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For many organizations, success goes hand in hand with the effective use of HR software and technology in their operations. As more companies seek the benefits of an advanced ecosystem for recruitment, people management, and related processes, the market for HR software products continues to grow remarkably.
Figures from Grand View Research (2020), as quoted by FinancesOnline, reveal that the total value of the HR software market is expected to increase by 9.4% to $30bn in 2025. Factoring in the greater tech adoption spurred on by the COVID-19 pandemic, 79% of HR professionals in the US believe that their organizations have the technology needed to navigate an evolving work environment.
“We reinvested in our staff to keep them motivated during tough times and our customers to maintain confidence to continue buying”
Paolo Gilfillan, Synerion
The scenario looks even more interesting when one considers the benefits of the core utilities on offer. That’s why this report looks into what HR professionals in Canada think of the current HR software landscape and which companies perform best in four categories: payroll solutions, HRIS solutions, reward and recognition, and recruitment software solutions. Integration with employment agencies, payroll, and onboarding platforms have also been listed as primary factors in choosing the winners, along with good value for money, efficiency, and ease of use.
The responsibilities of HR professionals mainly revolve around one-to-one employee interaction and personal engagement. However, without a top-down human resources information system (HRIS), HR teams may face difficulty seeing the bigger workplace picture.
A good HRIS covers numerous bases, including employee data storage, benefits administration, time and attendance, employee performance management, and competency and training records. And, as reflected in the products of the providers rated as the best, the HRIS has to be as comprehensive as possible.
Among these providers is ADP Canada, which has been commended for its feature-rich platform that “offers all the HR tools an organization needs at a fair price”. Another is Bamboo HR, which is lauded for its “innovative product with fantastic reporting features and a user-friendly dashboard” and Ultimate Software, which received kudos for its “customer-centric approach and ease of use”.
With over 30 years of experience and 5 million users worldwide, Synerion also made the list, which is no surprise for those who know the company’s track record in workforce management. Paolo Gilfillan, VP of sales and marketing, says that Synerion faced several problems in 2021, but managed to overcome them.
“Market conditions early on were unpredictable, customer requirements were changing quickly with the introduction of COVID protocols, keeping staff motivated and productive in a remote setting [was a challenge, and so was] keeping customer confidence high during uncertain times.”
The key to Synerion’s tenacity, Gilfillan reveals, can be pinned down to one word: investment.
He says that at the beginning of the pandemic, the company focused on investing in customers and employees rather than making short-term decisions to maximize profit.
“This proved to be the beginning of a very successful year. [For Synerion], 2020 and 2021 were two of the most successful fiscal years with record-breaking figures in almost all metrics. We reinvested in our staff to keep them motivated during tough times and our customers to maintain confidence to continue buying,” he says.
“A significant number of Canadian businesses have used the pandemic as an opportunity to digitally transform their operations and meet the new expectations of their employees and customers”
Daniel Oh, Sage Canada
The above companies also received good ratings for their payroll solutions, alongside other providers who scooped glowing feedback from the survey respondents.
Among them is Ceridian, whose products have been described as “easy to use, [with] great customer service” and “perfectly adapted to Canadian tax law”. QuickBooks is considered as “a great solution for small to medium-sized companies,” while Rise People’s integrated platform is appreciated for being a “fully automated solution with customized module options”.
Joining Synerion as a winner in the HRIS and payroll solutions categories is Sage Canada, whose products are used by over three million customers worldwide. As with many other software providers who made the grade, Sage Canada thrived due to its commitment to innovation even during turbulent times.
“The pandemic has been a challenge for many of our clients for well-documented reasons,” says Daniel Oh, country manager at Sage Canada. “Our latest research, however, indicates that a significant number of Canadian businesses have used the pandemic as an opportunity to digitally transform their operations and meet the new expectations of their employees and customers.”
He explains that Sage receives ongoing feedback from customers to help improve and innovate on products and support customers’ growing businesses.
Another winner in the payroll category is Nethris, whose senior vice president, Marie-Anick Bertrand, has also reflected on the challenges of the pandemic.
“For us as an organization, the new reality of working from home and a tight labour market – together with changing customer needs – accelerated our transformation to become a more agile organization. Over the last 18 months, we unwaveringly supported our clients through our customer service and ensured that their payrolls remained compliant with over 300 legislative changes that the industry and Canadian businesses faced,” Bertrand says.
She highlights her company’s mission to provide its clients with reliable, user-friendly, and secure all-in-one payroll and employee management solutions so that they can focus their time and efforts on their core business.
“The new reality of working from home, a tight labour market, and changing customer needs accelerated our transformation to become a more agile organization”
Marie-Anick Bertrand, Nethris
Reward and recognition solutions make up another important category. Among the companies that have received compliments from the survey respondents are 15Five for its “very good” products, Applauz for having the best reward selection and drastically increasing the engagement levels of employees, and OC Tanner for its excellent online recognition programs.
Like many Canadian companies, OC Tanner has been challenged by issues affecting global supply chains, says Christopher Vyse, vice president of sales and marketing. However, OC Tanner has continued to succeed due to client satisfaction.
“Also important has been our technology platform and flexibility. During the ongoing pandemic, our clients have come to us with many different and unique needs. Our flexible approach enables us to support all changes. Being included among Canada’s top reward-and-recognition solution providers confirms the faith our valued Canadian clients have in us to partner on their critical culture-building strategies,” Vyse says.
At the core of HR operations are employees – both newcomers and veterans alike. When it comes to the former, HR software providers have been delivering top-notch recruitment solutions for an ever-changing workplace landscape. Included among the respondents’ favoured solution providers are Job Boom for being “cost effective and rich with talent;” Indeed, which is “free and simple” and “always provides the best candidates;” and LinkedIn, which has been praised for its comprehensive employee screening tools.
Few sectors evolve as fast and as constantly as technology, and the HR software space is no different. While the 5-Star software providers are no doubt proud of their accomplishments, it’s also certain that they won’t be resting on their laurels. What do the winners aim to achieve in the near future?
“We expect continued and unparalleled growth,” says Gilfillan. “We spent the last two years building a better Synerion, both internally and externally, and we are ready to continue to service the market.”
Vyse reveals that OC Tanner looks forward to expanding its “culture-nourishing solutions” in 2022, while Bertrand anticipates Nethris to “continue to work on creating the best customer experience with our SaaS platform and ensure a secure solution to help our clients with their payroll and employee management digital transformation needs”.
Meanwhile, Sage Canada has specific plans around its new Flexible Human Work initiative, which “combines the flexibility of working from home with the strong culture-building and collaborative spirit of physically being in the office,” says Oh. This strategy is based on the company’s four key principles: customer-centric performance, human connection, fairness and trust, and courageous experimentation.
In the process of selecting the best HR software and technology providers for 2022, the HRD Canada team conducted one-on-one interviews with HR professionals and surveyed thousands more within HRD Canada’s network to gain a keen understanding of what these professionals think about current market offerings. Respondents were asked to rate their overall satisfaction with the HR technology providers they had dealt with across four categories: payroll solutions, HRIS solutions, reward and recognition, and recruitment software solutions. At the end of the 15-week research period, 36 companies were named 5-Star Award winners.
44% of the respondents were small companies (1-99 employees)
52% were mid-size (100-999 employees)
4% were large (over 1,000 employees)