction of the Vulnerable Workers Act, as well as more transparency around underpayments, and also sham contracts.
But the right HR software makes it easy for a business to monitor employee documents and HR activity in a really efficient way to avoid getting caught up on any of those issues.
It’s interesting, even though we’re manned by professionals with so much experience, we still learn from our clients and discover new issues all the time. And that keeps us sharp.
If you think you know everything and stop listening, your offering will stagnate. Users consistently want and need new offerings and functionality and you have to listen and weigh up how that looks. That’s why HR Central is so proactive in building alliance partnerships with like-minded businesses that offer complementary services. That means our clients are truly supported to assist them with business growth and staying on the straight and narrow.
One thing for HR Central remains solid: our principles do not change. We first and foremost look after the business owner to ensure they do the right thing by their employees. We push gently but consistently compliance – in an easy to understand way, we inform a business of their HR legal responsibilities, plus we advise and recommend them on additional business services (like MYOB) to ensure they have every possible resource available to them.
Plus, we don’t just sell and run. We work together throughout the whole HR Central partnership.
That means we’re constantly working through HR issues, talking and educating about the software and attending events. And we only associate with other businesses that have the same core values.
Who are your ideal customers and what do you differently to service them?
Ideal customers are those that understand they need to pay attention to their HR obligations. This means they’re curious and interested enough to be proactive and streamline their processes. It also means that they’re current and aware of the changing face of technology and how automated systems, integrations and good, progressive products are the way to run a modern business.
Businesses who have up to 100 employees are our sweet point, and any business without internal HR.
Every business needs to be fully aware of what their responsibilities are to their employees.
But, in a way it’s also businesses that you really have to convince to pay correctly, have the right processes and tools to do so, and understand that HR is complex and warrants attention that we love, too.
That’s because there’s such a sense of achievement when you turn a business owner around and you see the light go on about why be compliant and why have great systems in place. Plus, when they start to see the money value and productivity improve, they’re very happy.
What are some of the big challenges your customers face?
The main challenges our clients face are risky engagements with staff. This being, that they; haven’t conducted a thorough recruitment process, or don’t have contracts and policies, procedures and onboarding processes or are ill equipped to manage the complexities of individual employees.
You have to not only manage technical skills but also personal issues that can have a huge impact on your business.
I also think the media has been responsible for alerting many business owners around compliance issues, especially regarding vulnerable workers, visa workers, and underpayment of staff. In addition, the #metoo movement has created awareness around harassment and bullying, and Worksafe advertising around encouraging injured employees back into the workforce have also helped with awareness of these issues.
This has left many business owners concerned yet thankfully motivated to ensure that they put the right measures in place, realistically to protect their business, brand and pocket, but the flow on effect is actually a positive one for employees too.
How does HR Central plan to continue adapting to meet your clients’ needs into the future?
Our roadmap, or way we work currently is not likely to change from a delivery point of view. We will always have the combination of direct contact with an HR Specialist and software, as we see this as a total outsource solution for any business. Of course our product will build out in demand with the requests and needs of future business operations, which will include more automation around recruitment, onboarding and performance of employees.
What are the big trends you’re keeping an eye on in 2020?
The introduction of HR software spun the HR industry around, so I can see that there will be more of the employment cycle that will become automated.
Working styles will continue to become compatible with millennials as they become more dominant in numbers in the workforce. As a result, traditional leadership styles and working conditions will continue to change and morph into more agile working environments.
This, and a focus on wellbeing, will result in an increase in flexible working conditions such as working from home, cafes, as well as part-time and casual employees, who are choosing their work-life balance.