The pandemic has magnified existing business challenges and introduced new ones for organisations around the world. Top business leaders recognised this as an opportunity to embrace change and implement smarter, more modernised human capital management strategies to build momentum in this new world.
On the last day of Ceridian World Tour 2021, Chief Customer Officer, Chris Armstrong, led a discussion with three customers from Gannett, SHRM, and OTG Management.
“These leaders,” Armstrong said, “have watched how the future of work has shifted; everything has accelerated and come forward at an unexpected pace. They not only watched these trends take shape and figured out how to accommodate, but they developed strategies that improved the performance of their top and bottom line.”
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Terri Snider, VP of People Resources at Gannett, joined Armstrong on stage first to discuss the changes her workforce faced as the company was acquired near the end of 2018. Providing an elevated and consistent employee experience was a crucial part in merging two separate workforces during the acquisition. Snider explained, “This meant bringing everyone onto a single human capital management system to ensure consistent HR processes across the organisation.”
Not long after the acquisition, the pandemic rapidly spread and accelerated the decline of print media as the world became more digital. Gannett – one of the largest media publications in the U.S. – recognised the opportunity to shift their delivery model online to meet the needs of today’s consumers.
“We needed to make news more engaging, interactive, and digital,” Snider shared. To accomplish this, the media company began hiring talent from other industries – such as game development – to acquire the technical skills needed to support this transition. This talent also brought fresh ideas and introduced new concepts to drive success in a market where people want information instantly and on demand.
“We also wanted to bring our leaders to the forefront to lead this change and learn how to better manage their people in this new environment,” Snider said.
“When the pandemic hit, we had 22,000 employees and only 1,500 were working remote. We kept 7,000 production employees onsite and following safety protocols, but for the rest [of the workforce] we needed to quickly pivot to a remote work model within two weeks.” She added, “This was a big accomplishment for a company that wasn’t known for being very progressive.”
Looking ahead to a new, post-pandemic reality, Gannett had to rethink what the workplace would look like. The company implemented flexible working arrangements, with the option to come into the office if employees had a clear purpose and goal to do so – such as convening for a special project, celebrating team successes, and welcoming new team members. Snider said that leaders needed to quickly transform the way they manage their teams as face-to-face interaction was limited. “This,” she said, “is about building trust and focusing on the outcomes the team produces.”
Change will always occur, Gannett’s VP People Resources explained, which can either be an obstacle or a time of growth and innovation. “Ambiguity and adversity allow you to innovate and can drive change in your organisation. It helps you create new opportunities because it forces you to think differently. This is key: if you think differently, you can achieve business goals you didn’t think you could.”
Next, Sean Sullivan, Chief Human Resources Officer at SHRM, joined the stage to discuss why modernising human capital management strategies is so vital today. “There’s been so much change constantly, wherever you go, and the playbooks of the past don’t seem to be working anymore,” Sullivan shared.
SHRM’s mission is to elevate the image and the brand of the HR profession, and this starts with their people. “Our employees need to be fully focused on that mission and the key to this is reducing friction points that exist in the employee experience,” he added.
Sullivan explained the importance of leveraging smart HCM technology so leaders can focus on driving value instead of spending time managing employee information across various systems, ensuring data accuracy, and managing passwords for confidential documents.
“We implemented Dayforce in 2020 and for the first time, we didn’t have to rely on Excel and other systems. Our managers were able to save time and make smarter decisions about their people, such as developing incentivisation strategies. This is what an HCM system should enable.”
To close the conversation, Alan House, EVP, Chief Human Resource Officer at OTG Management, shared how the downtime during the pandemic allowed his company to identify existing process inefficiencies. “COVID-19 really forced us to become more digitised and Ceridian helped us do that. What used to be in paper is now all digital,” House explained.
In addition to streamlining their HR processes, House discussed the challenge of hiring people to work at an airport. He explained that all employees must pass a background check, which downsizes the pool of available talent. OTG needed to quickly hire talent as travel restrictions were lifting and people were flying more frequently.
“We really need to automate processes and invest in an infrastructure that supports our people,” House shared. “This helps us get people in the door and engaged faster.” To retain new talent, the company implemented a 15-day onboarding checklist to ensure employees get the information and resources they need, when they need it.
“We’re also focused on creating development opportunities for our people,” House said. This allows the travel and hospitality company to ramp up faster coming out of the pandemic and acquire the skills needed to succeed in the future.
House also added that providing development opportunities for their people has helped them further engage their workforce to support a better customer experience. “It’s important that we’re identifying these opportunities to help our people grow. Ceridian allows us to do this.”
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