The events of 2020 have caused organisations of all sizes to realise that technology can make or break success. We talked to Sian Bane, Human Resources Information Lead with UK-based social care provider Milestones Trust, to learn about the unique people challenges the company faced during the pandemic and its decision to choose Dayforce.
Sian: We are a charity predominantly based in South West England covering Bristol, Gloucestershire, Somerset and Weston-super-Mare. Our services are made up of a few divisions: learning disabilities, mental health needs, dementia, and complex behavioural needs.
We have a number of residential care homes to offer support for individuals, plus supported living services to help people grow, develop and reach their own personal ‘milestones’. In supported living settings, we care for people in their own homes or in care environments where they can live independently. Whether people want us to pop in once a week to help with bills or would like us to support them all day, every day, our team is there to help.
We are regulated by the Care Quality Commission, the country’s independent watchdog of all health and social care services, and we take enormous pride in the fact that they have rated many of our facilities either ‘outstanding’ or ‘good’. The aim of our organisation is to help people live a great quality life so they are enabled to do the things they’ve always wanted to do.
Sian: There were a few!
As a care facility, we were one of the most highly affected sectors throughout the pandemic. One of the biggest challenges was trying to mitigate the concerns of the people we support and their families and help them through those uncertain times.
Consistency, security, and stability are critical to our learning disabilities and mental health divisions. Many of the people we support have built relationships and routines with our support staff, for instance, a daily Costa Coffee run with a resident. The pandemic truly inhibited our support staff to keep that continuity ongoing. To explain to the people we support that these day-to-day habits were going to be prohibited was challenging, and we could see its impact on our staff too.
Secondly, at the height of the crisis, our staff were beginning to fall ill. This created even more staffing shortages which are synonymous across the industry. Couple that with ensuring we had enough people on site or scheduled in to cover those unavailable we frequently turned to agency staff which can be very costly and disruptive to sustain. As a care provider operating around-the-clock, and with only half your workforce available, you truly rely on people stepping up to the plate.
On top of that, Public Health England introduced strict rules around cohorting to contain the spread of COVID-19. While some staff would ordinarily work in several locations or across services, they were now reduced to working in only one service. For example, if one person worked the front desk followed by a residential shift or supported living shift, they couldn’t move across services anymore, so it created extra layers of difficulty.
It is a tribute to our staff, their commitment and dedication, because we would never be able to get through those moments without them.
Sian: It really was – every single one of them are the real superheroes.
For those of us working behind the scenes at our head office, they had to pack up and work from home almost overnight. Like many businesses, remote working wasn’t commonplace for our organisation. The IT support was an equally colossal effort: making sure every employee had laptops, technologies, and software licenses in place. It was quite challenging amidst continuing uncertainty and everyone had to think differently to deal with the situation at hand.
Sian: Currently, we have 1,200 employees, with agency staff and bank care workers to take on temporary shifts at some of our locations.
Part of being a charity means we have unique challenges, particularly, around our finances. We have trustees on our board responsible for overseeing how the charity is being run and how money is spent. It is critical for us to be spending money wisely, operating in a way that benefits our end users – from residents to families – and making sure our staff have the resources to do their jobs well.
Sian: Simply put, we were getting to a point where we were either going to upgrade our legacy system or look elsewhere.
Our existing system was outdated. We went back to the drawing board and realised a new solution was necessary to meet the needs of our business.
In recent years, we’ve had to re-evaluate our technologies, so this entire tender experience gave us the opportunity to answers the basics: What would we like a system to do? What is going to support our future strategy and make our business flourish? What can we do to address our staffing challenges, particularly, addressing retention, engagement, and candidate shortlisting?
Sian: We looked at multiple solutions and all signs pointed to Dayforce. From functionality to how the system fit with our business model, it checked all the boxes. We currently have Payroll and HR live, and are in the process of implementing Workforce Management, Learning and Onboarding.
Early on, we decided we did not want a different process or system for different tasks. If we wanted to give more time back to employees, we needed to have an end-to-end single system.
We also valued Ceridian’s focus on customer experience. We built relationships and had honest, meaningful discussions about what we needed as an organisation to set us up for success.
Sian: The difference between our legacy system and Dayforce is night and day. We are starting to see cost and time efficiencies amongst our staff who can now spend more energy caring for people we support. It’s why they do what they do.
This is also the first time in our history we can provide online pay-slips. Within the last year we’ve asked people to log in to Dayforce through the mobile application and access their pay-slips, which for our company, and frankly, the industry, is huge!
It’s a mixed bag. Our staff are having to adjust. For staff that are used to downloading apps and are mobile savvy, it’s an easy learning curve. We have a robust training plan for anyone who is less confident in this area. We are committed to getting everybody up to speed. Part of the reason we chose Dayforce was that it will be easily accessible.
I think 2020 forced us to dramatically change the way we work. In 2021, with Dayforce, we are starting to strategically transform how we work.