We had a chat with Payroll Hero co-founder Stephen Jagger to find out about the startup’s upcoming funding round, stand-up meetings and the future.
We recently featured Payroll Hero as a startup that has received quite a lot of accolades and awards in the previous year. From being the judges’ choice at the Echelon Satellite in Manila to being chosen as the Philippine CyberPress IT startup of 2012, the team is going a long way in ensuring it attains its goals of improving productivity one happy employee at a time.
I got in touch with co-founder Stephen Jagger, who handles the business development side of Payroll Hero. Stephen just got back from Whistler, BC, where the startup opened an engineering office last August. He says he will be working full time again from Payroll Hero’s Manila headquarters, overseeing product development, signing up new clients and finalizing a funding round.
Our chat was fascinating in that we did not only focus on specifics of Payroll Hero’s business, but also some nuances that make the company interesting. But first, on to business.
If you’re not already aware, the premise of Payroll Hero is that human resources can be a drag. Companies spend a lot of money, time and resources on accounting for proper time-in and time-out for employees, and other details like taxation, social security contributions and other deductions. Stephen tells me that the businesses he has worked in have been using a mix of manual paper-based HR processes or archaic software-based methods such as spreadsheets.
These contribute to a lag of up to two weeks or more when accounting for just how much an employee has earned within a set period. This delay can lead to errors, and will often result in frustration from employees wondering why they have to wait for a certain number of days before their half-month’s compensation is computed and released.
What makes it interesting
Payroll Hero does more than just timekeeping, though. There are a few facets to the startup that make HR more interesting.
Face recognition. Payroll Hero lets employees clock in and out through compatible devices — currently iOS devices like the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad. Logging in is done through face recognition, which makes clocking in more exciting and more secure. First, buddy-punching is eliminated, as employees’ biometrics are unique. Forget the Android Jelly Bean “face unlock” fumble. Stephen says that Payroll Hero’s biometric system has been fool-proof to date.
Social. What makes face recognition even more exciting is that clocking in can also be a social activity. Friends or groups of friends can time-in at the same time, with their photo captured. This can be shared with friends and social networks. Employees are said to be happier when they can better relate with each other, and this can happen right when they arrive.
Moods. Payroll Hero does not only capture your photo when you log in. It also attempts to determine your mood, and will keep a record of your moods all throughout. Perhaps you’re always happy Fridays, but you’re in a dour mood every Monday. Payroll Hero will know!
Going beyond timekeeping, Payroll Hero actually offers business intelligence to customers. The social and mood aspects of clocking in and out actually help employers determine productivity based on certain factors. For instance, are employees more productive when they are happy (perhaps)? Or, are employees happier when the weather is sunny?
The startup is also trying to incorporate other factors as well, including weather and traffic information. Employees might come in late in very bad weather, and they are likely to be unhappy, too, which means they might be unproductive during the workday.
Stephen shared that Payroll Hero is still gathering data, and will be able to release some information within the year. We’ll be sure to watch out for that.
Payroll Hero’s model is also scalable, and Stephen is glad to serve any business, whether you only have five employees or five thousand. The model is paid per active employee, starting at PhP 149 each per month (US$ 3.65), which goes down as the company size goes up. Stephen says this can easily be offset by the productivity gains that a company can realize, or at the very least the cost reduction from having to manually monitor and account for attendance.
The Manila-based crew at their daily standup meeting. (Photo credits: Payroll Hero)
The stand-up meeting
Reading through the Payroll Hero blog, I came across the concept of stand-up meetings, and I asked Stephen about their preference for this. He says that meetings are more productive when participants are standing up. That way, people avoid talking nonsense, and will get straight to the point. Company stand-up meetings are a structured, daily, event meant to discuss what was accomplished yesterday, what everyone is working on in the day, and potential roadblocks along the way.
What’s interesting is that meetings are set 7:37 a.m. every morning in the Manila office and 3:37 p.m. in Whistler B.C — so that everyone can meet through a big-screen Google Hangout (a 16-hour time difference). Why 7:37 and not 7:30, I asked Stephen. He said participants are less likely to be late if you set a weird number like 7:37.
I asked about the team’s interest in psychology, with Stephen claiming that people come in on time for “weird” schedules. He said he and co-founder Michael Stephenson (who is CEO) read a lot and apply their own version of what they learn from other people, businesses, books and interesting things that come along the way.
Payroll hero is working on a funding round, and Stephen told me they will make an announcement in a few days one everything is formalized. For now, Payroll Hero is working on adding “tons of new features” to add to its growing list of functionalities. But more than just adding features, Stephen says they are also going to offer simpler packages to customers who just want one aspect of the service, such as timekeeping only, payroll only, or attendance only.
As for customers, Payroll Hero services 52 branches of Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf across the Philippines as one of its bigger clients. The startup also has beta customers around the globe: in Singapore (where Payroll Hero is registered as a business), Cambodia, India, Canada and the U.S. The payroll functionality only works in the Philippines at this time, given the need to incorporate locale-specific tax policies and other payroll deductions.
Looks like you don’t have to be the Man of Steel or the Dark Knight to be a hero. Just try to make everyone productive and happy, and we would already be living in a better world.
The post Payroll Hero: optimizing productivity one happy employee at a time appeared first on e27.
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