Inspired by Atom Bank’s disruptive approach to business banking, BQ learns more about Hive HR, who have created a whole new way for companies to manage their human resources.
Hive HR is hoping to ‘revolutionise the way employers measure and analyse the engagement, motivation, and productivity of their workforce.
The brainchild of John Ryder, Hive HR offers an alternative to the much-maligned annual employee survey through a weekly, micro-survey approach; creating more manageable results for HR managers and business owners.
John originally joined North East-based e-commerce giant Visualsoft to lead the company’s Innovation Lab, a place which focuses on the creation and development of new software platforms. However, the potential of a piece of employee engagement software was quickly recognised and it soon turned from a tool into a stand-alone company.
He said: “Hive HR works with organisations to help them measure, understand and improve engagement and motivation levels within their workforce. Specifically, our USP is all about making it really easy and effective for employers to adopt an ‘always-on’ approach to employee engagement.
“Prior to launching the business, I was the newly appointed head of innovation at Visualsoft, an eCommerce software company and the department that I ran had an intrapreneurial remit. I was tasked with ideating and developing new businesses that we could scale.
“There were a couple of things that I was working on, but Hive really had my attention because it was something that I knew could be huge and it was a business that was grounded in a purpose that myself and a team could really get behind.
“The UK has an employee engagement deficit - just one in three employees are engaged in their jobs and we now rank at the bottom of the G7 in terms of productivity per head. As employers, we need to do better and I felt that we could play a significant role in that.”
Where Hive HR really stands out is the fact that its software has been designed specifically to make the process of measuring and understanding employee engagement really easy so that HR, leaders and managers can focus their time on the things that will make a positive difference. Less admin –more impact, if you like.
“Employee engagement is a business imperative and should be a core competency of any organisation; so we focus on enabling our customers so that they can be fantastic at building an amazing workplace,” John added.
“The software is only part of our proposition though. To truly enable our clients we offer unrivalled support and coaching so that they get the best out of the Hive platform and maximum return on investment for their employee engagement initiatives.”
But as with any industry disruptor, launching the Hive HR platform didn’t come without its challenges. “Right from the start, we were always hugely confident that we’d found product market fit,” he added. “There’s a huge appetite for employee engagement right now in companies of all sizes – from multinational brands to local councils and further education.
“People are keen to learn more and to adapt the way they have been engaging with employees in the past, to help them attract skilled workers and to better motivate co-workers. So we felt that in many ways it was just about getting in front of as many prospective customers as we could, but the amount of resource and capital you need to do that as a start-up is always one of the biggest challenges to overcome.
“We looked for investment to help accelerate growth of Hive, initially setting out to raise £150,000, but then successfully overfunded to raise £300,000 during a funding round on equity crowdfunding and co-investment platform, GrowthFunders.
“Recruitment can be really tough as well. As a start-up, there’s a worry that great candidates don’t know who you are and therefore it makes the recruitment process even more difficult. But great candidates also want to work somewhere with purpose, on things that matter to them; so we focused on making sure that our vision, our purpose and culture stood out.”
Having successful raised £300,000 and after moving into larger offices, the company has continued to grow and John is confident about the future for the company, which he firmly believes will be a real game changer for the HR industry.
He concluded: “We’ve grown in every way. Our sales revenue continues to grow at a really healthy rate and of course, we’ve added headcount to accommodate that.
“The size of organisations that we’re working with now is very different to when we first launched as well. It’s fantastic to think that a year in, we’re working with organisations such as Premier Foods, Sofology and Age Concern.
“Looking forward, we’re hoping for lots and lots more growth. We’re investing increasingly more into development resource and as a result our offering continues to get even better. That in itself is going to help the business become even more relevant to more organisations.”
Speaking about Hive's success, Neil Costello, head of marketing at Atom Bank, added: “As fellow disruptors, it’s plain to see that what Hive HR is doing in their space is impressive. Their vision, to take something they created for their own use and spin it out into a standalone enterprise, is what the spirit of entrepreneurship is all about. And another firm recognising that the North East is a great place to build technology businesses.”
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