The Foschini Group achieves efficient operations through partnership and technology
The Cape Town–based retail leader partners with Ceridian to implement Dayforce and help keep its 25,500-person workforce on schedule and engaged.
Just a few kilometers from the South Atlantic Ocean and the iconic Table Mountain, shoppers stroll the bustling halls of Canal Walk, Cape Town’s largest mall. The castle-like building is a destination for residents and tourists alike and home to hundreds of iconic retail brands.
The thousands of shoppers who flock to Canal Walk every day are sure to encounter some of The Foschini Group’s (TFG) brands on their browsing journey. South Africa’s largest retailer has more than 4,200 outlets and over 38,000 employees across 24 countries. Their wide-ranging portfolio of 33 fashion and houseware brands includes Hobbs, Fabiani, G-Star RAW, Jet and @home.
TFG has grown steadily over the years, with new stores opening regularly. Every new addition comes with an opportunity to reach new consumers. With that, however, comes an added layer of scheduling and human resources complexity.
With no central workforce management solution in place to manage and support growth, the added complexity created challenges for TFG and kept the company from fully leveraging economies of scale. Manual and paper-based staff planning and scheduling processes differed from one store to the next, consuming a large amount of staff time and leading to human error.
Without real-time sales and staffing data, managers were unable to make informed decisions about staffing levels, leading to elevated labour costs. Schedules often weren’t visible to employees, which created employee frustration. Without configurable guardrails, compliance with South Africa’s strict labour laws was a challenge, creating unnecessary organisational risk.
To power continued growth and advance its leading role in the retail space, TFG decided to bring on a centralised workforce management solution. The goal of this solution was to create more efficient operations by streamlining scheduling and staffing, reigning in labour costs with reduced overtime spend, promoting employee engagement, and supporting regulatory compliance.
Implementing a phased approach
Heidé Botha, Head of Business Process and HR Analytics, has been with TFG for more than 20 years. The business benefit of bringing its South African operations of 3,000+ stores and around 25,500 employees onto a central workforce management system and establishing standard processes and procedures across the organisation, was clear. Botha knew that TFG needed a flexible solution that could be customised to meet local needs.
In 2019, TFG selected Dayforce Workforce Management as its chosen solution for its South African operations. The system’s customisation flexibility was a strong selling point.
“How we sold it to the brands was: ‘We’re all having vanilla ice cream, but you can choose your flavor of sprinkles,’” she says.
Ceridian worked closely with TFG to help with the large-scale deployment and change management planning. “Quite early on in the project, in the business case presented to the board, the biggest risk we raised was change management,” says Botha. “It took a substantial amount of change management and a dedicated Change & Training team to make inroads.”
The TFG Change team brought the TFG users along on the implementation journey to help them understand the change and be part of the solution so they could share knowledge with others. TFG’s strategic commitment to digital transformation is not purely an information technology driver, there is an appreciation that it relies on the people’s adoption and usage, and their process proficiency
Reducing costs and improving compliance
TFG went live with its pilot of Dayforce in February 2020, but the onset of the pandemic forced the company to pause its implementation. It resumed six months later (in August of 2020) and began onboarding up to 200 stores per month.
Botha is happy that the project stayed on deadline. “We committed to the timeline, and we have not disappointed. It wouldn't have been possible without everybody's input and commitment.”
Prior to Dayforce, it could take up to a full day to put a staff schedule together. The process was completely manual and often done on paper. Without intelligence on foot traffic, it was challenging to judge how many staff to schedule at any given time for efficient operations. “There was limited consideration of coverage or cost. It was very rudimentary in most instances,” says Botha.
As soon as schedules were shared with staff, there would inevitably be changes required, causing the manager to spend even more time adjusting shifts. Stores used a simple clocking system for timekeeping that had no visibility of costs and limited visibility on compliance.
Without the proper configurable guardrails and visibility in place, the company could easily fall out of compliance with the country’s complex and strict labour laws – an expensive risk. This resulted in the business incurring unnecessary labour costs each month due to overscheduling and inefficient scheduling.
As the leading retailer in the country, TFG strived to be best in class when it came to compliance in scheduling and clocking. “With Dayforce, we were able to build in supported configurable legislation rules. Now, every time you're trying to do things that are not above board, the system will either warn you, or it will completely stop you,” says Botha. The company has now drastically improved its compliance with regulations, thresholds, and premiums. By implementing and configuring a strong rules engine in Dayforce, TFG has realised the benefits of workforce management and improved visibility, in turn saving them $790,000 USD.
Botha’s team now creates monthly schedules for all the stores via autofill then hands schedules over to the store manager to review and make changes.
“Prior to going onto Dayforce, besides the extreme manual scheduling, we also had instances where the manager would not execute schedules or planning upfront. They would advise the employee, ‘You're working tomorrow.’ This puts the employee in an awkward and unfair position,” she says.
Now, schedules are published consistently and shared with employees in advance of their shifts. Botha’s team uses data from the customer foot traffic count to inform scheduling decisions and ensure that stores have the right staffing at the right time.
“We used to spend too much money on overtime,” says Botha. “Now, we've set up Dayforce auto-scheduling to only auto-populate to a maximum of 5% above the employee contracted hours. As a manager you can review and edit the hours scheduled, but we’ve immediately brought down expenses because we’ve scheduled people according to demand first.”
The company achieved $945,000 in payroll savings in its first year and has been able to reduce overtime spend by 20% with Dayforce. In addition, improving clocking accuracy and implementing unpaid grace (when an employee is not paid from their scheduled start time if they clock in late) has saved $240,000 per year.
Putting a premium on employee engagement
You might expect that tightening time and attendance and clocking rules would have a negative impact on employee engagement and turnover. But the opposite has been true.
“The previous system was a bit of a black box. As an employee, you had limited visibility and weren't aware what clocks the manager put in. You would get your pay at the end of the month and not be 100% sure if this matches your work or premium hours,” says Botha. “With Dayforce, employees can see what the managers see, full visibility. Employee satisfaction has risen while labour turnover has decreased.”
TFG has also rolled out Dayforce mobile to its workforce. Employees use the app to clock in, view their schedules, and request shift changes and time away from work.
Advancing schedules and giving employees access to the mobile app has decreased staff frustration and confusion, increased trust and satisfaction, and made employees feel more cared for, seen, and heard. It has also positioned TFG as an industry leader.
“For us, it's such a novelty to be able to clock in and view everything on your phone. It's just not something we have in the workplace right now. So, from a brand point of view, employees have adapted, adopted and are efficiently using the app,” says Botha.
TFG has just completed an employee survey, and while they can’t attribute all increases to Dayforce, the store environment eSAT (employee satisfaction) score is at a record high.
“We’re now tracking up to 30% more efficient on our overtime spend. Meanwhile, employee satisfaction has risen, and overall labour turnover has decreased,” says Botha.
Deepening organisational learning for continued growth
TFG’s Dayforce implementation has been good for the bottom line, good for employee satisfaction, and good for organisational learning.
“As an organisation, we have learned an immense amount about workforce management, labour models, customer demand curves, planning, and forecasting labour,” says Botha. “We’re now revisiting early launches to optimise from our learnings.”
TFG is now looking ahead at the next phases of implementation, which will involve bringing portions of its logistics and financial services departments onto Dayforce, and then onboarding other locations across Africa and potentially manufacturing onto the system. Botha is confident that TFG can build on the successful practices developed through the partnership with Ceridian to support its continued implementation journey.