Driving Adoption

Nearing the 100-employee milestone, HRdownloads sets its
sights on the southern beast

Photo: HRdownloads founder and CEO, Tony Boyle

WHO KNEW HUMAN resources could be fun?

Fun, along with a healthy dollop of technology, is the ­formula that fueled the growth of HRdownloads, about to celebrate its 10th anniversary.

“We’ve always been about adults having fun,” says company founder and CEO, Tony Boyle. That and providing small- to medium-sized companies with HR solutions of all kinds, accessed as easily as ordering an Uber.

When it started, the company offered generic HR ­documents from a web-based portal. It geared the documents to various jurisdictions across Canada, tailored to provincial laws and standards.

Clients then began asking for advice, along with their ­documents. So HRdownloads launched an advisory service, connecting its experts with clients online or by phone. Next came employee training and surveys, a collection of more than 125 courses in English and French and the means to survey employees on a range of topics.

As it added services, the company added employees and took over more and more space on the 5th, 6th and, most recently, 8th floor of the Sifton building at 195 Dufferin Avenue.

Boyle is nibbling on the U.S. market, offering a suite of documents for companies operating in California and New York. It’s exactly how he started in Canada, although the American market is impossibly more complex and litigious

Any day now, Boyle expects the company to crack the 100-employee mark. After the most recent expansion and renovation, the company occupies about 20,000 square feet, much of which is designed to make the office a fun place to be and work.

“We have a ‘fun’ budget every month, and we give out ­superstar cards people can trade for benefits like leaving early for the day. There are a lot of smiles here,” says Boyle, who is enthused about HR the way young children are about birthday parties.

One nifty feature of the recent renovation is a wall of TV screens that provide a live feed of what the company is doing minute-by-minute. If a company in Victoria downloads a document, it pops up on the screen. Same thing if an expert is giving advice to someone in Thunder Bay.

Employees also participate in HRdonates, a program to assist small charities with in-kind and financial support of up to $5,000 a month.

The mirth level was tested last year when the company decided to redesign its entire service-delivery structure, a hodgepodge of programs and systems that were all working well independently, but were not tied together in a modern way.

The games room at HRdownload’s newly expanded Dufferin Avenue offices

The result is HRdrive. It brings all the company’s services together and makes it simple for customers to search for what they need. A restaurant chain in Fredericton or a used car dealer in Burnaby—whatever and wherever, the customer can search for the specific information it needs for its unique ­circumstances. And when it downloads the documents, the company’s name is printed at the top, as though its own HR department produced the item.

“It took a year to set up, and there were glitches, but now it’s faster and easier for our customers,” Boyle says. “There are fewer clicks to get what they need. It just works. It’s the biggest mouthful I’ve ever bitten off, but we have great people and they made it work.”

Now that he’s digested that project, Boyle is nibbling on the U.S. market, offering a suite of documents for companies ­operating in California and New York. It’s exactly how he started in Canada, although the American market is impossibly more complex and litigious.

“We’re rolling it out and we’ll see what kind of response we get.”   Christopher Clark