Australian HR SaaS provider invests in growth

Employment Innovations aims to boost sales team, developers for its SaaS offering, Employment Hero

Sydney-headquartered HR services provider Employment Innovations is hoping to take its software-as-a-service platform Employment Hero international by the end of the year.

The company announced early last month that it had secured $5.1 million in debt funding from San Francisco's Partners for Growth.

The money will be used for scaling up Employment Hero and the product's sales team, CEO Ben Thompson said.

"We're actually averaging between 50 and 75 signups a day at the moment, which is fantastic," the CEO said.

"What we now need to do is extend our sales team. We're planning on recruiting 15 to 20 sales reps around the country.

"We have HR managers that support our existing clients in most capital cities — Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide — and we'll be rolling out a sales team in each of those cities as well."

"We have some pretty large plans around further development — we're scaling up our development team to bring those additional elements to the product into the market as quickly as we can," Thompson said.

Employment Innovations was founded in 1991 by Thompson's father, Rob Thompson. He had been an HR director with large corporations and saw an opportunity to offer HR services to small and medium sized companies.

Ben Thompson joined Employment Innovations in 2002, with a background as an employment lawyer and in-house counsel for a number of startup businesses during the dotcom boom.

After a stint in the UK he returned to Australia and started an employment law firm, which now forms part of Employment Innovations.

"I then spent many years working mainly as an employment lawyer but always seeking out the opportunity to use technology to make employment easier," Thompson said.

"We came up with the concept of a cloud platform — basically the ability to give every business a full HR department via the cloud. And that's what Employment Hero has become."

The platform comprises both free and subscription-based tools. In its current form, Employment Hero has been available for just on a year, Thompson said.

The free component includes recruitment tools for employers that allow them to post job openings and manage candidates, as well an on-boarding system for enrolling employees.

"It's for sending them their employment contract, sending them their tax file declaration and getting them set up in the company as an employee," Thompson said.

Use of the non-free part of the platform costs $8 per employee. It's designed for companies with around 20 to 50 employees.

"We have clients with up to 600, 700 employees, but our development methodology has been that we really want to make sure that we support the small and medium sized businesses first and then as the product improves we can move up the market towards more enterprise-level customer," Thompson said.

"We're aiming to do is give them everything that they need to have a fully functioning HR service," Thompson said.

"So that's everything from their HR documents, employment contracts and policies and safety material through to performance management — review processes and goal setting — time and attendance — holiday management, leave management — and workplace health and safety.

"We've even got an employee benefits module in there and then we go right through to payroll —time and attendance, award interpretation and payroll, all within the one platform."

Some of the funding will be spent improving integration with third-party products, such as MYOB, as well as adding features, the CEO said.

Thompson said the platform's 'holistic' approach was appealing to Employment Innovation's customers.

The platform can replace multiple HR and payroll systems, the CEO said. Integrated award interpretation can help smaller businesses ease their compliance burden, he added.

"We've built in currently about 15 awards; we'll build in 50 by the middle of the year. So businesses can now pay people know that they're 100 per cent compliant with the modern award."

The company is currently working on a mobile app for Employment Hero, Thompson said. The aim is to develop native Android and iOS applications that allow employees to receive payslips and HR content as well as manage their time and attendance and show their availability.

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The app will probably be available in Q3, Thompson said.

Employment Innovations is still assessing the best way to internationalise the Employment Hero platform, the CEO said.

Possibilities include stripping out jurisdictional content such as award interpretation or developing new content for the territories the company targets with the platform.

Another possibility is partnering with other companies, Thompson said.

"There's a range of different partners we're speaking to," the CEO said.

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