Q&A with HR Central’s CEO, Damien Gooden: Internal and external digitisation for better people support
Like most good businesses, the idea for HR Central, a cloud-based human resources solutions provider, was born of a real-life problem. Damien Gooden, HR Central CEO, was presented with two paper versions of one employment contract – and no way to verify which one was accurate.
Realising that other businesses likely faced similar challenges, HR Central’s founders were determined to provide flexible HR administration support and ensure businesses could benefit from more efficient people processes.
In the five years since it was founded, HR Central has helped hundreds of small- to medium-sized businesses navigate digital human resource challenges. HR Central’s subscription model provides modern solutions for organisations that lack in-house support, especially for start-ups who often need to scale quickly,.
It’s a business idea that’s especially vital now that so many organisations have shifted to remote working. To understand how HR Central is using digital tools like DocuSign to support their clients’ staff, as well as their own people, we sat down with Damien to answer a few questions.
Can you tell us a little bit about HR Central?
Sure. HR Central gives businesses around Australia outsourced HR support and solutions, tailored to our customers’ unique needs and business maturity.
We came up with the idea for HR Central when we were having an issue with verifying an employment contract with an employee. Because everything was paper-based we didn’t have the same security and visibility that you would get from something cloud-based.
We thought if we were having this problem, others were probably having this problem too. That was in 2006 and, now, we service more than 500 businesses across Australia and in every industry.
How do you use DocuSign today?
DocuSign is the backbone for a lot of our work.
Most commonly, we use DocuSign as part of our client sign-up process. We’re completely cloud-based so we don’t have any paper as part of our operations, and all of our contracts are sent through DocuSign.
Why did you ultimately settle on DocuSign as a solution?
DocuSign offers a robust solution that makes it a market leader. Plus, because we’re dealing with a lot of sensitive information on our customers’ behalf, security is a top priority for us. Other solutions we considered didn’t have the same level of security as DocuSign.
What sort of results have you seen from implementing DocuSign?
As a solutions provider, client satisfaction is a key indicator of the success of any tool. Using DocuSign, turnaround times are significantly faster, which means we’re seeing happier customers and realising revenue faster.
It’s also helped us prune away a lot of manual admin for our own people, which means they’re free to focus on higher-value work and look after customers more proactively.
What systems have you integrated with DocuSign? What’s the value that you’re seeing from an integrated system?
We integrated DocuSign with Salesforce, which is what we use to manage our pipeline. Essentially this means that we’ve removed the double-handling of contracts.
It’s also difficult sometimes to get salespeople to spend time managing admin and data input. With the integration, we’re able to pull information directly from Salesforce, meaning there’s no need for manual input. Now, the reps have more time to be able to put more high-value tasks like building rapport with customers.
It’s been a challenging time for a lot of businesses as they manage the transition to working from home. Has DocuSign been able to play a part in helping HR Central maintain some of those critical business operations?
As a business, we’re cloud-first which means the transition to remote work was less about being able to work from home and was more about adjusting to working in an environment that might include children, pets, flatmates and so on.
Using DocuSign while fully remote means that we’re able to maintain the same visibility over contracts as they’re coming in.
Given COVID-19, what are some of the challenges that you’re seeing from the organisations that you’re working with and what advice can you give to them at this time?
My number one piece of advice for employers is to ramp up communication with their employees. The importance of communication can’t be overstated. People are in a state of uncertainty at the moment and employees need to feel informed on the situation, which changes daily even now. Now that some businesses are going back to the office or planning their returns, people also want to know what work is going to look like down the track.
After all, HR Central is an employer too. And we’ve implemented some things to make our own communication process easier. We do a quick stand-up to check in with employees to see how they’re feeling. We’ve found it really important to show empathy and give people a break because we all deal with these things differently.
Social connection is incredibly important—even for teams who are going back to the office, that camaraderie might still look different as we maintain distancing or other preventive measures. As employers, we need to find ways to encourage that connection even if we’re at a distance. Virtual events, more one-on-one check-ins, wellbeing sessions and other measures can help keep teams feeling connected even if they’re still at home.
In general, do you have any tips for other HR organisations or teams out there who are looking for ways to work more effectively?
I think everyone has an opportunity to rethink the way that they do things. Right now, COVID-19 has provided a big catalyst for change as more companies scramble to digitise a lot of processes while they’re working remotely.
I’d ask small businesses to think, “What could I change in the way that I operate going forward?” If you could go back to square one and start things from scratch, what would that look like?
I think the businesses who come out of this situation stronger will be those who harness that opportunity and retool their culture, processes and purpose.
|Before DocuSign||After DocuSign|
|Poor visibility of employment contracts||Full visibility of the contract process|
|Sales staff often needed to double-handle contracts||Information is pulled directly from Salesforce, eliminating the need for manual input and giving staff more time to spend on customers
|Fully cloud-based processes meant they were able to more quickly and easily shift to remote working|