Circle Economy

From five HR systems to focusing on the planet

Industry: Consultancy

About the company: Circle Economy is an international team of 60+ experts from data, digital, industrial ecology, sociology and economics backgrounds aiming to drive a circular transition that delivers environmental, economic and social benefits. They are guided by the vision of an economic system that ensures the planet and all people can thrive.

Circle Economy
Sumi Nair
Sumi Nair

People Experience Manager

Circle Economy Logo
Ruth Harvey
Ruth Harvey

Head of People and Culture

HR before Personio: Scattered systems and spreadsheets

As an organisation whose entire ethos centres around protecting the planet by advising businesses, cities, countries and industries on how to become more circular, every second counts for Circle Economy employees, explains Ruth Harvey, Head of People and Culture: “The current economic model is smashing through the planet’s safe limits: we know that about 93% of what we use as a species just gets destroyed at the end of its life cycle.

Today, the global economy is only 7.2% circular, down from 9.1% six years ago. We still rely too heavily on virgin raw materials, causing environmental devastation across land, water and air.” In contrast, she shares that a global circular economy could reduce material use by one third, leading to a world that is twice as safe for the planet and its inhabitants. In short, Circle Economy doesn’t have time for slow HR. 

Prior to Personio, the team were working with a fractured mix of spreadsheets and five different HR applications, meaning they had no central source of truth. This wasn’t just a data issue but one of tool fatigue, Ruth explains: “A lot of things were on spreadsheets and everything was stored in different places. We also had different tools for recruiting and surveys.” 

Having so many disparate systems also had a negative impact on employees, says Ruth: “There were five different systems and I was working with them all day every day. It was a real problem, but not as big a problem for me as it was for employees. From an employee experience perspective, it was a big issue. People don’t come to work to follow HR processes.”

higher productivity
more efficient recruitment
minutes to build a survey

The recruiting and onboarding features are amazing. As soon as we hire someone, I just add them on there and they’re in.

HR with Personio: Less manual tasks, more meaningful conversations

For the team at Circle Economy, Personio’s automation helped to create workflows that worked for them, removing the need for manual data transfer or follow-up. Because of this, the HR team has more time that they can use for more meaningful conversations with employees.

All employee data is now stored in one place that is accessible to employees and the overall productivity of the HR team has increased by 30%, thanks to Personio. This has made a huge difference not only to the HR team but employee productivity and results at large, explains Ruth: “As an HR professional, it’s really important that you don’t create what I call an ‘HR show’. People don’t need that: It’s just distracting them from getting on with what they need to do.” Here’s a taste of some of the processes they have completely streamlined with Personio:

Recruiting and onboarding: Circle Economy’s onboarding has become faster and less error-prone thanks to automation. New employees have a much better experience. The business was previously paying for a separate tool outside their HR system. Now with Personio, their recruitment is 80% more efficient: “It’s a great tool”, says Ruth. “The recruiting and onboarding features are amazing. As soon as we hire someone, I just add them on there and they’re in – their profile is created and all the information is already in there. Onboarding has also become more professional, all their details are going into one space that they can access,” says Ruth.

Performance and development: Previously the team used a different tool that offered lots of options but wasn’t particularly intuitive: “It's better to have the most important things than have a tool that's just overwhelming people. Quite frankly, it was a day job just to keep it updated. I like Personio much better than what we were using before.”

Reporting: The team can focus more on reports than they did before as it was “such a chore”, prior to Personio. Now it’s a process that takes only five minutes or less. Ruth explains: “Reporting with Personio is really useful. You just click in, select which fields you want and boom, there it is. We’re now able to see things that we just couldn't have previously. It’s so much easier.”

Employee self service: Previously, the team used to get emails or Slack messages to request an employee update, such as a change of address. This tended to float around and get lost. Now, employees are able to make that change themselves. HR are notified and payroll can be updated: “It’s far better than before. That makes a massive difference.”

And the pièce de résistance… Personio Surveys

When the team explored Personio Surveys for the first time, it was an immediate fit, shares Sumi: “Personio Surveys resonated with a lot of things we wanted and the templates in particular were really useful. Using Personio to build surveys was perfect as we don’t want people spending too much time on them.” The team is now able to create employee surveys in just five minutes.

By having their employee survey tool within a tool they already trust, it creates better, more honest feedback says Sumi: “With an engagement survey, you want people to be completely honest about how they feel about things. And by making it confidential with Personio, that makes the chances higher of people actually telling what they really feel.”

It wasn’t just the survey templates that helped, but Personio’s suggested questions also saved time. Ruth explains: “If you're having to devise your own questions, that takes a lot of time. How to ask a question is really important: Do we have an open question? How are people going to interpret this?” Using these has saved the team both money and time, says Ruth.

Gathering employee feedback in the same system wasn’t just more simple for the HR team, but it was a huge plus for employees too: “Employees don’t lose interest as it’s within the same system they’re using, so they’re just logging back into their account and leaving feedback right there. It’s very self-explanatory and intuitive”, says Sumi. 

Three elements of Personio Surveys have also helped to drive higher participation rates: Firstly, Sumi really likes that you can check the participation rates while the survey is ongoing. Secondly, automatic reminders for employees help to drive this participation rate without extra manual work for HR. 

Finally, the confidentiality offered by the system is “super important”: Employees now feel more able to be completely honest about how they feel about things, says Ruth: “Confidentiality is very important. Employees trust Personio. They've had a good experience with it. That really helps with getting people to fill in the questionnaires and share their ideas and opinions.”

I would definitely recommend Personio Surveys, especially if you're using Personio, please have that as an add-on: I think it's essential. It is so easy to just get in there, create a survey and send it out. And the automatic reminders come in super handy. It is so easy to quickly send out a survey with just a few clicks, set deadlines, and receive responses. - Sumi Nair, People Experience Manager

The added benefit of being part of an HR community

A real benefit of Personio is the support, Sumi explains: “They have the greatest events. They’re always informative. I try to attend most of the product update webinars. There are also constant updates to the system. It's changed so much within two years. Feedback from their customers is taken really seriously and I absolutely love that.”

For Ruth, Personio has provided support during a time of change for the business: “The people who work for Personio, who are all lovely and helpful. They've got such a great team who have been a massive help for us. We're super grateful for all the help they've given us. As we're growing, we've got to be careful to remain very close to the employees and the business.” But mainly, it’s enabled them to do what is close to any HR professional’s heart: connect with their employees: “Personio frees up our time so we're not talking about data changes made in the system, we can have meaningful conversations about other projects.”

Having such an efficient system has even removed the need for once crucial meetings, says Ruth: “I've worked in HR teams where we'd have a meeting once a week just to make sure that everybody was on the same page and that we'd all got the information we needed. Now I feel like I trust the system to just handle that. If I need something, I can go and find it out.”

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