Customer & Partner Success

Cloudy No More: How Technology Is Redefining HR Management for the Cloud Commerce Industry

By Ideas @ AppDirect / Oct 23, 2018

Cakehr Guest Post

This guest post was written by Norberts Erts, co-founder of CakeHR, HR software that streamlines attendance and performance management for customers worldwide.

The Harvard Business Review conducted a survey in 2015. They asked companies from several industries about their perception of the impact cloud has had on business in general. A whopping 50 percent of respondents said that the cloud has increased their ability to innovate, while 64 percent said that the cloud has made them more agile. 

That was 2015. Fast forward to 2018 and the cloud industry is shining even more brightly. Sales are projected to grow by 24 percent every year, and the juggernaut that is the SaaS-PaaS-IaaS trifecta is sitting pretty at a $180 billion of cumulative market value. 

Why the focus on cloud? 

Because cloud computing in its various forms has revolutionized the logistics of doing business. It has opened myriad opportunities for the smallest, most diverse teams. In fact, the proliferation of the cloud is without doubt one of the most positive developments of the 21st century. 

With that in mind, it’s surprising to note that, despite the power they possess to make the lives of their customers easier, small organizations in the cloud service commerce industry can struggle to stay afloat. The competition is cut throat, and companies expanding at a “modest” rate of 20 percent annually are 92 percent likely to go bust in the coming few years. 

Human Resources Challenges at Small Companies

Many small companies don’t give HR the attention it deserves, which can create a range of challenges. Among them:  

1. The person who hires is the last to know. In the recruiting process, the people who actually interact with recruits and bring them onboard can be left in the dark.

A poorly written job description, which often has no relation to the actual accountabilities of the role, is another problem. These are just two reasons why the candidate who is chosen is often not the best culture and skill fit and goes through solely on the basis of low pay expectations. 

2. Culture is neither breakfast nor lunch. Culture is supposed to eat strategy for breakfast. At least that’s what the experts say, but most small organizations in the demanding cloud commerce space worship numbers and metrics.

Leads, MQLs, SQLs, MRR—these are tools to further the understanding of how healthy a business is. But without the foundation of culture and true vision, they are mere data bits that can never translate into something more meaningful.

But what does a meaningful culture entail? In today’s digital economy, if employees do not live by a defined set of values which they bring to every task they do, tag lines ring empty and prospects—both B2B and B2C—look for authenticity elsewhere. Brand value propositions may be written by marketers but they are brought to life by teams tightly knit together by the glue of culture.

Employee engagement is also critical. Studies show that the right culture of trust and reliance is extremely important to coaxing stellar employee performance.

3. Onboarding is rarely on point. Candidate onboarding amounts to the bare minimum: sporadic chats with existing team members and demo sit-ins.

Because of this, recruits will stumble around an organization, often not even knowing who to connect to in order to meet their work needs. Some manage to prove themselves, on accident, while others leave within months, triggering the cycle of hiring in the dark yet again. 

Do cloud vendors and companies in the cloud service commerce industry take a haphazard and intentionally obtuse approach to Human Resource management? Not really. It’s just that the focus is squarely on more “relevant” areas like back-end development, marketing, and of course sales. HR is often an afterthought.

Being Human: Technology to Fight the Being Overwhelmed by... Technology

It is ironic, but HR technology can help human resources grow and succeed. Let me explain what I mean. 

Cloud vendors and SaaS service providers live and breathe technology. They value talent, but somewhere along the line, the tech concerns of their solutions sell start hogging the limelight and are viewed as the barometer for company success. There is neither the time nor the inclination to dig deep into HR process and do better. 

Thankfully, modern-day human resource tools and solutions make improving easier. They automate tedious tasks, help make quick, intelligent decisions, and even signal problems like disengagement before they blow up into vacancies. 
Still, many view HR technology as a nice-to-have rather than a must. However, if you think of HR technology as the analytics for team performance, suddenly the investment makes a lot of sense. Here’s why: 

  • Performance evaluation solutions are intuitive and easy to use. They go far beyond documenting completed projects and tasks. Most integrate 360-degree feedback from peers and managers to provide a holistic view of an employee’s performance and engagement. Thanks to modules and practices like the Stay Interview, the HR department can pick up dissatisfaction or a skill inadequacy and address it in time.

    If there is eventually the need to hire new candidates, the recruitment process benefits from historical data, specifically desirable traits in the individuals who can best fill the vacant position. 
  • Applicant Tracking solutions (ATS) further facilitate the hiring of skilled individuals. They compile, organize, and render searchable the cover letters and qualifications of hundreds of candidates, completely eliminating manual labor and errors from the process. The time saved is better spent thoroughly interviewing and assessing applicants from a number of potential channels, instead of relying by default on freelancer marketplaces for talent.

  • Employee engagement solutions can’t define “culture” for cloud commerce businesses, but they can definitely support the process of bringing the team closer and getting employees on the same page. Gauging mood through fun surveys, gamifying achievements on leader boards, simple reminders of perks, or even something as quirky as auto approval of vacation days through a Slack bot help workers feel more valued, supported, and connected to each other and the company.

  • Onboarding solutions are the last, but certainly not the least. They range from completely customizable workflows that constantly monitor employee engagement, task completion rate and contribution in the first 90 days to simple step-by-step onboarding buddies like CakeHR. Cloud companies pressed for time don’t have to saddle unwilling employees with onboarding responsibilities and can instead offer a better orientation to new talent.

For cloud service commerce companies, technology is indeed a double-edged sword. If on one hand it dilutes the importance of the human aspect of running a business, on the other it can redefine HR making it simple for SMBs to experience better culture and connection in the workforce. 

Norberts Erts is the co-founder of CakeHR, an HR software company that streamlines attendance and performance management for customers worldwide. He keeps a sharp eye on HR, marketing, business, finance, science, technology and the connections between them. Connect with Norberts on Twitter or LinkedIn.