Human resources (HR) is one of the core things that distinguishes bad companies from good ones and good companies from great ones. That is especially true when it comes to managing mobile and global talents with all the the challenges it bring.
Today we are presenting you an interview with Brynne Kennedy, CEO of Topia. Her idea for Topia stemmed from her global career in finance and researchinghow bold companies are transforming their workforces with mobility betweenlocations and roles.
What is Topia?
Topia provides a future of work platform that enables companies and their employees to work everywhere around the globe. Our platform powers global mobility programs at the world’s leading companies including Dell, Schneider Electric, AXA and Equinor. Put simply, companies use us to move their employees!
What sort of activities and functionalities are included within the Topia platform that users can take advantage of in their everyday work?
We have two experiences—one for HR teams and one for mobile employees. For HR teams, our software takes away a lot of the friction of managing a globally mobile workforce with functionality like automatically creating a cost projection for an assignment, generating and storing documents, authorizing vendors for relocation services and calculating payroll instructions and year end compensation reviews for mobile employees. These things are all incredibly manual and complicated—which makes it hard for companies to operate really globally!
For employees, we have a portal that enables them to manage there location related tasks and explore a destination, all with personalization for individual and family preferences.
Who is your target group when we speak about the company size? Or if the company size is not that important, is it more important how often they have employees from abroad or if they relocate their employees to other countries?
We typically sell to enterprise companies with 5,000 employees or more, but there are cases where the complexity of a company’s global mobility program or number would warrant the use of a system like ours even if they are not quite as large.
You offer city guide so that users more easily learn about their new city. What other helpful information can you offer for mobile workers about their new city? Do you offer options to connect with other people who recently moved in to a certain city so they can meet offline?
Our city guides provide a great deal of information about an employee’s new city and where they might like to live. The guides cover a wide range of topics—everything from how to set up utilities or registering with local authorities to the popular sports teams and weekend activities to do with your kids. We’re pulling hundreds of live data points and combining that with curated content to deliver an experience akin to an interactive digital magazine. One feature we’re really excited about is our Neighborhood Planner which enables you to find the right neighborhood based on metrics like commute time or costs. Today, we don’t offer options in the employee product to connectwith other people who have recently moved to a new city, although in major expat hubs there are separate third party web communities for people to connect.
Moving to another city can be stressful for employees but also often requires a lot of work for HR people. What are those things that you think consume the most time, for newcomers and for HR people,and how Topia helps in reducing that needed time?
For a lot of folks in HR and Global Mobility the process of moving an employee involves a lot of logistical administration—projecting costs, filling out forms to authorize vendors, chasing approvals from necessary stakeholders, managing spreadsheets to track costs, ensuring visa renewal dates are met and similar administrative activities. It ends up being an inefficient and poor use of the HR team’s time. By using technology to manage your program we’re able to automate nearly all of these types of activities. For example, when you initiate a move, instead of having to fill out roughly the same information multiple times to initiate different vendors, the Topia system is able to pull all the necessary employee information from your HRIS system like Workday, SAP SuccessFactors or Oracle and then automatically authorize the necessary relocation vendors based on the approved policy and benefits. That alone saves real time for the HR team.
Employees face different challenges. They’re worrying “Where am I going to live? How will my stuff get there? What do I need to know about my new office/role? How do I setup my mobile phone, setup internet, get groceries, etc.” Inevitably your employees end up spending working hours thinking or managing through these questions. By providing them the information and tools to manage their relocation in a single place we’re able to drastically simplify the process for a relocating employee.