Kronos Incorporated was founded over 40 years ago by MIT alum Mark Ain. In February 2020, Kronos Incorporated and Ultimate Software announced a definitive merger agreement to bring together two industry leaders to form one of the world’s largest cloud companies and most innovative HCM and workforce management providers. With a combined 50,000+ customers across more than 165 countries worldwide, the combined size and scale makes UKG (Ultimate Kronos Group) one of the largest enterprise SaaS companies globally.
In this article, MHD speaks to UKG Practice Director Gideon Joseph, and Practice Manager Nick Crawford, about how purpose-built workforce management solutions can help organisations engage their employees, reduce labour costs, boost productivity, and minimise compliance risk.
According to Gideon Joseph, Practice Director at Ultimate Kronos Group (UKG), the organisation’s goal is to empower workforces and, in so doing, empower companies.
“We believe an organisation’s people are their most competitive asset,” he says.
To that end, Gideon says it’s important to start with the basics of “putting people first”.
As a global provider of HCM, payroll, and workforce management solutions, UKG has more than 12,800 employees around the globe and is known for its inclusive workplace culture. The company has earned numerous awards for its culture, products, and services, including consecutive years on Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work For list.
UKG builds on 70 years of combined experience from two industry leaders, creating the world’s most innovative human capital management (HCM) and workforce management company to help organisations across all industries manage their people more effectively with an unparalleled combination of cloud solutions.
“From an absolute base level, the key thing is to make sure you’re actually paying people correctly so that you’re building trust, engagement, and retaining employees,” Gideon says. “Then you have to ensure that when you’re rostering people, you’re not just meeting compliance obligations under the Industry Award, but also complying with all relevant health and safety requirements.”
Those can include obligations around number of days worked in a row, proper enforcement of breaks during the day, proper training, and licencing, he says.
UKG offers comprehensive solutions in the fields of human capital management (HCM), payroll, and workforce management. Gideon says an organisation must get the fundamentals right and set the foundations before it considers anything else.
“From there, we can start to think about initiatives that engage and empower employees,” he says. “For example, instituting an accessible employee self-service solution, so that employees can update their availability and apply for annual leave on their mobile devices anytime that suits them, and be assured that the system is in place to assess and approve changes immediately.”
Such smooth-running processes can make the difference in retaining talent, an especially important concern right now in supply chain and logistics, Gideon says.
A SINGLE SOLUTION
Nick Crawford, Practice Manager at UKG, says that UKG’s offering – incorporating workforce management, HCM, and payroll into a single solution – offers great benefits to organisations in our modern, heavily regulated environment.
“Scalability is critical as businesses expand and grow,” he says. “We’ve been recently talking to clients about preparing for their Christmas rush, where they need more people to deliver product over the holiday season. Being able to scale up a single solution is tremendously useful, being able to hire and manage employee demographics – and have it work seamlessly with the employee-end experience – is just vital. It eliminates potential discrepancies such that payroll can be put out as the authoritative source of truth, and it provides visibility and insight into a holistic picture of how an employee works, as well as greater efficiencies.”
The need for integrated people management is particularly acute in the Australian context, adds Gideon. He says that in the past few years – and accelerated by the headaches of COVID-19 – there has been a shift in perspective in assessing the resilience of Australia’s supply chain, including the resilience of labour supply.
“Australia has one of the most complex employee relations systems in the world with our Award requirements and the various other overlays,” Gideon says. “That’s why UKG invests hundreds of millions of dollars each year in R&D to ensure that our product is compliant and efficient from a legislative and regulatory perspective. If businesses want to scale, they still have to scale in the Australian context – and that’s where I think that products like what we offer are crucial in alleviating the manual workload that comes with complex compliance arrangements.”
He notes that Australia’s employee relations system is not only complex, but also prone to sudden and dramatic developments. This includes the introduction in the last two years of an annualised salary requirement that puts the burden on organisations to track and document salaried employees to ensure they are receiving at least as much compensation as they would receive for actual hours worked under the relevant Award.
“That’s not something organisations ever had to do before,” says Gideon. “We’ve had a lot of contact in the last 18 months from our supply chain businesses preparing to implement solutions to track and report on compliance from an annualised perspective. UKG’s single solution offers flexibility and adaptability to changing circumstances that is essential in such an environment.”
THE NEED TO ACT NOW
Nick Crawford says that the game has changed post-COVID, with government treating supply chain as a matter of national security and pandemic labour restrictions rubbing up against an already complex and expensive Australian labour system. He says that companies need to act now to make their workforces efficient and sustainable.
“So many of our clients’ offices closed, severely limiting face to face contact, making the ability to adjust their rosters flexibly and remotely – as you can with UKG’s solutions – more important than ever,” says Nick. “Putting the control back in employees’ hands, so they can swap shifts to satisfy their own needs without interrupting the workflow of managers – this is important in a climate of uncertainty.”
Gideon adds that the demands put on supply chain and logistics companies over the past 18 months have underscored the need to act proactively. Lockdowns, which drove an upsurge in e-commerce, and border closures – which further disrupted international supply chains and put the onus on local alternatives – put logistics and distribution businesses under tremendous pressure, he says.
“There was an enormous need, felt by our supply chain customers, to change their supply routes and be more dynamic and responsive in their sourcing so as to fill the gaps,” Gideon says. “And from the labour side of things, UKG has been helping our clients adjust to this by leveraging the optimisable scheduling within our application to be more dynamic and attuned to forecasted outcomes. So, rather than saying, ‘I’m a DC and I’m going to roster people from 8:00am to 5:00pm and that’s when the trucks are going to be available’, we started to see customers leverage advanced capabilities so they could instead ask, ‘We know what’s coming in and we know what’s going out, and we know what work needs to be done in the meantime – how do we leverage that information to roster people with the right skills at the right times so as to maximise productivity and minimise costs?’
“Everyone is already playing catchup, so if supply chain and logistics companies don’t act proactively now, it gets more and more risky for them.”
THE INDUSTRY 4.0 WORKFORCE
The possibilities for automation and machine learning in HCM and workforce management are extremely exciting, says Gideon, both in terms of employee satisfaction and business optimisation.
“Once upon a time if you were sitting at home and saw last minute tickets to go on some fantastic holiday, you’d have to wait till you got to work the next day, fill out a form, wait for it to be assessed, and so on,” he says. “The power of artificial intelligence and machine learning now allows you to actually configure a system so it knows how many people are needed, what conditions must be met, the number of people that can go on leave at one time – so that you can have automatic approval of that holiday. That’s better for employers and employees in terms of efficiency and satisfaction.”
For more information on UKG, click here.