Using technology to carry out basic, or sometimes not so basic, HR functions is commonplace in 2021. But OnSide Youth Zones – a charity that provides young people from disadvantaged areas with a range of activities and support – was, until recently, still using manual, paper-based processes to do payroll and other administrative tasks.
Staff would fill in paper timesheets, which would be collected and approved by their manager at the end of each week and sent to the business administrator, who would then add up all the hours and send the information to payroll. “It was such a laborious process,” says Duncan Hall, systems implementation manager at OnSide Youth Zones. “It would take three full days to process payroll because it was so time consuming.”
Other issues Hall highlights with this process include inconsistency and unreliable recording of data and hours worked, which was prone to mistakes and no proper audit trail.
In 2017, OnSide Youth Zones partnered with workforce management provider UKG to trial its software at four of its 14 centres. The system enabled the charity to streamline all its administrative processes, distribute workloads more evenly among management staff at the centres and effectively track things such as absence and employee availability.
Because each Youth Zone operates as an independent charity with much of its funding coming from local businesses and councils, the system enabled the group to know “exactly where we’re spending the money”, says Hall.
The software is now part of the charity’s standard model and is being rolled out across Youth Zones, including new centres.
“It’s a game changer,” says Lisa Potter, HR and office manager at the Wigan OnSide Youth Zone, which had the new platform implemented in September 2020. “It’s given ownership back to managers and freed up my time in the back office so I’m not chasing them for clarity or information on timesheets. It’s finally got us into the 21st century.”
In fact, bringing in the software has reduced manager administration to just 10 minutes every other day, and the time spent on payroll tasks has been cut by more than 60 per cent.
In addition, Hall says the system has helped to increase employee engagement and accountability. “It’s given staff more control of their own time – they can book their annual leave from work or the comfort of their home, and they can view their timesheets and have visibility of what they’re being paid before they actually receive their payslip,” he explains. “All this has led to a more engaged workforce where everyone plays their part in managing time and leave.”