Nicole Martin: Helping Businesses Access Strategic HR Solutions

The ever-evolving changes in the business world demand adaptation to meet the needs of modern times. Often businesses struggle and fall short of matching up with these changes putting themselves in jeopardy. It requires concrete HR solutions that help organizations to lead through these transformations to develop and execute innovative growth strategies while cultivating robust relationships. Akin to such HR expertise is Nicole Martin, Chief Empowerment Officer and Founder of HRBoost.

We at Fortunes Crown got into conversation with Nicole to learn more about her journey and how she is changing the landscape of the HR industry.

Please brief us in detail about the current scenario of the business. How have the customer preferences changed over the years?

We practice what we preach. This means we accept passive talent interest and pipeline our own talent. When we have a need, we do not have to post an ad and wait. We usually have someone ready to go and waiting for the call. This is essential to our continued growth. What has been interesting during the pandemic is the out-of-state interest we have received from HR talent. It has us thinking. After all, we do believe in open sourcing talent, especially now.

We have always trended with growth year after year, however, amidst the pandemic, we were hard hit like many. Thankfully, we have successfully returned to pre Covid-19 revenues levels and this is something we are pleased with given the level of uncertainty in the market. We have revealed some new innovative ways to reach our clients and as talent shifts occur, we are ready to help the businesses that seek to retain talent. 

Could you please walk us through your educational/professional journey? What was the moment that triggered you to step into the business?

You’ll notice it instantly. I at HRBoost®, love what I do, and do it remarkably well. I’m an accidental entrepreneur. I looked back after starting my own business and said, “I started a business. Whoa!” I didn’t set out to create a boost. I simply followed my passion to help clients understand the importance human resources can play in developing a strong business. Today I am a successful entrepreneur and an HR industry innovator, dedicated to helping small to mid-size businesses realize their potential through their employees.

A self-professed “country girl in disguise,” I grew up in Montana, where everyone knows you and greets you on the street. I was also lucky to have a great mentor early in life: my mom. My mother is highly spiritual, and she raised me with the philosophy of being happy. She always believed that I am a special person—she ingrained that in me—and I am capable of anything.” 

At the age of 18, I am ready to start proving my mom right. I left Montana and moved in with my godmother in Libertyville, Illinois. Right out of high school, I got a job as a receptionist at a pre-Y2K firm where I found my passion quite by accident. They were hiring all these computer experts from overseas, but when they arrived, the company just put them in the reception area because they didn’t know what to do with them. “It was just inhumane.” 

During the same time, I was working on a training program for a college human resources class. I wanted to help these guys out in the hallway, so I just marched into the director’s office and asked him if he wanted to see the training program I created for school. When I was finished with her presentation, the director created a human resources department for the site, hired a manager, and moved 18-year-old me from reception to human resources.

I have been building HR departments from the ground up ever since. What makes my approach so unique is that I begin with the business’ vision and create HR programs that are completely integrated with that vision. From the hiring process to annual reviews, the programs I create are designed to further the business, boost productivity, and help employees understand why and how their contributions are meaningful.

When was HRBoost® established? What are the prominent services/solutions offered by the company?

In 2010, I founded HRBoost® and I had a big vision. Given we are not your Broker, your Attorney, or a 1-800 number. We believe HR expertise is essential to any business as they grow their enterprise. Our Shared Services approach allows businesses to access strategic HR at their pace and budget all while taking a holistic approach to integrating a culture plan that enables their strategic and/or operational plans as a business.

We deliver skilled talent to our clients. We also believe they need both strategic and tactical resources at the same time. One human is not ideal as there are various cognitive abilities to optimize HR strategically. We believe our shared services approach to the middle market is the PEO Alternative. And yes, the middle market needs an alternative.

What measures do you incorporate to ensure motivation and productivity within the workspace? How do you respond to criticism and disagreements?

I am blessed to have truly blessed people on our team. Thankfully, they live our core values and instead of me recognizing every time a core value is witnessed, they have taken peer reward recognition to be a strong reinforcement. Even today, I was thanked by my Admin Extraordinaire for her shoutouts as she just cashed in on a new car seat for her beautiful child. What more can I say? It is all about how you make people feel. 

What measures do you undertake to ensure optimum customer satisfaction? How much impact does the customer feedback have on the company’s strategies?

We serve businesses spanning multiple sectors; these include Professional Services, Non-Profit Organizations, High Tech, Manufacturing, Staffing firms, Hospitality, and Healthcare. Our clients are typically from high-growth businesses with 50-250 employees. Our model is to meet the clients wherever they are, thus we provide full-service embedded HR support, a project to project support, culture design and management training, employee programs and assessments, virtual support, and phone support. I am honored to lead a high-performance team of HR leaders who partner with our business clients to meet them wherever they are on their journey, to being the best place to work. We have experienced tremendous growth and proudly nearly every client has been sourced through word of mouth. Our appeal and success are due to our personal dedication to each and every client.

What was/is your response to the current unprecedented situation?

We have always trended with growth year after year, however, amidst the pandemic, we were hard hit like many. Thankfully, we have successfully returned to pre Covid-19 revenues levels and this is something we are pleased with given the level of uncertainty in the market. We have revealed some new innovative ways to reach our clients and as talent shifts occur, we are ready to help the businesses that seek to retain talent.

Ironically, the biggest threat to the marketplace is talent, even now. Only the truly forward-thinking companies will make winning moves even in the downturn of the economy.  

What are the services/solutions we should anticipate from HRBoost® in the near future?

We offer small and midsize businesses HR services on an ala carte, project, or retainer basis. We meet our clients wherever they are on their journey to be an employer of choice and we also meet them at their pace and budget. Our Shared Services approach allows us to build HR departments from scratch and align them to business strategy. While we see great value in the middle market, we do have some larger companies that augment their internal HR teams with strategic project initiatives from our team. Software is not HR. And HR is more than payroll and benefits. Building a high-performance culture that drives innovation and profitability requires leaders at all levels. HR infrastructure can uphold the Culture Invitation and once it is strategically aligned and reinforced a company can create workforce alignment empowering leaders to innovate amidst even the toughest climate in business.

As a decorated leader, what would be your piece of advice for entrepreneurs seeking careers in the business?

It is my number one responsibility to empower my team of Boosters, invest in ongoing education, tools, and resources to optimize my team. I have faith that they will in turn delight our clients. I was truly humbled when after years of serving on the Advisory Board and being part of a winning organization in my prior roles, my own company took the stage of Best & Brightest ®Companies to Work For in Chicago in 2020. 

Success is relative. Many people would read my resume or some printed article about me but the real success comes in the joy of doing what you love every day. It is amazing, however, when you turn around and see many others who work for you and source Joy and Purpose through our shared work and creation. Work and Life should be integrated not compartmentalized. I love that there is no real dividing line between work and play for me. 

I try to lead by example and I also share for the benefit of all. I have published two books that really speak to women, though men have let me know they enjoy them equally as well. The Power of Joy and Purpose is my personal story and I share my 7 Presence Principles as I get asked nearly every day, how do I do it all so joyfully? I don’t do it alone. I also co-authored a book with John Tinghitella last year. We named it, NO FEAR Negotiation for Women, a book where we set forth a process that women can add to their list of abilities and for the greater benefit of our country. Men are about results and Women are about effort. We need both in business.

*It is our Vision at HRBoost® to bring JOY and PURPOSE to PEOPLE through their Work. It is how we serve our clients and the people that choose to join up on their visions. We live it at HRBoost® and believe everyone deserves it.

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