Paul Tooth, Co-founder and CEO of BrightHR, reveals a highly innovative approach to the art of HR that is taking the UK by storm
Big launch in November 2015, less than a year old and more than 70 staff, what's the story?
BrightHR has had a fantastic journey so far. Although we are a new brand and company, we are part of the successful Peninsula Business Services Group, which gave us a solid foundation to start from. Peter Done saw an opportunity to provide his clients with an online way of recording absences and HR records several years ago and built a system for them, which was hugely popular and proved the market was there. He brought myself and Paul Harris (co-founder & CMO) on board to turn it into a successful, global brand. After a lot of hard work and effort by a fantastic team across BrightHR we launched our new business in November.
And the BrightHR culture is?
From the start we wanted to build an engaging, fun and creative culture that people would want to be a part of. We need to attract and retain the best talent we can and Manchester is a competitive environment for people, so we need to be a company people will want to join and be a part of. Building a collaborative, engaging culture that encourages innovation, creativity and celebrates success was always a key part of our vision. As a software business we rely on the creativity of our people to develop a service for our customers that will wow them, so our culture needs to reflect that.
New company but complex subject, where is the experience coming from?
Peninsula is the market leader in employment services, providing small businesses with the HR expertise they cannot afford to employ themselves. With that expertise available to us we always had an advantage and could quickly build our own expertise in the market. We also had a core team of experienced people at the start and then recruited to ensure we have that knowledge at the heart of the business. I started my career in the HR and payroll software business and spent 15 years in various roles, including running the UK HR and payroll division for Sage.
Talk us through your head office design. What is the strategy behind it?
We wanted to create an environment that reflected the culture of the business and allowed for a collaborative and fun environment but also one where people can relax when they need to. The design of the building lends itself to a central space with desks spaced around the outside - enjoying great views of Manchester on one side and the Peak District on the other. In the central space we created the Garden, with astroturf, bean bags, benches, deck chairs and plenty of big plants, which is an ideal space for meetings but also for relaxing and chilling out. The whole office is as open-plan as we could get and we always tried to do something different - our desk dividers are clear perspex with neon lights shining through the centre and everyone has an individual controller so they can change the colours and light patterns.
We spend so much time at work, the environment needs to be engaging so people want to be there and have a smile on their face - reports suggest, including our own, that if people enjoy their workplace environment they are more productive, less likely to be absent and far less stressed.
Given the environment, what are meetings like at BrightHR and where do you hold them?
We have very little ‘formal' meeting space and we encourage everyone to make meetings less organised and more free-flowing. Stand-ups are the most frequent and take place wherever the people happen to be. We also have screens in the garden and large touchscreens at both ends of the offices, so meetings take place around those as well. Briefings and buzz sessions tend to take place in the garden and are open to whoever wants to drop in. Throughout the offices we have turned walls into whiteboards - especially in the garden - so our meetings are much more fluid and creative, with people on beanbags around a whiteboard wall. In the summer we take our meetings outside as well.
What do you offer a typical SME and how do you deliver the product and indeed the support?
Our vision for our service was to create something which is different to the bland HR software customers have historically had to choose from. At the heart of our thinking was how our customers would use our software, we wanted a powerful solution that does what they want but delivered in a fresh and innovative way. Key to that is our UX team who from the beginning involved customers in everything we planned. Before we even look at coding anything, we mock up designs that we share with a panel of small businesses, honing our plans and making sure we develop the right solution.
We also keep our focus on delivering a first-class HR solution for small businesses - all too often software suffers from bloatware, pushing more and more edge case functionality in, whilst neglecting the core offering that the majority use on a daily basis. BrightHR delivers key HR functionality for small businesses, fulfilling their people management and absence management needs but in a package that is very easy to use.
In addition, platform independence plays a crucial role in the usability of the software; being able to use it on any device adapting itself to the environment the user chooses. Supporting this we have our mobile apps that enable employees to interact themselves, maintaining their core information as well as managing absences through voice activation - giving the employer a powerful tool that reduces administration and cost.
We offer a full support service for our customers, helping them as they quickly set up the application and activate their employees, then tailoring help to their needs - via in-built help applications, through web tutorials, community support and interaction with our support staff. We have designed everything to be as intuitive as possible, customers and their staff don't want manuals and classes, they want to roll their sleeves up and get on with it.
Is there a typical client size?
We have a wide range of customers in virtually every sector, although our core audience ranges from businesses with 20 employees through to 250. Typically small businesses start to need a solution like ours when they pass 10 or so employees and their HR and absence management needs begin to get more pressing, which is where we can help.
BrightHR aims: big fish in UK pond or world domination?
Our vision is to build a global brand! We
have designed the application to be portable into new territories, adaptable to
local legislative needs but retaining that core expertise as a people
management solution. Our aim is to establish ourselves
in the UK, build our brand reputation and customer base before we look further afield for new opportunities. We are also looking to develop key partnerships with vendors that provide complimentary functionality, widening the appeal of our joint solutions and providing seamless integration for a better customer solution.
Thoughts for the future?
Watch this space! We have a truly exciting journey ahead and big plans for our future. BrightHR will be the solution globally for every small business's HR needs.
To find out more visit brighthr.com
Post Date: March 7th, 2016