Interview with Ben Greeven about the HR Tech Scene Response to COVID19

COVID19 has struck the world and also the global economy. But what does that mean for HR and HR Technology as their journey towards The Future of Work was just getting started? Looking for answers, it was an honor to interview Ben Greeven, CEO of Thalento Global.

How does COVID 19 crisis impact the business reality of the HR Tech Startups you know?

Depending on their business model the impact varies: SaaS models with a recurring annual license will see less immediate impact than those with a monthly subscription model. Pay per use models might be hit even harder.

As their customers are cutting costs, start-ups can expect requests for price cuts. As we move into the next phase and staff is being cut, they will see a reduction in the number of subscriptions.

The impact will be broad and varied.

But there is also an upside: more talent will flow into the market as people are being fired. Also, due to the forced remote work and the reflection period, people will re-think their career and priorities, as a result we will see them opt for a different career path.

Do you consider the Corona-crisis to be a threat for all HR Tech Startups?

No, I don’t think so. Although there will be an impact on the individual HR Tech company, let’s be honest - the first casualties are already known, there will be no structural threat to the HR Tech start-up sector in general. Most likely it will be quite the opposite. Just like the 2008 crisis saw the birth of several unicorns, COVID-19 might well be the breakthrough for new technologies or applications. It is absolutely clear that the explosive growth of remote work, due to the “forced” experience of the ongoing crisis, will not disappear... Organisations have now experienced the benefits and HR Tech start-ups are already tapping into this evolution.

It is absolutely clear that the explosive growth of remote work, due to the “forced” experience of the ongoing crisis, will not disappear... Organisations have now experienced the benefits and HR Tech start-ups are already tapping into this evolution.

Do you expect HR and Business in general to use this situation to redesign work and accelerate their digitization process? If yes, what will be on top of their agenda?

Looking at the announcements of both Twitter and Facebook in the past weeks, that they will not fully return to the office, it is a loud signal that will be followed by many other organisations. The benefits of this decision are undeniable: talents can be hired anywhere, office costs will drop and society will advance as traffic jams are reduced. Certainly, there will be concerns on productivity and performance, but the pay offs of the cost reduction will inspire companies to implement a more remote and flexible workforce.

I also fear that the open office concept is on the way out.

In the market I am picking up a greater emphasis on integrated solutions, the marketplace is clearly here to stay. Another trend is that technology and services need to grow closer together. Companies are looking for solutions, not just tools. They are looking for measurable added value that can be easily integrated.

What should HR Tech Startups do in this situation to safeguard and/or boost their business?

The unfortunate consequence of this crisis is that a lot of the old models, based on recent data can’t be applied anymore, as we are moving into unknown territory. Start-ups should make optimal use of the current situation to review their structure and operations. Questions such as, “are we geared in the right way?”, ”can we optimize our operations?” should be top of mind.

Next, the focus should be on customer closeness, understanding what the impact of the crisis and the aftermath on their customer segments might be and act upon them. Last but not least, they should focus on one thing: sales, sales and sales. They should be ready when business restarts, as there will be tremendous opportunities.

When all this is over, will the World of Work;

a) turn back to "normal"

b) switch focus towards a Big Reset (keep the good, loose the bad)

c) Reboot and shift gear towards the future of work?

I wish the answer could be picked out of this multiple choice, yet the truth is that it will be a combination of all of them. Every sector will have a different reality and needs, but clearly lots of organisations are not going to let a good crisis go to waste. We are moving towards a new way of work, remote is here to stay. I also expect an increase from employed workforce to freelance and gig-work. The staff fired will not be re-hired, but the work will be outsourced for more flexibility.

Corporate travel will never be the same again and home offices will become professional

As the crisis subsides, we will largely return to our old habits, people don’t like change. This time organisations and people had a long taste of how it could be different. So yes, I expect a serious change in the next 24 months.

The days of the open office are over for sure.

What is your crucial tip of survival for any HR Tech Startup, with or without this crisis?

This is a once in a life time opportunity to re-think your strategy, your operations, so use it. For any entrepreneur, also an HR Tech start-up, this is the moment , so use it to the max!

Boost your sales, be prepared and stay informed on the status of your customers.

Last but not least, don’t lose sight of the needs and concerns of your staff; they too have been forced to put their life on hold.

Restarting will require special attention from all of us.


Ben Greeven

Thalento - HR TECH Valley - BeAu10tic