Traditional HR can be a maze of acronyms, categorizations, legalese and administrative language. Ever heard of accrual, change management, sourcing, audits, HRO, PTO, … GTFO?

(Okay - you got me; I made that last one up!)

All these practices have value to certain organizations, but our HR load is a light one to bear. Last year, we realized the HR software we were using had outgrown us. It was too heavy on the above acronyms, and too light on features we could use.

Our main concerns were:

  • Great employee records;
  • Sane and easy to use time off management;
  • A method to keep notes on reviews and goals;
  • Clean, friendly and simple design.

In May 2014 we found KinHR - the perfect tool for our company.

KinHR is a software for Human Resource management created by We Are Mammoth (WAM), a 20-person distributed company based in the US. In addition to being about the same size as our company, WAM is like-minded. As a design-conscious web agency with smart growth and a knack for tackling problems head-on, they created KinHR as a solution to their own hiring, onboarding, and team management process pains, and realized it could benefit other small companies suffering the same issues. (Full story can be read here. )

This is what lead us to their doorstep:

  • KinHR looked like us.
  • KinHR had the same issues we have.
  • The “tea-leaves” read well.

The backstory? We had been using another system called TribeHR, which simply no longer fit our company culture and internal language. The straw finally broke when TribeHR was acquired by the multi-million earner NetSuite and their software was rolled into a Business Management Suite - far too robust for our needs!

They tried to be accommodating, but we all knew we were no longer their target customer.

Kinship with KinHR

Signing up for KinHR was one of the best SaaS onboarding experiences I’ve ever had.

They imported our data, set up our 1st year’s vacation settings, answered every single question we threw at them and weren’t pushy about any of it. It’s like they knew we were ‘traditional HR averse.’ They simply spoke our language and gave us the space to get up to speed.

KinHR Wishlist and Review

If you’re a company between 6-30 users, I highly recommend KinHR. I have friends at other studios who’ve signed up after we discussed it and they’re thrilled.

Plus, it’s going to get better. KinHR has been slowly rolling out new features (includes streamlined goals, objectives, and reviews system.)

We love it as-is, but do have a wishlist:

  • An API (which might be in the works) so we can sync time off between KIN and Forecast;
  • Canadian Payroll integration;
  • Being able to archive holidays already taken
  • A more robust use of “Tools” displayed to new employees during onboarding

Small Business HR Lessons Learned:

Keep it simple stupid

Don’t add complexity just because everyone else seems to be doing it. We used vacation accrual because we thought that was the way it was done. Some simple honest conversations proved otherwise. Now we simple have an ongoing discussion with everyone making sure they take time off, balancing it with their work schedule, and being happy. New employees simply get a proportionate fraction of the remaining years time — with the same intelligent discussion.

Start Counting Everyone’s Vacation Days on Same Day

Try and have everyone rollover vacation time and benefits on the same day. This might not sound like rocket science, but for much of Plank’s history, everyone’s rollover day was the day they were hired. A nightmare with no benefit.

Transparency with Employees Works

Be open and transparent about what HR is at your company. HR can mean quite a few different things. What’s important for your team? What should be discussed before it comes up? What can be situational?

Kinship 2.0

I recently finally got to meet Lindsay Sanders, who lead us through the process of integrating the software and told her what an amazing job they had done.

In Kin’s most recent newsletter Craig Bryant, Founder and CEO of KinHR wrote about having a pint of beer with our CEO Warren Wilansky in Chicago last month. Reading it drove home exactly what I’ve been feeling all this time.

In 2015 we were thrilled to be their first company in a customer spotlight series.

Heck, they even made us this video!