The Client

This 16-strong team of ‘smart security’ experts has grown quickly since launch in 2019. Best known for its DIY smart home burglar alarm battery-powered system, the Edinburgh-based consumer security hardware and software start-up has big plans to grow over the coming years as it develops and manufactures more new smart home security products.

The Challenge

The Boundary Technologies (Boundary) team sought ongoing HR expertise to help them navigate a growing team and all that comes with needing to introduce people management processes, policies and procedures. With 11 staff and growing in Summer 2021, they hired Purpose HR for guidance, advice and practical support.

Keen to engage experts who would do more than assist with transactional HR tasks, Boundary was looking for structure, rigour and deeper insight into all things HR. The company has been supported by Scott and his colleagues not just in everyday HR operations, but in more advanced, strategic, often complex and sensitive areas. With a management team who are largely tech specialists, the firm had no internal HR expertise on board and had previously relied on an impersonal call centre support system. They sought a more human, ongoing partnership and a proactive approach that would reach far beyond helping meet ‘legal minimums’.

“We now understand far more about HR. Often in larger firms, people see HR advisors and departments as ‘blockers’ to getting things done. Our experience is quite the opposite. Working with Purpose HR has helped us learn more about nurturing, motivating and managing employees. We’ve even come to enjoy forming a structure for organisational development! And the monthly Pulse surveys – so simple yet so effective – are one of the best tools we’ve gained. We wonder now why we never did something like that before!”

Robin Knox, CEO, Boundary Technologies

The Solution

Purpose HR has focused on bringing ideas and suggestions, reducing stress and helping Boundary make people-related decisions that rely on a deep knowledge of employee needs, workplace relations and professional development. One of the most powerful new tools introduced by Purpose HR has been the concise monthly one-minute Pulse Surveys, which help the board to ‘take the temperature’ of the team around job and workplace satisfaction and work life balance. Other solutions introduced by Purpose HR include:

  • a new, scalable HR system for gathering employee info and data, including documentation, holiday management and other people management admin
  • a tight, efficient probation review process and set of procedures, and line management training to enable prompt, practical decisions around new hires where necessary
  • a performance management and bespoke appraisal system, and a learning and development process
  • advice and guidance on job specs and helping managers be more specific about what they’ll need from team members.
  • sensitive employee relations case management
  • diversity and inclusion guidance – how to embed diversity inside the business and not just view it as an HR add-on. Purpose HR has helped to create an environment where diversity and inclusion are understood to be a whole-company responsibility.

A key theme running through the introduction of all the new processes and ways of working has been the shift to a more structured, less casual management style. Raising Partners sought clarity on how to manage employee relations more formally as staff numbers began to increase. Coaching and mentoring for the managing partner was a pivotal part of this.

The Outcome

Boundary is clear that Purpose HR has brought far more awareness to the board of “when people problems are there”. Beforehand, there was less management information and general HR acumen to be able make pivotal decisions. Robust processes are now in place to identify people-related issues and to know how to approach them. The team reports more confidence and more visible infrastructure – for the company and its investors – to enable the business to scale up.

CEO Robin Knox is clear about the impact Purpose HR has had on operational life:

“We’ve been pleasantly surprised at how positive the impact has been. Working with an HR consultancy in this way is a great model for business of our size with a limited budget for hiring HR specialists in-house. A challenge for start-ups like ours is to introduce some structure but not so much that it constrains innovation and growth. Together we enjoy a consultative approach to designing new HR processes and tools and a healthy exchange of ideas where we can challenge each other.”

“It’s really invaluable knowing we’ve got someone in Scott who understands what we need and has the in-depth knowledge to ‘catch us’ in areas we’re uncertain in, and in challenging and sensitive times that require deeper knowledge than we have of a complex legal system.”

“Thanks to Purpose HR, we have a reliable, pragmatic, insightful, professional HR capability. Before this partnership, we were rather under-structured in terms of people management. We value the knowledge, rigour and vital flexibility that they bring.”

“As a result of having Purpose HR on board, we have peace of mind that all things HR are guided by advisors who know the industry, can advise frankly on risks and implications, and help us motivate, inspire and look after the employment needs and challenges of our growing team.”

Ross Findlay, COO, Boundary Technologies

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