The Watu Pipeline: Payroll in the spotlight

image of dollar sign to represent watu's payroll feature pipeline

Whilst quarter one brought us the release of holiday pay, an upgraded calendar, and other tweaks and improvements throughout the software, Watu’s quarter two plans are promising to be bigger and bolder. So what’s in the works for the upcoming quarter? A whole lot of payroll pizzazz.

Canadian Payroll

Canadian clients, we hear you loud and clear! We’ll soon be offering you, our maple leaf-waving friends, a customised payroll section for each staff member, meaning you can collect their bank details and tax information from directly within the system. Which takes us to the next feature updates…

Condensed Payroll

Condensed meetings, condensed milk, condensed…payroll? Well what with meetings and milk being so good, we’re confident condensed payroll will join the club.

Right now, when you run payroll, you run it separately for employees, for self-employed staff, and for employee expenses. Three separate documents, which we will be merging into one.

You will be able to select if you want to pay one, two, or all three of the categories and run the export in one go, creating a master spreadsheet of everyone who needs to be paid for the dates selected.

Faster self-employed payroll

When the ‘new invoice received’ section was built, it was created so that managers could check the data of invoices received against the shifts due to be paid. We thought we were helping with accuracy, but it turns out, we were creating inefficiency instead.

So now, once a shift has been signed off for a self-employed staff member, that data will go straight to payroll just like employees. Rather than the following steps:

  1. Sign off the shift/s
  2. Click new invoice received
  3. Enter the invoice number
  4. Select the dates
  5. Enter the total
  6. Select the shifts
  7. Save
  8. Run an invoice batch

You will instead do this:

  1. Sign off the shifts
  2. Select the dates in payroll
  3. Export the data

Turning inefficiency to efficiency and time-saving at its finest.

We would love to hear your thoughts on our upcoming plans so if you have questions, confusion or extreme joy relating to the above, leave a comment or drop us a line at info@watuapp.com

Upgraded calendar view

Watu has released an upgraded calendar view for managers, with better formatting and the use of colours to convey how fully booked your job is.

watu calendar view for staffing jobs
The new calendar view detailing your booking progress

The new colour bars mean the following:

Green: Fully booked

Yellow: In the process of being booked

Red: Completely unbooked

Snapshop of Watu's calendar functionality
The calendar colours detail the booking status

And the cherry on top?

Now the colour bar will show you the progress of how far along your job is booked. Is the yellow line reaching the halfway mark? Well, then your job is similarly halfway booked.

And clicking inside of the job via the calendar still brings up the details you’re after, just like before:

Watu calendar for the managers detailing a job booking

As always, comments, questions, and all else welcomed in the comments or to info@watuapp.com

Watu and Paycircle Integration for Easier Payroll

Homepage image for Paycircle

Of all the features in Watu, payroll is one with many layers of capabilities which is fantastic for providing a complete software solution, though at the same time challenging for us to convey to clients all of its potential and how to best use it.

Even once we are able to communicate and encourage the use of all the sub-features – payroll adjustments, PAYE exports, expense allowance and approval, etc – you as the client end your payroll journey with an export data to process and pay a staff member. But now, our seamless connection with Paycircle can take this a step further and simplify the payroll process.

What is Paycircle?

Paycircle is a complete payroll solution for agencies working with temporary staff. Through their easy-to-use software interface, Paycircle can take care of your pay calculations including national insurance contributions, holiday pay and more, and also allows for staff to see their pay status and history.

Image of paycircle agency features

And if you want them to take it a step further, Paycircle can even pay your staff for you. Paycircle also links to all of the major workplace pension providers and manages everything to do with pensions, automatically, as part of the payroll process – and doesn’t change any extra for the privilege.


How do Watu and Paycircle connect?

The exports created in the Watu system fit perfectly into the Paycircle software, with matching columns which means once you export the CSV, it’s ready to send over or upload. Paycircle will take the ‘gross wage’ column and, whilst referring to the other data columns like tax status, calculate contributions, tax, holiday pay, final wages, and so on.

 

Image of Paycircle app for processing staffing payroll

Once this step is complete, finalising payroll is a simple as pressing a button and then all of the reports you need are available online. Your accounts team can view them to make all the necessary payments (employees, HMRC, pension etc) or you can make a single payment to Paycircle and they can make all the payments on your behalf – it’s up to you!

This seamless connection is the link to connect your Watu exports with accurate and easy payroll. Almost like an extension of our own software, Paycircle can provide agencies like yours the most efficient route for straightforward payroll meaning less headaches for managers, more clarity for staff, and extra hours in your week. Ready to give it a try? Reach out to Paycircle now to get started.

Connecting Watu to a Questionnaire via Typeform

Following a shift, many agencies are keen to collect data from their staff in the field. What was the public reaction, how many samples were handed out, who showed interest…how many tweets were tweeted!? A questionnaire provides a natural route to gather this data and is a feature that has been mentioned by a few clients who already use Watu.

At the moment, it’s not a feature we offer and whilst it is a task we are considering tackling, we really doubt that we can build it better than the experts. Especially Typeform, who create “Free and Beautifully Human Online Forms.”

How does it work?

Building a typeform is ridiculously easy. It offer very straightforward report-building software which you can use from the get-go. No need to read instructions, experiment with practice forms, or temporarily morph into a coder. Create an account, build your form. Magic.

Image of Watu customer service survey

What does it look like?

This is the best part about typeform. Beyond being super simple for managers to use, it’s beautiful for users (or, as they say, humans…) to reply via. Bold texts, varied colours, imagery and clean graphics come together with the singularly appearing questions to create a pleasant-survey-experience. Not three words you often hear together.

How can you add a form to Watu?

Whilst the form cannot be hosted by Watu itself (that’s taken care of by Typeform), you can easily insert the link in a booking email. To do so, simple take your Typeform URL – which you can find within the ‘share’ section of Typeform- and paste it into your ‘booked staffer description’ within the Job Description of your Watu account.

Add a little sentence to go along with it, let’s say for example “After completing your shifts, please take 2 minutes to fill out this questionnaire about the campaign” and paste in your link.

image of watu including a typeform link

Want to experience an example?

Conveniently for you, I’ve created an example and would love for you to take part. Check out our customer service survey and let us know what you think of Watu’s customer service at the same time!

Feature Proposal: Faster, easier payroll

Payroll is a fantastic feature of Watu, allowing agencies to have the confidence they are always paying staff, and never double-paying shifts, but we realise it’s a bit disjointed at the moment.

Currently, agencies do the following:

  • Run exports for PAYE staff wages
  • Run exports for PAYE staff expenses
  • Log invoices for Self-employed staff
  • Export payroll batches for Self-employed staff

The exports created contain valuable data but the process to export them needed some revisiting, so we have a new proposal: all the exports, in one sheet, and no more logging self-employed invoices.

How will it look?

Sometimes features are best explained with images. Here is how new payroll could look:

image of payroll for watu staff
Proposed payroll change

So what would change?

  • Self-employed staff: You would no longer have to mark each invoice received. Instead, signing off would confirm the wages and you would be able to run the export immediately based on the date of the shifts
  • One export, not 3: You would be able to run the export for PAYE wages, PAYE expenses, and Self-employed payments all at the same time into one document (maintaining the relevant columns for each)
  • Toggles: The ability to toggle before exporting, choosing between exporting expenses, PAYE wages, or self-employed payments – or all three

Let us know what you think:

How we rebuild this feature will depend on your feedback, so let us know! Is this a time-saving move forward for your agency? Or is there a change that will leave you short of data? Let us know by emailing us at info@watuapp.com and sharing your thoughts.

Autofill Job Locations

The other day, Elizabeth from Tidy Models wrote to us and asked why Watu’s autofill was only offering her one address option. A problem that we would have loved to solve, if we actually offered autofill in the first place.

It was a fantastic idea and I started to add it to the to-do list…but hold on, hello brilliance! If browsers are already offering this for us, why double the work?


Here’s how to add autofill options via Chrome:*

(*Why Chrome? Because it’s our most compatible browser.)

  1. Click the menu button in Chrome near the upper right corner and select ‘Settings’
  2. Click on ‘Advanced Settings’
  3. Scroll down to ‘Password and Forms’ and select ‘Manage Autofill Settings’

4. Select ‘Add new street address’

5. Add in your frequently used addresses then hit ok

6. Next time you’re building a job in Watu, start to enter the address and watch autofill pop up


My extra tip? Make sure that little red pin pops up — and in the right location — as this confirms the job has been mapped correctly, and can be made public.

Software magic, brought to you by W̶a̶t̶u̶ Chrome

Feature Release: Holiday Pay | How to opt in

We’re so pleased to be presenting to you the much anticipated holiday pay feature for UK clients! It’s been in the making for some time and offers the opportunity to bring your agency in line with HMRC requirements.

In case you would like a refresher, here is the basis behind creating the feature.

Whether or not you plan to opt-in, there are changes that will affect all UK accounts so please read through to the end.


Release Date: 12th February (Sunday)
What’s happening: You may opt-in to holiday pay

The Holiday Pay feature:

  • The main goal of adding this feature is to display the difference at the time of booking between wage and holiday pay. This is simple enough – in theory – but it has a few knock-on effects including:
    When staffers see a new job following your opt-in, they will not only see the wage entered by you. Instead, they will see it split into “base pay” and “holiday pay”
  • The split will be calculated automatically by the software and will take holiday pay from the total you want to pay. Example: if you want to pay the staff member £100 total for the day, you will still enter £100 from which the software will calculate the percentage of holiday pay. Therefore, it will display the wage as less than £100 + holiday pay to the staff member
  • Subsistence, bonus and taxable adjustments will be included as wage. Holiday pay will be calculated from this wage total.
  • Once you opt-in and the feature is live, every job you create after that will have Holiday Pay. New shifts added to existing jobs will not, however. This is only for new jobs created after Holiday Pay is turned on for you.
  • There are changes to the payroll export for those who opt-in and those who opt-out. Please read these changes or send them on to your accountant

What’s next?

If you would like holiday pay activated in your account, please email info@watuapp.com to confirm. If you do not want this feature to go live, you don’t need to take any action as we will assume you don’t want it. You may opt-in at any point further down the road.



A bonus update…

We made one more small change which will be released on Sunday 12th along with Holiday Pay. When sending booking emails, if the shifts have different times and breaks, there will not be a summary at the top of the email. Instead, each shift will be listed individually for better clarity.


As always, I welcome your questions and comments so please do comment or get in touch via info@watuapp.com if you would like to discuss the feature.

Updated HMRC Ruling: Promo staff must be PAYE

Promotional model Jennifer Su: https://flic.kr/p/aCmeJd

It has long been a grey area as to whether promotional staff should be self-employed or on PAYE. Are they employees or do they set their own schedules? Do you determine their work day, or do they do that on their own? Is their place of work determined by you, or by them?

A lot of these answers depend on a campaign itself, rather than being a sweeping ‘you’ or ‘them’, and this has given some freedom for agencies to choose whether to hire staff as self-employed, or employees.

However, just recently, HMRC has clarified these rules within the employment manual and refer specifically to brand ambassadors and similarly related roles.

First they tackle the fact that many promotional staff work as actors, singers or models, by explaining that these roles are exempt:

HMRC actors models singers except from PAYE

Having clarified that models, singers and actors working as models, singers and actors, do not have to be paid under PAYE, they then tackle the subject of models, singers, and actors working as promotional staff:

Promotional staff must be paid under PAYE

As above, HMRC specifically state that promo staff undertaking activities such as “carrying out demonstrations”, “keeping supermarket shelves stocked”, and “sales promotion on manufacturers’ stands…” is “therefore within the legislation”.

If you’re already using Watu as your software provider, making this switch is easy.

Firstly, within general>settings, you will see options relating to how you would like to allow your field staff to register with you:

Payroll settings watu

Simply keep only the option for “staffers to sign up as Employees” ticked, and this will be the only option moving forward for registering staff.

It’s worth noting that managers can always override this setting, so if you have a staff member who must be registered as self-employed, it’s possible for a manager to select this on behalf of the staff member.

And what about those staff who have been self-employed, but now need to switch to PAYE?

Watu can help out with this, as our developers can change some system settings to ‘sweep’ your account so-to-speak, and change everyone to PAYE. As these staff members wouldn’t have their payroll details entered already, it will set all these recently switched staffers to “payroll incomplete”, meaning they can’t be paid yet.

But again, there’s a solution for this! Within ‘payroll’ there is a section called ‘incomplete payroll’, and clicking there will bring you to this page:

incomplete payroll watu

See that little ‘request payroll data’ button? Click there, and that will send an email to everyone who needs to enter their details in order to be paid. It takes care of the guess work and manual typing, so all you have to do is click a button.

Bonus: A helpful – and little known – tip for those agencies using PAYE

Our system asks for the payroll data that is also required by HMRC. We stick to their mandatory/non-mandatory questions so that the software is aligned with government regulations, but sometimes you may find that the system asks for something which you just don’t need.

If you find that a staff member is marked as incomplete but you’d like to pay them anyway, here’s how to do a system override:

  1. Click into the staff member’s profile
  2. Click the menu (three lines) in the upper right corner
  3. Click ‘payroll’
  4. Click ‘edit’
  5. Click ‘Admin Information’
  6. Tick the little box stating ‘payroll data complete’

mark payroll data as complete in watu

We know that going through a payroll switch and all of its consequences can be daunting, and we would like to be here to help as much as possible. Whilst we cannot offer accounting or legal advice, we would be happy to offer suggestions and help you along the way as you make the switch.

When you’re ready to ask a question or get started, just click the ‘tech support’ button to reach out to the team.

Could sharing be caring in promotional staffing too?

Photo by Alan Levine: https://flic.kr/p/dtBSgg

The promotional staffing industry has a big elephant in the room and it’s trumpeting loud and clear, but we’re not really listening. Or maybe, we’re even trying to muffle it. Every agency says it has the best staff and indeed they often do. But these fantastic field staff are not unique to each agency. Rather, especially in a location as small as the UK, the best of the bunch and beyond are often shared between agencies, as staff register with as many agencies as they can find for the maximum number of work offers.

Agencies have historically been quite protective of their staff, with guarded surnames, and on-site poaching very much frowned upon, hoping to hold these brand ambassadors and event managers close and sheltered from the hungry books of other agencies.

From the viewpoint of the field staff, registering with as many agencies as possible makes complete sense. More agencies, more work offers, a higher chance of getting booked. And yet, for the agencies, it creates a challenge of how to pinpoint a unique selling point. If you can offer the same team as another agency, what sets you apart? Of course, your offer encompasses everything from pricing to management skills and established relationships, but often your star factor and what it really boils down to, is your team on the ground.

Maybe the answer is working on staff loyalty, ensuring that your top team come to you first and will prioritise your work. But it’s a tough industry in which to create loyalty, with a lot of competition and people who simply need to fill their diary. Oftentimes, field staff do not have the luxury of picking and choosing when and for whom they will work; if a well-paid job is offered, it will be snapped up and probably rather quickly before the thousands of others send in their job applications.

Or, perhaps, this offers an opportunity for agencies to open up, accept that your books may look like a reflection of another agency’s books and consequentially, you may have a lot to learn from each other. If we consider the fact that your goal as an agency is to provide the best team for a client, we must think about the benefits that could come with sharing.

Primarily, this is instant access to a staff member’s work history which, if known beforehand, can make or break your campaign. If you had industry-wide knowledge to a staff member’s notes and reviews, let’s imagine what that could offer before you hit accept…

  • Client approved/rejected
  • Suspensions from other agencies
  • Great potential to be an EM
  • Whether the person in the profile reflects accurately the person on the ground
  • Any stand-out behaviour, whether positive or negative
  • An overall sense of the person you are welcoming onto your books

Whether trying to gain a better understanding of someone for your books, or for a particular job, the information is already out there. It’s just hidden.

When I type a staff member’s email address into our database to search where they are registered, there it is right in-front of my eyes. John is a fantastic staff member and this client adore him…Jane never showed up to her last 2 jobs and has been removed from the books. But removed from the books of 1 agency. And the others? They are left waiting until she does the same to them, without being forewarned of her potential unreliability.

So how would this affect staff? Well, that really depends on whether they’re a John or a Jane. Stellar feedback and an industry-wide reputation for being a reliable, energetic and professional staff member will bring John more work and consequentially, higher chances of climbing the promo ladder towards Event Management and more. But Jane? Her chances of work would suddenly diminish as agencies become wary of her lack of dedication.

Could this be hurtful to staff who genuinely had problems getting to work that day, or perhaps made a mistake along the way? Yes, it could be. But from my experience, the industry is quite forgiving and we’re often willing to give people another chance based on honest communication, and this poor feedback could be easily overwhelmed by positivity after a few bookings.

The US seems to be heading towards this direction, with white label staffing companies popping up, selling to clients who expect shared staff. Our friends over at Pop Bookings offer agencies their own books, but with some shared access to staff information.

Perhaps, if we were to let our guard down in the UK ever so slightly and begin a conversation between agencies, we could see the benefits too. Managers could have more confidence in the team they’re booking. Recruitment would not be so much of a guessing game with 3-page long questionnaires to complete, or weeks of interviews. You could be filling your books with who you know to be the best, not just who you think to be the best, freeing up your concentration to focus on your unique selling point. And your clients? They would receive the biggest benefit of this change: a guaranteed-to-be-fantastic team on the ground.

Photo credit Alan Levine

Brexit: Are you making history?

Brexit vote for staffing agencies credit: IB times.com

In just two days’ time, we are all being offered the opportunity to determine the future of our homeland. Will we remain joined with the EU, or widen the waters with a political separation in the attempt to go our own way?

The team at Watu have done our reading, trawling through articles representing both sides of the stage, listening to our friends’ comments – as hard as some of them may have been to bear, and imagining how we would like our home to be down the road.

We firmly believe that choosing to remain is the best route, based on a collection of opinions from some of the world’s leading voices. Economists, politicians (at least, the ones we listen to), activists, environmentalists, you name it. These informed voices of reason and our humble views of joining together forces to make the world a better place have led us in this direction, not to mention the benefit it brings to our business and yours.

Why do we write this? Not to convince you to vote our way, but simply to ask you to vote. To give your two cents and make your voice heard, too. The country can only represent its people, if its people speak up when given the stage.

And if you really wanted to shake things up, we encourage agencies to make the most of the thousands of brand ambassadors and event managers on your books and reach out to them too. Many are young, full of energy and points of view, and we’d love to see them put it to paper. Perhaps it’s not conventional to mix work with political views, but oftentimes the world is changed by those who tend not to follow the norm…

 

Photo credit: IB Times