HRBoost: How Organizations Align Their HR Departments with Business Strategy 

You’ll notice it instantly. Nicole Martin, CEO and Founder of HRBoost, loves what she does, and she does it remarkably well. “I’m the accidental entrepreneur,” said Nicole, “I looked back after starting my own business and said, ‘I started a business. Whoa!’”  Nicole didn’t set out to create HRBoost. She simply followed her passion to help clients understand the importance human resources can play in developing a strong business. Today Nicole is a successful entrepreneur and an HR industry innovator who is dedicated to helping small to mid-size businesses realize their potential through their employees.

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

At the age of 18, Nicole was ready to start proving her mom right. She left Montana and moved in with her godmother in Libertyville, Illinois. Right out of high school, Nicole got a job as a receptionist at a pre-Y2K firm where she found her 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,” recalled Nicole. “It was just inhumane.” 

During the same time, Nicole 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 Nicole was finished with her presentation, the director created a human resources department for the site, hired a manager and moved 18-year-old Nicole from reception to human resources.

Nicole has been building HR departments from the ground up ever since. What makes her approach so unique, she says, is that she begins with the business’ vision and creates HR programs that are completely integrated with that vision. From the hiring process to annual reviews, the programs Nicole creates are designed to further the business, boost productivity and help employees understand why and how their contributions are meaningful.

“There’s a lot of misinformation out there in the business community. These big businesses are coming into small to mid-size companies, and they are offering something that they call full-service HR, but it’s not. It’s tactical HR. It’s just taking care of payroll, benefits, database stuff. It’s not the strategic integration that helps a business thrive and perform.” Nicole explained.

Today, Nicole Martin does her best to represent her industry, not just as a senior executive, but as a public speaker, thought leader, blogger, board member and volunteer. As an ambassador for 101 Best and Brightest Companies to Work For™, she is helping Chicago business to see all the benefits a fully integrated human resources department can bring. “If you go into a business and they are a 101 Best and Brightest Company to Work For™, you can feel it. You would see on the people’s faces, the authenticity, the honesty, constructive criticism (which is level of respect) not complacency where managers actually think something in silence and don’t communicate it,” explains Nicole. But Nicole’s brand of full-service integrated HR provides more than just a corporate culture boost or a good office vibe. She links HRBoost’s services directly to profitability time and time again— and she’s got the analytics path charts and the logic models to prove it.

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