German-headquartered Personio styles itself as “Europe’s leading HR software for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)”, according to its CPO Ross Seychell.
It focuses on the SME market because it has “traditionally been underserved” by other HR tech platforms, but, just like bigger companies, they need technology that helps to “free up HRs time to go beyond HR”.
To do this, Personio offers a “holistic HR software solution”, which covers recruitment, onboarding, employee management and development, and data analytics.
However, it wants to continue to innovate the HR tech sector, particularly for SMEs, according to Seychell. So at its recent HUG conference, Personio launch the launch of a new product category called People Workflow Automation.
What is People Workflow Automation?
Seychell emphasizes to UNLEASH that People Workflow Automation is not simply a new feature, “it is a new category we are creating” where “not only are we looking at core HR processes, but at [broader] people processes” that involve other departments, like sales, finance, IT or legal.
“The aim is to try and reduce delays and missed opportunities”, notes Seychell. Even though a companies HR processes may be fully automated, when the HR team in a business works with IT, legal or other teams, “things can fall through the cracks if you don’t have an end-to-end view”.
So Personio’s People Workflow Automation wants to help “build more of a holistic journey for people processes” that go beyond the HR department. It aims to do this with the help of integrations with other HR tech software.
This is extremely important to Personio (and its ambitions for the future of HR tech).
“If you don’t have these partners to integrate with, then it really limits how much you can look at people processes holistically”, explains Seychell.
He adds that for the SME market this is particularly crucial as they often chop and change their HR tech providers as they grow.
“Our aim is to have as broad integrations as possible for it really complements the overall People Workflow Automation principle”, notes Seychell.
Personio’s $270m Series E round
The European HR tech firm’s announcement of People Workflow Automation came at the same time as it closed a $270 million Series E.
The round was led Greenoaks Capital Partners, Altimeter Capital and Alkeon, and brought Personio’s value to $6.3 billion.
The Series E means Personio now has $500 million in funding, which “helps us to think long-term, strategically and independently,” according to Seychell.
“This new investment will help us continue to focus on the development” of its long-term strategy, which includes People Workflow Automation, as well as expand and develop its payroll product.
However, the money will also help Personio to acquire new talent, as well as focus on “developing, rewarding and growing our own team”, which is key to Seychell.
He believes that retention is crucial in a hypergrowth company like Personio; “we’ve got to be thoughtful about where you invest in your teams in terms of overall people experience”.
For Seychell, Personio does this by looking at “rewards”. “Compensation is one quadrant, [but] there are other quadrants like working environment, growth opportunities and benefits; we try to look at it more holistically that way”.
Also, as Personio grows it is looking at its working environment; “we have a mode of working that’s called Personio Flex: broadly it is about giving people the chance and option to work in the office, but also at home or elsewhere”.
Looking to the future, Seychell is clear that Personio needs to ensure its working environments continue to “represent what people want to use offices for now”. To this end, it has recently opened a new office in Amsterdam and is building a new one in London.
Why work in HR tech?
All of this – plus Personio’s corporate social responsibility initiatives, including a foundation, and its award-winning culture – feeds into what makes Personio a great place to work.
But HR tech, in general, is booming and attracting top-level tech talent. This is because the problems the sector is solving are a real attractor.
Seychell tells UNLEASH that when talking to Personio employees, that as well as the culture, they say that what “brought them here is the impact they can have”. “They can see the work they can do, and how it can impact the customer”, and their employees.
Another reason why people are keen to work in the HR tech sector I because “the HR profession has been in the spotlight” during the pandemic.
Seychell believes that HR will follow the trajectory of finance – 15 years ago many people saw “finance [doing] behind the scenes number crunching, keeping you on tract with budgets”, but “now finance has a much more strategic role in the organization”.
As a result, “HR tech has really been front and center”, and will continue to be in the hybrid future of work.
“We have to have the technology that enables our companies and people to work, and leaders to be able to support them”, concludes Seychell.
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