SPARC Group trends forward
The fashion industry leader uses Dayforce to help engage its Gen Z workforce, deliver a positive employee experience, and power growth.
On any given day, thousands of customers walk through the doors of SPARC Group’s stores looking for the clothes that will power their careers, workouts, outings, vacations, and everything in between.
The growth-focused operating company has retail stores across the U.S., Puerto Rico, and Canada, including iconic clothing brands like Aéropostale, Brooks Brothers, Eddie Bauer, Forever 21, Lucky Brand, Nautica, and Reebok. SPARC Group is always on the lookout for new, high-equity brand acquisitions that can bolster its fashion portfolio and put the best of what’s on the rack into its customers’ closets.
Having an engaged workforce is central to SPARC Group’s success. Most of the company’s roughly 30,000 employees are Generation Z, digital natives who grew up on the Internet and are used to having most of their wants and needs at the click of a button. This cohort expects employers to be able to provide instant access to information, valuable professional development opportunities, and the chance to connect at work.
The company needed support to stay ahead of the competition amid massive changes in the world of work and in employee expectations. SPARC Group has relied on Dayforce as an integrated human capital management (HCM) solution for several years to help manage and respond to the needs of employees and ensure it has the data to drive strategic workforce planning.
The value of a single source of truth
SPARC Group uses Dayforce for payroll, benefits, workforce management, advanced scheduling, and performance management.
“Dayforce is our core system of record. Anything and everything that is employee-centric goes through Dayforce,” says Mauricio Merizalde, Director of Compensation and HRIS.
Having a single source of truth is critically important for a company as complex as SPARC Group. The integrated system helps ensure data accuracy and integrity, reduce time wasted on manual integrations and entry, save on costs, and provide a positive employee experience. Through Dayforce, SPARC’s workforce has instant visibility into helpful schedule, pay, and employee information. Dayforce also gives employees the ability to easily trade shifts.
“I’ve worked in companies where there was a very saturated HR system architecture. Aligning the data sets from things as minimal as an employee ID was hard. And when it’s harder for us, it’s harder on the employee. And when it’s harder on the employee, your overall people experience is affected,” says Merizalde.
Dayforce not only helps SPARC ensure a positive employee experience, but it also gives the company the information and flexibility it needs to power strategic workforce planning and support growth.
Merizalde and his team run real-time labour reports to generate scheduling insights and manage labour costs. Anyone on the HR team can run a real-time roster report of the demographic they support and walk into a meeting with data at their fingertips. The intuitive system and easy access to information not only builds business efficiency but is also critical to job satisfaction.
Having acquired three brands in the last year and a half, integrating new brands into SPARC Group’s HR systems and processes would have been a complicated and time-consuming undertaking. But with Dayforce, the company was able to complete conversions in under two months instead of the typical six-month timeframe.
“Having an HCM platform like Dayforce is vital to the success of a major corporation like SPARC Group,” says Merizalde.
Meeting changing employee expectations
Roughly, 80 percent of SPARC Group’s around 30,000 employees are part-time, hourly, non-exempt workers, while the other 20% are corporate employees. Much of the hourly workforce is between the ages of 15 and 20 and lives life through their phones. The on-demand access to information that Dayforce provides keeps staff engaged. Because of this, SPARC Group is constantly looking to implement new functionality to better serve its workforce.
For example, SPARC Group made good use of the broadcast notification functionality in Dayforce during the first few months of the pandemic. It alerted employees about changes in store hours and conditions so they could plan accordingly.
“The reality is that not everyone has an email address or goes into Dayforce to update their current email address. Using Dayforce as a vehicle for communication was essential,” says Merizalde.
The retail sector has continued to experience shocks post-pandemic due to economic uncertainty and changing worker needs and expectations. One of SPARC Group’s main focuses right now is responding to changes in the world of work. The company has adopted a hybrid work model for corporate employees. Staff work in the office three days a week and from home the other two.
Merizalde says their workforce doesn’t just want more flexibility on where they work – employees also want more transparency and communication from the company they work for.
“Our employees want to know what we're doing relative to diversity, equity, and inclusion. They want to know about compensation; they want to know about career pathing.”
Employees at every level are also much more forthright and expectant when it comes to professional development. “Employees are really taking the wheel on their career, whether it be the sales associate all the way up the corporate ladder,” says Merizalde. “One of the questions I get asked often while interviewing is, ‘What's the next level? What's the next step?’ It’s not so much anymore about this job here. It's what's that next job, and what does that look like from a timeframe standpoint, and from a monetary standpoint? Employees want to know how much we are paying for different positions, and there's compliance requirements around that now.”
Streamlining the merit cycle
Until now, decisions about compensation and merit increases for SPARC Group’s 30,000-strong workforce have been made and processed outside of Dayforce. The manual approach was time-consuming, burdensome, and made it difficult for the HR team to access real-time information, ensure compliance, and support transparent communication.
To save time and energy, SPARC Group is going to implement Dayforce for compensation to help automate and streamline their merit cycle. This will help the company make fair and equitable employee reward decisions grounded in data, which, in turn, will help improve employee engagement and retention.
Department leads at SPARC Group will be able to manage the merit cycle within Dayforce, which will help save time and ensure that the company has the data it needs to fairly compensate their employees in relation to their performance and pay band. “Having an HR system like Dayforce to help us find talent and promote talent quickly and easily is imperative. The world is moving quicker and quicker day by day, and we need to be able to adjust to that,” says Merizalde.
With this information at hand, managers and department leads will be better aware of and able to address potential retention issues. “Our hope is that with Dayforce, in addition to streamlining the process and turning things around quicker than we are today, the hidden gem that we're hoping to unearth is insight into people's compensation. How are they comped in relation to their salary band? It’s an insightful data point that we're not using today.”
Teamwork makes the dream work
It’s not just the Dayforce technology that has been a game-changer for SPARC Group. It’s the partnership and support that the company gets from Ceridian’s professional services team and technical account managers (TAMs) that makes the difference.
Merizalde feels like Ceridian’s professional services team acts almost as an extension of SPARC Group’s HR team, helping them to land each of the balls the team is juggling and providing support on system implementation, the integration of new brands into the company, and other needs.
SPARC Group’s dedicated TAMs, meanwhile, can answer technical questions about the system and ensure all open tickets are addressed and closed. Merizalde thinks of his TAMs as his internal muscle – his secret weapon. The value of having a trusted and dependable partner can’t be overstated.
“Technology is changing, and you need a partner to be able to hold your hands as that change happens, and Ceridian offers that,” says Merizalde. “We've been lucky and fortunate enough to be working with the exact same group of project managers and technical managers throughout all the implementations that we've had. They understand our business, our account, and our configurations at a very high level. So, speaking to them is very easy. It's almost as if they were an extension of our team, which is unmatched and very beneficial to us.”