Building a better
employee experience

Creating a positive employee experience benefits all areas of a business. Among other things, it can lead to better talent retention, higher productivity and ultimately greater profits. Therefore, it has been an increasing priority for many leading organisations in recent years.

While employee experience depends on many things of course, such as workplace culture and the physical work environment, the global mass transition to home working during 2020 has highlighted the importance of good IT tools and systems in improving the overall employee experience.

HappySignals is a leading Employee Experience Management Platform for IT, making experience data visible, understandable and connected to operational data. Established in 2014, and based in Helsinki, Finland, HappySignals has helped discover the experiences of over 2 million employees in 130 countries, increasing productivity by 26% on average.

Expanding your business overseas
takes patience and perseverance

In 2016, HappySignals attended their first Service Desk and IT Support Show (SITS). It was a significant investment for the young company, around 10% of the annual budget, so expectations were running high. However, it all got off to a nightmarish start. The team soon found themselves standing in an empty booth, waiting for the exhibition stand to arrive. Not a very confidence-boosting start, and it did not get much better – over half of the visitors had no interest in tracking their employee experience!

Despite the rocky start, HappySignals continued to refine their product and processes. Moreover, seeking growth from international markets was a clear choice for HappySignals from the start. With only 50-60 potential clients in their home market, they knew their journey would come to a quick halt in Finland. With one eye on the US market, the UK seemed like a good starting point for their international adventures.

Expanding to the UK was a journey that required perseverance and patience. Similar to the exhibition in 2016, it seemed that the UK market for measuring employees’ IT experience was in its infancy and there was limited interest. However, by consistently attending the most significant industry events and exhibitions, they built a robust network with contacts to key industry influencers who carried the company’s message forward. Today, HappySignals has cemented their position in the UK market and is growing rapidly. In 2020, a difficult year for many businesses, they experienced a year-on-year growth rate of around 60%.

“When you are a small business, every penny counts so it’s important to make sure you get your money’s worth. Goodwille were very transparent on what services they were offering and at what cost, so we decided to partner with them.  We have not had to second-guess our choice; they have been very helpful and reliable since the beginning. The best thing is that we don’t have to be up to date on the local legislation and regulations as we can count on Goodwille to inform us when needed. This saves us time and nerves, and therefore we can fully focus on our product and customers.”

Sami Kallio, CEO

The key ingredients to
HappySignal’s Success

According to the CEO and co-founder Sami Kallio, it’s no coincidence that the young company has gained a firm foothold in such a short time. First, there is no doubt that HappySignals owes a lot of their success to having the right people onboard. Approachable and brilliant at networking, these people have been able to open many doors along the way and get access to the key industry influencers. This has been a crucial success factor, especially in the early stages when the company needed to overcome the challenges of an immature market.

Companies expanding to a new market must sometimes navigate cultural differences. However, CEO Sami Kallio thinks that HappySignals has only benefited from their Finnishness so far. For three years in a row, between 2018-2020, Finland was ranked as the world’s happiest country in the UN’s World Happiness Report. And when the company is on a mission to build happier, more productive employees, the origins of the company have served as an excellent conversation opener with prospective clients.

Finally, HappySignals has nailed their visual branding by making sure it’s bold, beautiful and consistent across different channels. In the early days when HappySignals toured the exhibitions and was trying to gain initial traction, they quickly became known as the “pink company”. Besides the visual elements, creating a strong workplace culture has been a top priority for HappySignals. Regardless of the geographical location of the office, the same rules and opportunities exist for each staff member.

HappySignal’s top tips for
doing business in the UK

Do everything right from the start. It’s much easier to build a good foundation for your business while you are still a startup. This includes everything from business processes to company culture. It’s a much bigger task once you are in a rapid growth phase and you need to look after the needs of an expanding team and customer base. A thorough approach from the outset has been a key factor enabling HappySignals to scale efficiently and sustainably.

Have a local partner who can guide you through the practicalities in a new market. According to CEO Sami Kallio, HappySignals wanted a local market expert when they first arrived in the UK, and it has proved to be the right choice. “When you are a small business, every penny counts so it’s important to make sure you get your money’s worth. Goodwille were very transparent on what services they were offering and at what cost, so we decided to partner with them. We have not had to second-guess our choice; they have been very helpful and reliable since the beginning. The best thing is that we don’t have to be up to date on the local legislation and regulations as we can count on Goodwille to inform us when needed. This saves us time and nerves, and therefore we can fully focus on our product and customers.”

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, invest in your people and encourage them to be authentic with clients. Remember that your clients are humans – they want you to be one too. Creating personal relationships with your clients makes it much more likely that you will get honest feedback from them, which is incredibly important if you want to stay relevant in the long run. Moreover, CEO Sami Kallio reminds us that when you have done a good job, don’t be afraid to ask for a reference. It will help build your reputation, as well as the pipeline for future sales.

What’s next
for HappySignals?

There’s no doubt that 2020 was a challenging year for everyone, and in early 2021 we have to continue to be patient while we wait what effect the vaccines will have on taming the pandemic. Considering the struggles that many businesses currently face, CEO Sami Kallio says they are grateful for the success they have had. “Although we have had to adjust our growth expectations to some degree, the ongoing pandemic has not had a big impact on our business. We are still in a rapid growth stage with plans to recruit more people in 2021.”

Moreover, in September 2020, HappySignals announced the successful closure of a €4.7M series A funding round led by Nauta Capital with Vendep Capital also in participation. This puts HappySignals in a strong position to further their mission of transforming business’ IT culture for the better and continue scaling their operations in Europe and the US.

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