This South African Startup Has Developed An HR System That Actually Focusses On People

If you've ever been interviewed by a big corporate's human resources (HR) department or even just worked in a company with a human resources department, you are likely to agree that they are more anti-human resources departments.

The processes are typically complex, everything seems not to be designed with employees (humans) at the center of the user experience, and even something as simple as a performance appraisal is akin to rocket science.

"When we created Hi5 internally to solve our own internal management and people data, we noticed that HR just complicates managing people," said Gary Willmott, Co-Founder at Hi5, to iAfrikan as he explained how they came about creating the startup.

Hi5 was also a finalist for the Cape Town leg of the Seedstars World Tour.

Gary Willmott
Gary Willmott, Co-Founder at Hi5

Willmott is not new to running a business or managing people. He has started and failed at four startups with the latest failure being Yo DJ, and before Hi5 he managed a small digital product studio. He however, as he elaborates, has been intrigued by the idea of how to grow and manage people.

Willmott believes the key to any successful method to human resources management should be focused on the people, employees. This is where the Hi5 platform simplifies human resources management.

He explained that most employee engagement platforms focus on surveys and data collection, which is usually in the interest of the company or managers but not the employees.

"We’ve also focused on a bottom-up strategy, with a hellbent determination on employees actually wanting to use the platform to grow their careers, through Recognition, Goals and Culture Measurement. We believe if you create something that helps employees grow, the company grows, which is a win for everyone!" added Willmott.

The way to get your company up and running on the Hi5 platform is relatively simple, in the same manner as they want to simplify human resources management.

Firstly, you register online at Hi5. You then add your staff and coworkers manually but if you have a lot to add you can upload a CSV file with the employee data. Once that portion is done you can proceed to update your company's details and settings (Culture, Employee Goals, Frequency of ratings).

From there, comes the methodology of how Hi5 actually simplifies human resources management.

Hi5 focusses on a model of assigning each employee only five attainable goals. They chose this model because, according to studies they have analysed, anything more than five goals per employee means they should be doing two jobs! After that, each employee is assigned a maximum of five co-workers to review, five times a year. Better still, each review takes, apparently, less than five minutes to complete.

"We are often in meetings with companies which look amazing on the outside, however inside they are crumbling. The reason they are crumbling (99% of the time) is they aren't investing time into their people," said Willmott.


Hi5 has a small engineering team, who have three to five years experience in iOS, Android and Mean Stack Development. It also has a senior team with experience in HR, management and sales.

As Willmott points out, most companies invest in Sales, ERP and Project Management technology, however they miss the opportunity to invest in people which is their biggest asset.

"As Richard Branson once said: 'Take care of your employees, and they’ll take care of your business. It’s as simple as that.' People aren't resources, they are people," concluded Willmott.

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