Special Episode

Published: November 14, 2022

Jake Bates, Wellbeing Specialist at The WorkTech Group | Meeting Your Staffing Requirements In Difficult Times

Meeting your staffing requirements in difficult times. Recruitment and retention of shift and hourly paid employees in the UK and Ireland.

This summer, we stopped our regular recordings and produced two compilation episodes from the 50-plus episodes we had recorded.  We called these the “Work Place wellbeing podcast” done as a book. 

However, despite hanging up our microphones, we have decided to put on a special episode to talk about a survey we have done with our customers and a white paper we have published to discuss the findings. The white paper is called “Meeting your staffing requirements in difficult times. Recruitment and retention of shift and hourly paid employees in the UK and Ireland.” 

In this podcast, Ian and Jake discuss:

  • The results of the WorkTech group survey
  • How bad is the situation in the UK and Ireland?
  • How WorkTech Group customers are dealing with the issue.
  • How Workforce managers are adjusting to a world of staff shortages
  • How Rota management software can help with your staffing challenges
  • Why our customers are using AI powered Labour demand forecasting to match staffing levels to customer demand

White Paper: you can access a copy for free without having to leave any contact details by clicking here

The Workplace Wellbeing Podcast is supported by the WorkTech Group, which supplies cloud based tools for the modern workforce manager. The Group owns, ShopWorks, a cloud based Employee Scheduling Software and Labour Management Software provider.fastP.A.Y.E is an Advance Salary App and On Demand Pay solution. SolvedBy.Ai provides AI powered Labour Demand Forecasting solutions and Employee Retention Software.



00:03.94 – Ian Hogg
Hi and welcome to the Workplace Wellbeing Podcast I’m Ian Hogg chairman of fastP.A.Y.E and today I’m very pleased to be joined by Jake Bates, who works for me as a wellbeing specialist. This summer, we stopped our regular recordings and produced two compilation episodes from the 50-plus episodes we’d recorded. We called these ‘The workplace will be in podcast done as a book’. However, despite hanging up our microphones, we’ve decided to put on this special episode to talk about a survey we have done with our customers and a white paper.

We’ve published to discuss the findings. The white paper is called ‘Meeting Your Staffing Requirements in Difficult Times. Recruitment and retention of shift and hourly paid employees in the Uk, and there’s a link to the white paper in the podcast notes. You can download it without having to hand over any of your contact details because we wanted to get the information into as many hands as possible. So let’s go! Jake welcome.

00:57.20 – Jake Bates
Hi Ian, Thanks for having me on.

01:00.63 – Ian Hogg
You’re welcome. Why don’t we start with why you did this survey?

01:03.47- Jake Bates
So I think it kind of centres around Conversations we’re having from existing customers and potential new customers, and the whole recruitment and retention conversation seems to be on everyone’s lips. Given our background, we want to take some of the data and some of the insight that we know we have and hopefully better understand the kind of customer priorities and what they actually need to help solve that recruitment and retention issue. What does that look like? How’s it broken down, and what kind of solutions can we hopefully assist with?

01:41.58 – Ian Hogg
Okay, fine. So you surveyed your customers. So this is Work Tech Group customers, I presume? So that’s ShopWorks, fastP.A.Y.E and SolvedBy.Ai.

01:48.48 – Jake Bates
So that’s correct. Yes, yes.

01:52.52 – Ian Hogg
So take me through the numbers. Do you know how many people did it?

01:57.11 – Jake Bates
Yep, so we essentially worked with employers of hourly paid staff, predominantly shift workers. Um, so we picked out 35 Uk and Irish works step customers who are part of the survey and between them, they have a combined headcount of over 50000 hourly paid staff combined, so particularly kind of the operational goal.

02:18.40 – Ian Hogg
So I mean, that sounds like a fairly large representative. I mean, 50000 probably a reasonable percentage of, um, you know when they’re doing the surveys for the um election, they don’t interview 50000 people to decide who’s going to win it. Do they? So that sounds like quite good. That is a good number and that’s a good stat. So what did you find? Give me some headlines for the listeners.

02:45.84 – Jake Bates
Yeah, well, the white paper itself is about 25 pages long and it kind of goes through different ideas, different solutions, and different user case studies. So what I tried to kind of, I suppose, pull from that was some of the top level statistics and, some of the standout ones are 56% of our customers said that we couldn’t meet our recruitment needs and we are losing more staff than we’re recruiting. We’ll explore the impact that has on not only operational results but the actual cost to the business revenue, potential customer and facing issues as well. 55% said they’re reducing opening hours because they don’t have enough staff.

03:24.97 – Ian Hogg
Wow, fifty-five percent are giving away revenue because it doesn’t have enough staff. That’s more than half.

03:35.70 – Jake Bates
Yeah, it’s mind-blowing the statistics around the opening hours. 60% of respondents have shortages of over 10 percent of their staffing levels. So next time you’re in your local coffee shop, Pret, I know there is no shout-out to Pret. Um, you’re waiting a little bit longer for your morning coffee. You’re going to have to think now. It’s not because they’re being slow. It’s probably because they’re dramatically understaffed. So we all need to take that into consideration.

04:04.84 – Ian Hogg
Okay, and they’re big numbers. So all 3 of those were over half. So yeah, they are obviously headlining numbers, but presumably, the rest of the survey tells a similar story, does it?

04:19.47 – Jake Bates
Yeah, I think what it’s telling us is, we speak to a lot of customers and a lot of people day in and day out, what you hear is ‘Oh we have an issue with recruitment and retention, and it’s not until you see those figures and those numbers. This is a serious issue that we experience across Uk and Ireland, and it’s something that a lot of customers, all customers across the Uk, are going to be facing. So Yeah, it even surprised us! But I think the commercial impact is kind of, from my perspective. What I took away is that the impact on revenue and people is such a standout for me. It’s the number 1 problem for all customers, and hates art departments.

05:01.10 – Ian Hogg
Yeah, okay, so you’ve done this survey, and then you’ve produced a white paper. So what’s in the white paper?

05:13.66 – Jake Bates
Yes, so it starts with our survey results. We did a survey and outlined the results from that. We then took that, and data’s great, but it’s turning data into an actionable insight that we can use. So then we use some of our analysis from our retention Ai tools and some of ours.

05:32.91 – Jake Bates
Um, data scientists and hr analytics team. Then I suppose it’s discussed and explored in various ideas that customers are using to help mitigate their shortages. Not only from ah, I suppose, from a HR perspective but changing the way of moving forward and how they attract new talent. Keeping hold of um or the staff they’ve got but also how they run their businesses.

05:57.51 -Ian Hogg
Okay, so by reading the white paper, I might get a few. If I’m suffering from the same problem, I might get a few tips and clues on how to solve it. Is that the idea?

06:06.52 – Jake Bates
Yeah, yeah, and it should. Ah, I’m sad to say I think it will be; it was ringing quite true for a lot of the people listening who are facing similar challenges. So hopefully, you can pick up some ideas and tips. Um, and also understand you’re probably not alone in this.

06:22.32 – Ian Hogg
Yeah, yeah, there’s a value. There’s a value in that. Um, okay, so what sort of things were your customers telling you that they were doing?

06:32.00 – Jake Bates
Yeah, so I think it’s split into 2, improving recruitment and retention. The biggest one increasing costs, and then they’re trying to offer what we’re looking to offer: benefits, flexibility, and pay. New benefits. So what? Why kind of sit under more of an HR umbrella, similarly though and not actually operationally, what we kind of see, how they’re actually managing the staff and they’ve got and this key part around reducing opening hours and changing their staff and models to better match customer demand. Um, how can we increase overtime uptake and it’s um, a big focus on actually getting people through the door is hard is 1 thing keeping them in. There is another thing and then let’s make sure the staff that we have got and making sure we’re optimizing and utilizing them as efficiently as possible.

07:24.00 – Ian Hogg
Yeah,i know, I mean overtime is a good solution because the staff is already trained. You know that you can react quite quickly with overtime. Obviously, there are limits, you know, people need rest. But um, yeah, as a short-term way of improving the problem, it sounds to me like a good way to do it. Um, what you know too? They’re the sort of high-level stuff though Jake so you’ve talked about recruiting I could probably have told you that that would be on the lists to improve that and then yeah, operational changes. Give me some examples of maybe some of those operational changes.

08:02.89 – Jake Bates
Well particularly from our fastP.A.Y.E, salary advance, giving people access to some of their money sooner. Um, more of a financial wellbeing, staying away from those nasty payday loans. But there’s also a big conversation around the national living crisis and everyone’s running out of money, the problem for one of my clients, and I think the industry the care industry. Um, as ah as a whole is they’ve got lots and lots of overtime but not enough staff to take it. So for them. It was looking at ways that how can they actually increase overtime intake. Um, but I suppose with the cost of living crisis. It’s not then burdening there monthly. By kind of taking some of that money out. So what they were looking to do is actually increase overtime and then people can actually draw down some of that money before payday. I think the figures from, but some of our clients are up to thirty forty percent increase in overtime and I think it’s not a case of staff don’t want to work extra hours. But. Um, working extra hours and then waiting at the end of the month to get the money is 2 different conversations.

09:03.81 – Ian Hogg
So basically, I work some overtime this week and then next week I can draw that overtime down basically. Is that the model?

09:15.90 – Jake Bates
Yeah, so spot on so you work a shift this week rather than have to wait till the end of the month to take that money or draw down on that money using the fastP.A.Y.E overtime model customers are saying that they can access that money sooner and that can be set completely configurable, but a lot of employee employers are doing that on a week by week basis which actually is almost creating a weekly payroll um without changing payroll, which payroll will probably be very happy to hear.

09:36.64 – Ian Hogg
Yeah, and I can see the social responsibility elements of that because yeah, if people need a bit of extra money because the cost living crisis they can earn it. They can get access to it when they need it. But you’re not.. You’re not giving them a a loan just against their their normal salary. Are you? You know they see this is ah extra extra money they earn.

10:04.77 – Jake Bates
Exactly that and I think if you look at recruitment and we look at retention. It’s um, it’s how do I stand out form my competitors and it’s that flexibility piece. Um, and what makes you more enticed to stay at a business. It’s that flexibility over, yes, I think the working patterns and hours worked. Also, that conversation around pay and the world we’re living in now and that shift we’re seeing around that flexibility. The workforce is almost demanding that flexibility in the way they pay so the overtime model kind of allows that and gives them that as well, which helps increase their retention and kind of attracts top talent as well.

10:38.19 – Ian Hogg
Okay, so that’s an overtime encourager more overtime. What? what? other? yeah, give me 1 more example I’m trying to keep this podcast short Jake, but you know get find me 1 More example.

10:50.99 – Jake Bates
Yeah I think there’s another one more operationally led using some of our A.is. We’ve got a case study where let’s say, they have a hundred staff, but they have 120 shifts. Um so a focus for many of the clients is making sure that the staff that we have got are Being utilized in the right place and at the right time we haven’t got staff standing around when the shop is quiet. Um, and we’re trying to mitigate some of those revenue impacts. Um, as we’ve seen shut in shut in early. Um, so a lot of it is about that utilization and the A.is picking out the best forecast overlaying ah the optimal demand. Um, and then ensuring that the employees that we have got are in the right place at the right time.

11:30.91 – Ian Hogg
Yeah, fine, and that’s A.i power does it see what the ai does a forecast of what like sales and then?

11:37.99 – Jake Bates
Yeah, sales so sales forecast, footfall, count data. Um I think like the data team got up to 98% accurate once we know our sales, and we then know how many staff we need to us, ah to achieve those sales. But by breaking it down into much smaller increments then, you can actually start working in much more of a concise demand curve. So the workforce and the labour allocation. Um, the ai will optimize and do that. Um, in minutes. Um, up to high accuracy. So, It’s pretty powerful stuff. Um. In a world where yeah people are trying to get their time back as well. So.

12:15.40 – Ian Hogg
Yeah, no, fine too, and that’s proving popular as well as with customers.

12:20.34 – Jake Bates
Yeah, yeah, particularly because a lot of the covid data and pre-covid, a lot of the demand and the forecasting data has kind of almost become unusable because trends and patterns have changed, so old models aren’t working in Ai, I suppose. It’s constantly evolving and constantly learning, so there’s that kind of part of it, too as well.

12:42.22 – Ian Hogg
Yeah, no, you know, I’ve heard that a lot of businesses had to throw away their labour modelling because, you know, all the lockdowns just made them irrelevant.

12:52.45 – Jake Bates

12:55.35 – Ian Hogg
Good, good job if you could solve that, okay, listen. Ah so it sounds to me like Jake, there’s, you know I’m going to keep it short and I think people can read the white paper. Like I said earlier, we’ll put the link in the podcast notes and um, people don’t have to put in any info, or their email address, they can just download it and have a good read. Um, so I think we’ll leave it at that. We’ll keep it short Jake. Thank you for coming on, and we’ll let people follow the link and download the white paper

13:21.86 – Jake Bates
Perfect. Thanks Ian.

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