July 28, 2021

What every scaling company needs from its People stack

Melissa Malec

A human resources (HR) or People stack is the collection of software and digital tools that help us manage the full employee journey from hiring to performance, engagement to benefits and much more in between.

For scaling companies, the right People stack is essential for not only running key technical functions like payroll and compliance but keeping people’s work experience manageable and enjoyable through turbulent periods of growth and change.

In this article, we talk about why optimising your People stack is so important and offer some tips for building a scalable stack. We also go over some useful tools to add to a growing company’s stack and talk about why workplace learning is one of them.

Why Is Optimising Your People Stack so Important?

Each business has its own needs, based on factors like its size, industry, and company philosophy, and People stacks should vary to reflect this—there is no “one size fits all” solution.

Optimising your People stack to suit your business’s unique needs and stage of growth is important because it can make the difference between a People stack that works and one that doesn’t.

The ideal People stack can help you maximise your employee’s efficiency and productivity, keep your company compliant with all the necessary regulations, and manage both performance and happiness at work.

On the other hand, a poorly optimised People stack gives rise to an accumulation of People debt, as well as time-consuming procedures that stop your People executives from taking care of staff wellbeing and retention. 

At worst, it can lead to errors that could compromise your organisation’s compliance and leave your people feeling distrustful and unhappy with the company. 

Building the right People stack is particularly important for fast-growing companies. A  well-designed stack can mean the difference between your people finding the business’s growth stressful and confusing, or exciting and full of opportunities.

How to Build a Scalable People Stack

A trap that many scaling organisations fall into is starting with the bare bones that cover their basic People needs and then finding makeshift solutions to plug gaps as they emerge. This path often leads to a poorly optimised People stack, and all the problems that come with it. 

Any scaling company should thoughtfully build a flexible and sustainable stack with the future in mind.


As we’ve mentioned, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to building a People stack, but here are some general tips to guide your thought process: 

Avoid Getting Locked In

Remember that what might work perfectly for a company of 20 might wreak havoc for one with 200 employees. Try to steer clear of solutions that will be difficult to replace if you grow past their capacity or which have long agreement terms.

Keep an Eye on the Future

Continuously ask yourself, “Is this scalable? How will this solution work when we’re ten times bigger? If not, what will we do then?” This could help you avoid making software choices that will lead to difficult changes in your stack.

Choose Cooperative Software

The solutions you build your stack with should not only be scalable but integrate well with others too.

If each of your solutions can run well in tandem with each other, it’s not a tragedy if you have to switch out one of your tools. However, if you choose software that only runs well with certain other programmes it will be much harder to replace.

Prioritise Data

Gravitate towards solutions that can produce plenty of accessible and reliable data. Those that require a lot of data entry from your people can compromise your data integrity down the line. 

Remember that your data gathering and analysis needs will grow dramatically with your workforce.

Ask Around

Before implementing a solution, reach out to other People professionals in your network to ask about their experiences with it. They will likely be able to give you advice that fits your specific situation, rather than the generic answers you’ll find online.

There are a few we recommend and enjoy being part of ourselves: DBR, People Stories, HR Ninjas, and  HR Open Source.

Don’t Get Set In Your Ways

Finally, be ready to evolve throughout this process. When your People stack starts feeling more like a “gum and sticky tape” solution than the smooth, sturdy machine it needs to be, it’s time to make changes.

Good Tools for Scaling Companies

The role of a People stack goes beyond the bare essentials like HRIS, ATS, and payroll and compliance solutions. 

To keep your workforce enthused and engaged through all of your company’s growing pains, your People team also needs tools that tend to your people’s actual experience of their workplace. 


Here are five People functionalities to think about adding to your toolkit (and there’s a sixth that’s so important we’re giving it its own section at the end of this article).

Team Organisation

It’s hard for anyone to do their job without knowing what it is and where they sit in the organisation. This is why there are team organisation tools to clearly designate roles and responsibilities in the from of org charts and more. 

This is especially important in scaling companies, as people’s duties are likely to keep changing as a company takes on more business and broadens its portfolio.

Consciously tracking this information can also help you spot staffing or skills gaps in your organisation as they emerge.

Work Management

Similar to team organisation, work management tools can help people keep track of what tasks they have to do and when. This is especially important when a company’s workload is constantly changing, as it tends to do with growth. 

When workflow mistakes happen, these tools can also help you determine what went wrong, when, and how to avoid the same thing happening in the future. In this way, work management tools can help you iron out the creases in your developing business.

Feedback

Tools for collating feedback from one-to-ones, 360 reviews, and even day-to-day meetings can do wonders to help you and your people spot what works and what doesn’t, and act on this information sooner rather than later.

This is especially useful if your company is experimenting with different operating procedures as it grows.

Recognition

Recognition is feedback that’s too often neglected, but it’s important for keeping people motivated and excited about the work they’re doing. Recognition tools can do a lot to help keep your staff morale high in the face of growth challenges. 

Engagement

Employee engagement and satisfaction survey tools can help you track whether your organisation is still managing to cultivate its core values as it expands.

The knowledge of how your people feel about their workplace should also help inform the people-related decisions you make as your company upscales.

Why Scaling Companies Need Workplace Learning

The last important People functionality for scaling companies that we want to talk about is workplace learning.

Here are just a few of the many reasons why investing in workplace learning can help a scaling company grow competently and sustainably. 

Building a Loyal Workforce

Most people want their job to not just be a means of making ends meet but a source of career growth and personal development.

Targeted workplace learning can help people grow their skills and strive towards their career goals, which makes their work for your company a lot more meaningful. 

In this way, workplace learning can increase people’s engagement, decrease staff turnover, and build a sense of loyalty towards their organisation. A growing company needs people who believe in it to help it realise its vision.

Helping People Grow with Your Company

Implementing workplace learning in a scaling company also presents excellent opportunities to upskill people internally instead of hiring externally as you grow. 

This not only saves time and money but also helps ensure that your business stays in touch with its core vision and values as it grows, as you’ll be giving authority to the people you trust to carry these values forward.

Promoting Innovation

An innovative mindset is important for any company that wants to succeed, but it’s especially important for a company looking at a long road of growth hurdles ahead. 

Continuous learning in the workplace promotes mental flexibility in this environment. This can foster creative and flexible problem-solving skills that are particularly useful for scaling companies.

Summary

A well-optimised People stack is instrumental in helping your business run smoothly and keeping your people engaged and excited about their work. 

Building a scalable People stack for a fast-growing organisation involves careful thought. If you’re building a People stack for a scaling company, remember to:

  • Avoid becoming locked in to any particular solution, opting instead for tools that are easy to change if need be.
  • Keep considering whether the current stack will still work as the company scales, and what may need to change
  • Choose solutions that integrate well with each other, so that it’s always possible to switch out a particular tool if need be.
  • Prioritise solutions that offer accessible and reliable data streams, as these will become more important the bigger your business gets.
  • Ask others in the industry for their opinions on a particular solution before implementing it. 
  • Always be ready to make changes to your stack if it’s no longer working for you.

When building your People stack, think beyond the bare essentials and consider functionalities that improve your people’s workplace experience, such as: 

  • Team organisation
  • Work (task) management
  • Feedback
  • Recognition
  • Employee engagement and satisfaction surveys

Workplace learning is an important People functionality for scaling companies, as it can:

  • Build a loyal and committed workforce to help the company achieve its goals.
  • Help preserve company values as an organisation grows by developing its original staff rather than hiring new managers externally.
  • Nurture a culture of innovation that will help your people creatively problem-solve along your growth trajectory. 

Click here to find out how Learnerbly can help your growing company implement scalable workplace learning solutions.

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