SA’s Hi5 takes control of your company’s HR

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South African startup Hi5 is allowing companies to better manage their human resources (HR) processes via a simple app that allows employees to update their own information.

By registering for Hi5, adding co-workers and sending invitations, HR staff can sit back and allow employees to populate their own data. The aim is to cut down on labourious administration and meetings so managers can focus on qualitative staff engagement.

It requires no integration or installation and is an online cloud solution with ongoing support that measures engagement, culture, goals and recognition. Clients are charged a small monthly fee per user.

Hi5 has been public since July 2016, with co-founder Gary Willmott the veteran of four previous startup failures. This time, though, he believes he has found a real problem that needs fixing, all from his own experience of managing teams.

“Whilst I have managed a small digital product studio for the last 10 years, I found myself being intrigued in growing and managing people. I noticed there are various styles and methods of company structure, from holacracy to bureaucracy. None of them are right or wrong, it depends on the culture, staff and the company vision,” he told Disrupt Africa.

“When we created Hi5 internally to solve our own internal management and people data, we noticed that HR just complicates the task of managing people. Most companies that use Hi5, actually appreciate the model just as much as the software. I’m inspired to be part of a solution that allows people to grow within companies without the hassle of labourious admin and traditional HR.”

Hi5 has focused on keeping its engagement levels between 70 and 90 per cent, compared to other employee engagement platforms that focus on surveys and data collection with engagement levels of below 20 per cent.

“We’ve also focused on a bottom-up strategy, with a hellbent determination on employees actually wanting to use the platform to grow their careers, through recognition, goals and peer reviews,” Willmott said.

The startup is currently self-funded and Willmott is determined to stay independent as long as possible.

“This helps us to retain the culture and provide an amazing work environment for our staff,” he said.

“When we first started, we received traction internationally with the SME market, which was great. However locally we noticed usage from enterprise clients such as Capitec Bank, PEP and Cape Union Market.”

Hi5 is now growing steadily, at between 20 and 30 per cent month-on-month, and Willmott is now scaling the startup to assist companies with engagement through culture. It is also planning on focusing more on the United States (US) and United Kingdom (UK) markets.

As Willmott knows, finding a product-market fit is a tough journey and often feels like a startup is wasting time and money.

“When we initially launched I hired a sales team that backfired on me badly, which was a blessing in disguise. I realised that I had to be that sales guy at the beginning to listen to customer feedback and work out what companies really want,” he said.

“To give you an example, we were initially a peer review platform, however, since listening to customers, we have pivoted a few times and realised the core usage and desire, that what people want is appreciation. If I wasn’t on the ground listening, we would never get the engagement we have today.”

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Passionate about the vibrant tech startups scene in Africa, Tom can usually be found sniffing out the continent's most exciting new companies and entrepreneurs, funding rounds and any other developments within the growing ecosystem.

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