A great workplace culture cannot be created overnight and moreover, it takes commitment from both, employers and employees to ensure better business outcomes, productivity and employee well-being when focusing on this. Nikolaos Lygkonis, Founder & CEO, PeopleGoal takes us through his startup journey while highlighting a few key aspects of PeopleGoal’s work culture and employee policy in this chat with TecHRseries:
Tell us a little about yourself Nikolaos…and the idea behind PeopleGoal
I’m Nikolaos Lygkonis, the Founder and CEO of PeopleGoal – an holistic HR App Store that serves +500 midsize customers around the world. I’m a proud Greek and live in the fantastic city of Bristol in the UK.
Prior to co-founding PeopleGoal, I was a performance improvement consultant at Ernst & Young where I met my friend and future co-founder, James Strickland – now PeopleGoal’s Chief Technology Officer. During that time, I became increasingly frustrated with ‘one-size-fits-all’ HR tech solutions that offered little to no customisation and which failed to optimise the employee experience. That, combined with my developing passion for employee growth and development, is really what led to the birth of PeopleGoal.
In 2014, James and I began working to create an entirely different breed of HR tech – one that would deliver a highly agile and customisable experience across the entire employee lifecycle – onboarding, engagement, performance, HRIS, and culture.
Can you talk about some of the biggest challenges midsize companies face when it comes to HR processes and management?
I think the biggest challenge right now is ensuring strategic growth plans and processes remain relevant as companies scale. The rate of change that midsize organisations face compared with larger companies is obviously much higher so there’s a greater need for very agile and flexible HR processes that can flex in line with the changing business environment.
On top of this, most midsize companies usually have centralised HR teams – and often only a few HR personnel. That obviously presents significant challenges in terms of bandwidth – especially in fast growing organisations, and even more so when COVID-19 throws a massive curveball.
Ultimately, growing companies need very watertight HR processes to ensure efficiency, but they also need to be adaptable and agile in order to roll with the unexpected and support business change in a constantly evolving environment. That’s a tough balance to strike but the right HR technology can support this, especially if it has strong customisation features and capabilities.
When it comes to HR solutions: amid the growing numbers of solutions today it can get confusing for midsize teams to invest in the right technologies that can optimize their results: can you talk about some of the HR Technologies or features best suited to growing teams?
My advice is to choose an HR solution that aligns with both the size of your business and your company culture. Of course, another critical factor to consider is whether a system has the capability to scale in line with the company’s goals and growth plans. That’s really important because all too often we see companies quickly outgrowing their providers and needing to switch – sometimes even within a year.
While it’s important for organisations of all sizes to have strong engagement and performance features within their HR tech, this is especially so for growing companies where learning, development, and career progression typically happen more quickly. Essentially, scaling businesses need to pay very close attention to their employees’ needs and wants, regularly measuring engagement and wellbeing to ensure that the company’s fast growth – and all that that demands of employees – is not harming engagement and wellbeing.
In addition, and from an efficiency point of view, ‘one-stop-shop’ HR tech solutions usually deliver the biggest cost savings for business. Managing multiple systems in a midsize company will only create silos, blinkered workforce visibility, and additional spend.
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Customisation is another key thing that HR leaders should be looking out for when choosing a new solution. Size and agility often come hand in hand so the beauty here is that growing organisations can, with the right technology, develop and deliver custom HR processes that really resonate with individual employees, supporting better long-term engagement, performance, and retention. I’m not talking about paying lip service to customisation through such things as branded user dashboards though, I mean real customisation that delivers more relevant and more engaging experiences for the individual employee.
Can you share a few thoughts on no-code / low code platforms in HR Tech today – how do you feel these solutions will shape up over time?
I vehemently believe that no code / low code customisation will play a pivotal and ever prevalent role in the future of HR tech.
There’s a couple of reasons as to why no code is taking off right now:
- HR teams are becoming increasingly tech savvy and therefore no longer need to, nor want to, rely on IT to help them. Moreover, no code / low code enables HR teams to marry their growing tech capabilities with their growing desire to customise the employee experience.
- There’s a growing trend towards custom HR as business leaders seek to better meet the specific needs of individual employees whilst supporting overall business performance. No code / low code empowers HR to acquire the agility needed to achieve this – none more so than in the current environment where remote working has arguably only expanded the scope of variables at play.
Can you talk about some of the ways in which you’ve seen leading tech teams drive better employee culture and talent management with tech initiatives?
There’s definitely a common thread here in that the best tech teams really take the time to listen to their employees and understand what they want. This is, of course, fundamental to creating great workplace cultures that support competitive advantage and wider business success.
- Leading tech teams also differentiate themselves through strong leadership and by providing great learning and career growth opportunities that drive trust in employees and help to align them with the company’s vision and culture. They also hire from a diverse talent pool and support continuous development with real-time feedback and a culture that encourages experimentation and personal growth.
- One example that springs to mind is the trust that Netflix put in its employees by implementing a “no-limits” expense policy. In doing so, Netflix condensed its policy into just five words: “Act in Netflix’s best interests.” That demonstration of trust was a very clever move and it no doubt delivered tangible return in terms of employee loyalty and overall culture.
A few of your biggest takeaways and tips on working effectively from anywhere….and adjusting to the new normal in 2021…and upcoming plans for PeopleGoal?
I think it’s been especially important for business leaders to set the right tone when it comes to remote work and employee wellbeing. At PeopleGoal we’ve increased our internal communications around self-care and taking regular breaks, and that’s something that I try to live by as an example for the wider team. We’ve also made a conscious effort to stay in touch via technology channels and daily stand ups. That’s helped us to maintain our culture and offer support to those who need it.
In addition, we’ve tried to maintain clear boundaries between work and home life, logging on and off at roughly the same times each day, yet being flexible around the fact that some employees may prefer to work more unusual hours due to childcare commitments and homeschooling obligations.
In terms of our upcoming plans for 2021, we’ve just announced our latest product release – the PeopleGoal Social Graph. This is an industry-first HR tool designed to capture team dynamics and relationships at work, providing a complete view of how teams – and the people within them – are working together. It unlocks a whole new level of visibility for HR and business leaders and we’re very excited to roll this out for our customers’ benefit.
Overall, I’d say the past 12 months have posed both challenges and opportunities for PeopleGoal but we’re very optimistic about our growth trajectory for the year ahead. There’s two reasons for this: Firstly, we’ve seen rising interest in our version 2.0 platform (launched in October 2020), and secondly, PeopleGoal can truly cater to HR’s growing demand for a more agile and more custom way of engaging, managing and developing people. That said, we have ambitious growth plans to double in size this year.
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