Trident Seafoods reels in a seasonal workforce
The 9,000-employee seafood company uses Dayforce to help it align its workforce with the seasonality of the fishing industry.
Family-owned companies make up 90% of all U.S. businesses, and are usually created by their founders to pass down from generation to generation. Chuck Bundrant had this aspiration when he founded Trident Seafoods in 1973.
“The Billikin, the first ship to catch and process king crab at sea, was a vision my father had. When this boat sailed, it had 28 men aboard with my dad as the captain, and today, we have over 40 company-owned fishing vessels and 9,000 employees worldwide,” explains Joe Bundrant, CEO of Trident Seafoods.
Trident Seafoods is based out of Seattle, but has processing plants across the United States, Europe, Japan, and China. The real heartbeat of Trident Seafoods, however, is its access to the natural resources in the remote coastal communities of Alaska. In the icy waters of the Bering Sea, Trident’s history of wild caught salmon, pollock, cod, and crab is unmatched.
The 135-foot Billikin was the first vessel of its kind to feature crab cooking and freezing equipment onboard, allowing fresh catches to be processed as soon as they’re pulled out of the ocean. It’s this spirit of innovation that has driven the company to become the largest vertically-integrated seafood company in North America.
“The spirit of innovation is alive and well at Trident Seafoods today. We have innovation centers in China, Japan, Germany, and three throughout the United States that are constantly trying new ways for people to enjoy the seafood we harvest,” says Bundrant.
Changing seasons, changing needs
Given the seasonality and scale of Trident’s operations, the company has a very diverse workforce. “We have different types of employees, from engineers, captains, seafood processors, mechanics, and office workers – it's pretty amazing how everybody has to work together to get the fish on the boat,” says Katrina Fountain, Director of Total Rewards. The company maintains 3,000 year-round full-time employees and hires 6,000 additional employees during peak fishing seasons.
Trident’s diverse workforce presents the company with the challenge of having a wide variety of pay types for all the different positions. “We have captains that are paid annually, we have dock workers and vessel employees who are paid daily, we have employees who are paid based on the number of cases their vessel produces, we have hourly employees, and we have salaried employees. Everyone, from our senior management to our seafood processors, needs to be paid accurately and on time,” says Fountain.
Trident needed to access information in real-time, from anywhere, in order to ensure it’s able to manage and pay its complex workforce.
The seasonality of the fishing industry also presents the company with the unique challenge of finding thousands of qualified candidates in a short timeframe. “Not everybody can work on a crabbing vessel in the Bering Sea, and especially during the winter when it's really cold and icy. It's a very challenging environment, many people are just not able to handle that type of work,” explains Beth Scoble, Trident’s HRIS Manager.
Trident combats this difficulty by ensuring that employees want to come back year after year. “Trident has a very strong returning employee population. Our average return rate is about 85% company-wide. They come back season after season because we take such good care of them while they're working for us,” says Scoble. This includes ensuring that HR can process payroll and schedule employees in even the most remote locations.
A single solution, fully integrated
Prior to the addition of Dayforce to its HR solutions, Trident’s HR systems were maintained in-house and were fully manual. “We printed all of our earnings statements and W-2s, we filed all of our own taxes, we processed our own ACH files, and it took a really long time to process a payroll. It was also error-prone because everything was on spreadsheets,” says Scoble.
Trident partnered with Dayforce in 2014 and is leveraging the single system for HR, Payroll, Benefits, Workforce Management, and Performance Management. “We chose Dayforce because it's a single solution in a single system. With the complexity that we have paying people across the world and the different types of work that they do, it was really important to us that we had a fully-integrated system,” says Fountain.
Ready to go with the flow
From an operational efficiency perspective, Dayforce has helped Trident track its labor hours and properly match them with the busiest times for production. Through integrations with its internal warehouse management system, Trident is able to access real-time data on production and labor costs, as well as to help understand how many employees they need on each line to improve workforce efficiency.
“Dayforce helps us manage our shifts and our labor costs, so that when the fish come in, everyone is ready and able to work,” says Fountain.
With such a wide-spread workforce, Dayforce has also been able to help Trident properly track employees’ hours and tax them according to local regulations. “When you have an entire plant on a boat moving from one state to another, it poses quite a few challenges,” explains Scoble. “Dayforce provides us with a way to track our vessel locations in the system, and that tracking mechanism triggers all of the appropriate taxes. As the boat moves from one state to another, the system permits entries to be made that ensure employees are taxed correctly based on which state they're in. None of the other systems we looked at were able to provide that type of tracking.”
Employee engagement has also been improved through Dayforce Mobile. Employees can access their information from anywhere, and this has given them greater visibility and control. Dayforce has enabled the HR team in Seattle to communicate with employees across Trident’s locations.
“Prior to Dayforce, we would have to contact the HR department in the plant and hope they could find the employee out on the line to have them come and fill out whatever paperwork was needed. Now, we can contact the employee through Dayforce, and they have direct access to their information to get it done instantly,” says Scoble. “It gives them a greater sense of control over their own personal data.”
Chaos to control
The Trident HR team has seen a shift in the way it manages its workforce since implementing Dayforce, and the effects have been wide-reaching.
“We used to have phone calls coming into our department all day long – hundreds of phone calls with employee questions,” recounts Fountain. “One day, shortly after we implemented Dayforce, I walked out of my office into the payroll department and it was quiet – on a payday. That's when I realized that Dayforce was going to change our organization. Our employees had all of the information they needed at their fingertips, and didn't need to call someone in our payroll or benefits department to access it. It was crazy.”
“It went from chaos to control,” adds Bundrant.
Dayforce also helped the HR team be more efficient with their time. “When I first started with Trident, we had eight people on our team. By partnering with Dayforce, we were able to grow some of our payroll team members into other areas of the company and actually reduce our headcount in the payroll department by three, because we were able to become so much more efficient in all of our processes. It gave our team members new opportunities that they wouldn’t have had otherwise,” says Scoble.
To lead, you must serve
With this newfound efficiency and time savings, Trident was able to put the focus back on the company’s growth.
“My goal for Trident Seafoods is that we have a long-term, multi-generational family business that operates with the highest level of integrity and serves our stakeholders, our fishermen, the communities in which we do business, our employees, and our customers. If we serve all of them and they're successful, our company will succeed as well,” says Bundrant.
Looking towards the next generation of the company’s history, Trident has plans to further its partnership with Ceridian. “Our relationship with Ceridian has been extraordinary. I can't imagine doing my job without Dayforce,” says Fountain. “We have folks now who are leaders in our organization that used to work on our vessels. They've had tremendous opportunities to grow with the company, and we're looking forward to Dayforce's Learning module so we can continue with that culture and tradition for growth here at Trident.”