Employee experience is on the tip of everyone’s tongues at the moment, but actually taking measures to monitor and improve it is much easier said than done.
Hornstein founded niikiis with a desire to improve the experience of employees and this has seen many revolutions in recent years, both in terms of priority and business value.
Naturally, UNLEASH was keen to discuss this change in perception, but we also wanted to get insights into the vital role of small to medium enterprises (SMEs) in this place and the importance of Veremark’s workplace accelerator to niikiis’ success.
To begin with, Hornstein explained niikiis’ journey as a business: “We were born as a learning and communication platform. Our vision at that time has remained the same, which is basically to help people do their job better.”
Originally, the company focused on working with large enterprises and Hornstein notes: “On our journey, we realized that a major pain point that large enterprises had was onboarding.
“Focusing on the onboarding, helped us develop our automation tool, and use what we had developed.
However, niikiis switched focus towards SMEs after talking to a US investor, in Amsterdam, with five companies that have under 200 employees.
“He said, ‘Hey, I just hired a HR person for the first time for one of my companies and actually, I have an agency that runs payroll. I don’t know how I can get data on the day-to-day easily on how many employees do I have? Is there any software that actually does something like this?”
Then we said “‘Hey, let’s figure this out, let’s ask more questions.’ So that was the moment. There was a conversation with one of our investors that we should understand what the SME market needed.”
Employee experience and SMEs
With this to hand, they were prepared to change the perspectives of many SMEs who saw employee experience as non-essential pre-pandemic.
Hornstein notes: “Many companies thought this is a nice to have and only those companies that really had a lot of pressure to retain talent, because it was a scarcity for talent actually took care of employees.
“But that was because of a business’s need to retain talent. Now with COVID-19, it seems that companies have to come to a realization [they have a] moral need to actually take care of their employees.
“Because they were in pain, they were suffering, so HR and CEOs thought: ‘Let’s be more empathetic and understand why the employee experiences is important’.”
Hornstein adds that when he speaks about employee experience it ranges from employer value propositions to physical offices.
In terms of SMEs, niikiis often focuses on the basics.
Hornstein claims that niikiis wants to enable growth and adapt to the businesses. He notes: “That’s why we’ve built an all-in-one intuitive simple, configurable platform with the employee in mind, and not only HR Administrator”.
It is also important to niikiis that the end-user (aka the employee) enjoys the platform as its the tool that allows them to do a large number of functions.
The importance of what niikiis offers was exemplified during COVID-19.
Hornstein says: “The challenge that SMEs faced with COVID-19 was twofold.
“One is they have to actually manage more data, because of what I said before about people not being in the office and so forth, and [secondly] they needed to track whether they had COVID-19 positive or not and all these things.
“So they have to track your data, that obviously reduces the time that they have to spend to take care of the people.
This extra work facilitated technology being introduced to improve processes and efficiencies.
Veremark’s workplace accelerator
Given niikiis experience in enterprise and SME markets, UNLEASH was keen to find out what attracted the company to join Veremark’s workplace accelerator.
Hornstein notes that this is the only accelerator that focuses on work tech, and given that the company works in this area the decision to sign up “was a no brainer”.
“We choose [the workplace accelerator] because of people behind it, and the program itself seemed to be at the right time, for us.
He later expanded: “Because we are a senior management team or founding team, we were very clear on our objectives. So we ask those objectives, and they say whether they can help us or not. And then the selection process, or actually the admission process was actually very detailed. And we liked that approach.”
The future for niikiis
niikiis also has plenty to look forward to in the future. This is partly because “people want things that are very simple and easy”. They want “just one place to go.”
With this in mind, the company is expanding the areas it covers with its chatbot and integrations.
Hornstein notes: “We are the first and only HR tech for years that had a chatbot […] we want to actually develop further our chatbot to become more predictive.
“Then our goal for next year is to build more integrations, based on this idea that you don’t have to build everything. If there are some other interesting tools out there that people actually use, which is one to facilitate the experience of how to access those tools and what information do they actually process so that like with our system, that becomes the true performance software that we want to build.”
With new integrations and a predictive chatbot, the future looks bright for niikiis and if SMEs get a single platform for their HR needs they may have some very happy employees.