Why Mash Staffing are choosing Liveforce

In light of the upcoming closure of Watu, today we’ve handed over the microphone to Davinia Day who is the Client Operations Director at Mash Staffing, who have been one of our longest standing clients. We wanted to hear why they chose Liveforce and how they’ll be tackling the transition…


Watu: You’ve been with Watu since its early days. How do you feel about wrapping it up and moving on to another platform?

Davinia:

Our time with Watu has been great – it has helped the team to become more efficient and introduced the idea of staff going online to apply for jobs; an industry standard these days, but a revolutionary idea just a few years back! Over time though, as the industry and technology advanced, our needs started to outgrow the platform.

And so, the transition to Liveforce brings with it fresh opportunities and a chance for us to use and contribute to a platform with new eyes and years of experience navigating technology platforms. It’s always daunting to tackle a change as big as this, but we’re feeling excited to take this step forward to be able to propel the business forward.

Watu: What made you choose Liveforce as your staffing platform? 

Davinia:

We reviewed and had demonstrations with a few platforms to check the market, but as soon as we spoke with the Liveforce team, our answer was obvious.

In addition to having software with modern features that are easy to use, the friendliness and flexibility of the team won us over. Since the initial discussions, the Liveforce team have been quick to respond, open to discussions, and most importantly, have followed through with the changes and new features that had been agreed upon. 

Watu: Which features in particular are you looking forward to using?

Davinia:

For our field staff, having a single app login will be a huge benefit. Now they’ll have a single application where they can see their entire schedule from all agencies in one place. Not only does it simplify their lives, but consequentially, they will be better organised reducing the chances for confusion between jobs, double bookings, and resulting in fewer queries coming in to the office team. A single login was the most requested feature from field staff during our time with Watu, so being able to deliver it means a lot in terms of what we can give back to the team.

As for the Mash managers, we have plenty to be looking forward to! Most specifically, having GPS check in has been on our staffing-platform wishlist for years; having this feature gives us peace of mind not to mention reducing time spent on communications each day of a live shift significantly. And of course, this translates into less hand-holding from our management team, and more time to focus on what matters.

What’s more, the job build is as easy as copy-paste. Considering how complex many jobs can be, with different shift times, location, roles, etc, the team will be saving hours per build – especially as when it comes to the inevitable changes that will have to be made to the schedule. 

Watu: How are you preparing field staff for the transition?

Davinia: 

The transition looks to be seamless, as Liveforce are taking care of moving our data into their platform. Our staff will receive a notification one month prior, followed by plenty of guidance, support and training videos through regular communications. Liveforce themselves have created a lot of the training material, so it’s just a matter of sending the videos through.

Saying that, the app and interface are also very intuitive so once staff are aware of the change, they’ll be up and running swiftly.

Watu: What’s your working dynamic like with Liveforce?

Davinia:

This is actually at the core of the relationship between Mash Staffing and Liveforce. The team have been so supportive – any question or concern has been addressed immediately, and the guys are always open to conversations and suggestions regarding different features. In fact, we’ve already added a few requests to the 2019/2020 pipeline which are in the works or have even been delivered already.

Once we’re completely up and running on the platform, we’ll continue the conversations through their customer chat feature which is priceless for quick answers and being able to move forward with day-to-day tasks. 

Having worked in the industry themselves as well as spending many months consulting with various agencies, the Liveforce team understand the pain points of staffing agencies and prepared themselves ahead of time. For example, our accounts team will receive specialised training prior to running any payroll and when payday does come, Liveforce will jump online with us and hand-hold us through the process. 

They have a willingness to help and attention to detail which is incomparable. 

Watu: How do you see the relationship and platform developing long-term?

Davinia:

In the future, apart from regular feature releases, we’re particularly looking forward to a reporting integration as this will save our team an enormous amount of time – everything from communications to data collection and reporting is online these days, so technology plays a crucial role in automation and its associated time-saving benefits. 

What’s more, we’re honoured to play a role in helping with Liveforce’s path forward and future development. Both teams have an opportunity to lead and support each other, not to mention enjoy the bright personalities and friendly partnership along the way!


The Watu team wish Mash and Liveforce all the best in their new partnership. For more information on transitioning from Watu to Liveforce, reach out to use anytime via info@watuapp.com  

Watu is merging with Liveforce

Watu is closing and merging with Liveforce

The team would like to announce that Watu is merging with Liveforce, and will be closing up shop by the end of December 2019. Let us first use this opportunity to thank you for your belief in our little team and our vision on what a staffing platform should offer in terms of value.

Over time, Watu pioneered features like the job market, making it a fair playing field for staff and eradicating booker favouritism as well as vastly reducing the cost of searching for staff for large jobs.  We made it possible for agencies to verify whether their booking confirmations had been read, and for staff to have work records build and their work performances be noticed and celebrated. We digitalised expenses, dramatically reduced down the labour requirement and margin of error on payroll, made messaging, both email and sms an easy, integrated feature amongst many other features.

Beyond the features, we realised the key to our version of success was to be a good company, happy to listen to your feedback, take it on board, keep you informed honestly, and maintain a happy relationship.  

Now that Watu will be wrapping up business, we decided that we needed to find a company with the same product vision as us, the same level of excitement for what can be built and a team that we liked.  Good people who will be able to build great product for you. Well, we found them in Mark and Greg at Liveforce.

Having flirted with each other for about 8 months, we put pen to paper and are super excited about the future of the Liveforce platform, and the value add it will bring to your business.  Watu as a brand will be put to rest at the end of October, when our service will cease to exist and all of our customers, if you so wish, will be up and running on LiveForce.

In the meantime, we’re going to show those of you who haven’t seen the platform, all its bells and whistles, share case studies of happy customers that have moved across already, speak to Phil at Mash Staffing to share his excitement to be moving across and generally hold your hand as you migrate.

Greg from Liveforce will be reaching out to you with the full programme and you can rest assured, Watu will be running, business as usual, for the next 6 months as we finalise the merge. For a quick glance at frequently asked questions and answers, please have a look here.

We’re stoked to be here, to have achieved this result, and believe that this is the right move for us, for you and your staff.  We look forward to watching you flourish on the new platform, as Liveforce.

With sincere gratitude,

Julian, Pablo, Daniel and Amanda. Watu

GDPR: Gaining Consent from Staff Members

GDPR staffing agency compliance

In the run up to the deadline for GDPR compliance, we’ve seen a flurry of activity to ensure both agencies and Watu are ticking all GDPR requirements. In a previous article, we explain our compatibility so that clients can rest assured.

But beyond safely stored data, agencies are also having to tackle the tick boxes which apply when contacting people via their personal email address. The big question of the moment: how do I gain consent from staff members to continue to hold their data and send them communications?

Some agencies have suggested emailing staff to receive replies of confirmation, but we would like to propose a solution which will reduce back and forth communication, and keep answers tracked within the database.

Profile Template Change

When staff members are registering or editing their profile, they are inside of the ‘profile template‘. This template is very flexible as you may already know, and it’s a powerful tool to organise, communicate with, and manage staff.

The first step would be for the Watu team to add a statement similar to the following which would sit at the top of the page:

Please select ‘yes’ below to confirm that you would like to be registered with <agency_name>, and therefore receive communications including job offers during this time. 

This would then be followed by an answer selection that is mandatory to answer:

Yes or No

We can entitle this section of the profile template “Data compliance“.

How does this affect staff?

For registering staff, they will come across this statement as the first question when applying, and would naturally tick ‘yes’.

For existing staff, this will now sit as a question within their profile template. They must enter their profile and click ‘edit’ to be able to answer the question.

How to reach out to existing staff?

You may request the above change by emailing tech support from your account. Once it’s in place, we suggest;

  1. Emailing your database (staffers -> active -> message and the same for pending) stating that you have added a mandatory question, for which they must answer yes to remain on your books
  2. After however many weeks and reminders as you feel comfortable with, you may do a search in the system for “Data compliance: No”
  3. This will turn up the results for everyone who has answered “No”
  4. You may choose to suspend these people and/or delete their data

The above search will apply to anyone new who has registered as well as existing staff members. We will pre-set all answers to be ‘no’ for existing staff, so that it’s an opt-in request; in other words, staff must edit their profiles to select ‘yes’ so that they do not leave the answer as ‘no’.

Data deletion

Whether you delete none, some or all of the data of suspended/imported/cancelled/declined profiles is up to your agency and we cannot advise on this.

Deletions may be completed manually, or you are welcome to reach out to us to ask for a quote. Please send through the following information;

  • who the data should be wiped for (which categories – suspended, cancelled, declined, imported etc)
  • what data should be wiped (names, email, phone number, all answers, photos, payroll, etc)

Looking forward

In the future, the question will remain on the database and a staff member may decide to select ‘no’ at any time. We would recommend to run a search each month or at whatever interval suits you best, looking for those staff who have selected ‘No’. Again, at that point, you may choose to suspend and/or delete their data.

If you are ready to implement the above or have any questions, do reach out to us via tech support. The wording is flexible and the above is a suggestion, so it can be adjusted as needed.

SMS Usage Summary Report

SMS usage report image of girl holding a mobile credit: unsplash rawpixel

If you’re a regular SMS-user in Watu, you may be in need of a monthly SMS usage report to break down your spend in the previous month.

Now, clients can do this by clicking into ‘billing’, selecting a previous bill, then following the hyperlink next to the SMS usage figures:

image of how to export SMS usage report from Watu

Within the report, managers will find all the details for each SMS including:

  • Sent At
  • Sender Name
  • Job Number
  • Job Name
  • Client Name
  • Message Template
  • SMS Body
  • Search Query
  • Number of Messages
  • Number of SMS*

*these numbers may differ as long messages can use multiple SMS per recipient

Whether for accounting purposes or to keep track of communications, all agencies may find some helpful nuggets of information contained in this report. If you have any questions about it, drop us a line at info@watuapp.com!

New Feature:: Document and Photo Upload to Jobs

Whilst the ‘booked’ job description allows for a full job brief, sometimes there are things to say or images to share which just can’t be written into a box.

And that’s why we’ve created a space for documents and images to be uploaded into jobs.

When clicking into a job, you’ll now see ‘show documents’ in the top right:

At this point, you can now choose documents to upload either by clicking into the grey space, or by dragging and dropping the document or image.


Once you’ve selected your document, you have a few options – do you want the document to remain private to managers? Or visible to all staff, or just the booked ones? And if visible to booked staff, is it only for a specific role?


Simply choose whichever settings are suitable for you, and save the document. Of course, you can choose to upload multiple documents which would only be visible to specific staff members.

Once your documents and images have been uploaded, here’s how it looks for the staff members:

If you have any questions about this feature, drop us a line via ‘tech support’ or info@watuapp.com

New Feature: Adding notes to a job

image of post it notes by michal grosicki for watu job notes

In the evolution from paper to computer, we’ve waved goodbye to paper notes, paper letters, sometimes even paper books. It’s virtual freedom from piles of notes on our desks…except for those pesky post-it’s which have stuck around – till now.

We’ve added a new feature which welcomes managers to leave notes within a job. Here’s how it works, in video:

In summary, managers can click to add notes in the top right of the job build page. Notes can be added and tracked per manager, as well as deleted.

 

New Payroll Changes

Photo by Freddie Collins on Unsplash

Payroll has been undergoing a makeover recently and we’re really excited to release it shortly, in its simplified glory. Watu clients are soon to see two major changes to running payroll: one condensed pay export file and faster self-employed processing

Release date: September 15th 2017

One condensed payroll

Prior to the changes, Watu had three separate tabs for employee payment, expenses payment, and self-employed invoice batch payment:

image of watu payroll options

Managers could choose whether to run one, or all three, but they had to be exported separately.

We’ve taken this process and boiled it down to one export:

image of new watu payroll

Managers can still opt for running just one – or two – of the options, or they can opt for them all. This new toggle set up allows for a variety of combinations – wages exports for both employees and self-employed, just expenses exports, just employees, and so on. But best of all, it allows for all payment exports for all types of staff, into one document.

The exported document itself will remain the same apart from one additional column where it will state whether staff are self-employed or employees.

Bonus: For those of you using Paycircle this is great news – integrations will be even easier now so you can run payroll in a snap!

Faster self-employed processing

Another change applicable to those agencies with self-employed staff will be music to your ears.

Rather than the drawn out process of signing off shifts, clicking ‘new invoice received’, matching totals to shifts and adding an invoice date and number, then running an invoice batch…here is the new process:

sign off the shifts -> click into payroll and export the data

In other words, payroll processing for self-employed will now behave exactly as it does for employees. We listened to your feedback that the workflow had too many steps, and that oftentimes building the invoice in Watu was irrelevant, so this new process is the most efficient one whilst still keeping Watu payments factual, accurate and reliable.

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.

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