How to Build a People Operations Launchpad for Your Business

Is your business moving as fast as a rocketship? Check out these insights on how to use People Ops processes to grow rapidly and intentionally.

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Editor’s note: Want to dive deeper? Listen or watch this episode of the POPS! The People Ops Podcast with Candice Saffer, Head of HR at Social27.

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Measurably engaging both new and seasoned employees is something that is front and center on many leaders’ minds.

Candice Saffer, Senior HR Director at virtual events company Social27, recently had the added challenge of hiring, onboarding, and engaging more than 150 new employees — in just a few month’s time.

If your business is likewise moving as fast as a Rocketship, here are some insights on how Candice standardized people ops processes to listen and learn from team members around the world.

“In 2020, we fast-tracked our 3-year business vision in 30 days,” said Candice Saffer. In fact, demand for Social27 Virtual Event Platform from companies including Microsoft, Duracell, Tata Consultancy Services, Salesforce, University of Washington, SugarCRM, and Capgemini drove 18X growth since the pandemic started.

Challenge

Explosive growth is a good problem to have, but growing rapidly and intentionally comes with many challenges.

Social27 had long been a tight-knit workforce who took coffee breaks together and threw surprise birthday celebrations for its employees. Suddenly, they were propelled into massive growth with a distributed workforce spanning the United States, the Philippines, India, Italy, and beyond. With this growth came the need to create policies compliant with local jurisdictions across the globe and to enable communications across increasingly large departments.

In the Spring of 2020, Social27 Co-Founders, CEO Ike Kehal and CTO Bally Kehal, personally hired staff in order to manage the client requests and the sheer amount of events coming in. Plus, with a shift to 100% virtual, they had to oversee continual iterations, additions, and updates to their events platform. They had to quickly create a new organizational structure to oversee their quickly expanding teams.

The directors and departments alike had to problem solve on the fly while servicing customers and providing value to the events industry writ-large as everyone underwent massive transformation under tragic circumstances.

Solution

Moving from a handful of full-time employees to a workforce of more than 175 people across eight countries in less than a year — Social27 required a technology platform to grow with them. The company also factored in a heavy emphasis on development, communication, and automation to accommodate sustainable scale. They chose Zenefits.

Making virtual, personal

“We knew this was going to happen, we just didn’t realize how fast,” said Candice.

A critical component to Social27’s growth was ensuring that they brought in the right people to refine the product, scale live-streaming capabilities, streamline operational processes, and earn the confidence of their customers who are also adapting to this new virtual event.

“The success of every company starts with having a great product or service and relies on attracting and retaining top-notch talent to execute the company vision, mission, and objectives,” added Candice.

Armed with a plan and technology, they got to work building a people operations strategy, onboarding process, handbook, and retention foundation while hiring worldwide from the US to India, Macedonia, Belarus, Ukraine, Sri Lanka and Saudi Arabia.

“Our job is to recruit, retain, engage and be the guiding light to where each person — and the business — can go next,” said Candice.

Automating HR, to deliver a better people experience

“Even though we are hiring 4-15 people a week company-wide, we are doing it carefully. So using people operations technology is key to reducing the people we need to hire in HR — while increasing the value we are delivering to our workforce.”

“Using people operations technology is key to reducing the people we need to hire in HR — while increasing the value we are delivering to our workforce.”

Social27 leans on technology to help with:

Integrated recruiting

“Hiring and benefits administration automation features allowed us to transform and elevate our onboarding process and experience for new employees and contractors,” says Janelle. “So when candidates come in, they have a seamless journey, staying connected with us from their application to their offer including 401k and medical benefits. The information is all a click away and our new employees feel heard and taken care of from the start.”

“First-class” onboarding experience

Social27 has developed an immersive onboarding experience, powered by technology, which includes: a) offer letters with contracts, benefits and all compliance paperwork b) new hire checklist c) personalized week one schedule with orientation, introductions and photos, org chart, FAQ’s and tools.

Performance reviews/goal setting

The company’s first real 360-degree reviews were set in 2021 for all employees — many of whom had been with the company less than a year.  And reviews were coupled with cascading goals to track progress and development plans, all from one centralized technology platform. “Now we can see and measure individual and company performance. It’s a powerful way to set expectations by role and to see your impact on the business priorities too,” said Candice.

Communications and engagement

“If you don’t speak with them, you don’t know what they are going through,” says Candice about their global team. For instance, to personally connect with teammates in India, they conduct engagement surveys every three months through their HR platform. “Anonymous feedback tools have been really helpful to ensure we are hearing our team—and acting on what we learn. There are a lot of pain points and opportunities to adapt at this critical point in our business. We talk about this in all hands meetings openly.” The company also uses Zenefits’ People Hub for announcements such as upcoming performance reviews.

Compliance

Social27 also keeps the signed copies of job offers in their HR platform to help ensure legal compliance with regulations such as the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Fair Labor Standards Act. Social27 has policies and procedures in place along with employee handbooks which acknowledge all the labor requirements of individual states and countries where they have employees and contractors. The small team appreciates the Compliance Calendar from Zenefits to stay ahead of emerging regulations and deadlines.

Reporting

“Zenefits reporting is amazing. I’ve sometimes wanted to tell our other tech vendors, ‘Why can’t you be like Zenefits?’” says Candice. Social27 uses the built-in reports for everything from monitoring weekly time off requests to reporting on the organization structure, equal pay, diversity and inclusion, and progress on the HR Roadmap. Zenefits also helped us organize and ensure we had the sweater sizes and home addresses of all employees for a recent order of company swag.

“Adopting Zenefits as our HRIS platform has allowed us to have one centralized database for employee information, a resource for compliance management that has helped us bridge lines of communication through employee feedback, and has allowed us to begin setting individual KPIs and aligning them with company and department goals. For the People Team, Zenefits takes away stress, leaving us to focus on setting up our employees for success, and boosting our bottom line. And our employees appreciate that Zenefits is easy for them to navigate, with the touch of a button they can easily see and update their important information.”

The Social27 team built out their People Operations foundation first in the U.S. for everything from immersive onboarding to performance, development, engagement and growth. Now they are looking to mimic and/or translate that approach globally, with a careful look at cultural implications and relationships, which Candice says “is so important, but not an easy task.”

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