From platforms that manage employee benefits to direct deposit accounts that offer instant payment, app based technology has streamlined the way that many small business owners handle their HR-related responsibilities. However, with such a wide selection of apps available, how do you determine which ones are most relevant to your business’s Human Resources Department? In episode #108, Elizabeth Larkin and Gene Marks discuss several of the latest HR apps and how they can help your small business.

Executive Summary

1:40—Today’s Topic: What are the Best Apps for Managing My Small Business’s HR Department?

3:11—If your business has more than three employees, you should consider utilizing an HR platform to help manage their affairs; these web-based portals not only enable them to communicate with you, but also provide them with access to their benefits and personal information.

7:18—When shopping for your ideal HR platform, make sure it is mobile compatible and integrates well with all the various facets of your business, such as payroll and insurance.

8:33—Once your business has a working platform, be sure to incorporate apps that foster more effective teamwork. (You can encourage your employees to use these apps by offering a prize for participation.)

10:48—To further motivate your employees, you can also install financial or payroll-based apps that provide them with early access to a percentage of their paychecks.


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Elizabeth: Welcome to this week’s edition of the Small Biz Ahead Podcast, this is Elizabeth Larkin, and I’m here with Gene Marks, who’s our small business owner, and he’s a small business expert. Hi, Gene.

Gene: Hello, Elizabeth, how are you?

Elizabeth: Good. You’re getting a little more used to me calling you small business expert?

Gene: Yeah, you know, I don’t know.

Elizabeth: You used to protest a little bit.

Gene: Yeah, I mean small business expert, I mean, like, I just … I’m learning every day about running businesses, and when people call me an expert on something I always kind of cringe. I don’t know if anybody actually is an expert at anything.

Elizabeth: No, no.

Gene: And when people call themselves experts I always kind of raise an eyebrow.

Elizabeth: The people I love are those people who call themselves marketing gurus.

Gene: Yeah, whenever I hear that it’s always, you know … Or serial entrepreneur, and marketing guru, and I don’t know, I’ve been running a business now for over 20 years, and I meet so many business owners over the course of what I do, because, you know, I write in a bunch of places, I speak different places, I-

Elizabeth: And you work with clients-

Gene: … lot of clients-

Elizabeth: You have tons of clients-

Gene: Lots of clients, as well.

Elizabeth: … who are all small business owners.

Gene: And most of them are way more smarter than me, but the only thing that I can do is-

Elizabeth: Way more smarter than you?

Gene: Than I am, yes, but I take notes, and I learn from a lot of these people, and so-

Elizabeth: And then you share your notes with us-

Gene: And then I share what I learn.

Elizabeth: … which is awesome.

Gene: So, it’s not like an expert kind of thing, it’s just … I’m sort of like a vassal of information.

Elizabeth: So, today’s topic is the latest and greatest tech for small business owners. So, we started this series about a year ago at this time because we got a question from a listen who said he had heard Gene speak, and Gene talked about a bunch of tools and apps that small business owners should be using, and the guy said … He wrote into us and said, “I don’t have time to research this-

Gene: Right, right.

Elizabeth: … like, how do I stay on top of this? What if I’m doing something the old fashioned way and all of a sudden there’s a new app or tool that I can use to do this better?” So, we committed to doing, once a month, an episode called the latest and greatest tech. This is volume five. So, we have not been accomplishing every month, but we’ve been pretty-

Gene: We’re keeping up, we’re keeping up.

Elizabeth: … good, pretty good.

So, today we’re going to talk about apps that can help you with HR. So, if you’re a small business, it’s likely you don’t have an HR manager, or an HR executive.

Gene: Right.

Elizabeth: You are, probably, the HR department-

Gene: Correct.

Elizabeth: … At your small business. So, Gene is going to enlighten us with a bunch of apps that you can use to help yourself be a better HR manager, and we’ll hear from Gene right after we hear from our sponsor.

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TOPIC: Latest and Greatest Small Business Tech for HR

Elizabeth: Okay, we’re back. Gene, what’s your first app that can help small business owners streamline their human resources.

Gene: Well, I’ve got … And by the way, I’m writing about this on Small Biz Ahead.

Elizabeth: We’ll link to the article.

Gene: But, then, I also would like to mention like, sort of, a category of apps I actually didn’t mention in my article, but you have to kind of start there, and these are HR platforms.

So, Elizabeth, if you’ve got more than, really, three or four employees, you should be considering an HR platform. An HR platform is an application that takes care of all of your management of your employees, and they have become so affordable, that they’re cloud based, and I’ll give you some examples.

Paychex, the payroll company, has got an excellent HR platform. Zenefits is another good one, and ComplyRight, as well, has got some great HR apps that you can use within your business.

Elizabeth: How do you spell ComplyRight?

Gene: C-O-M-P-L-Y-R-I-G-H-T.

Elizabeth: Okay.

Gene: … is the name of the company.

Elizabeth: That’s how I thought-

Gene: Yep.

Elizabeth: … but just wanted to make sure, and again, we will list all of these in the show notes.

Gene: There are plenty more that I’m not even mentioning, but you can start with those three, and you can Google around for others, but here’s what an HR platform will do you for, Elizabeth, it gives a portal to all of your employees. It’s a mobile app, and it’s also web-based, so you can certainly access it off of your laptop or any other device that you want.

Elizabeth: Your smartphone.

Gene: Your smartphone, you know, again, it’s mobile, so you can … What will happen is is that you log in as the employee once you get it set up. Every employee has got their own login, they go to their own portal, and boom, you can update your contact information there, as an employee. You can check your health benefits. You can update benefit information.

Elizabeth: That’s awesome.

Gene: Your payroll usually integrates, like, Paychex integrates right with payroll. The other apps also integrate with many other payroll systems as well, so you can check your most pay stub, or your payroll history, get all the access to your payroll information there. You can put in for vacation requests.

Elizabeth: Oh, nice.

Gene: You can put in if you’re performance evaluations if you’re due for one. You can set goals for yourself, and leave notes about your performance evaluation as well.

Elizabeth: Can your manager also set goals?

Gene: Correct, depending on the app, and depending on the rights that the manager has, they can communicate with you. And then you can set different reminders and alerts for when, maybe, your health insurance is coming due. You can manage your 401ks through there as well, your retirement plans.

Elizabeth: Great.

Gene: It’s like an all in one place for your employees to do their stuff, because right now a lot of businesses, you get buried in paperwork for when employees have to manage this stuff. Now these HR apps are able to do this stuff for you. And that’s why I’m hoping you guys have something similar to this at The Hartford, where you can get that kind of-

Elizabeth: We have an internal customized system that we use.

Gene: Sure, that’s proprietary-

Elizabeth: Yeah.

Gene: … that’s probably built there. I mean, there’s thousands of employees at the Hartford, but-

Elizabeth: Yeah, there’s, like, 18,000 employees-

Gene: But for small businesses now we’ve got these apps that are available for any small businesses to subscribe to in their excellence.

Elizabeth: And what is the pricing structure-

Gene: So really, they …Yeah, they typically charge either per employee, like, per user, per month, or just a corporate license per month.

Elizabeth: Okay.

Gene: So, you’re looking at, for like a five to 10 users place, you’re looking at hundreds of dollars a month at most, maybe like a couple hundred bucks a month.

Elizabeth: So, do you think this is worth it rather than-

Gene: Hugely growing industry, so it’s not just me that thinks it’s worth it, it’s thousands and thousands of small companies are realizing this, because, you know, that way your bookkeeper doesn’t have to do it, you don’t have to hire an HR manager, you don’t have to do it as the business owner, you’ve got a one stop place for all of your employees to do their thing.

Elizabeth: Okay.

Gene: So, HR platforms are all the buzz in 2018, and growing significantly, okay?

Elizabeth: Okay, so, a question, is this just for full-time employees? What if you have a contractor-

Gene: So-

Elizabeth: … can I use those?

Gene: Great, so, first of all it’s for full-time and part-time employees.

Elizabeth: Okay.

Gene: I’m sure that you can put contractors on your system as well, but I would advise not putting your contractors-

Elizabeth: Okay.

Gene: … on your system. Remember, your independent contractors are separate from your business, they-

Elizabeth: So, they take care of their own-

Gene: They take care of their own … You don’t want them in any way involved in any of your internal HR stuff at all, because the last thing you want is for an independent contractor to start making noises that they should be one of your employees, and-

Elizabeth: Okay, what about an intern, or a temporary worker?

Gene: Sure absolutely, intern, temporary, part-time workers all can have access to the system as well.

Elizabeth: So, when a small business owner, they’re listening and they’re, like, wow, this is a great idea, thanks, Gene, what should they be looking for in one of these systems?

Gene: So, what they want is, like, just a system that everybody can access on their own that’s compatible on any mobile device that they walk around … A system that integrates with their payroll system is what you want, because clearly you want your pay information, you know, that’s on there, and then really a system that just offers the features that are important to your business.

So, you know, if you’re big into performance reviews, which you should be, then you probably want to be leaning towards an HR platform that has features and functionalities for performance reviews. If health insurance is your thing, you want one that might integrate with your health insurance provider as well.

Elizabeth: Now, what kind of support can you expect from these companies?

Gene: These companies that I mentioned, again, Paychex, ComplyRight, Zenefits, and again, there’s others that are out there, this is their entire line of business, this is what they do, so the support themselves have been excellent, and they usually have … There’s consultants that work with these systems as well.

Elizabeth: You can do chat, you can call them …

Gene: Absolutely.

Elizabeth: Okay.

Gene: Absolutely. Good stuff.

Elizabeth: Awesome.

Gene: Good stuff.

Elizabeth: Okay, so …

Gene: So, that’s a platform.

Elizabeth: These are HR platforms-

Gene: Right.

Elizabeth: … What’s your next app?

Gene: So, once you have a platform in place … And, by the way, you don’t necessarily have to have a platform in place, but you want to try and think about stuff that might motivate your employees, or create a better team, so one great application that I’ve got a few clients using is called Motivosity. It’s M-O-T-I-V-O-S-I-T-Y, and it’s

And what Motivosity does is, for all the members of your team … Again, this is a mobile app … You put money into their accounts. Now, it’s not … Doesn’t have to be real money, it can be just basically digital-

Elizabeth: Monopoly money.

Gene: … coin. It is Monopoly money that you’re putting into each of their accounts, and the goal is is that everybody on your team., within a certain period of time, maybe give them 30 days or 60 days, they have to give that money away to somebody else.

Elizabeth: Oh, that’s wonderful.

Gene: Right. So-

Elizabeth: Sounds great.

Gene: … within their organization, like, you know, I kind of call it … You know, it’s like, sort of, you know … They like … Like, if you’re doing a good job, Elizabeth, I’m like, wow, she did a great job for my client or whatever, I’m going to give you 10 dollars for doing that, great job-

Elizabeth: Okay.

Gene: … right? Managers have the ability to give even more money out, so they might … Managers might have a pool of money that they have, and then they can give it to their team depending on how they did. Anyway, everybody’s giving money back and forth to each other during the course of the month based on work that they’re doing within the company, and then, when the month is over, or the period is over, whenever that is, whoever has the most money wins.

And, you know, you, as the employer, can then determine what the prize is. The prize could be actual money, if you want to convert that into cash and give them the cash, or the prize can be a gift certificate somewhere, or a company coffee mug, or something like that.

Elizabeth: People love coffee mugs.

Gene: People love … I love coffee mugs, too-

Elizabeth: Yeah.

Gene: … and the more silly ones … My silliest coffee mug actually is … Oh, now … Oh, it’s from the … I have one from The Sopranos movie, The Sopranos TV show, and it’s the movie … It will come to me. It’s the movie that they made on The Sopranos TV show called Slasher, or something like that, and I have a mug … But, yeah, anyways, very funny.

Anyway, so, people love that kind of stuff. They love getting gifts. So, they’re being rewarded for just, you know, participating in the team.

Elizabeth: That’s great.

Gene: So, Motivosity is a very, very cool app, again, very inexpensive to get. I don’t have pricing here for you, Elizabeth, but it’s an inexpensive exercise to go through, and it will definitely improve your teamwork.

Elizabeth: So, that’s in the team building category.

Gene: That is correct.

Elizabeth: Okay, what’s your third category?

Gene: Okay, so, a few ones that I think are interesting. This one I really like is called Instant Financial, and the website is, and what this is, this is a trend of financial based apps that pay your employees every day if you so choose. This is very popular, and has been growing among-

Elizabeth: Like, their regular paycheck?

Gene: Yeah, so, listen up. So, if you’re a restaurateur, if you’re a merchant, if you’re running a franchise, people today want instant gratification, and in a lot of companies the standard is you wait a week, or even two weeks, to get your paycheck.

Elizabeth: Or a month.

Gene: Or a month. So, people have bills to pay, a lot of people are not that great at managing their money, sometimes people just have financial needs right away, so what Instant Financial will do is it will integrate with your payroll system, and with your bank account once you get it set up, and then you can set it up to … Actually, an employee can request, every day, up to 50% of the earnings that they made that day, and they will get paid for it.

Elizabeth: So, how does this affect their taxes, or your taxes, does it have tax implications?

Gene: No tax implications whatsoever-

Elizabeth: Okay.

Gene: … because you’ve already paid … The salary is the salary, it’s really the fact that … I mean, what do you guys get paid here at The Hartford, is it weekly, or bi-weekly?

Elizabeth: On the 15th and the 30th.

Gene: So, it’s like … It’s approximately every two weeks.

Elizabeth: Yeah.

Gene: So really, in effect, Elizabeth, like, you’re working today, you know, and … But, you’re not getting your cash for the work you’re doing, you got to wait until the 15th, or the 30th-

Elizabeth: So-

Gene: … to get paid, right?

Elizabeth: … let me just tell you the story, though. When I started at The Hartford, I started … My first day was April 14th, 2014.

Gene: Okay.

Elizabeth: So, we would have gotten paid on the 15th. So, I came into work, it was Monday, April 14th, I worked, I got home that day and I had a paycheck from The Hartford for that day.

Gene: These guys are on top of their thing-

Elizabeth: They are on-

Gene: … man, they are on … Good for them.

Elizabeth: … top of it.

Gene: But let’s face it, I mean, today, what is the day today? Today is the 11th-

Elizabeth: Yeah.

Gene: … I guess, today. So, you’re going to get paid in four days. You have already worked, though, theoretically-

Elizabeth: Oh, yeah.

Gene: … 11 days, and you haven’t gotten paid … By the way, that’s standard, the way it is around every company in the world, but this Instant Financial is saying, well, we need to change these things around.

Elizabeth: Yeah.

Gene: And if you want to attract employees to your retail store, think about it this way, it’s a tight economy, and you’re trying to find good people, and you say to them-

Elizabeth: That’s a great employee benefit.

Gene: Right, you say them, hey listen, you know, our pay period is every week or every two weeks, but you could have this … We’ve set up Instant Financial for you, so if you want to request to get paid every day, because you need that extra cash that day, you have a bill, whatever, that’s another perk that we provide to our employees, and it’s been hugely popular among some big chains.

Elizabeth: And, now, what’s the pricing structure on something like Instant Financial?

Gene: So, what I believe that they do is that they actually charge a little bit of a percentage of what the payroll is-

Elizabeth: Oh, okay.

Gene: … to the business owner, but again, it’s a small amount, it’s, you know, some transaction fee that they charge, but it’s not … It’s a nominal thing, particularly if you are looking to attract those good employees.

Elizabeth: And are there other apps in this category, or is it just Instant Financial?

Gene: There are, I’m only familiar with what Instant Financial does because I covered them separately, but there are certainly there are other apps, I’m sure, that are competing with them.

Elizabeth: Okay, great. So, those are our three categories today, and our five apps. It’s HR platforms, we have Paychex, Zenefits, and ComplyRight, and what they do is take care of all your HR headaches for you.

Gene: Right, improve productivity, cut back on time, and just give more control to your employees over their H-

Elizabeth: And less paperwork, it sounds like.

Gene: Absolutely right.

Elizabeth: Okay, under team building we have Motivosity, where your team members can give each other fun money, and at the end of the month you can award … Maybe not even just the top person, but maybe the top three-

Gene: Sure, it’s up to you.

Elizabeth: … if you’ve got, like, 15 people in your company.

Gene: But everybody’s team building, so everybody’s, you know, awarding money to each other based on the job that they’re doing.

Elizabeth: Here’s the question, though. Let’s say … All right, so, you have 10 employees, so, let’s say you’re … Like, out of your 10, like, eight employees get money from other people and two don’t, what do you do?

Gene: Well, I mean, again, it depends on the job that the employee is doing and maybe that’s something that has to be talked about.

Elizabeth: That’s telling. That’s some interesting information for a business owner, right?

Gene: It really is.

Elizabeth: I almost feel like that’s better … That’s the better part of the app.

Gene: Yeah, it’s not only helpful to build that sort of teamwork, and by the way, you can share this information with your other employees or not. Some employers … You know, and that’s another topic for another day. You know, do you let that information be known to employees, so they see that they’re competing against each other, or will the employee getting nothing be really upset by it.

Elizabeth: Yeah.

Gene: But it really tells a lot to the employer. At the end of the day, if one employee every month seems to be coming out on top, or bottom, but, you know, when it comes to being awarded, you know, fake dollars from your other employees, that should definitely send off a message to you as to who’s performing and who’s not.

Elizabeth: Okay, and our third category, our financial payroll based apps, and you can Google more of them, but the one Gene highlighted is called Instant Financial, and that allows your employees to request pay every day.

Gene: That day, that’s correct, up to 50% of their pay.

Elizabeth: Which is amazing. Okay, we’re going to skip the Word of Brilliance this week because we’ve just given you five Words of Brilliance, but we’ll be back next week, and we’re going to be talking about the best ways to find more clients. We’ll talk to you then.

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