Category: HR Tech

New look shifts focus to frontline workforces

South African fintech company, SmartWage, known for pioneering the ‘on-demand pay’ model in South Africa has rebranded. The new brand aims to re-establish the company’s commitment to making HR and Payroll easier for companies with deskless employees.

Now called Jem, the organisation helps employees take advances without getting into a payday debt cycle. This comes off the back of accelerated company growth, an evolving product line and a renewal of their ambitious vision.

Simon Ellis, Co-Founder and CEO of Jem said: “We gave ourselves the literal name ‘SmartWage’ when our core focus was on our on-demand pay product, but after listening closely to our customers for the past two years, we realised that there was a need for so many other HR and Payroll products that satisfied the unique needs of companies with frontline employees. So we built those products – like our Payslips system which lets you send payslips to employees over WhatsApp. Our product range and ambitions outgrew the SmartWage brand. We needed a name that could reflect both who we are today and our long term vision.”

About Jem

Jem was founded in May 2020 by Simon Ellis and Caroline van der Merve. They started out offering financial wellness products to employers, including on-demand pay and financial education, and now give employers the ability to do much more. Over the past 12 months, Jem has cemented its status as the market leader for HR and Payroll Systems for companies with deskless employees. It has grown exponentially, with an eight-times increase in its user base and companies like KFC, Edgars, Defy Appliances, Mukuru, and Twizza are using their systems. This growth is a clear indicator that companies of all sizes with deskless employees are starting to acknowledge that enterprise software built for office-based employees does not suit the needs of their deskless workforces.

Caro van der Merwe, Co-Founder and COO commented: “In the world of HR, most processes are still done manually. Existing software like SAGE, Workday and Oracle are missing the ‘last mile’ of HR: connecting with deskless and distributed workers. What we see is that day-to-day, most large companies that employ deskless workforces haven’t found a way to digitally communicate with their employees, so despite plenty of HR & Payroll software, much of their processes remain paper-based. If we can save employers time and money through digitisation, helping them communicate clearly, efficiently and dynamically with their employees we can add real value to their operations.”

The numbers tell the same story. 90% of deskless employees don’t have or don’t use email, but 97% of formally employed people in South Africa use WhatsApp. In a country where the majority of people have less than five apps on their phone, it makes sense to leverage an existing distribution channel to help employers automate many of their HR processes. This is the fundamental reason why Jem uses WhatsApp to send payslips, process leave requests, manage salary advances and communicate with frontline employees.

Simon explained the origin of the name: “Since announcing the rebrand the most common question has actually been around our name. The oldest form of long-distance communication is through drums. They were used for centuries to connect people in faraway communities. The most well-known ‘talking drum’ of them all is the Djembe. Our name comes from the middle of that word. Connecting the office with its faraway, deskless employees is at the heart of what we do, and our new name is a constant reminder of our purpose.”

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Product usage surges in Europe and globally, UK lags

A new survey, released by product analytics provider, Amplitude, revealed that digital product usage has surged across industries, growing 16% year-on-year globally, despite an economic downturn. This figure increases marginally, to 18% in the UK. The UK however is lagging behind many other countries – including Germany (38%), France (33%) and Singapore (43%).

The global survey examined the evolution of the product landscape between August 2021 to August 2022. Executives in marketing, product, data, and growth management roles and across 12 industries and eight countries were surveyed.

The findings show the concerns and priorities of leaders during the current economic turbulence. The survey also revealed industry trends that reflect global shifts, such as The Great Resignation.

According to the survey:

  • 26% fear a potential loss in product strategy focus
  • 25% are concerned about not pivoting fast enough
  • 63% feel moderately or less equipped to shift their product strategy

However, despite fears, respondents are still doubling down on their product strategies. Their priorities include:

  • Customer retention (43%)
  • Product engagement (37%)
  • Product-led growth (37%).
  • Investments in competitive differentiation (25%)
  • Investments in product launches (22%)

The survey also revealed how global events such as Covid-19 and The Great Resignation shapes product landscapes. Staffing and job search products skyrocketed between 2021 and 2022 (118% globally), likely due to the upheaval global workforces faced following the pandemic.

Similarly, as workers seek to upskill themselves to become more employable, products related to continued education, language learning & skills coaching in adults also saw an increase of 48% during this 12-month period.

Fintech also continued to grow over the last year, hitting a 22% baseline between June and August 2022. The report revealed that several fintech apps have surged in popularity globally, including:

  • Italy-based Scalapay (123%)
  • France-based Qonto (75%)

Crypto, however, shows a more complicated growth pattern. After peaking at 78% growth in January, activity slowed significantly. Overall, crypto usage has still grown by 25.8% since August 2021 – greater growth than in the fintech category, indicating that a decline in crypto values doesn’t mean a decline in crypto users.

Daniel Bailey, Vice President EMEA, Amplitude, commented: “In today’s economic environment, the importance of investments in digital customer experience cannot be understated. Consumer spend will continue to decline over the next 12 months, and the businesses that do not invest in their digital product now risk losing market share to their competitors,”

 “If the past year proved anything, it’s that progress is not always linear. Despite market challenges, the companies included in our Next Hottest Product list like Paired, with 636% year-over-year user growth, are proof that investments in digital experience translate to increased engagement and sustainable growth.”

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Unemployment falls by 0.2%

According to the ONS’s latest labour market overview, the UK employment rate remained largely unchanged for July to September 2022 was 75.5%, and 1.1% lower than before the COVID-19 (December 2019 to February 2020). The data revealed that over the latest three-month period, the number of employees decreased, while self-employed workers increased.

Payrolled employees for October 2022 shows another monthly increase, up 74,000 on the revised September 2022 figures, to a record 29.8 million whilst the unemployment rate fell by 0.2% for July to September.

The big news of the week has been confirmed with the report stating that economic inactivity rate increased by 0.2% on the quarter to 21.6% in July to September 2022. During the latest three-month period, the increase in economic inactivity was driven by those who are long-term sick, who increased to a record high. In a recent article published by the ONS explored the economically inactive because of long-term sickness in more detail. It showed that over two-thirds of those becoming long-term sick in 2021 and 2022 were already economically inactive for another reason in the three months before interview.

Vacancies for August to October 2022, fell by 46,000 on the quarter to 1,225,000 but despite four consecutive quarterly falls, the number of vacancies remain at historically high levels. An increasing number of businesses are now reporting holding back recruitment because of economic pressures.

According to the report, growth in average total pay (including bonuses) was 6.0% and growth in regular pay (excluding bonuses) was 5.7% among employees in July to September 2022. This is the strongest growth in regular pay seen outside of the coronavirus pandemic period.

Average regular pay growth for the private sector was 6.6% in July to September 2022, and 2.2% for the public sector. Outside of the height of the coronavirus pandemic period, this is the largest growth seen for the private sector and the largest difference between the private sector and public sector.

In real terms (adjusted for inflation) over the year, total pay fell by 2.6% and regular pay fell by 2.7%. This is slightly smaller than the record fall in real regular pay reported in April to June 2022 (3.0%), but remains among the largest falls in growth since comparable records began in 2001.

Joanne Frew, Global Head of Employment & Pensions at DWF commented: “The latest ONS figures show a steady labour market despite the UK’s ongoing economic struggles. The UK economy is certainly facing a challenging period with soaring inflation and the Bank of England warning that the UK could be set for its longest recession since records began.  The Chancellor, Jeremy Hunt, is due to deliver his Autumn Statement on Thursday 17 November and has already warned that tax rises are necessary to help tackle inflation.  Against this backdrop it is likely that the labour market will face a relatively turbulent time.  Despite the ongoing resilience of the market during the pandemic, it is likely that the economic difficulties will lead to more job losses over the coming months.”

Bev White, CEO of Nash Squared said: “Despite Big Tech recently putting a freeze on their recruitment plans or even shedding jobs, today’s ONS jobs figures show that UK Tech continues to buck this global trend by adding a further 92,000 jobs over the last quarter, and firmly cementing itself as the UK’s standout private sector job creator over the last three years – with almost 350,000 additional jobs created.

“This performance is even more startling when you consider that we’ve lost over three quarters of a million private sector jobs over the same three-year period in the UK.

Despite the downturn, there is little sign of a tech slowdown. Tech investment in the UK is expected to hit its third highest level for more than 15 years and over half (56%) of digital leaders running tech departments in the UK plan to increase their technology headcount this year.”

Lauren Thomas, Glassdoor’s UK Economist also commented: “As news of tech layoffs spreads, Glassdoor’s data shows that employees are increasingly anxious with discussion of layoffs doubling and mentions of recession up tenfold from last October. Hiring has also taken a hit, with mentions of hiring freezes up more than 450 percent.

“However, this isn’t 2008. Unlike the Great Recession, the current shortage of workers is much more acute and even a potential recession would be unlikely to result in the same peak of unemployment as we saw then. There are reasons to be hopeful – vacancies are likely to remain higher and both redundancies and unemployment are lower than before the pandemic.”

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LinkedIn issued a cease-and-desist letter to hiQ in 2017

LinkedIn has announced a win in a six-year lawsuit against hiQ Labs Inc., a now dormant company that had scraped LinkedIn data.

hiQ, which was founded in 2012, went dormant by 2019 after being unable to find further investors and the loss of major clients, according to court records.

hiQ’s products included “Keeper,” designed to analyze and predict the retention risks for the employees of a given employer and indicate which employees were at greatest risk of being recruited away, according to court documents. hiQ’s other product, “Skill Mapper,” aggregated and summarized the skills possessed by an employer’s workforce by analyzing all of the skills employees listed in their LinkedIn profiles, including from previous roles.

In its operations, hiQ attempted to reverse engineer LinkedIn’s systems to avoid detection by simulating human site-access behaviors, according to court documents. hiQ also hired independent contractors known as “turkers” to conduct quality assurance while logged in to LinkedIn by viewing and confirming hiQ customers’ employees’ identities manually. When LinkedIn’s defenses restricted the turkers’ real accounts, hiQ instructed them to create fake ones.

LinkedIn issued a cease-and-desist letter to hiQ in 2017.

Sara Wight, VP, Legal-litigation, Competition and Enforcement at LinkedIn, wrote in a post. “The court ruled that LinkedIn’s user agreement unambiguously prohibits scraping and the unauthorized use of scraped data as well as fake accounts, affirming LinkedIn’s legal positions against hiQ for the past six years. The court also found that hiQ knew for years that its actions violated our user agreement, and that LinkedIn is entitled to move forward with its claim that hiQ violated the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.”

 

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Nearly all major tech firms have slowed headcount growth

Microsoft Corp. has announced layoffs across multiple divisions, according to media reports, joining many other tech firms that have cut staff in the unsettled economy.

Microsoft declined to say how many jobs had been cut, but a source told Axios that the layoffs numbered under 1,000.

In a statement to Axios, the tech giant said: “Like all companies, we evaluate our business priorities on a regular basis, and make structural adjustments accordingly. We will continue to invest in our business and hire in key growth areas in the year ahead,”.

The move is yet another example of large tech companies cutting jobs after earlier moving to slow or freeze hiring as the broader economy cools, Axios reported. Nearly all the major tech firms have slowed headcount growth, with many freezing all but essential hires. A number of companies have already moved to cut jobs, including Snap and Flipboard.

Microsoft has not said how many people had been laid off, nor which departments were impacted. However, The Washington Post reported layoffs affected the wargame simulation division and the Xbox gaming division.

Microsoft had 221,000 employees as of June 30, an increase of 40,000 people or 22% from the same point the prior year, GeekWire reported. It was the largest annual increase in employment in Microsoft’s history, based on data tracked by GeekWire.

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74% of SMEs fear inflation and rising energy costs are a threat to their business 

A report by Energy Live News has revealed that many small businesses are ‘struggling to stay afloat’, and it’s anticipated that ‘nearly 53% of small companies expect to stagnate, downsize or fold in the next year’ as a result of the energy crisis. CIPS also reported that 74% of SMEs said energy bills, inflation, and rising living costs are a long-term concern for their business. As a result, startups are failing; between January and March 2022, there were 205,171 new incorporations and 150,810 dissolutions in the UK.

With a lack of time, funds and resources at their disposal, SMEs are looking for innovative ways to save money and digitise previously costly services, leaving funds available for other areas of the business. Digital solutions such as Docue, Xero and Hubspot have seen a year-on-year growth in users, as more SMEs look to go digital and reap the benefits of centralising and organising large areas of their business. Docue has recently reported its fourth consecutive year of growth in customer subscriptions.

The Workforce Institute at UKG found that ‘the pandemic propelled 87% of the UK workforce into new ways of working underpinned by digital technology,’ and 86% of those surveyed saw how digitisation positively impacted their business. One positive outcome of digitisation is that it’s much more cost effective. Without digitising, SMEs often find themselves with substantial fees for various aspects of the business, including legal and employment contracts and policies.

In an analysis of its most popular startup contracts, Docue, a contract management solution, found that SMEs could save up to £30,000 a year by using its digital platform over traditional legal service. They concluded that the majority of startups will require a minimum of 12 legal documents and that items such as employment contracts, IP assignments and privacy policies can cost small businesses up to £1,500 each when created using a lawyer or law firm.

As such, Docue and digital platforms like it, offer novel solutions, promoting profitability, efficiency and productivity. With Docue for example, startups and SMEs can easily democratise all their contracts and work files, meaning businesses can create layer-grade legal documents and improve quality, validity and accessibility. This cuts the need for multiple, costly systems to edit, sign and store contracts and instead provides a simple solution with access to legal guidance, e-signing software and editable templates, all in one place. Where SMEs and start-ups are facing more and more pressure to save money and scale up quickly, digital solutions provide the answer.

Neil Edwards, VP of sales at Docue, commented: “The current economic crisis may be an unprecedented time for SMEs, who are thus looking to cut time, resources and funding wherever possible. However, digitising previously costly services proves to not only cut costs and leave resources for other sides of the business, but also improve efficiency and productivity.”

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Hiring slowdown could impact future results

Microsoft Corp. has reported that LinkedIn revenue rose 17% to $3.66 billion in the company’s fiscal first quarter ended Sept. 30. The increase as measured in constant currency was 21%. The increase was driven by LinkedIn’s talent solutions recruiting business.

However, Microsoft warned of a hiring slowdown impacting LinkedIn when announcing upcoming guidance.

Amy Hood, Microsoft CFO commented: “For LinkedIn, we expect continued strong engagement on the platform, although results will be impacted by a slowdown in advertising spend and hiring resulting in mid-to- high-single-digits revenue growth or low to mid-teens growth in constant currency.”

Still, the company reported high levels of engagement on LinkedIn.

Satya Nadella, Microsoft CEO said: “We once again saw record engagement among our more than 875 million members, with international growth increasing at nearly two times the pace as in the Unites States, in the first-quarter conference call with analysts.”

Nadella also noted there are more than 150 million subscriptions to newsletters on LinkedIn, a four-fold increase year over year.

In addition, Microsoft’s acquisition of EduBrite will allow workers to earn professional certificates directly on LinkedIn, the company announced.

Overall, total revenue at Microsoft was $50.1 billion in its fiscal first quarter, up 11% year over year — an increase of 16% in constant currency.

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Winners will be announced at TALINT Partners’ two-day Talent and TIARAS at the end of November

TALiNT Partners has announced the finalists for the 2022 TIARA Talent Tech Star Awards US! These awards finalists have shone a spotlight on the full spectrum of HR and Recruitment technology solutions for employers, recruiters, candidates and contractors.

Ken Brotherston, TALiNT Partners CEO commented: “We are thrilled to have attracted such high-quality finalists to our US Talent Tech Star Awards.

They represent a fantastic range of the sector’s highest potential start-ups, fastest growing scale-ups and top performing talent tech giants – collectively employing thousands of talented people and generating billions of dollars in sales.”

Shortlisted entries will be scored by a highly experienced, independent panel of expert judges who will convene in a few weeks to decide who will triumph in each category, as well as to crown the overall Champion of Champions.

All winners will be announced at the Awards Ceremony taking place on December 1 at the Atlanta Marriott Marquis, as part of TALiNT Partners’ two-day Talent and Tiaras event, which brings together the talent ecosystem for two days of conferences, roundtables, dinners and culminating in our prestigious TIARA Ceremony.

Winners will be profiled in a special supplement published with TALiNT International. The full list of TIARA Talent Tech Star Awards US 2022 Finalists can be viewed here.

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Fundraise led by Global Ventures and Wa’ed Ventures, the venture capital arm of Aramco.

Elevatus, the Saudi-based technology company with video interviewing and recruitment software for the HR sector, announced that it completed a $10.5 million, Series A fundraise.

The funding round was co-led by Global Ventures – an MEA-focussed venture capital firm – and Wa’ed Ventures – the venture capital arm of Aramco.

With this capital injection, the HR tech provider aims to accelerate its business expansion and expand its market share. It also strives to broaden its reach by entering new markets, investing in product innovation, and propelling the advancement of HR tech. Launched in 2019, and led by co-founders Yara Burgan, Yacoub Zureikat, and Yanal Kashou – Elevatus’ next-generation AI technology streamlines the full hiring process. This enables companies to centralize core recruitment functions in one place, tackle their biggest hiring challenges, and recruit dependable top talent in less time.

Elevatus is a holistic SaaS solution that offers two core AI-powered solutions; an award-winning hiring platform EVA-REC and video interviewing software EVA-SSESS.

EVA-REC helps enterprise companies streamline recruitment functions such as: creating requisitions, automating workflows, filtering resumes, shortlisting candidates, streamlining approvals, sending offers, and onboarding new hires before day one. EVA-REC is at the forefront of its sector, with a scope and maturity that are competing with recruiting solutions of top global peers such as SAP and Oracle.

EVA-SSESS is a secure and unbiased video interviewing software that helps companies identify, hire, and rapidly develop top talent via AI-powered video assessments. EVA-SSESS has a unique AI-matching algorithm that is highly intuitive, comprehensive, and currently unmatched in the world. This core and novel AI algorithm is offered as an Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), so organizations can enhance and advance their existing systems and accelerate their hiring innovatively.

Elevatus has rapidly become a popular solution for over 150 companies including blue-chip brands such as Samsung, RE/MAX, Omantel, Arab Bank, Dr. Suleiman Al-Habib Medical Group, Virgin Mobile, King Abdullah University of Science & Technology, and STC Academy. It has also integrated its technology with world-class technology providers such as SAP, Oracle, Zoom, Slack, DocuSign, Google Meet, Glassdoor, Indeed, and more.

Elevatus, which began its operations over three years ago, has helped companies worldwide conduct over 3 million video assessments and recruit thousands of candidates to date. It also improved its AI algorithm accuracy from 65% to 94% over the course of three years. In addition, Elevatus has also grown its headcount by three times.

Yara Burgan, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer at Elevatus, said: “Our team of high-calibre talent is shaping the future of HR. From day one, we were confident that Elevatus would exponentially succeed and reach even bigger heights. We took great strides in identifying client needs and adapting to the marketplace. Elevatus is meeting those needs head on; through our best-of-breed AI solutions that offer the right level of scalability, innovation, and agility – to help us accommodate and grow.” 

Noor Sweid, Managing Partner at Global Ventures, commented: “We are thrilled to welcome Elevatus to the portfolio. In 2021, we witnessed the growth and maturing of the global HR tech market, driven by new expectations from employees for experience-driven, frictionless application processes, and from employers for engaging and streamlined hiring. Capturing this opportunity is a brilliant team with an already-proven track record of building and scaling the business and demonstrable traction as well as a holistic product automating, optimizing and accelerating hiring processes for businesses globally.”

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The gig economy may be key to overcoming staffing shortages

For a lot of us, the pandemic shifted the way we see work for good. More people began to embrace flexibility and seek out new working options.

But flexibility is something that’s been at the heart of the ethos for temporary staffing platform GIG long before the pandemic.

Flexible shift work app GIG means for candidates that there are no requirements for working 9-5, 5 days a week. Instead, they’re able to choose when they work and where they work, as much or as little as they like. That means candidates could be working as a Warehouse Operative one day, and serving behind a bar the next.

The new campaign features, Dave, the star of GIG’s new Sky Go ad campaign, and he does exactly that. Dave picks the gigs that work for him, from warehousing, to hospitality, to events – meaning he’s got time to spend with the people who matter.

In a post-pandemic, skills short economy, flexible working has become more than a buzzword, it’s essential to the future of staffing.

TALiNT International has reported time and time again that candidates in the job market are continuously looking for flexible working options; those jobs that allow candidates to work around their studies, caring responsibilities or if they merely want to spend quality time with their family. But flexibility doesn’t just have to be for those looking at part time hours either as this could result in lower pay. With GIG potential candidates can still work full time, when and where they want. For instance, workers joining the GIG hub model may work full time 6 days a week, with many opting to work away at GIG’s warehouse partners, supplying some of the UKs biggest retailers.

The gig economy hasn’t always had a good reputation, but GIG shows that this flexibility doesn’t have to come at a cost. Their workers are guaranteed the basic rights that other gig economy providers often miss, such as holiday pay, and they push all their partners to offer well above minimum wage rates.

Antony Woodcock, MD of GIG commented: “Flexible working can offer a diverse range of opportunities for all, and that it doesn’t just have to be something that [fills a gap]. The whole concept behind the campaign is to showcase the opportunities that flexibility with GIG can bring. If you don’t want to be tied down to a single job, working hours that don’t fit your life, then there is another option. If you’re looking for regular shifts, training and experience to be able to build a career, that’s also something you can achieve with GIG.”

For businesses, there are clear gains to be made too ­– flexibility is not only a vital way to deal with the peaks and troughs that an increasingly unpredictable world throws their way, but it may also be the key to unlocking the talent needed to overcome staffing shortages.

With both businesses and workers being hit by recent increases in the cost of living, flexible solutions such as GIG can be a much-needed lifeline.

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