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The top 23 HR tech tools for leading SMEs

When you’re scaling a business, the bigger you get, the more operational hurdles you tend to run into. They’re all growing pains of course and part of the journey (where would #startuplife be without a pinch of chaos?). Today though, there are more tech tools than ever to help make your expanding business run as smoothly and efficiently as possible.

Whether you’re managing a People or HR team or if it’s just part of your wider role (in other words, if you are the People and HR team), your life doesn’t need to be weighed down by excessive admin - pick the right tools to help you, and the sky’s the limit for your team and your business. 

There are hundreds of HR tools out there that all claim to be the number one game-changer. And the truth is that some of them will be exactly what you need - while others will have you chasing your tails. So how can you pick the best tools for your HR toolbox to make your startup grow at full speed? Whether you’re new to the game or looking for a different way to do things, we’ve put together a comprehensive guide to help you make the best decisions for your business.

First things first though, let’s have a closer look at what you’re up against. Here are some of the most common obstacles startups come into when scaling:

Common HR problems SMEs run into when scaling

People Data & Tracking

You need somewhere to keep all the vital - and sensitive - information about your employees. From when they’re going on holiday, to their address, payroll info, job progression, PDP - we could go on! Having somewhere secure and user friendly where everyone can share and update their employee info is a top priority, and you’ve got lots of tech options to pick from.

Communication

Digital collaboration has been a big part of tech for a while, but with most businesses still remote for the foreseeable, it’s essential. From your product roadmap to your content marketing plan, teams everywhere need a place where they can share ideas, make plans and track progress as they go, and there are some ingenious tools out there. 

Culture 

It’s a tale as old as time. When your company is 5-20 people, the startup culture is at its peak: everyone knows each other well, legendary pub nights are remembered by all and key business decisions are made on bean bags. Once your team grows to the dozens and eventually 100+ though, you need to make conscious efforts to keep your company a place where people enjoy working. You might be tempted to wing it, but if you’d like to learn from others’ mistakes instead of your own, you can pick from a great range of innovative team benefits and culture tools. 

Diversity, Inclusion & Employee Engagement

Too often, founders start to think about diversity after they’ve hired carbon copies of themselves - a couple of hundred times. Needless to say, it’s much easier - and creates a better business - if you foster a diverse workplace from the get-go. It’s important to be able to capture vital statistics on the evolving demographic of your company, especially as you grow.  To make things easier, there are tools you can use for hiring, understanding employee satisfaction, dealing with unconscious bias, gender pay gap reporting and much more. 

Employee satisfaction scale

Hiring & Talent Attraction

Hiring is a complex enough process, without the tech you’re using getting in the way.  

If you’re lucky enough to be growing your team regularly, it’s easy for hundreds of job applications (per role!) to get lost amongst themselves. As well as that, you want to make sure that your job ads are getting the best eyes on them, and for that you need the right digital jobs board. 

5 things to consider when choosing your HR tech stack

  1. Goals 🥅

Before you make any decisions or spend any money, it’s important to mark out some clear targets - or “start with why” as many a startup guru would say. How will the tools you choose feed into your wider business objectives? What will give you the biggest impact and reduce waste (time or money)? Your answers to these questions will make it easier to know if what you go for is working. 

  1. Budget  💰

Any small business needs to be smart with their pennies, and any products you go for will need to be appropriate for your company’s size and budget sensitivity. Don’t worry though, there are great options out there for everyone.

  1. Functionality 🚗

Part of being strategic with your HR tools is making sure none of your tools do the same job. You don’t want to be paying for two products to be doing the same job. In other words, it’s important always to have your whole HR toolbox in mind when picking a new tool.

  1. Integrations 🤝

It’s important that your tools work together well too. If your time off booker, your calendars and your internal messaging app aren’t talking to each other for example, you’ve got endless more admin every week than if they are.  

Now we’ve outlined some of the problems you might come into, and the key things to consider, let’s have a look at the 23 of the best tech tools out there. 

The top 23 HR tech tools for your SME 🔧

HRIS (Human Resources Information System)

Whatever the size of your business, having one place where you can keep all the key info about your team throughout the year - and where they can give you all this information - is key to running an organised business. Most of these tools offer a few functions in one, and they offer different levels of personalisation depending on your business size.  

  1. CharlieHR

Charlie HR is a great HR solution for smaller teams (<200 people) with functionality you need to start managing your people including onboarding new hires, booking annual leave, performance management, and team surveys. 

  1. Personio

Personio is a relatively new player in the block focused on building a multi-purpose tool to reduce people related admin. You can use it for recruitment (ATS), onboarding, preliminary payroll, and people analytics, saving you hours of admin every week. 

  1. Factorial

Factorial is another new-entrant to the space based in Spain, but serving customers all over the world. The software is focused on reducing administration in people operations, and they humanize the product offering through specialised labour consulting service. 

  1. BambooHR

From hiring and onboarding to annual leave, payroll and culture building, this is a handful of People tools all in one place. The employee experience is at the core of Bamboo HR and so they have developed engagement surveys and analytics tools as well to let you track your team’s needs so you can build a workplace culture they’ll love - whilst keeping everything under one roof. 

  1. HiBob

Evolving companies are the bread and butter for HiBob - designed with the international workforce in the front of mind - their platform has been built to support fast-growing non-traditional organisational structures. 2020 has sure been a year for the unusual and this flexible product nails the HRIS needs of any company whilst also streamlining processes and improving collaboration.   

Recruitment - ATS (Applicant Tracking System)

As you begin to scale your team, having a user-friendly platform to post job ads and manage applications becomes increasingly important. Ideally, you’ll want anyone from your team to be able to post a job ad, view applications and notify applicants of their next steps - or else all the work can end up shifting to one or two people.  

  1. Workable

These guys say they can help you “make the best hire, in half the time”. By making all the key info you - and your applicants - need super clear and easy to find, it reduces a lot of the slog of reading through a load of applications. Plus, they have lots of resources on best practice in hiring, and customer support to help you when you need. 

  1. Lever

Lever is a big player in the game and is used widely globally. This platform uses smart design and analytics to make the process of job ad writing, applicant tracking and hiring as smooth as possible. A great option if you're taking your business international. 

Recruitment - Marketing & Comms

As well as making the right hires for your business, you also want to be able to get people thinking about how great it would be to work for you. Plus, when they start, making the onboarding process work to make new hires feel cared for increases the likelihood of them staying with you for longer. 

  1. LinkedIn 

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard of this online professional network. It’s one of the main ways that people find and contact potential hires, and it has its own jobs board too. You can use the search function to filter your searches depending on people’s specific experience, skills, education and more, so you can find the perfect people for your company.  

  1. Beamery

This platform helps you with each stage of recruitment - from building your Careers page, to making ads that will attract the best people, to managing applicants through to the end of the process.

  1. Codility 

Hiring software developers is basically a whole other ballgame, and that’s why there’s a whole platform just for that. Codility helps you hire developers remotely and efficiently, with build-in coding tests, interview software, applicant tracking and data analysis all the way through until you’ve made your hire. 

Performance management

Once you’ve hired a talented team, looking after their professional development is a central part of keeping them with you. Feedback for and from your employees are both vital for helping everyone perform at their best (and enjoy themselves while they’re at it), and these tools help make the process efficient, informed and personalised. 

  1. Lattice

Here you can manage your employees’ performance and track your company culture in the same place. Find out how valued everyone is feeling, how happy they are with their management and how committed they’re feeling to the company. At the same time, managers in your company can make everyone’s goals and milestones for career development super clear, so everyone knows where they are and where they’re headed. 

  1. 7Geese

This platform specialises in OKR planning and performance management, helping you create super-personalised and detailed personal development programmes for everyone in your company. As well as customising their progression, it also makes recognising achievements, writing performance reviews and accurately tracking your culture easy and efficient. It also integrates with Slack, Gmail, Outlook, Salesforce and more.

  1. Small Improvements

This tool puts professional development at it’s centre, and it makes feedback and development part of an ongoing process, rather than just a once-a-year event. As a result, your employees can have better clarity on what they’re doing well and where they can improve.  

Internal Communication

Sharing information, collaborating on sprints, projects, plans and documents - these are all vital processes that your team will do online (covid or not). Sourcing the most intuitive and user-friendly tools for this is key to making creativity and communication flourish in your business. Plus, both of these tools can be integrated with Slack, so if you’re using it your team doesn’t need to find another place for work (or non-work) chat. 


  1. Notion

Coined as an “all-in-one workspace”, this tool makes creativity, collaboration and documentation across your whole business easy. Whether your Product and Tech teams need to work on their roadmap, your Marketing team is making a brand guide for everyone to use, or you want to brainstorm some different project ideas, you can adapt Notion’s tools to fit what you need to do. 

  1. Coda

Often, the creatives on your team will be using one set of collaboration software, while your data analysts and engineers will be using completely different tools. So if these teams need to - Shock! Horror! - work together, you’ve got yourself a blocker. Coda lets everyone tailor their collaborative workspace to exactly what they need for a given project. From brainstorming to briefing to planning a roadmap, they’ve got everything you need to build the tech product of your dreams.

the right tools

Culture 

As your team grows, keeping an eye on your workplace culture helps you make sure you’re creating a great place for people to work (and keep working). The larger your team though, the more you need regular surveys, analytics and other tools to keep your finger on the pulse. 

  1. Culture Amp

These guys specialise in helping you track, analyse and act on your company culture. Because it’s incorporated with 360 feedback and performance review tools for managers, they can provide you with deeper insights into how your team is working and how you can help them perform better.   

  1. Peakon

As well as solving your hiring, people management and culture tracking, Peakon makes growing a diverse team a part of the process from the beginning. It has a series of smart inbuilt tools to help you continually measure and improve your diversity and inclusion. It’s also available in over 50 languages enabled for the blind and partially sighted.

  1. Humu

A crucial ingredient in making a culture that works for everyone is transparency. Humu helps make some of the difficult conversations easier with their employee tracking and engagement tools. Their advanced analytics help you see everything from above and make the most informed decisions for moving forward.

Payroll

Payroll - a weekly or monthly exercise which not many people look forward to. For many companies it’s not only very time consuming, it’s easy to make mistakes. Traditionally dominated by a few big players, the payroll space has developed considerably over the past few years to support the demands of growing businesses and are now capable of more than just paying employees.

counting money


  1. Pento

For too long, payroll has been stuck on fiddly excel spreadsheets, meaning hours of admin every month ever. Well, not any more. This product automates parts of the process, meaning tax calculations and HMRC payments are right every time, and take less than half the time. 

  1. PayFit

If you’re a fan of using fewer tools to get everything done, this platform combines automated payroll with HR data, expenses and annual leave. With all that time saved and all your key people info safely in one place, you’re free to focus on strategy, decision-making and everything else on your plate. 

  1. Deel

These days, if you want you can take your pick from the best tech talent around the world. Sounds like a tax nightmare? With Deel, you can hire from 150 countries, and they take care of the tax, compliance and contracts for you. Now it’s just up to you to find the best talent on the face of the earth. 

  1. Boundless

Since so many office workers have gone remote this year, it’s made a lot of businesses more open-minded about their long-term set-up. WFH 4EVA? In any case, recruiting from abroad diversifies the workplace culture, and of course it infinitely broadens your potential talent pool. Wherever your latest recruit is from, Boundless translates their contract and matches their tax payments to their local requirements. 

Employee Benefits & Reward

While benefits are not usually the number one reason someone will come to work for you, use them smartly and strategically, and you can increase productivity, effectiveness, and create a workplace culture that stands out. And we mean more than just tea and milk - a benefits selection that helps your team stay healthy, happy, and with fewer stress-points in their life will help you make the most of their talent - and grow your business better as a result. 

Ben Mastercard


  1. Ben

Humble brag alert! You know it wouldn’t be a decent HR tools list without a very understated and subtle mention of ourselves. 

Benefits work best when there’s enough choice for your team to find what they need. We offer a huge selection of benefits in fitness, wellness, childcare, food, finance and transportation that you can adjust to suit your unique team. So if some people on your team rely on workouts to stay on top form, you can sort them out with free ClassPass credits. And if others polish off their day with yoga or meditation, they can pick a Glo.com or a Calm subscription from the same programme. With Ben, getting everyone signed up is easy too as we streamline the process for employees, employers and providers. With our personalised and flexible approach, companies only pay for the products and services that are used - saving time and resources. With everyone given the perks and help they need to work at their best, your team performance and company culture can flourish. 

And there we are! The key to choosing the best HR tech tools for your business is finding the ones that will work well together and help you accomplish your objectives. Don’t install a new tool just to install a new tool - bottom line they have to create impactful, positive and sustainable change in the workplace.  

Think your company should be on the list? Get in touch and we’ll see what we can do.

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