Personnel Today Awards 2020: HR Tech Provider of the Year shortlist

All of the Personnel Today Awards 2019 winners take to the stage

Continuing our countdown to the Personnel Today Awards 2020 on 26 November, we profile the eight organisations shortlisted for the HR Tech Provider of the Year title. This award celebrates innovation and the positive impact tech intervention has had on organisations and their employees.

The Access Group

The Access Group provides a full suite of integrated software including payroll, workforce management, recruitment and digital learning & compliance solutions.

This year it launched its PeopleXD platform, which has so far seen more than one million users, a 98% customer retention rate and more than 140 transactions per month.

Recent successes include its work with The Doctors Laboratory, in which it delivered key modules in 30 days and the full PeopleXD suite in 10 months, and with Brighton & Hove Albion Football Club which went live with People Management, WFM and Recruitment software during the lockdown – delivered 100% remotely, two weeks earlier than planned and 10% below budget.

To support customers through the pandemic, it launched a dedicated Covid-19 webpage with a series of webinars and blog posts, provided complementary software packages for Covid-19 issues, configured software to give HR line of sight into employees’ health and ‘pulse check’ capability on the mobile app to help HR teams better understand employee sentiment.

Other customer service innovations include emergency payroll cover to ensure continuation of time-critical payroll processing and quick issue resolution to address customer queries.

Its customer satisfaction rating has increased year-on-year for the past four years, from 54% in 2016 to 95% in 2020.


Appraisd was selected by insurance company ARAG to provide a performance management system that empowers staff to focus on their own development and connects them with the overall aims of the business. It looked for a system that allowed goals to be linked with business objectives, provide a progress tracker, and capture one-to-one discussions, among other requirements.

ARAG had a vision from moving away from traditional annual appraisals to a more coaching-led approach built on regular conversations between managers and their employees. ARAG and Appraisd devised a solution that moved towards this goal, a small step at a time.

Personnel Today Awards 2020

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To signal the importance of this new approach, the first person to use Appraisd when it launched in January 2020 was ARAG’s managing director. His feedback was swiftly taken on board and new features were added within a matter of days.

Since its launch, Appraisd has been used by 94% of employees at ARAG, with hundreds of one-on-one conversations set up and completed. More than 400 objectives have been added by its workforce of 132 employees, and 51 people have added development objectives.

ARAG managing director Tony Buss said: “Appraisd has shown to be very responsive and flexible in providing tailor made solutions to improve our performance management system. Its intuitive and innovative technology has been quickly embraced by our staff and we are confident that it will deliver long-term sustainable benefits throughout the organisation.”


BrightHR focuses on meeting the needs of small businesses and since launching in 2016 it has been used by more than 250,000 users across the UK, Ireland, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

In response to the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic, two new pieces of software were developed and released to customers for free in a matter of weeks: the Furlough Navigator and the Back to Work Navigator.

The Furlough Navigator enables employers to record furlough, download furlough reports and get advice and guidance on implementing furlough and submitting wage claims to the government. It took just three weeks to create and has been used by almost 50,000 people.

The Back to Work Navigator helps small business owners manage all of their back to work needs in one place and includes risk assessments, webinars and guides to help firms return to business as usual. Some £1m was invested in the software, which has been used almost 25,000 times.

By offering employers such innovative software products, it been able to retain clients and attract new business. In the financial year 19/20, BrightHR generated £8.7m in revenue, which was a 50% increase in revenue year-on-year. Users in the UK rose from 65,000 to 144,000.


Global HCM provider Ceridian assisted with a complete overhaul of HR and payroll solutions for manufacturing firm Essentra. The company had six different payroll providers and four different time and attendance systems, all provided by different vendors.

Ceridian was selected to roll out its Dayforce platform, which includes HR, payroll, workforce management and benefits systems. It was initially piloted by Essentra in the US and Hungary, but has since expanded into the UK.

Ceridian’s project team worked closely with Essentra around the native payroll solution to ensure that it was fully compliant with UK legislation. This made it easy for them to have visibility over reporting, to ensure that they were applying the correct taxation and national insurance, and were paying the correct wages to their people.

But just as this phased regional approach was gaining momentum, Essentra had a change in leadership and strategy which accelerated the need for complete, global visibility of employee data. Essentra wanted Ceridian to guide them with global HR support for all 28 countries in a “big-bang approach” – in the space of four months. Ceridian delivered this ahead of schedule.

Prior to Dayforce, Essentra’s management team were forced to work on paper or spreadsheets. They now have a tool that gives them immediate visibility into their shifts, the ability to auto-generate schedules for weeks in advance, and see how much overtime they have in certain areas to plan better.


Since the beginning of the pandemic, CIPHR has unveiled new functionality and services in order to help mitigate the impact the crisis has had.

A Furloughing Wizard was made available to customers free of change and walks HR teams through the administration processes of furloughing and bringing back employees, while a Crisis Communication Tool has enabled HR teams to send mass communications via email or SMS to an entire workforce or a selection of staff and report any responses – key for contacting furloughed staff unable to access their email accounts.

A Payroll Continuity Service was launched in 2019 and has been providing emergency BACS transfers and temporary managed payroll services to firms where in-house payroll procedures have been disrupted due to sickness or office closure.

CIPHR’s customer success team have been proactive in contacting customers and educating them on the new functionality and existing tools, including how its software can help report on travel destinations, record key worker status and onboard new starters remotely.


PageTiger, an interactive employee engagement specialist, worked with the Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust to transform the health service’s onboarding and HR communications.

Traditionally, onboarding would require 2-3 days of face-to-face, corporate induction including form-filling an administration. Its training request system was also outdated, with HR being inundated with requests from new and existing staff members.

By utilising PageTiger, the NHS Trust transformed its onboarding guide from a tremendously document-led process, including some 250+ pages/slides/presentations, into an engaging, interactive digital document – including video. A major benefit was the ability to track interactions with the document via a robust analytics platform, as was the speed in which PageTiger could be deployed.

On the pages relating to certain training procedures a mandatory test was added to ensure the recipient had the required knowledge. Notifications are also sent to HR to alert them that a mandatory task has been passed (or not) and by whom – all automated to take the pressure off of HR.

The Trust was able to make the entire change from a traditional corporate induction to digital within the space of eight days. More than 24 NHS trusts have since began using PageTiger.


Selenity ER Tracker turns paper HR policies into manageable, visible steps to improving compliance, efficiency and visibility of employee relations cases, removing the risk of corrupted spreadsheet files and conflicting versions, which could prove costly if a case went to an employment tribunal.

Workflows are built in line with an organisation’s HR policies and the system ensures stages and steps are carried out within time limits by sending reminder emails.

All documents relating to a case are stored centrally and securely. Emails can be quickly and easily attached directly from Outlook and letter templates can be set up using the system.

User roles and what they can access can be specified to customers’ requirements, and HR teams can have an overarching view of how cases are progressing if certain elements are delegated to line managers. Case history is recorded in an audit log so everyone can see what has been done and by whom.

One user at an NHS Trust said: “By closely managing any breaches in timelines, the HR operations team is able to take immediate action and as a result we have seen a reduction in the time taken progressing cases to formal disciplinary hearing by approximately 20 per cent.”


YuLife is an insurance provider that uses artificial intelligence and gamification to drive employee engagement and wellness.

Members are automatically signed up to a personalised app which engages them to access benefits and rewards from leading brands in return for completing simple daily wellness activities, such as walking, cycling, mindfulness and meditation. Users can participate in games, quests and challenges to earn virtual currency, which can then be exchanged for discounts and bonuses at partner providers including ASOS, Fitbit, Nike and Amazon.

Anonymous competitions or internal team leaderboards on the YuLife app stimulate healthy competition and encourage office bonding. Simultaneously, by using the app’s analytics capacity to generate insights on which healthy activities are popular, firms can tailor engagement to the specific demographic of each workplace.

Employees have direct access to mental health support 24/7 and are equipped with on-demand healthcare through the Smart Health scheme, provided by its underwriter AIG.

Some 38% of members use the YuLife app every day and after a year of membership, 50% still use the app regularly.

Since adopting YuLife, employees at law firm Fladgate have walked or run over 400 million steps, at an average of 9,000 per person per day, and completed 25,000 minutes of meditation.

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