Namely’s new CEO outlines how tech can help mid-market HR professionals

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HR professionals at small companies may have a touch of tech envy when it comes to the resources enjoyed by their counterparts at larger employers.

New York-based HR technology provider Namely is helping to solve the problem with its cloud-based system that manages such functions as payroll, performance reviews and benefits administration.

Namely recently appointed a new CEO and secured $60 million in new funding. Employee Benefit News spoke with new CEO and industry veteran Elisa Steele about the role of tech in human resources for mid-market and how Namely plans to use this latest funding. The following interview was edited for clarity and length.

Employee Benefit News: You've just secured $60 million in funding. How do you plan on using it?

Elisa Steele: We have three specific targets. The first is to continue to invest in our team, engineering and other teams. As we grow, we need to invest in talent. Secondly, we will continue to invest in our product. We will continue to make it as easy to use and intuitive as possible for both HR professionals and employees. And thirdly, we will invest in our operation capability. We just surpassed 1,000 customers. We will be investing in our operation facilities, we recently opened a new one in Atlanta. We will be investing in the training of our staff and expanding operational facilities so we can reach our next 1,000 customers.

EBN: Which technology needs have benefit managers been ignoring? Are they behind the tech curve?

Steele: Benefits professionals are presented with challenges in how to make change happen. Once they see and can be a part of the solution, it is refreshing for them. This has an effect in business overall as they can get things done more accurately and efficiently. There is so much opportunity in the market place. Companies just now started looking at technology as a solution. The industry is behind, not the people. Now, people are looking for solutions.

EBN: Are HR and benefits managers waiting for the next killer app?

Steele: One of the core reasons why Namely became so important in the mid-market is because HR and benefits administrators are embracing the technology. We have just begun to use technology as an enabler and added value. The workforce is changing so much; millennials are looking beyond the traditional benefits choices.

Two things are driving the tech. The first is the HR professionals looking for solutions. The employee experience is important. Employers are becoming more competitive for talent. Technology offers communication and helps create solutions. The second is that the workforce is demanding through technology to be able to engage with their employers. Millennials are a huge part of the workforce and benefits executives are looking into engaging employees. Tech goes into this because millennials are digital natives.

I think that technology will drive a tremendous amount of change in this industry and we have just begun. Access to technology is driving the change.

EBN: How does Namely stand out among other HR platforms?

Steele: Namely’s core value differentiates us. Being an all-in-one platform and providing HR services all across the spectrum is important for the mid-market. In addition, we provide a unique communication platform in a modern, engaging way. It enables communication across the platform between employees and HR administrators.

EBN: Are there regions in the U.S. that are somehow lagging behind in employee benefit tech offerings?

Steele: Typically with new technology, the coasts move faster. There is always a faster adaptation in the East and West coasts and then it moves in. This is sort of the trend with new technology, it is not unique to Namely.

EBN: You are on the board of many companies and even a high school. How do you manage all those responsibilities?

Steele: I probably will not be able to continue serving on so many boards but I will continue to serve at my son’s high school. As a working mom, you prioritize what is important every day. What is important for that day, that hour, that moment — you have a mom duty, a CEO duty — you just show up at that moment and do the best you can.

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