HR Case Study

How Harmless Harvest Rallies Employees Around Its Mission

  • Industry
    Food & Beverage
  • Location
    San Francisco, CA
  • Size
    350 Employees


Harmless Harvest is a food and beverage company that envisions a world where nutritious, clean, organic and healthy food and beverages are the standard rather than the exception; where all people involved in creating the product are treated with fairness; and the planet is treated harmlessly.

  • Founded in 2009
  • Harmless is the first beverage company to obtain the Fair for Life certification, ensuring that every person in the “chain of custody” is treated fairly
  • Named one of the 25 Most Innovative Consumer Brands by CircleUp25 and the Top Coconut Water by Thrillist
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Meet Kelly

Kelly Porter, Chief People and
Compliance Officer

Throughout Kelly’s career, he has worked for companies at various stages of growth and in different industries. He started his career in financial services, hospitality, and now the consumer packaged goods industry. For him, it’s not about the size of the company or the industry—it’s about the mission and purpose of the organization.

Kelly has alternated between HR and operational roles, giving him an unique perspective on the impact that people can have when there is a shared mission and purpose. With his B.A. in Education and a M.A. in Servant Leadership, it’s no surprise that Kelly eventually found his calling in HR leadership roles.

“My purpose is to help individuals unlock their own potential and find pride in their work,” says Kelly.

HR Challenges

“Our job as the People team is to create a space for our culture to thrive.”

When Kelly arrived at Harmless Harvest, he found that the company already had a strong mission-based culture. First and foremost, “I wanted to continue the great stuff that was already happening, not create change for change’s sake,” Kelly explains. At the same time, as with any start-up organization that is maturing, there was an opportunity to strengthen the HR team’s infrastructure and foundation. He saw this as critical in preparation for growth and to deepen how employees experience the company’s mission and purpose.

Throughout his career, Kelly had seen inspired employees drive the success of a company. If he could automate the basic payroll, benefits, and HR tasks, his team could focus on the human interactions that have a huge strategic impact on the business. He just needed the right HR platform to support his vision.

Kelly’s priorities:

+ Fundamentals

Kelly knew he needed to nail down some basics before his team could focus on strategy. They had a paper-based benefits enrollment process. Performance reviews happened in Microsoft Word or Google Docs. It took his payroll admin three days to process payroll on another payroll processor’s system, which they found to be inflexible and cumbersome.

+ Employee Communications

Harmless Harvest already had a premium brand externally. Kelly and his team saw an opportunity to strengthen the employee brand and internal communication. As the company evolves and experiences rapid growth, it’s important to ground the team in a shared culture, mission and purpose. Kelly explains, “The hope is that employees experience our brand and culture in a positive way, every day.”

+ Amplifying Culture

Employees logged into the PEO’s system to check their paystubs, and not much else. The company had no central hub to share company updates with employees, celebrate milestones, or publish company policies.

The Evaluation

An Underdog Story

In his 15+ years in HR, Kelly had evaluated HR platforms many times, for organizations of all sizes. He knew Harmless Harvest’s evaluation would be a little bit different. Things moved faster, budgets were a little tighter, and employees expected a great experience.

Kelly had three primary evaluation criteria: speed of implementation, cost, and ability to support the end-to-end employee lifecycle. He wanted to save time and save money, and he hoped he’d be able to quickly refocus his team on delivering an exceptional employee experience.

Kelly was on a trip in Denver when he first saw Namely’s TV commercial. It was good timing. “The message of ‘HR for Humans’ immediately resonated. We shouldn’t be fearful of technology. We should use it to enable more human interaction.”

As he evaluated Namely, he found a new approach to HR that fit his needs far beyond what legacy providers could offer. But he admits, there was one additional factor that was personal for him.

“As a Gonzaga alum, I’m a huge fan of the underdog.” Kelly admires determination, scrappiness, and continual improvement. In Namely, he found a kindred spirit.


The ROI of Using Namely

A promise made only matters when it’s a promise kept. With Namely, Harmless Harvest has saved money, improved its core HR processes, and enhanced its culture.

“There is no doubt that culture drives the bottom line.”


“Our founders created Harmless Harvest to be an ‘ecosystem-based business,’ benefiting consumers, producers, employees, and the planet alike. That’s a big, challenging mission for employees to rally around, and Namely helps us bring it to life.”

harmless harves c suite
Harmless Harvest Kelly


“I love that Namely is simple, user-friendly, and captures every important life moment and milestone for our team. I applaud the fact that this technology actually improves the human experience at work. From celebrating birthdays and anniversaries, to appreciating someone’s hard work, to simplifying the annual review process. Every little thing within Namely helps us all leverage technology to interact more personally.”


The Fair for Life certification, which Harmless Harvest has proudly achieved since 2014, is exclusive due to its rigorous standards. Harmless Harvest must provide fair wages and benefits for everyone in its “chain of custody” from US-based employees to producers in Thailand, and it must show continual year-over-year improvements in its impact to retain certification.

As a result, Harmless Harvest must find great employee benefits that are sustainable cost-wise, both today and in the future. It’s a challenging benefits problem, but Namely’s employee benefits team has helped Kelly find solutions. As a result, Kelly feels confident that Harmless Harvest can continue to evolve to meet the certification’s stringent standards without losing control of its costs.


“Namely has challenged me to rethink how HR technology can impact the people space.”

Considering Namely? Here’s Kelly’s Advice.

On the practical side, Namely has improved the entire end-to-end employee lifecycle. Plus, “you could implement it with one person if you needed to,” says Kelly.

He then turns to the bigger picture. “I always look to change and disrupt in every role,” says Kelly. Kelly had worked with the big HR software players before and knew what they had to offer. With Namely, he rethought what he really wanted in an HR solution and then worked with Namely’s team to make it happen.

Says Kelly, “Namely is growing leaps and bounds, like we are. It makes me think hard about what I really need. When I share it, Namely’s team is responsive and makes the vision come to life.”

Discover how Namely can help you build a company culture that drives your business.