Pitacs, the global manufacturer and distributor of heating products, has selected and deployed StaffCircle HCM software. The SaaS-based solution has helped the company improve workforce engagement and communication between furloughed, desk-based and non-desk-based employees during the pandemic. StaffCircle is a cloud-based HR platform that combines performance management and employee engagement. Enterprise Times asked Mark Seemann, founder and CEO at StaffCircle, about the project.
With more than 60 people based in Milton Keynes, Pitacs has expanded rapidly. Originally a textile company, Pitacs has evolved to make and distribute a wide portfolio of products from luxury heating products to an extensive cable range and LED products.
Pitacs, like many other scale-up companies, had paper-based HR systems. This included absence and holiday request management. A solution to automate those would reduce administration for the HR team from eight hours down to four hours.
According to Seemann, the project started with a phone call by the Pitacs MD. Pitacs wanted a performance management solution that would enable the company to recognise the workforce. It also needed the connect the employees that worked in different locations.
Enterprise Times asked Seemann what other solutions Pitacs considered?
“Pitacs looked at larger mid-market solutions like SAP. However, they were too inflexible, rigid, and expensive in order to run performance management and saw it much more of a back-office tool. What Pitacs wanted was software that was more user friendly and cost-effective for a company that was still growing. StaffCircle offered this solution, so it was chosen over these competitors.
“By embracing the transition to digitisation with StaffCircle, Pitacs has achieved impressive results, slashing admin time from eight hours per month to just one hour and increasing employee engagement to 83% – a key priority on the company’s agenda.”
The project began in mid-2019, well before the challenges of the pandemic. The implementation lasted four weeks, according to Seemann.
Enterprise Times asked Seemann why StaffCircle was selected?
“Pitacs selected StaffCircle because it is the only platform to combine both performance management, comms and culture. This offered a brilliant opportunity to increase employee engagement and to connect workers in both the office and the warehouse.
“The StaffCircle solutions offered connectivity and communication to the extent that other platforms didn’t. It means that the warehouse team receives information first-hand and at the same time as anyone else, and it has since become one of the top engaged departments. StaffCircle offered the chance to include everyone, eliminate any divide, and gauge engagement and sentiment.”
The entire implementation project was carried out remotely. A StaffCircle success manager assisted the CEO and HR manager. StaffCircle has a structured implementation methodology.
First, there is a handover call with the StaffCircle customer success team. This post-sales call discusses project implementation goals, data transfer/ingestion and training. The training is normally for super users and line managers. The team then plans the rollout of StaffCircle across the whole company.
The project is then tracked with the customer and StaffCircle having a clear understanding of the progress. As with most project implementations, StaffCircle deployed the system remotely, a mature process that meant it was able to continue implementation unimpeded by travel restrictions during the pandemic. The training was carried out over Zoom or Microsoft Teams, and many of the training guides are embedded within the software.
Enterprise Times asked Seemann what challenges were faced during the project.
“Some of the key challenges during the project included transitioning the workforce from traditional paper-based methods to HR automated processes, with a third of the workforce non-desk based. Convincing departments to adopt the new tools and technology was initially difficult but has really paid off.
“There were also some minor issues with the customer using an older version of Internet Explorer. For security reasons, StaffCircle is compatible with only the latest versions of Microsoft Edge Web Browser. However, the customer had an old version of Internet Explorer installed that was not compatible. Therefore, the customer reported some issues trying to use StaffCircle with this browser.
“To rectify this, the StaffCircle customer success team talked the customer through how to update the web browser to the latest version of Edge. This also had advantages as it was far more secure for the customer as well.”
This last challenge is one of those that organisations frequently forget. Just because a solution is SaaS-based, it does not mean that every employee can automatically use the software. This is especially the case where PC’s and Laptops are old and haven’t been updated. It is a problem that can become costly if the hardware is not compatible with the latest versions of web browsers
A second challenge that was overcome was usage by the shop floor workers. These people had no access to PCs and therefore accessed Staffcircle using their mobiles. Initially, employees struggled to log on to the mobile app. However, the StaffCircle technical support team quickly resolved the issue.
Once the issue for warehouse workers was resolved, the company began to realise the benefits of a connected workforce. Before, warehouse workers had no access to email and HR processes were paper-based and time-consuming. With around a third of the team working in the warehouse, communication was either paper-based or verbal, leading to, at best, a lag in knowledge dispersement.
Today the team is kept up to date and can communicate across the organisation from their mobile. Warehouse workers can now give instant and direct feedback and importantly receive information at the same time as their colleagues.
Seemann described another benefit that Pitacs gained, saying, “StaffCircle offered a clear means to keep track of and on top of tasks – an aspect desired by the HR team. The StaffCircle Holidays & Time Off feature, for example, created a much wanted transparency, allowing everyone to see if someone is due to be off and empowering teams to be forward-thinking with their own requests.
“Crucially, it provided the ability to reduce long and cumbersome admin processes. The tasks and worksheets feature, for example, makes it easy for Managers and the HR team to send training and Health and Safety information.”
During the pandemic
As the pandemic hit, new challenges emerged, many employees were furloughed as the company battened down the hatches. Initially, Pitacs leveraged the ‘newsfeed’ feature to communicate with employees. This ensured that they were kept up to date with decisions weekly. As the pandemic continued and the company returned to work, Newsfeed also enabled the HR team to check up on and educate employees around mental health information and employee wellbeing tips. This has led to a happier, more motivated and informed workforce at a time when everyone was challenged.
Claire Minns, HR Manager at Pitacs, said: “For me, the best things are the ‘Holidays’ and the ‘Communications’ features, which have changed my life the most. From an HR perspective, it is so much easier to keep track of tasks. StaffCircle’s platform helped me to keep on top of everything without constantly having to chase information. But most of all, it’s heartwarming to see the engagement among our teams, especially during the pandemic.”
StaffCircle combines performance management and employee engagement into a single SaaS platform. StaffCircle believes that once deployed, its solution helps improve workplace culture. At Pitacs, it appears to have helped form a stronger bond between office, remote and warehouse workers. The platform delivers a 360° view of employee performance, engagement and sentiment, enabling the firm to keep everyone informed equally. It has also enabled the HR team and leadership to listen to the workforce.
Seemann commented, “By embedding culture, competencies, and behaviours to staff via a digital platform available anywhere, Pitacs has not only improved employee engagement but also unified a geographically dispersed team and continued to build its unique company culture. Whether desk-based, working in the warehouse or even working from home, as we move forward, companies must adopt a culture of people first, and Pitacs is a great example of this.”
Enterprise Times asked Seeman what Pitacs would do differently?
“Initially, Pitacs wanted to implement both the StaffCircle HR operations and Culture & Comms module at the same time. However, StaffCircle recommends rolling the product out in increments. This is because employees can get accustomed to the product more gradually and ‘transition’ into expanded products or modules.
“Pitacs is currently in the process of rolling out the performance management module. Taking StaffCircle’s recommendation, they are rolling out the module in stages, this gives the company enough time to focus on their competency framework and meet the daily needs of their employees. Pitacs have also learnt that they can save time by digitising the processes.”
Enterprise Times: What does this mean
Organisations have struggled during the pandemic to keep staff informed and to understand the challenges they face. Pitacs, having deployed StaffCircle before the pandemic, entered the crisis with an advantage. It had already automated many of the paper-based processes HR relied on. With furlough and the home working, StaffCircle has enabled the HR team to keep in touch with the workforce and assist them during the pandemic, including those workers who previously had no access to company systems at home.
For many organisations, the challenge now faced as offices start to fill up and recruitment starts, are ensuring continued communication and task automation is effective. StaffCircle is one of the solutions that can help organisations automate their existing HR processes and innovate on new communication methods, improving culture and building a better team dynamic.