Que: Brief us about the overall operations of your company.
Ans: We offer small and midsize businesses HR services on an ala carte, project or retainer basis. We meet our clients wherever they are on their journey to be an employer of choice and at their pace and budget. Our shared services approach allows us to build HR departments from scratch and align them to business strategy. While we see great value in the middle market, we do have some larger companies that augment their internal HR teams with strategic project initiatives from our team. Software is not HR. And HR is more than payroll and benefits. Building a high-performance culture that drives innovation and profitability requires leaders at all levels. HR infrastructure can uphold the Culture Invitation and once it is strategically aligned and reinforced a company can create workforce alignment empowering leaders to innovate amidst even the toughest climate in business.
Que: How did your company come into existence? What was the idea behind its genesis?
Ans: I left my employer back in 2010. I was on a mission to work for another CEO that desired to build a Best & Brightest® Company to Work For. When I branched out, I initially began as a Consultant. As I learned what HR Outsourcing was and considered what I knew HR to be, I found a niche delivering HR as I know it. The idea of full-service HR is something small businesses might think they don’t need, but we feel they deserve it. Every person deserves joy and purpose through their work, and we feel companies that enable this will prosper and grow with a competitive advantage through their people.
Que: Kindly elaborate on your company’s unique products or services.
Ans: Given we are not your Broker, your Attorney or a 1-800 number. We believe HR expertise is essential to any business as they grow their enterprise. Our Shared Services approach allows businesses to access strategic HR at their pace and budget all while taking a holistic approach to integrating a culture plan that enables their strategic and/or operational plans as a business.
Que: Please talk in detail about the featured person/ CEO/President/Founder of your company. Kindly elaborate on his professional and personal life.
Ans: You’ll notice it instantly. Nicole Martin, CEO and Founder of HRBoost®, loves what she does, and she does it remarkably well. “I’m the accidental entrepreneur,” said Nicole, “I looked back after starting my own business and said, ‘I started a business. Whoa!’” Nicole didn’t set out to create HRBoost. She simply followed her passion to help clients understand the importance human resources can play in developing a strong business. Today Nicole is a successful entrepreneur and an HR industry innovator who is dedicated to helping small to mid-size business realize their potential through their employees.
A self-professed “country girl in disguise,” Nicole Martin grew up in Montana, where, she says, “Everyone knows you and greets you on the street.” Nicole was also lucky to have a great mentor early in life: her mom. “My mother is highly spiritual, and she raised me with the philosophy of being happy,” said Nicole. “She always believed in that you are a special person—she ingrained that in me—and you are capable of anything.”
At the age of 18 Nicole was ready to start proving her mom right. She left Montana and moved in with her godmother in Libertyville, Illinois. Right out of high school, Nicole got a job as a receptionist at a pre-Y2K firm where she found her passion quite by accident. “They were hiring all these computer experts from overseas, but when they arrived, the company just put them in the reception area because they didn’t know what to do with them,” recalled Nicole. “It was just inhumane.”
During the same time, Nicole was working on a training program for a college human resources class. “I wanted to help these guys out in the hallway, so I just marched into the director’s office and asked him if he wanted to see the training program I created for school.” When Nicole was finished with her presentation, the director created a human resources department for the site, hired a manager and moved 18-year-old Nicole from reception to human resources.
Nicole has been building HR departments from the ground up ever since. What makes her approach so unique, she says, is that she begins with the business’ vision and creates HR programs that are completely integrated with that vision. From the hiring process to annual reviews, the programs Nicole creates are designed to further the business, boost productivity, and help employees understand why and how their contributions are meaningful.
“There’s a lot of misinformation out there in the business community. These big businesses are coming into small to mid-size companies, and they are offering something that they call full-service HR, but it’s not. It’s tactical HR. It’s just taking care of payroll, benefits, database stuff. It’s not the strategic integration that helps a business thrive and perform.” Nicole explained.
Today, Nicole Martin does her best to represent her industry, not just as a senior executive, but as a public speaker, thought leader, blogger, board member and volunteer. As an ambassador for 101 Best and Brightest Companies to Work For™, she is helping Chicago business to see all the benefits a fully integrated human resources department can bring. “If you go into a business and they are a 101 Best and Brightest Company to Work For™, you can feel it. You would see on the people’s faces, the authenticity, the honesty, constructive criticism (which is level of respect) not complacency where managers actually think something in silence and don’t communicate it,” explains Nicole.
But Nicole’s brand of full-service integrated HR provides more than just a corporate culture boost or a good office vibe. She links HRBoost’s services directly to profitability time and time again— and she’s got the analytics path charts and the logic models to prove it.
Que: What makes your company stand out from the rest of its competition?
Ans: We deliver skilled talent to our clients. We also believe they need both strategic and tactical resources at the same time. One human is not ideal as there are various cognitive abilities to optimize HR strategically. We believe our shared services approach to the middle market is the PEO Alternative. And yes, the middle market needs an alternative.
Que: What kind of challenges has your company faced in its initial days of establishment and what are the struggles it is going through now?
Ans: Like any business, talent is critical to growth and skilled talent is critical to our business. As a result, we have reinvested in our talent and our approach to not only acquire talent but enable it. We have also been careful to listen to our clients, their experience, and ways we can better serve them. Our flexibility and custom approach to how we work with clients, has fueled our growth and success. The challenge will always be access to capital, both financial and human. As the business grows, those challenges just increase in scale.
Que: Kindly describe the current industry scenario that your company is catering to.
Ans: We are providing access to HR expertise that is not typically accessible in the middle market. Most of our executive level talent would not work for a small business full time. It is our unique shared services approach that keeps our talent engaged while providing services to our clients at their pace and budget. The convenience approach of consumers is not lost on business owners and we feel our approach caters to our customers desire to want what they want, when they want it and how they can afford it.
Que: What technological updates have been adopted by your company to enhance its operations?
Ans: We have invested in internal systems in recent years but remain system agnostic with our clients. Even though everyone has embraced technology and enabled talent with technology, we must always remember human interaction it essential. Furthermore, the technology should strive to drive efficiency but only people can make it effective. Systems do not innovate themselves.
Que: What advice would you like to give the young entrepreneurs and start-ups that are willing to enter in the industry that you are catering to?
Ans: Looking back, I worked and attended school simultaneously. I feel it is imperative to get hands on experience doing what you seek to learn. Make sure it brings you joy before investing time, energy and dedicating your life to it. Enjoy the journey and be prepared to learn, unlearn and relearn.
Que: What does the future hold for your company in terms of growth?
Ans: We practice what we preach. Which means we accept passive talent interest, and we pipeline our own talent. Usually, when we have a need, we do not have to post an ad and wait. We usually have someone ready to go and waiting for the call. This is essential to our continued growth. What has been interesting during the pandemic is the out of state interest we have received from HR talent. It has us thinking. After all, we do believe in open sourcing talent, especially now.
Que: In this ongoing pandemic, how are you catering to different industrial forums and trade communities to help survive in these difficult times of Covid-19? How are coping up with the challenges it has brought?
We find that local chambers are leaning on us to provide guidance and resources to their members. Businesses are seeking clear guidance and from trusted resources. We have also developed and provided free content from our HR experts that anyone can access on our website. The nuances of employees and business requirements has shaped a world in “HR Triage”, as we call it. Information is critical at a time where there is so much confusion. In addition, skilled talent was being displaced and many businesses did not want to let talent go. Meanwhile, other business defined as essential, had to keep employees working while facing the fact that some employees were no longer willing to come to work. This created unique challenges for businesses who had been operating with an employer first mentality. In recent years, the market shifted to an employee’s market and skilled talent will choose where it wants to work. In some cases, the greatest competition going forward will be the skilled talent that decides to put on a shingle for themselves. For those that kept running, despite it all, the compliance and risk factors were evident. We just knew we could help small businesses thrive and we started in our own back yard. In March for example, the Cares Act came out and literally changed laws within HR industry, the financial industry and in tax legislation. While everyone was trying to learn the new framework, businesses were striving to operate in this new environment. We took it up on ourselves to develop policy, standardized template documentation, FFCRA Instructions and guidance for all businesses with less than 500 employees. We priced it for a one-time fee of $149.00 and immediately, businesses were finding it. We are continually sensitive to the climate of the small business community and as a result, our content and resources aim to resource them. Collaboration is also critical across industry to enable the shifts we are experiencing in real time. As we look to 2021, mental health is critical. We believe well being is going to be a key performance indicator for businesses that thrive in staying productive long term. Creating unique ways to employ talent is not as simple as “work from home”. Globally, talent is seeking to move around, and businesses is sure to create new, unique ways to serve their customers. All of us play a role in the future of work. The most important thing, is talking with people close to your business, your community and that means also taking time to ask your employee’s are you are doing.