Belgian HRTech needs to work together more often

Corona has exposed HR's pain points, such as well-being and remote working. Start-ups in HRTech already offer excellent solutions and with more cooperation the impact will only increase.

Covid-19 ushered in a difficult period for HR professionals. Suddenly, they had to ensure well-being in the workplace, while a large proportion of employees worked remotely. Fortunately, HRTech is increasingly bridging these kinds of problems. Start-ups that combine technology and HR are thus solving deeper problems in our labor market. Two pitching start-ups at The Big Score's HRTech Session: Wenite and Huapii, explain how they are doing their part. 

Corona has exposed HR's pain points', says Jasper Dezwaef,co-founder of Wenite: 'Initially, there was a brake on new initiatives at many companies; the HR budget suddenly went to zero. But after a few months there was a huge amount of investment. It is often difficult for managers to sense how their employees are really doing, and during the pandemic it became extra difficult.'

Wenite revamped the classic well-being survey in the office, and digitized the whole thing for HR services. Their company was founded in the early 2020s, just as Covid-19 was about to break out. 'We noticed that in the area of well-being there was a lot of room for improvement,' says Dezwaef. 'Most companies act reactively, when it's already too late. We want to make that proactive. We make it very easy for HR services to collect and use data on employee well-being.'

Huapii has been around longer, but this start-up in HRTech also has the same dedication to employee well-being. 'I don't believe in traditional management,' says Bruce Fecheyr-Lippens, founder of Huapii. 'We really want to put the employee first, while making companies future proof. We do that via an internal LinkedIn, where people share competencies and strengths. That way they innovate and collaborate much faster.'

New skills

There is already a great need for this new generation of HRTech start-ups, according to Marieke Sopers, HR expert at | Because in addition to a pandemic, we are also facing a technological tidal wave. Technology is a trigger for up-skilling and re-skilling," says Sopers.

Technology is developing very rapidly, and certain types of jobs, especially those that are repetitive and monotonous, can be taken over by technology. That will make certain types of jobs obsolete, but at the same time it is a means to retrain or reorient people to other functions.'

'Up- and re-skilling is nothing new, and will only become more important in the future,' Fecheyr-Lippens jumps in to assist her. Nevertheless,many companies deal with it in a rather paternalistic and top-down manner. Sometimes they even throw thousands of people out, only to hire new ones. That is traditional thinking. The solution lies in listening to the employee, we need to ask them what their strengths and competencies are. This can be mapped out using technology such as ours. Once that is in place, people can develop more quickly.


Management skills

Don't forget the management skills of the future. They are just as important as the retraining of employees. As a manager, you have to set a direction,' says Sopers. You have to make clear to your team what is important for the company. In other words, you have to provide guidance. That requires a whole range of skills, from empathy to problem-solving abilities. But giving direction is the core of leadership. Belgians must dare more. We must be proud of what we have achieved and take others with us.

Such decisiveness must be based on good data, Jasper Dezwaef believes. For cash flow there are many KPIs and metrics. But there are very few figures for the well-being and involvement of employees. These are usually limited snapshots, such as the annual employee survey. But we need to move from snapshots to live video, where managers are constantly getting objective data about what's happening in their company. We're uniting employers and employees around objective data.'

The success of HRTech, however, depends on the ecosystem around these companies. To strengthen that community, Wenite and Huapii are already pitching at The Big Score's HRTech session.  The Belgian ecosystem of HR start-ups is enormously fascinating, but we should be working together much more," Fecheyr-Lippens says.

'Sometimes there is too much competition. If you put people together sometimes wonderful things come out of it, and that way you can go outside Belgium much faster. We all put the employee first. And that's hugely important because a country like Belgium lives off human capital. HRTech has to dare to join forces so that we can dream bigger.'

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