Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport is six miles long, equivalent to about 100 city blocks. Lining its corridors are dozens of food purveyors – from fast food joints and grab-and-go counters to upscale sit-down spots – that all vie for the attention and hard-earned dollars of travelers.
Amidst the options, OTG Management’s restaurants stand out. Take Ember, for example. It’s hard not to be drawn in by the sleek and showy eatery by James Beard Award-winning Chef Chris Shepherd. Here, you can slip into a leather booth and order gourmet seafood fished straight from the Gulf right from the tablet in front of you. You can have a similarly elevated experience at one of the company’s 350 restaurant and retail locations at 10 airports in the U.S. and Canada.
“OTG's mission is to transform and innovate the airport experience for diners and retail customers,” says Alan House, Executive Vice President of HR. “We create that through our technology and our innovation. And we use local chefs and local concepts to really make our customer experience unique.”
OTG strives to set a new standard in airport hospitality. But delivering a memorable customer experience in a business with tight margins and complex compliance is tough. Throw in a competitive labor market, and you’ve got the ingredients for a challenging flight path. To succeed and maintain a growth trajectory, the company needs sophisticated yet flexible systems, agile people processes, and access to real-time HR reporting and analytics.
Embracing the power and benefits of technology is in OTG’s DNA. In the front of house, the company uses tablets to give customers more control of their dining experience. In the back of house, the company uses systems that can help optimise operations and improve the employee experience.
OTG adopted Dayforce in 2016 and uses the system for payroll, time and attendance, benefits, labor planning, recruiting, learning, performance, and compensation. It also recently implemented Dayforce Wallet for on-demand pay.
“OTG implemented Dayforce to address compliance and reporting issues, create efficiencies, and help us to deliver that great experience for our crew members,” says House. “We want to be on the cutting edge of technology, and we want to align ourselves with companies that do that as well. That's why Ceridian is such a great partner for us.”
In OTG restaurants, crew members are instrumental in delivering that high-quality experience the company strives for. But recruiting good staff in a market where there are more jobs than people isn’t easy. Automating the recruitment process through Dayforce has reduced manual tasks. Actions that used to be time-consuming, like generating offer letters and getting forms signed, can now be completed with the click of a button. This has helped reduce OTG’s time to hire by 10 to 20%, allowing the HR team to focus on engaging candidates.
“Dayforce has allowed us to stay extremely agile in a competitive retail and hospitality environment,” says Brett Byers, Senior HRIS Manager. He also leverages Dayforce’s onboarding and learning modules to allow new crew members to access and fill out required documentation and complete mandatory training, helping make compliance easier for OTG. The company has achieved 100% completion of its learning opportunities and objectives amongst its crew members.
“My North Star is to create a world-class experience for our crew members. And that's done through automation and eliminating non-value processes,” says House.
Approximately 90% of OTG’s 5,000 crew members are full-time, and 80% are paid hourly. These cooks, cashiers, servers, and managers are spread across hundreds of locations, and many spend their days onsite without access to email. OTG leverages Dayforce to help improve the employee experience across its widely dispersed workforce and support retention.
Through the Dayforce mobile app, employees can access their schedules and enter absences and vacation requests from wherever they are. The app is user-friendly and gives them quick access to their information. Plus, they can easily communicate with their manager or other crew members.
Christina Alicea-Rendon is the Senior Director of Human Resources for the New York and New Jersey airport terminals. She has a team of 12 managers who oversee 2,500 hourly crew members and 200 salaried staff. Dayforce gives her visibility into multiple teams across the locations she manages, reduces the time she spends on approvals, and makes it easier for her to be accessible to her teams.
Dayforce has also helped the company better control and simplify payroll processes. The result has been around a 60% decrease in the incidence of payroll errors.
For example, OTG uses biometric clocks to track time and attendance. When a crew member arrives for their shift, they scan their finger to record their time information. With Dayforce, that is now efficiently transferred into their timesheet.
“We operate practically 24/7. Capturing people's time as soon as they punch in and punch out has helped improve our payroll process and errors because we're not having to consolidate hundreds of payroll records,” says Alicea-Rendon.
Compliance is an important focus for OTG. The company operates in restricted areas, and all crew members must pass a TSA background check to work for the company. Dayforce has helped OTG automate and digitize several compliance steps and forms within the system. The company now has 100% compliance in key areas, such as completion of certain required forms.
“I remember the days of stacks and stacks of paperwork when a crew member was onboarding, or just from a compliance perspective when we needed certain documents. With Dayforce, it's all in one place. If I need it, I can find it,” says Alicea-Rendon.
With more confidence in their compliance capabilities, the company can focus on using HR reporting and analytics to drive better strategic decision-making and growth. “One of the most valuable aspects of Dayforce is that we have that single source of data,” says House. “Data is critical to understand what's going on and manage the business better. We’re now better able to manage our workforce and anticipate needs. We're able to address issues proactively rather than reactively.”
With confidence in their system’s HR reporting and analytics, Byers and team have become a true, strategic business partner to the organisation. Dayforce allows them to quickly and easily run payroll and benefits reports, track head count, average earnings across job types, and get visibility on how much time away has been used in the last quarter. “With our data in Dayforce, we can very quickly give our operators feedback on the initiatives that they're pushing and tell them what's working,” he says.
Having on-demand data also helps OTG be proactive about talent mapping and career pathing to identify individuals across the company who will help drive future growth.
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Most of OTG’s crew members spend their workdays on the floor serving busy travelers. Using email as the main form of communication is ineffective. In the past, when Alicea-Rendon needed to speak to one of her crew members, she used to have to walk across the airport to their location. She may have been getting her steps in, but the back-and-forth was time-consuming and exhausting, and sometimes meant she wasn’t able to be there for her crew members when they needed her.
With Dayforce, that has all changed. Alicea-Rendon can now contact team members through the Dayforce mobile app. The instant communication helps her be a better manager.
“Our retention has improved by about 20% over the last two years, and Dayforce has been instrumental in helping us achieve that,” says House. “These days, everyone expects to do everything on a phone. The Dayforce mobile app is meeting those needs. We look at it as a value-added tool to create efficiencies and a great experience for our crew members.”
In January 2022, the company introduced Dayforce Wallet to allow employees to access the pay they’ve earned as soon as they’ve earned it. Less than a year later, more than a third of OTG’s workforce is using the service.
“When our new crew members are introduced to the application, they're impressed. During the interview process, we mention Dayforce Wallet, and you see the smiles come up like, ‘Oh, cool, I could get paid early.’ They feel like this is part of OTG,” says Alicea-Rendon.
The Dayforce mobile app and Dayforce Wallet both provide a competitive edge during recruitment and help build engagement and loyalty during those first weeks on the job.
As OTG looks ahead, it knows it will need to continue to evolve and embrace new technology to stay competitive in the changing worlds of work and hospitality.
“OTG likes to be on the cutting edge of things. Ceridian is also one of those companies that likes to be on the cutting edge of technology. With the changing workforce today, being on that cutting edge is imperative, because it's what's going to attract and retain new talent and create really a great experience for our crew members,” says House.
The company is looking forward to leveraging Dayforce to help find and keep high-potential individuals, continue to provide an elevated customer experience, and set a new standard in airport hospitality.
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