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Adam P. Gordon Tells how They are Helping Companies and Their Employees Reimagine PTO In The New Normal

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Adam P. Gordon PTO Genius

First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?

Adam P. Gordon: Like everyone, we’ve adjusted to the new normal and take it one day at a time. We’re grateful for what we have and try to help those in need.

Tell us about you, your career, how you founded PTO Genius.

Adam P. Gordon: After a decade in corporate finance, I was driven to become an entrepreneur and create jobs. After building a company and being fortunate enough to have a successful exit, I took some much needed time off to catch my breath. Shortly thereafter, I met my future co-founders (Ulises I. Orozco and Emilio Pineda) as they had each previously exited their most recent startups.  

How does PTO Genius innovate?

Adam P. Gordon: It starts with having a company culture of open-mindedness to allow for new ideas, failure, and learning from the process. Everyone is encouraged to have a growth mindset and allow for innovation to thrive. To do that, we foster an environment where failing and being wrong is celebrated. By celebrating mistakes and failure, it allows people to be more creative and thus more innovative. 

To innovate, we look to other areas of the marketplace and search for insight and ideas in places you’d least expect to turn. We harness underappreciated trends and pay attention to the little things that are already changing and gathering speed. Innovators don’t need a crystal ball but rather a wide-angle lens. You have to always be tracking trends your competitors haven’t yet noticed, then figuring out ways of using them to upend traditional business models.

How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?

Adam P. Gordon: Our company has had a surge in growth during COVID-19. As a result, we’ve been able to hire incredibly talented individuals who are both dynamic and diverse.

Due to people working remotely, the average U.S. workday has increased by almost 40%, which has Americans working 11-hour days. It’s the largest increase in working hours in the world. With employee burnout increasing, productivity decreasing, and PTO liability balances climbing, human resources departments are trying to combat a decrease in employee engagement and find an alternative to 401k withdrawals and end of year bonuses for companies looking to offload liability while providing employees with financial peace of mind. It’s an issue affecting a wide range of companies, from SMBs to the Fortune 500. Our company is focused on trying to help as many employees as possible and do what’s in the customer’s best interest.

Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?

Adam P. Gordon: The surge in business during COVID-19 forced us to pause some things in the roadmap and hyperfocus on what can be done to make an immediate impact on employees and companies to help them during this time – and in a remote manner. That challenged us to get creative with Customer Success, and by doing so, allowed us to establish more meaningful relationships with our customers.

How do you deal with stress and anxiety, how do you project PTO Genius in the future?

Adam P. Gordon: Stress and anxiety are a part of life and will always be there. As an entrepreneur, you have to get comfortable with uncomfortable, celebrate the first downs, and acknowledge adversity as a growth opportunity. Teammates feed off each other’s energy, so it’s important to always have a positive attitude. 

Our team is the reason we are where the company is today, and we work together to support each other. Our foundation is based on the best-selling book, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni. We’re a transparent team that holds each other accountable and constantly pushes beyond our comfort level. Working with the PTO Genius team has been an amazing and rewarding journey for me so far, and I look forward to the challenge of growing our team with the same, like-minded individuals.

Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?

Adam P. Gordon: Competition is a part of business, and competitors come-and-go. Our team focuses on what we can control – the product, our business, and how we treat customers. We’re fanatical about customer success and constantly think about adding more value to our users.  

Your final thoughts?

Adam P. Gordon: The world is coming out of something scary, confusing, and uncertain for everyone. As we adjust to the new normal, there’s a newfound appreciation for compassion and the simple things in life, like family and health. This is a time of reinvigorating, rebooting, and trying new things. Let’s use innovation to make a difference in people’s lives. PTO Genius is excited to be part of the new way forward, helping elevate and change America’s workforce for the better.

Your website?

https://ptogenius.com

We are a team of writers passionate about innovation and entrepreneur lifestyle. We are devoted to providing you the best insight into innovation trends and startups.

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Human Resources

Tackling the Pandemic by Adapting and Evaluating

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Greg Guilford HR Solutions scaled

We talked to Greg Guilford of HR Solutions about building a positive, productive, and protected workplace, and this is what he said:

First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times? 

Greg Guilford: We’re good, thank you. Like many people, we have children, which has been a challenge doing work and home school, but we’ve made it work like everybody else.

Tell us about you, your career, how you joined HR Solutions.

Greg Guilford: HR Solutions was created by my mother, Carol Ann Guilford, in 2001. I joined in 2008. As an experienced HR practitioner, I took up the role of Operations Director, introducing additional services to complement the growing HR support side of the business.

The company grew rapidly, and my position continued to evolve until, in April 2014, I was appointed Managing Director. Following our merger with BusinessHR in 2015, my title changed once again to Chief Executive Officer. I previously worked in the Middle East and at FTSE 100 companies before joining HR Solutions. There was only two of us when I joined, and now there’s 26. 

Over the years, the firm has expanded its services to include third party employment, performance and development review and employee assistance programme packages. Our Retained HR Services Package includes employment protection cover to give clients complete peace of mind. In recent years, the firm has expanded its presence in Milton Keynes, having acquired HR Services (UK) Limited in 2017 and Crispin Rhodes last year. Carol Ann retired in 2020.

How does HR Solutions innovate? 

Greg Guilford: We try to use technology to our advantage to see how we can improve processes for our clients. That might be led by understanding what’s going on in the world, as well as using customer surveys asking what our clients want. 

We use a sophisticated CRM system, and everything we innovate around is about the client and their experience – helping them make their lives better.

A lot of what we do has a personal service. We are not an automated response line, but we use technology to help us manage that interaction better. 

In the last year, we’ve helped clients with Covid risk assessments, helped them prepare for Brexit and returning to work.

Our innovation is technology, but it is also being ready to adapt to ensure our clients get what they need quickly. It’s about understanding the problem and finding the solution quickly.

How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business finances?

Greg Guilford: Like everybody else, we’ve been affected by Covid and the pandemic. Most of our business is retained clients, and that’s an unlimited service. A lot of what we used to do pre-pandemic was on-site stuff like training and employee meetings, and that all stopped. We’ve been affected by turnover throughout the last year, like everyone else, but at the same time, we’ve been busier than we’ve ever been.

Outside of a pandemic, a client might call 5 times a month. During a pandemic, they call every day. 

We’ve concentrated solely on supporting clients over the last 12 months. Our clients needed us, and we provided that service.

We furloughed staff at the beginning, but we’ve taken on more staff recently as our demands have grown.

Did you have to make difficult choices regarding human resources, and what are the lessons learned?

Greg Guilford: Early on, we made the decision to furlough three members of our team. One was sales as we weren’t expecting any sales and two administrators who weren’t being used.

We were conscious that we didn’t want our people just sitting at home, so we sponsored them to do online courses to gain additional qualifications.

Employee communication is hard. An email can read out of context, so we tried to avoid just emails. Where there were important things to be said, we used to have quarterly company meetings, and now we have those monthly, as things can change quite quickly, and it allows employees to ask questions.

Everyone was nervous, so we reassured and asked our employees what they needed from us. We wanted to keep our staff motivated. I’ve got a very dedicated team, and if there was more work that needed doing, they would do it. But they were dealing with a lot of negativity daily with furlough and redundancies, so we ran a mental health session to encourage them to look after themselves and talk to us if they needed help.

We also gave them all three additional days of lockdown leave to ensure they were getting breaks.

We have learned that communication is key. People sitting at home not talking to anyone else will affect their motivation, and they will feel disengaged, so we must maintain regular contact with our employees.

How did your customer relationship management evolve? Do you use any specific tools to be efficient? 

Greg Guilford: Every client would have had a touchpoint with us over the last 12 months at least. Each of my consultants looks after a bank of clients, and they are their main point of contact. 

We reached out to every client to explain furlough, and we offered a session to make sure they understood what it really was, providing more detail than the headline news articles. We encouraged them to have a rationale behind any decisions they were making, and we provided so much content to make sure they understood it.

In addition, we normally run webinars once a month, but we were running them once a week to make sure they understood the ever-changing landscape with furlough, return to work, how to manage long term absences, etc.

We ran an SME Business Survey with Deloitte asking SME Businesses about their pain points and the challenges they see in the coming months. Now we are running a webinar series on business support covering topics such as cash flow forecasting, marketing and lead generation. 

We use Feefo as a customer feedback tool, and I’m delighted to say that’s been consistently high over the last 12 months, which might explain why we recently won the Professional Services Award at the Northamptonshire Business Excellence Awards. 

Did you benefit from any government grants, and did that help keep your business afloat?

Greg Guilford: We didn’t receive any grants from the government, but we did use the furlough scheme for three months and then the flexible furlough scheme for a further three months. 

Your final thoughts?

Greg Guilford: It has been a challenging year, not just for us but for most businesses. But what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. I think everyone has had to take a hard look at themselves over the last year to see what works and doesn’t work, and many people have changed their models of working because they’ve had to.

I’ve got an excellent team around me, and we are able to adapt quickly. Normally we get a year to work out new legislation, but we had a day with furlough. It makes you value the team around you more. Ours went above and beyond this year to support our clients. In turn, we’ve tried to recognise that and provide support to them as well.

Everyone is evaluating hybrid working when things do return to normal. The reality is that a lot of people will want to continue working from home at least a couple of days a week, but we need to make sure we don’t lose that human connection.

Your website?

https://www.hrsolutions-uk.com/

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Human Resources

Helping People be More Transformational

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Sandeep Nahata TalenTeam scaled

We talked to Sandeep Nahata of TalenTeam, one of the most qualified partners in all of Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. They bring over 30 years’ experience with SuccessFactors and 70 years of combined knowledge in the HR industry to the table. This is what she said:

First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times? 

Sandeep Nahata: We are quite fortunate, everyone is keeping well. While concerned about what was going on around us, we decided to celebrate this time as a family, do more family activities and spend more time with the children. We also decided to engage ourselves with the local community. We supported local park communities to go virtual and also enabled a few primary schools to take their teaching online by providing Zoom technology and training sessions. While we have made the most of the time at home, we all look forward to moving back into what was normal before.

Business-wise, personally, for me, it was a good challenge to try and assess the potential impact on business if the virus didn’t disappear in a few months as many initially expected, the impacts on our customer teams and, most importantly, our employees. Knowing that everyone reacts differently, many would be affected either directly or through family members and what we could do to support them. This also introduced our Friday Virtual Social team meetings which seems like it’s here to stay!

Tell us about you, your career, how you founded TalenTeam.

Sandeep Nahata: Growing up in India, I have always valued the need for education, and through my 20s, I realised that we never really stop learning! This is where my strong interest in corporate Learning Management and HR processes started. I worked in various roles as a tech consultant, implementation architect, and business analyst project manager with various organizations in Australia, Singapore, and UK before I decided to start up TalenTeam. The key motive behind starting TalenTeam was to provide a consulting service that helps customers get the most out of their SAP SuccessFactors HR solutions. In just nine years, TalenTeam has become SAP’s highest rated SuccessFactors partner in Europe. With just 25 employees, we help businesses and organisations unlock the true potential of the workforce, receiving 60% of our global business from SAP referrals due to the trust that we have built and expertise that we have shown over the years.

How does TalenTeam innovate? 

Sandeep Nahata: TalenTeam’s mission is to help customers provide the best HR services to their employees through the use of SAP SuccessFactors. This includes regular reviews of the customer setup, enhancements, and addressing their challenges through product enhancements or work around. We also create add-ons and extensions to the SAP SuccessFactors Product to bring in functionalities into the cloud environment that really help transform the experience within SAP SuccessFactors platforms. Technologies are changing at a rapid speed, and while a large enterprise application can take time to adopt the newer technologies, SAP’s open approach towards partner allows us to innovate and bring the best for the customers.

How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business finances?

Sandeep Nahata: The pandemic has been a challenge for all business. TalenTeam has played its part and has in many instances shown flexibility on payment terms for our customers. Many companies have also sought better terms/discounts due to the pandemic. We initially saw a slowdown in business activity but this largely recovered later last year.

Did you have to make difficult choices regarding human resources, and what are the lessons learned?

Sandeep Nahata: We were able to adapt quickly by switching to remote working. It was important to support the team through these times, knowing that each individual is dealing with this situation differently. We even took on six new graduates since the beginning of lockdown, supporting them to work remotely with a manager, a mentor, and a buddy as they apply their academic knowledge in the workplace.

How did your customer relationship management evolve? Do you use any specific tools to be efficient?

Sandeep Nahata: As a market leader, we see it as our role to share our knowledge and expertise. We constantly provide digital training webinars to support our clients on various issues or just knowledge refresh sessions on specific functionalities of SAP SuccessFactors. Since the beginning of lockdown, these webinars have continued to grow in popularity. Attracting live attendees and further views of the recording, the audience includes our clients from all over the world. Sessions cover a whole range of topics around SAP SuccessFactors, industry trends, and other issues, including coping with the mental health challenges of lockdown.

Each year, we host a free symposium for clients and non-clients alike to gather feedback about how the systems are working in the real world. We bring together speakers from SAP and client organisations to describe their experiences, innovations, and learning. In 2020 we moved the session online and had over 300 attendees. The success of the 2020 event, despite the global situation, speaks for its reputation and quality. From the symposium audience, we create supportive peer groups of attendees to enable them to go on supporting and learning from one another. We focus on sharing information and best practice, building strong relationships, and empowering people across the industry.

Did you benefit from any government grants, and did that help keep your business afloat?

Sandeep Nahata: No, our innovative approach and plans to help customers resulted into constant work.

Your final thoughts?

Sandeep Nahata: The time we are living in right now is unique in so many ways. While we are experiencing the new normal, supporting the community around us is more important than ever. This is a very significant time for everybody.

Your website?

https://talenteam.com/

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Human Resources

Helping Remote Teams Laugh Their Way Through the Pandemic

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Nathan Svirsky HomeWerk

We talked to Nathan Svirsky, CEO and Co-Founder of HomeWerk, an Instant virtual team building platform that offers weekly virtual team building activities to help staff members working remotely cultivate long term friendships at work, no matter where they are. This is what he said:

First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times? 

Nathan Svirsky: All good, thanks – everyone is safe and healthy.

Tell us about you, your career, how you founded HomeWerk.

Nathan Svirsky: Over the last 5 years, I’ve worked for a tech scale-up that provided experiential marketing technology for the biggest brands in the world. I lead the UK and RoW teams to help grow the business to over £3m in annual sales and loved every minute of it…

However, last March, we went from £2m in Q1 bookings to £0 in the space of 4 weeks because of the disruption caused to the events industry due to COVID-19. It was an absolutely devastating blow for all of us who invested so much time, energy, and emotion into the company – it was especially bitter because 2020 was on track to be the year it all finally paid off. 

But as we know, when one opportunity disappears, there’s normally another one just around the corner. 

The idea for HomeWerk is something that we’ve been thinking about for a while. One of the challenges we faced whilst scaling up our old business was that our remote teams were expanding rapidly, and it was important to keep up employee happiness initiatives. 

However, even with all the best intentions, we weren’t able to do that when things got busy due to a lack of resources, energy…and laziness, to be honest. 

We always thought there was a better and easier way to automate these tasks.

The real opportunity presented itself when Facebook, who was an existing client of ours, got in touch and said, “Hey, you guys come up with great ways to connect people at live events, is there something you can do virtually now that we’ll be working from home!?”

That was really the lightbulb moment because we realized that if our small company in comparison, and Facebook, one of the biggest companies in the world, both had this problem…then there are probably a thousand more businesses that will need a solution!

And thus, HomeWerk was created.

How does HomeWerk innovate? 

Nathan Svirsky: HomeWerk offers short, weekly sessions, which are designed to help facilitate team building and spark new conversations between colleagues. We do this through an easy to use web app, which can be accessed via desktop or mobile.

Each week the teams sign into the platform where they can take part in a collaborative activity whilst chatting to their colleagues via our integrated video and text chat. We also automate all the calendar invites, email reminders and take care of all troubleshooting through our live chat.

We provide teams with a varied suite of digital activities that crossover many different themes and interesting points so there’s something for everyone – and they’ll actually enjoy playing each week.

 The activities are designed to be funny, light-hearted, and guarantee laughs.

The whole experience is gamified and underpinned by a weekly, monthly, and all-time leaderboard. Users can earn house points, badges, and streaks for different actions taken within the platform – similar to Duolingo and Strava. 

We’ve found that adding a competitive element to the engagement goes a long way to improving retention and friendly competition between colleagues. 

CEO’s need our platform to help facilitate convenient, imaginative, and authentic solutions to keep their remote teams connected and unified. Remote staff need our platform to help make friends at work through shared experiences, to reduce feelings of isolation, and ultimately avoid burnout. 

HomeWerk will become the best solution for any forward-thinking business with a majority remote workforce that understands the value and importance of friendships at work.

How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business finances?

Nathan Svirsky: “You merely adopted the pandemic. We were born in it, molded by it. I didn’t see the light until lockdown #3, by then, it was nothing to me but blinding!” – Blane from Batman  Nathan from HomeWerk. 

  If you’ve never seen Batman: The Dark Rises, then you probably won’t get that reference! 

But back to the question, obviously, the pandemic has had an effect on our finances, but actually, it has been more positive than negative. 

  For example, we’ve been able to maximise our small investment and not spend on things like offices, equipment, travel, and other expenses, which most startups need to factor into their initial operating costs.

Did you have to make difficult choices regarding human resources, and what are the lessons learned?

Nathan Svirsky: Thankfully, we’ve not had any problems at HomeWerk because we formed it during the pandemic. 

How did your customer relationship management evolve? Do you use any specific tools to be efficient?

Nathan Svirsky: Although our business wasn’t negatively impacted – we are very conscious that the same may not be true for a lot of clients and partners. 

Kindness is the most important tool. 

Did you benefit from any government grants, and did that help keep your business afloat?

Nathan Svirsky: Frustratingly, we didn’t get any support. A lot of what was on offer was, understandably, for existing businesses that were established before the pandemic. 

Your final thoughts?

Nathan Svirsky: As the saying goes, “Never let a good crisis go to waste.” 

The world is changing quicker than ever, and necessity drives innovation!

Your website?

http://www.homewerk.co

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Human Resources

The Impact of the Pandemic on the Employee Engagement Platform     

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Egils Boitmanis Efectio

We talked to Egils Boitmanis, CEO at Efectio, a digital microlearning platform combined with gamification elements to educate, engage and connect employees with an advanced HR approach and here is what he said about it.

First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?

Egils Boitmanis: Learning how to cope with new challenges. 

Tell us about you, your career, how you joined Efectio.

Egils Boitmanis: I joined Efectio less than a year ago.

How does Efectio innovate?

Egils Boitmanis: We offer an employee engagement platform that allows creating training and virtual team-building challenges. In fact, during the Covid pandemic, the digital platform for employee engagement was exactly what many companies needed to continue to grow and socialize with colleagues while working in different locations. Of course, we had to adapt all Efectio programs so that employees who work from home could also take part in them. And it must be said that uniting the team remotely is a big challenge, but, in our opinion, you can also get to know your colleagues better with virtual challenges and activities.

As for our company’s internal processes, during the Covid time, we have also started cooperating with several freelancers in different locations, which allows us to collaborate with great talents.

How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business finances?

Egils Boitmanis: We offer digital service, so our business has not been significantly affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

Did you have to make difficult choices regarding human resources, and what are the lessons learned?

Egils Boitmanis: No.

How did your customer relationship management evolve? Do you use any specific tools to be efficient?

Egils Boitmanis: We use Active Campaign to work with leads. 

Did you benefit from any government grants, and did that help keep your business afloat?

Egils Boitmanis: We are part of the Latvian Investment and Development Agency, which was supporting us before, too.

Your website?

www.efectio.com 

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