Babylist Happiness Heroes: The Joyful Partnership That Conquered Job Security
It all started with an idea born in the heart of a mom-to-be. Pregnant with her first child, Natalie Gordon was ready to create a baby registry. As a former Amazon software engineer, she realized her choices for creating that registry were not as straightforward as she thought. Natalie had two choices: either manage many stores simultaneously to get everything she wanted or get stuck with a single retailer compromise. She decided to take matters into her own hands and created her own company.
Babylist was founded with the key goal of helping expectant parents to prepare for their newborn’s arrival. Their star product was the universal baby registry, where parents asked for all the products they needed from any store in the country. These “baby lists” facilitated gift-giving for their families and friends, with additional benefits like discounts, gift cards, special boxes, pregnancy, and parenthood tips.
With a rapidly growing user base of passionate parents-to-be, Babylist helped families around the world to welcome their new babies home. However, they faced a two-pronged challenge: building a scalable remote team that was truly aligned with their company values, as well as finding a cost-effective solution that would help them to meet their financial goals.
The Happiness Heroes League Is Born
Babylist needed the support of human talent to carry on the necessary customer operation activities. Looking at the advantages of working with freelancers, Babylist saw an opportunity to engage individuals that offered flexibility, expertise, and high-quality work with less supervision. With an estimated 1.1 billion freelancers worldwide and a global freelance platform market size projected to boom at a CAGR of 15.3% during 2021- 2026, made freelancers the logical choice. Babylist established an offshore freelance team, known as the “happiness heroes”, which supported the company with customer support, ticket management, as well as customer satisfaction and happiness.
A Happiness Hero Leader Arrives
Chris Murray decided to join Babylist as their new Director of Customer Support because they genuinely prioritized their people and customers, while serving an even bigger purpose of helping families. He quickly realized that, though they found skilled, talented, and efficient freelancers, there were several mechanisms that were neglected, like IT support’s inability to provide work-from-home equipment, or to meet the overall scalability of their global team’s setup.
No matter how many talented freelancers they contracted, this hiring model had complications that would affect performance, which was not a viable long-term solution. For any company, finding the perfect candidate is an arduous task. This is compounded when the search broadens to a list of ever-changing freelancers. In kind, scams, vague requests, poor communication, low and late payments, and unreliable clients were some of the problems freelancers faced every day. Social security, medical aid, and other benefits were also non-existent.
“The platform, UpWork, was easy and was not a big challenge for Babylist. Their main goal was to be able to scale the support for their team better, as well as the benefits of the data privacy and security Boldr can offer, which is limited for freelancers who generally work with their own devices.”
Miguel Magpayo, Babylist Account Manager at Boldr.
Facing Challenges & Becoming An Advocate For The Happiness Heroes
The Happiness Heroes provided outstanding work, but the Babylist team still felt uneasy. Chris and his team faced the following potholes:
- Contracted work did not fit a scaling company.
- Hiring large freelancing teams implied that the company would absorb the liability.
- There was a lack of job security for the team.
- Team members who are in it for the long run are invested in the company’s vision.
- Finding a solution to their IT support and data privacy and security needs.
- Find a partner that prioritizes employees as people, not a means to an end.
To provide the best for their growing team, Babylist needed a partner to facilitate their human resource functions, such as employee benefits, compensation, payroll administration, and employment taxes. This could help them find the right balance between high-quality freelance work and work contract benefits.
PEO: The Ideal Strategy For Balance
After a tense research journey, Chris found a sustainable solution for Babylist: Professional Employer Organization (PEO). This model allowed Babylist to search for a third-party service provider that could manage employee-related responsibilities and liabilities while managing the team member’s daily tasks. Finding the right partner could help them to reduce HR benefit costs, streamline payroll operations, and help Babylist with its international expansion!
The Search For The Right PEO Partner
Chris had found the right hiring model. Now he needed to find the right partner. When a company hires the wrong BPO company, it gets exposed to numerous risks with potentially terrible outcomes. Babylist’s fundamental values focus on culture, improved security, maintaining tribal knowledge, scalability, and flexibility. Those values had to be transmitted to their team members, freelancers or otherwise. It was crucial that their new partner was “people-first”, both for their team members and their customers.
“I started the process of finding the right business partner that would genuinely take care of my team members. It was countless hours of research and phone calls, using connections to get the scoop on companies. To be honest, even the best options out there didn’t give me much confidence.”
Chris Murray, Customer Support Director, Babylist
Freelancers didn’t want to work for offshore companies, while most PEOs are based offshore. This highlighted another concern. Though a career in the PEO-BPO industry is a good choice for professionals (studies show that it was valued at USD 245.91 billion in 2021 and is expected to grow 7.75% between 2018-2025), the negative bias surrounding the industry includes losing work freedom, low payments, labor exploitation, and more.
After extensive research, Chris finally met Boldr. He welcomed our 3 Core Values (curious, dynamic, and authentic) and our commitment as an impact-driven company that puts clients’ needs first. It was the perfect match.
Their RFP process was arduous (over 200 questions!). We ensured that the Babylist team got to know our company. Trust, after all, is key in any partnership. Babylist obtained references from our team members, our impact projects, Boldr’s welfare clubs, programs, communication channels, and most importantly, the benefits we provide to every single one of our team members, which include:
- Health Coverage
- Paid Leaves
- Mental Health
- COVID contingency programs
- Calamity support
- 24/7 IT Support
- Data privacy & security
- And fun clubs that help our team members bond! (Mindfulness and Meditation, Bikers’ Club, Board Games, Outdoor & Hiking, Book Clubs, Runners’ Club, & E-Sports).
To further cover their bases, Babylist interviewed our clients to ensure that we were indeed a company that truly cared about people. Because it seemed too good to be true, Chris took 11 months to work through all the BPO options. After the long courtship, he rang us up and told us the good news: we were their new outsourcing partner. It was a result of our purpose, mission, and authentic way of working.
“When I found Boldr, it was different. I could feel the difference. The way they were willing to operate as a PEO just made so much sense. The comments below may be directed to me and my Leads, but they are really the result of the service Boldr provides. It’s exactly what I was hoping for. Can’t thank them enough for helping us to retain 100% of our Philippines workforce, more importantly for the difference they made in the lives of our team members as people.”
Chris Murray, Customer Support Director, Babylist
Convincing The Happiness Heroes To Join A Mission-Driven Project
The most strenuous part was convincing reluctant freelancers to switch work models and join a PEO company. Many of them had previously worked with BPOs and had traumatic experiences. Most of them were comfortable with the flexibility associated with freelancing.
The Babylist management team was concerned about losing this freedom, so a strategy was devised. Through a survey, they discovered that their Happiness Heroes were afraid of losing Babylist’s culture – the very culture they fell in love with at the start. They would rather resign than work with another BPO.
Babylist shared these results with us. Then it was our turn to get creative. We created a Pitch Deck for the Happiness Heroes team to (forgive the redundancy) pitch the idea of joining our Boldr team. Representatives from each department shared input on our support services, amazing culture, benefits, and impact mindset. Our Founder and The Philippines Country Head personally invited and welcomed the team to join Boldr.
After the pitch, we expected to lose around 20% of the team members. Instead, ALL OF THEM joined Boldr, which meant a 100% transference! We’re still celebrating this achievement!
“100% Team Member retention, at the start; almost all of them said they’d rather resign than be employed under a BPO. A big fear is that they’ll end up losing the culture of Babylist that the Team Members so love, and they’re incredibly thankful that they ended up with us, as opposed to other BPOs; where a lot of TMs have had awful past working experiences”.
Miguel Magpayo, Babylist Account Manager at Boldr.
Babylist & Its Happiness Heroes Are Happier Than Ever
The partnership between Babylist and Boldr were conceived 9 months ago and we can’t be more delighted with the results and the feedback from their team.
“Boldr cares about their people, and our team feels the support, individually as well as collectively. Boldr’s results-driven nature has fostered an environment where collaboration, problem-solving and social interaction has been nothing but positive. “
Maria Elena Sikolas. Customer Service Team Lead, at Babylist
“Prior to our partnership, our contractors didn’t have the opportunities that they do now. Since joining forces with Boldr our team has received health benefits and a dedicated team to support them on a local level.”
Dawn Ferguson, Customer Support Team Lead”, at Babylist
With Boldr, they could provide their team members the support they needed. We helped humanize the remote experience. The former freelancers (now new Babylist-Boldr team members) were taken care of. They felt valued because they were getting the support and labor security they needed, which impacted their lives for the better, providing a perfect balance!
“I have been with Babylist for over 5 years. Although this is my part-time job and is so different from my career path, my Babylist community has grown to be a very important part of my life. Like any big change in life, the move to Boldr was a bit scary. But I soon saw how Boldr’s culture is so similar to Babylist’s and that eased any apprehensions I may have. I saw how Boldr worked really hard to make sure that our transition was smooth and that our day-to-day was affected as little as possible. I now get to be a part of two companies who provide their employees with an incredible work environment, where we are heard, supported, and provided room for growth”.
“At first, all of us were very cautious about the transition to working with Boldr since it is a big change from what we were used to. However, I am pleasantly surprised about how things are working out. We feel more protected, secured, and looked after ever since. I’m very grateful about how Babylist listened to us prior to the transition. Thank you Babylist and Boldr!”
The Babylist management team was ecstatic, because they finally had:
- A partner who communicated openly and was willing to make more compromises.
- Never before seen visibility into their direct reports.
- Opportunities to experiment with different processes.
- An open floor for suggestions regarding work, communication, security, and other best practices.
The Beginning Of A Promising Future: Babylist-Boldr Partnership
“If you want a company that will genuinely take care of your people and will work with you to provide the solutions you’re looking for, this is it. The Boldr Team has been great to work with. Upbeat, responsive, and genuine”.
Chris Murray, Customer Support Director, at Babylist
Our goals for the upcoming months include improving the payroll process, providing extra paid leaves, supporting circle initiatives, and keeping a constant iteration and improvement cycle. This allows us to take care of their team through actionable feedback from both the Babylist management team and our new Happiness Heroes.
Boldr’s culture is in alignment with ours, and the impact on our team’s morale has been nothing but positive. As a people-first company, we truly appreciate that we are able to extend our mission to our contractors.
Nikki Menschel, Customer Support Lead at Babylist.
Build Your Own Team Of Heroes!
We’re currently building our new customized PEO service. The feedback and relationships we make with our clients are critical to building a solution to take global staffing to the next level. Click here if you would like to book a free consultation or learn more about our PEO offer.
James Fouche is the Content Manager at Boldr, as well as an author and a columnist. He is passionate about sharing his love of reading and writing with others.