Customer Stories

Sunshine Village carves out time for talent

The Banff ski resort streamlines its onboarding and workforce management with Dayforce.

The first thing you’ll notice as you drive up the narrow mountain road that leads to Sunshine Village is the air – it’s crisp and clean, even in mid-August. At an elevation of 7,200 feet, the view of the surrounding mountain ranges from Sunshine Mountain Lodge is breathtaking.

During the summer, the mood at the resort is relaxed. There are tourists from around the world who have come to hike the Canadian Rockies and cross the border between Alberta and British Columbia to view the surrounding alpine lakes. In the evening, smores are served by the fire under a clear, starry sky.

In the winter, the resort comes alive, bustling with skiers and snowboarders looking to traverse Sunshine’s 3,358 acres of terrain. Sunshine Village is said to have some of the best snow in the region – often referred to as “champagne powder” – and receives up to 30 feet of it a year.

“The most incredible experience you can have at Sunshine Village is to be out here on what we call a ‘Bluebird Day’ – a cloudless day with bright sunshine and abundant champagne powder snow,” recounts Mike Irvine, Sunshine Village’s CFO and SVP of Administration.

Sunshine Village was founded in 1928 when the first log cabin was built. This cabin is still standing at Sunshine today, and houses Mad Trapper’s Smokehouse, a popular place to refuel after a long day exploring the mountains.

Sunshine Village has 150 full-time year-round employees, however in full winter operation, up to 650 additional employees are brought on from around the world. “We truly have a diverse workforce here, with people from all corners of the globe – everywhere from Australia, New Zealand, UK, Japan, Netherlands, Germany, Sweden, and of course we have a lot of wonderful Canadians that work here as well,” explains Sarah Moseley, Sunshine Village’s Human Resources Manager.

Managing the seasonal blitz

Given the seasonal nature of its business, Sunshine Village has some unique challenges around managing its workforce.

“In October, we onboard 500 to 600 employees, and they have to be fully trained by the time we open in early November. That presents ongoing challenges,” explains Irvine.

Prior to Dayforce, Sunshine Village managed all recruiting, onboarding, and scheduling manually.

“We used a lot of spreadsheets. We have a three-week period in the fall where hundreds of people are starting up with us, and after this three-week period, we would have bankers boxes lined up row upon row that our HR team would then need to go through manually and enter data, often touching files 2 or 3 times instead of once – it took weeks,” says Moseley. “On the recruitment side, we would email back and forth with offer letters, but until the new hire actually arrived on their first day and filled out all the paper onboarding forms, we couldn't start inputting their information into our systems.”

Trying to manage this annual hiring blitz along with the daily HR operations for such a large workforce proved to be challenging.

“We have people working here in all different departments, everything from guest services, accounting, to sales and marketing plus a full-service hotel and 9 food & beverage establishments. We also have millwrights, heavy-duty mechanics, plumbers, carpenters, and people that do public safety & avalanche control work. It’s a really big puzzle, and we needed a system to help us be more efficient,” explains Moseley.

Sunshine Village needed a system to help manage its ever-changing, complex workforce, so it partnered with Dayforce.

First impressions that count

“One of the reasons we went with Dayforce was the onboarding experience from the employees' perspective. When our employees arrive here, we want them to know Sunshine Village is a cool place to work. And before we had Dayforce, our onboarding process was mechanical, manual, and painful for everyone,” says Irvine.

When hiring so many people at once, it is easy to fall into a process that feels impersonal, but with Dayforce, Sunshine Village was able to ensure that its employees has everything they need to feel like part of the family from day one.

Onboarding has changed our lives internally, as well as for people joining the company. Dayforce allows us to get in contact with new hires prior to their start date. They can log in to complete all their forms, learn about the company, and it's all quick and in real time. Then when people arrive for their first day, we get to greet them and say, ‘welcome, here is your uniform, here's your name tag, you're going to love working with us!’" says Moseley.

Once employees are onboarded, Dayforce Mobile allows them to access their information, anytime, anywhere.

“The app is great with such a young environment. The staff are using it and they like it. It's very organized for them – they can book days off, and send me messages through the app,” says Deidre MacEachern, Sunshine Village’s Executive Housekeeper.

Dayforce has not only enabled the employees to easily access their information, but it has made things much more efficient for the managers.

“My office before Dayforce was full of sticky notes, and now that's eliminated because everything is in Dayforce. Time off requests, vacations, resume notes – it's so organized. I love it, it's really easy to use,” says MacEachern.

“I think our team members are really happy to have the transparency that Dayforce brings, and I think it will just continue to get better the more we continue to use it, and the more it gets ingrained into our day-to-day use,” adds Moseley.

Helping little things stay little

Since implementing Dayforce, Sunshine Village has seen improvement in many areas.

“For our organization, payroll is our biggest cost, and Ceridian has been a very useful tool in helping us control this cost to ensure that we are an efficient and effective operation,” says Irvine.

“The time savings that we have seen at all levels of the hiring process has been huge,” adds Moseley. “From when someone applies, to going through the hiring process, to onboarding – this used to take weeks of time and manpower. Dayforce has saved us a ton of time in this process.”

The other areas that Dayforce has affected are more intangible, but have had a positive impact on the way Sunshine Village operates.

“Our supervisors are now much more effective at supervising and scheduling their employees, and controlling their payroll costs. They're spending less time in front of their computer, and more time being mentors and leaders to their employees,” says Irvine.

Not only does Dayforce give managers and supervisors their time back, but it also helps them communicate with their employees in real time, especially in critical situations.

Moseley recounts: “We have routine avalanche control work that happens on our access road. If one of those avalanche control exercises causes snow to cover the road, that is going to take more time to clear than anticipated, then having everybody's phone numbers available through Dayforce allows our IT and communications teams to get messages out to people's phones in real time, ensuring that they aren’t waiting for a bus in Banff at minus 20 degrees. This is one of the numerous scenarios where Dayforce makes it possible for us to be right on top of things, so little things can stay a little.”

Looking towards this next winter season and beyond, Sunshine Village is excited to continue expanding its partnership with Ceridian.

“We're so invested and excited to add value to our business operations. Dayforce has allowed us to stop doing things that aren't adding value, and get us out there more,” says Moseley. “We're able to be out interacting, coaching, and focusing on more engagement activities. I think in the future, this partnership will continue to evolve.”

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