I think it should be more about flexibility, accepting every person as how they are and trying to include that in a company, rather than having those very strict structures.Sabrina Fiorin
Marketing Lead at kiwiHR
Sabrina Fiorin is the marketing lead at kiwiHR. KiwiHR is a German HR software that helps small and medium sized businesses to digitise their HR processes. Sabrina is very passionate about topics such as new work, leadership and organisational development, and frequently writes about the newest HR trends on the kiwiHR blog. She is also a certified profile dynamics consultant.
Not only employees and businesses had to adapt to the new state of work that the pandemic has brought on. HR software providers also had to take a step back and see what really matters to their customers in a new working environment.
Sabrina Fiorin from German HR software company kiwiHR explained how they go about implementing new features to their product, and how important it is for them to have an active exchange with their clients about what would make their life’s easier.
Sabrina also shared some inside scoops about the unique challenges companies are facing today, and gave her thoughts on what the biggest trends and developments are in the human resource space.
with Sabrina Fiorin, Marketing Lead at kiwiHR
Sandra Redlich 00:09
All right, thanks again for joining us today. My first question is always, just so we all get an understanding of where we are, and what time we're in. So Sabrina, where are you joining us from today?
Sabrina Fiorin 01:35
Thank you, Sandra for the invite. I'm really happy to talk to you today. And I'm joining from beautiful Munich in Germany. Today from the office, but we have a hybrid work policy. So it kind of depends every day, but today is an office day.
Sandra Redlich 01:52
Yeah, lovely. I used to live in Munich. And yeah, that's definitely the place I would move back to I love, I love Munich, so very jealous.
Sabrina Fiorin 02:00
Nice. What was your favorite place in Munich?
Sandra Redlich 02:05
Difficult. I love the... Oh, god, what's the castle? The castle in the city?
Sabrina Fiorin 02:11
Sandra Redlich 02:12
Yes. Love that one, for walks and going for a run. And in the end, in the nice gardens that they have there, the park. I love the closeness to the mountains. An hour to go skiing. It's pretty nice. Two hours because everyone's going and you're stuck in traffic.
Sabrina Fiorin 02:29
That's quite normal.
Sandra Redlich 02:33
All right. Well, can you explain to our listeners today what, you know, what it is exactly that you do in Munich? And yeah, what your tasks are on a daily basis?
Sabrina Fiorin 02:43
Yeah, so I work for an HR software company, which is called KiwiHR. And yeah, we're specialized in helping SMBs mostly digitize their processes. So it's been quite exciting two years for us, as quite some things have changed lately. And I'm the marketing lead here. So taking care of the activities together with my team for our markets, which are like the DACH (GAS) region, France and English speaking countries. So yeah, it's quite exciting.
Sandra Redlich 03:15
Yeah, it sounds like you would have had two very big years. How long has KiwiHR been on the market for?
Sabrina Fiorin 03:21
It's around three or four years now. So I think 2017 was like the creation and then 18, the launch? So yeah.
Sandra Redlich 03:32
Yeah. And I know that the last two years have been very special in a lot of ways. But still, I think a lot has changed, especially when it comes to how we work and how companies organize their, HR departments, and how to work with employees and what to offer them. You've already mentioned, you have kind of a hybrid model. There's many different ways of working out there now. So what do you see, from your expertise, as the biggest challenges that HR departments and companies have to face today when it comes to work?
Sabrina Fiorin 04:06
Yeah, so I talked to some clients quite at the beginning of the pandemic, and one once told me, Well, I was used to really walk around the office and like, see who's there, have a chat with the people, and those things kind of completely disappeared within just a couple of days. So that has been quite a change for HR departments, to also have that personal component of maybe really also seeing how's the atmosphere? Is there maybe something that needs to be adjusted, but also on a very practical level? Like how do you make sure that you actually have the time that people are working on, so maybe in real time how do you know who is available when? How do you know who is working from where? Who's in the office? Who's maybe remote and also things like a personnel file, who is like, very important for HR departments, and maybe still have them as a paper in the office. So If now you have to work from home, how are you going to access that? That has been a lot of challenges also, like the whole onboarding, usually, of course, like, you went to an office, maybe you had a little breakfast, or you met your colleagues there. And now everything has to happen remotely. So how do you even make sure that this connection is there? I feel like this is, yeah, one of the main components that now we're also noticing with a great resignation. So, of course, when people decide to leave, there's a certain level of frustration as well. And I would say that during day to day, or on a day to day basis, it's quite hard to understand how people are really doing. Also as an HR manager, maybe because you just get a minimal glance at their whole condition, like maybe you have like one meeting, and then maybe there's not even a little check in or there's not a space of really having this like personal exchange and really understanding more about the motivation of the person.
Sandra Redlich 06:05
That's a lot of challenges. I'm glad that especially the last one, I think the mental health aspect and health, general well being of employees is a big thing that many companies are getting more aware of. And it's nice to hear that, yeah, that HR solutions or providers also really take that into consideration. Is that something that you think needs to be included in an HR solution, this health aspect, as well? And what should a modern solution that is appealing to the unique challenges we are facing today, what should that include?
Sabrina Fiorin 06:45
So I think that there's aspects that a software can take over to such extent. So actually, I think that this is rather how HR should evolve, having more time for people, for example, as a team leader, it was really important for me to like, you know, there's a bit this HR component, also in like, rather management positions, to understand better like, what's really a driving factor for my colleagues? And how can we make sure that those individual needs are being implemented in a team? So for example, last year, I did a certification of like a model, which is used for organizational development, where I also see that many colleagues, who work properly in HR, are actually taking now care of those strategic topics. So I think as an HR software, we are here to take off the manual work from them, so that then they can really come up with strategies and concepts which help the people, so then, maybe also helping managers understand what it is the team needs? What can you do to solve conflicts, which maybe arrive with you know, let's take a Slack communication, and you write something that you just want an update from a colleague, and they might take it in such a different way. If their need for autonomy is very high, then maybe they feel very controlled, maybe they feel very micromanaged. Or maybe there is one person who really needs a lot of structure, whereas the other one is more the type of person who needs a holistic overview. So there's so many varieties of people, and how do you manage to actually align that within a team and have those needs of a team together with the individual needs? Yeah, in a positive way, and in a constructive way, where everybody can thrive? And also, the company can benefit from each talent and the singularity of each person.
Sandra Redlich 08:48
I love that you kind of said as the first thing to focus back on the people. So making HR and the human resource departments about humans again, and, you know, trying to focus on the individual aspect. But then, obviously, also, how do individuals work together? Is that something that you at KiwiHR focus on as well? And how does your solution kind of provide help in these departments?
Sabrina Fiorin 09:15
So our solution is rather focused on quite small companies. It's usually the ones who have maybe 15 to 50 employees maybe. And then the very usual cases that either the CEO goes to the HR manager and says, Hey, please digitize our department. So one day to the next, they need to find a solution on how to bring all those manual processes because we really have a lot of clients who basically used to work with Excel sheets, although it is quite known that 80% of Excel sheets have bugs within a very short amount of time. So yeah, that's not really the ideal situation, because, you know, the employee journey, or also the employee experience, it's getting so much more important or the awareness is rising. And even, let's say you get a payroll for your company, and there's a mistake in it. I'm not sure you would be so happy about that. So that's really, that maybe you don't feel respected, you feel like you're not important enough for the company to really make sure that this process is working well. So all of those little points, from onboarding, making sure all your inventory is there, even more if you're working remotely, maybe, to making sure the time tracking is working well, your days of vacation are there and you don't have to ask the HR manager 15 times a year, hey, so how many days do I have now? Yeah, they're all things that also for our generation and coming ones, are getting more and more important. So that things are easy, that are intuitive, that are digitized, that you don't have to spend two weeks learning a new tool until you actually start to understand it. But our approach is that within a couple of hours, depending on the size of the company, but it's quite fast, and you can just start it and you have all your data there. And employees usually really like it because we also have a mobile application. So if you want to stop and do a bit of yoga, or you want to just walk a bit because you notice okay, I'm not really focuses now, let's take a little break. So you can just do that with the app. And those are things which I think are getting more and more important.
Sandra Redlich 11:40
So I like that you mentioned employee experience, I think that's a big thing, especially when working from home or even going into a remote setup. It's becoming more and more important. So what... you mentioned your app, and maybe trying to focus on taking a break and checking in with yourself and being a bit more mindful about your work and your personal experience with it. Is that one of the biggest factors of your employee experience? And what are other things that you take into consideration.
Sabrina Fiorin 12:12
So I think that also being able to see everything in real time is a good experience for the colleagues and for the manager, because you don't have to guess, what did Sandra, tell me? Is she in home office today or tomorrow? Or oh yes, today, she had a doctor's appointment. So she's starting later, maybe. All those things are just visible for you in real time in a dashboard. So I think that's already a positive factor. And also the intuitiveness probably, because you just have everything at a glance, and it just makes life a little bit easier.
Sandra Redlich 12:47
Yeah, definitely. Just yeah, digitalising and keeping everything accessible for everyone at all times, I think makes a big difference already. Is that something that maybe sets you apart from other HR software solutions? Or where do you see your USP, I want to say, your specialness, in comparison to maybe other HR tools?
Sabrina Fiorin 13:13
I mean, I think, you know, that the HR market is quite saturated. So there is a lot of great competitors with great tools. Probably, I would say, that it's about the transparency and the intuitiveness. And also what we want to do is give autonomy to the employees, so that basically they have access at all times to their data. And so, yeah, it's like you're empowering them. It's not this black box anymore, HR, where you don't really know what happened to my days of vacation? Where's my payroll? Like, you can upload it quite easily. And you have your personnel file there. And if you are, yeah, remote, or wherever, you just have your data with you 24/7. So, yeah, that's kind of one thing, which is, it sets us maybe a bit apart, but yeah, it's difficult in the HR space, because, you know, all the software's are quite similar now. So I would say for the smaller ones, it might be a very good solution, because we don't have an implementation fee and everything is quite fast. Also customer success. We have a personal customer success manager for each market. So usually you get an answer within like three minutes during working hours. So yeah, our colleagues are really responsive about that.
Sandra Redlich 14:47
And do you also, or in what sense does KiwiHR... I messed that one up. In what sense, does KiwiHR include options for companies that are fully remote, or just generally remote employees who are distributed all over the place?
Sabrina Fiorin 15:07
So what you can do, for example, is setting individual guidelines and checklists. So for example, if you have an hybrid onboarding, you could define a process there, as well as for the off boarding. And yeah, also about, for example, working time models, you can select very individual ones. Also for absence management, like our holidays are automatically calculated. So if you're in Australia, I'm in Germany, Kiwi knows, and the HR manager doesn't have to call them to basically be aware of all the legislations and all the peculiarities of each country.
Sabrina Fiorin 15:49
Probably also, because in Germany, now you actually can put the amount of days that you have been working remotely or like in home office in your tax declaration. So I just did that, I think like two weeks ago, and I just looked in Kiwi. Okay, so how many days did I do home office? How many days did I have vacation? And yeah, it was quite fast, I have to admit. So that was very useful.
Sandra Redlich 15:49
Yeah. And I mean, that would be so much helpful, like, so helpful for employees as well, because I remember when you do your tax declaration at the end of the year, or at the beginning of the year, and you have to think back, okay, how many, how many days did I take off? And how many days was I sick, and you have to start calculating how many working days are in the year, I've done that all manually. And it's, it's not fun. So if there was a way to do that online...
Sandra Redlich 16:37
Yeah, that's right, because a lot of countries have come up with special solutions for work from home and home office, because of the pandemic. So that's an amazing and quick adoption tool to use then, that's pretty cool. How do you identify when you come up with new features? Or you've talked about customer success? How do you identify the needs of your customer base, if there's something new that maybe needs to be implemented into your system or a completely new topic? Everything's happening quite fast nowadays and developments are happening very quickly, how do you identify the, I guess, the trends or the developments in the HR world that you might need to consider to implement into your solution?
Sabrina Fiorin 17:23
So the feedback of our clients is very, very important to us. And there's regular meetings between our customer success managers and the product team where they say, Hey, I got this feedback, this feature would be very necessary or useful for our clients. So then we kind of collect and prioritize, but usually those features we try to implement as fast as possible based on the feedback we get. So that's a very, very important part, of course, to also know, not guess, okay, let's do this feature maybe. We'd rather focus on what's the needs? And how can we solve those problems?
Sandra Redlich 18:02
I guess, then you would have probably a very good overview of what the future might hold, because you're right there at the core of talking to especially small businesses, because they need to adapt, and they are, most of the time, a lot quicker to adapt to change. And they're working set up as well. So where do you see the current state of work developing into in the future?
Sabrina Fiorin 18:25
So regarding HR, for example, I really see people and culture as the main topic. The whole aspect of, for example, having a purpose for a company and having individual purposes. And combining, really getting more clarity about individual needs and aligning that, for example, how do your needs fit into a company, into your environment and into your tasks? And all this continuous learning and finding new models, like, for example, if you have this high need for autonomy, maybe your purpose will also be in having a part of a freelance activity. And maybe your company can also contribute from that because you're making so many experiences in those 10%, 20% of time, that maybe you're investing in building your own project, that then you can also use for the company to grow. So I think it should be also more about flexibility, accepting every person is how they are and trying to, yeah, include that in a company rather than having those very strict structures where you just say, Okay, this is what we do. And we have always been doing that and either you fit here or you don't. Kind of this whole learning process as a company. I think that is something that will need to happen. Also to fight a great resignation and the war for talent. So let's see how long it will take. I'm quite optimistic about it.
Sandra Redlich 20:03
I love it. That was beautiful closing words. Again, putting the human back into HR. I think that's kind of how I would sum it up. That sounds absolutely lovely. Well, thanks so much for taking the time to talk with us today and share your work and your passion for for HR. I really appreciate it. And yeah, enjoy the Munich sun, if there is any sun out there.
Sabrina Fiorin 20:28
Thank you so much. Yes, we have beautiful sun today and maybe I have a walk at Schloss Nymphenburg.
Sandra Redlich 20:34
Yes! Making me jealous. Yes, do that. Enjoy, enjoy what it has to offer. It's a beautiful place. Thank you again, have a great day.
Sabrina Fiorin 21:03
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