Even as digitisation and automation continues to penetrate every sector, reshaping job functions, roles, and skills requirements in the process, Human Resource (HR) as a function is left playing catch up. It is well known that the future of work is characterised by large-scale changes, forcing HR strategies to become more digital, agile and data driven. And this is where the need for its professional management arises – so as to help companies to not just hire, but hire right, engage and retain employees.
Started in 2020 by colleagues-turned-founders Vinod John and Anurag Kapoor, Bengaluru-based HR tech startup BluElement Technologies aims to address the complexities of workforce management, and help companies decrease their employee drop out rate with their two major solutions— HireLoop and EngageLoop.
In his corporate experience of over 30 years, Vinod had gained a fair understanding of the challenges faced by an organisation on the workforce front.
“I was handling 600 people during my stint at Tally and Campus Management Corporation, where I realised the role that technology can play in driving an organisation towards growth. The right fit, skill and engagement for people was missing, and the entire focus was on sales. There was a gap,” the founder says.
Speaking to the HR community, Vinod realised that despite outsourcing the recruitment and onboarding processes, companies were still unable to get the right talent and retain them. This was coupled with the troubling trend of ‘ghosting’ in recruitment, a situation when a candidate suddenly stops communicating midway through the hiring process. The trend had aggravated during the IT boom, when the demand for skilled professionals was at an all time high.
“There is always a potential opportunity between the period of job offer and the actual joining date. Leveraging technology, we wanted to set up a process through which we could evaluate a candidate’s risk profile, gauge his/her personality, and understand several other issues facing an organisation, so as to help companies cut their dropout rate, and hire the right talent,” says Vinod.
The startup launched its platform HireLoop in January 2020. The aim was to offer analytics and joining probability scores of candidates to help organisations avoid dropouts, and strategise better.
The platform works by creating a ‘unique engagement template’ once a job offer is sent out, based on a candidate’s profile, skills set, duration of notice period, how critical the candidate is and so on.
The template comes up with various engagement methods, also called ‘touch points’, which the startup initiates with a candidate.
“It could start with a simple email or a social media campaign which we share with the candidates to draw a ‘read analysis’. This gives insights like time spent on the email, how long the candidate took to respond to the mail and so on,” says Vinod.
In the next stage, the platform deploys engagement associates, who get in touch with candidates and draw analyses on the basis of their tone, attitude and personality.
“The aim is to give a sense of comfort and create a connect with candidates so that they can openly discuss issues like designation, salary structure, stock options, employee benefits etc,” says the founder, adding that occasionally, flowers and goodies are sent, or a game of golf or a dinner is organised to uplift candidate spirits.
On the basis of these interactions and analysis at various touch points, the platform then creates a predictability score, which helps organisations understand a candidate better, predict their dropout rate, and strategise ways to retain them.
“We do not get into the interview process,” explains Vinod. “Our job starts the day an offer goes out, and the engagement remains throughout the notice period.”
In case the candidate drops out, the startup is able to predict the reasons for the same, and suggest improvements for future profiles.
Post hiring engagement
The second platform, EngageLoop, was conceptualised post the pandemic outbreak, and launched in January 2021.
The startup had hit a roadblock in March 2020 as hiring went down across sectors. However, the founders saw a new opportunity in the ‘work from home’ new normal, and conceptualised EngageLoop, as employers started looking for new ways to create a culture of recognition, and enhance employees morale.
“Giving a voucher can make an employee happy for that particular moment. We wanted to go beyond these vanilla offerings,” says Vinod.
With EngageLoop, HR teams can create rewards as per the company values, assign points for big and small achievements and milestones such as work anniversary, birthdays, and project achievements. Employees can redeem the points on the platform by choosing something as unique as skydiving, rafting, a language course, gym membership, or avail art & craft classes, musical instrument classes, a salsa dance session, or a mental wellness programme.
“We have 250 partners across India and can onboard new ones as per employee choices,” adds Vinod.
BluElement Technology team
Revenue and business model
The startup has 50 organisations using HireLoop, and four customers using the recently-launched EngageLoop, with 15 more clients in the pipeline. About 5,000 candidates have been engaged on the platforms to date. The startup has 20 front end and 10 backend and tech employees.
“Since the majority of HR organisations are fairly thin, and do not have too many people, we manage the engagement platforms from our end,” says Vinod.
BluElement’s charges are flexible, and can range from $10 to $500, depending on a candidate’s profile, type of engagement, value proposition and other factors. So far, the startup has raised over half a million internally from friends and family and is open to external funding in future.
The platform is not restricted to any sector or employee category, but is targeted more towards small and mid-sized businesses.
“Larger organisations seem to have some processes in place. Mid-sized organisations, with around 500-700 employees, often face severe competition during hiring and are unable to retain talent. Their drop rate is very high despite good projects. We do a very non-standard engagement and create unique touch points which internal teams cannot do,” says Vinod.
He also debunks the notion that SMEs are unable to hire and retain talent due to low salary offering.
“It is not about money but the candidate’s expectation. Sometimes, a candidate doesn’t know what he is getting into, is unaware about his workplace comfort level, benefits, stock options, etc. These are the things a recruiter doesn’t get into, and continuing to follow the standard engagement can lead to dropouts,” he says.
Following a post pandemic slowdown in business, BluElement has noticed a surge in demand for its platforms in the past three months, especially in the IT space, followed by the financial and healthcare sectors.
With a focus to integrate more AI, the startup now aims to build an out-and-out engagement platform where organisations can plug in new or already existing applications/solutions like HRMS, compensation benefit solution, a chat bot AI on wellness, appraisal cycle etc., without any complexity.
The startup is also looking to venture into post-hiring services, and has tied up with a few partners to test the waters.
“It is a critical aspect and we are looking into the same,” the founder signs off.