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:
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
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.
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…
We all look at data and arrange it differently in our minds on order to best understand it. Some of us may squeal at spreadsheets whilst others prefer flowcharts, and yet the ‘visual learner’ group wants things presented as an image. It’s why there are so many organisational apps out there – what works for one person, one team, or one company may be totally irrelevant to the workflow of another.
Watu also provides various ways to view jobs, for example in the job schedule page or downloaded to CSV for those spreadsheet nerds, but what about the visual group?
Here’s a solution for you guys: creating a promotional campaigns map in Google Maps
How does it work?
Within Google Maps, once logged in, you can choose to create and save a map based on your data. This data can, of course, be imported, meaning you can either whip together a spreadsheet of what you want to visualise, or you can choose to download straight from Watu. The map then saves pins on your locations with all the columnised data stored within each pin.
If you’re going ‘huh..?’ – don’t worry, this blog piece is for visual learners. So let’s make it so.
Step 1: Create the document
Once you’ve built your job in Watu, click ‘Download Job Schedule’
Alternatively, you can choose at this point to build your own spreadsheet in Google Drive or another document. If doing so, just place the column headers in the first row so that Maps can read the titles correctly.
Step 2: Filter your document
Filter to what you need by selecting repetitive columns and deleting them.
In this case, I’ve chosen to narrow down the rows to just one line per location, rather than having a pinpoint for each time the location appears.
Step 3: Go to Google maps
Create your map by going to Google Maps then clicking on the menu and selecting ‘My Maps’. Note that you’ll have to be logged into Google in order to create your own map.
Step 4: Create your map
Click ‘create’ at the bottom of the menu
Step 5: Import your data
Import your map by selecting the layer and clicking ‘import’. Select your document and then click ‘location’ (or however you named the address column) to have the pins reflect the addresses of your campaign.
Your customised promotional campaign map:
There you have it, your final results. In this case, a basic map with just a few job points, but with the potential for many more.
The pins are instantly placed on the locations specified in the spreadsheet. Clicking on a pin will display more detail:
Once you’re at this point, the map is yours to explore and add to like, for example, adding additional layers if you have other campaigns you’d like to add in.
Whilst there are some who are perfectly content in their current roles, there will always be others who wonder if the grass is greener on the other side. Or maybe we should say, there some folk thinking of leaving the grassy fields of experiential staffing behind for the cosy interiors of the management office.
Perhaps you’ve seen the managers swinging by whilst you were out and about (snapping a few photos Joel and Lia style!) or when you went for your interview the offices held a certain pull. Maybe, it’s just time for a bit more routine in your life and a more comfortably predictable day.
Whatever the reason, switching from working your 9-5 in the field to booking them from the office is a pretty common path in the promo world. But if you’re thinking about it, what exactly should you be thinking about?
Bye-bye spontaneity, hello routine
Events will have you working nationwide with a new crew, new brand, and new brief every few days. It’s go-go-go with fresh sights, smells, sounds, and faces galore. The office, on the contrary, will bring you familiar sights, a regular commute and the same colleagues day in and day out.
Whether that sounds like a nightmare or a chance to introduce some structure into your life, is completely personal to you. Will you miss the variety? Or appreciate the chance to automate some parts of your life? Do you get bored easily? Or prefer the familiar, settling quickly into your comfort zone?
Brand ambassadors play possibly the most crucial role in a campaign. Months of work stemming from the brand, to the marketing agency, to the staffing agency and many others in between all come together in the moment that you step on board. Your message delivery, positive interactions and great big smile can make or break a campaign.
But whilst you may be rated by the agency on your performance with them, when it comes to whether or not the promo was pulled off successfully, it’s the campaign manager who bears accountability.
So if you switch from field to office, it’s worth bearing in mind: drop outs, an unhelpful staff member or uncooperative team, lateness and all those niggly negatives that can tarnish a campaign are your responsibility. Unlike praise, which is often credited to and swiftly passed on to the staff on the ground, negative feedback often makes its final stop in the staffing agency office where the bookers must bear the brunt.
Events don’t close
Do you get a buzz out of working late nights and weekends? Does anyone? Because that’s a fact you’ll have to consider thanks to the nature of the industry. Events don’t close and in fact, they tend to pick up in the evenings and on the weekends when the crowds are out and about.
And if events are live, you’ll have to be on call. Many agencies do allocate one manager per weekend to take care of everything running, but if you’re heading up a campaign, you’re the one with the inside knowledge and may have to step in to help out.
Saying that, this can be a plus if you’re interested in getting involved beyond the 9-5. Have you ever finished a campaign wondering if it was successful, if the social media hashtags gathered attention and final sales increased? Or you built up a great working relationship with the client on-site and thought it might be cool to nurture a budding network? That curiosity and drive is what will help you to make the switch.
A tighter team
So promo work might bring a lot of socialisation, but it also includes a lot of social turnover. The guys you did the chicken bites promo with may have been super cool, but you may also never work with them again. Bummer.
As a team in the office though, you’ll be sitting there together day in and day out. Gritting your teeth through the tough days of last-minute client requests, laughing along with the characters surrounding you, and partying till the sun comes out before heading straight back to the office (guilty…).
Not to mention, companies love a little team bonding and you can count on activities away from the office, Christmas parties, birthday cakes and mini-celebrations all year long.
You can’t work the really awesome event
Sometimes, when I was a campaign manager, a ridiculously cool gig would come through. Driving around beautiful cars, getting all dolled up for a make-up brand, giving away freebies at a festival (because everyone knows freebies and festivals are the best), or even a particularly well-paid event. As I took down the details from the client all I could think was “me me me me!” but, clearly, that wasn’t going to happen. It wouldn’t be professional, it wouldn’t be fair, and to be honest, I probably wouldn’t be the best person for that role. And so instead, they went to the fantastic staff on the books who totally rocked the jobs.
Some agencies do encourage their office staff to get involved in some campaigns – it helps remind them of the logistics, the experience, the cold and wet days spent working outside, the feeling of rejection when no one wants a flyer, and the good bits too – but what you get booked on is luck of the draw and no, you won’t make double wage that day!
So what do you think, how does it sound? If you’ve considered all the above and think it sounds up your alley, give it a go and let us know!
Note: This is applicable for UK agencies only and is not legal advice
As we’ve discovered with issues like working hours per week and holiday pay, running an agency managing temporary staff can be like wading through a swamp. The information available is thick and murky, and you’re stuck in the middle of it. Not only do agencies have to abide by UK laws, but there are EU regulations to bear in mind as well – as long as, of course, Brexit doesn’t actually happen.
Just last week, an agency sent through an article which was of high concern: MiHomecare was facing a group action lawsuit and is having to possibly cough up hundreds of thousands of pounds for staff who had technically been paid under the minimum wage.
Before we get too into the thick of things let me just say – I love when agencies voice their concerns, send us articles, and discuss the industry with Watu. It’s awesome to hear from you and it helps to keep us in the loop of what needs working on. So, kudos to the agency who sent through this article!
What was the case?
This case currently only applies to care workers who must travel in between their shifts, spending sometimes an hour either driving down small roads, or waiting outside homes until their elderly patients are ready to see them. They were not compensated for this time and as a result, were working long hours without balanced pay.
The court, and now HMRC, have decided that this lack of compensation qualifies the carers as potentially working for less than minimum wage, hence why they can now claim these fees back and why HMRC is in the midst of investigating more than 100 other home care suppliers and their working practices.
This decision could also affect many other industries including IT workers, nurses, engineers and technicians with many of them supporting this case and hoping to better their own circumstances which involve many hours of travel per day.
But that’s just looking at travel in between shifts…
Most promotional agency staff commute to their place of work, fulfil their shift, then commute home again. So does the above apply? Most likely not, if this is how your staff are working.
And most agencies, if the staff are having to travel for the campaign – like in guerilla marketing – continue to pay the staff member continuously during the shift, rather than discounting the time spent hopping from one place to another.
But what about travel to and from work?
Here’s where it starts to get swampy. The Court of Justice of the European Union ruled late last year that “those with no fixed place of work spend travelling between home and their first and last places of work each day counts as ‘working time’“.
So, said simply, when your temporary staff are going to and from their shifts/home, this does count as work. What is important to note, however, is that this has effect on the Working Time Directive which only has ruling over working hours and not working pay.
In fact, the ruling of the case from last year specifically stated that the “CJEU expressly stated in its decision that it is for national legislation to determine whether or not this travelling time – or, indeed, any other category of working time – is paid or unpaid”.
So should you be paying staff for their travel time?
Totally separate from the Working Time Directive, minimum wage is governed by the National Minimum Wage Act.
Based on the above, it then seems like what’s important to consider are the hours and not necessarily the pay. So when viewing the issue from this angle, agencies should be bearing in mind the European Union’s Working Time Directive. For example, it would be worth reviewing:
If the staff member has not opted out of the 48 hour working week initiative, does this mean they’re then working over the 48 hours?
Does this affect how much break time staff can have during the day?
Does it affect the number of consecutive hours worked?
Must holiday pay reflect this new total of hours worked?
Are you staff working night shifts? There are extra rules protecting staff from being overworked throughout the night.
Do your terms of engagement comply with the ruling?
It seems like, for now, as long as your agency is complying with the working hours regulations, then you’re following the rules and will make it through that swamp unscathed. But with national and EU laws changing and evolving to ensure staff are treated fairly and compensated correctly for their time, it’s worth keeping an eye out on these topics.
We would always recommend discussing these legal issues over with your HR department or employment lawyer to ensure you’re in line with what’s being required. And an easy way to stay in tune with what’s happening? Set up a Google alert with keywords such as “working time directive”, “national minimum wage”, “travel time compensation”, and so on. It’s not a completely reliable way to catch the latest laws, but it could go a long way in alerting you as to what’s happening, what’s being discussed, and what’s being determined by the courts.
Did you already know this about travelling time? Or will you now be reviewing your staff schedules? I’d love to hear whether you’re already a step ahead or will be tackling this issue now!
The previous app recommendation I shared with you was for Slack, whose goal is to have you ditching your inboxes. But being honest, that’s a pretty big leap and we’re far from reaching that point if we even want to get there. So to keep with the theme of cleaning up your inboxes and reducing the daily dump (the inbox, that is), today we’re having a look at Unroll Me.
What is Unroll Me?
If you’re a subscription addict, you need this app. Or even if you think you aren’t, you probably need this app. These days it’s impossible to navigate the web, explore a site, or download that freebie report without subscribing to a newsletter. Plus, those catchy pop up’s do their job.
Chances are, you actually have no idea how many newsletters you’re subscribed to and the truth is, you just can’t be bothered to find out nor unsubscribe from them all. Well, that’s my story anyway.
Unroll Me takes this problem and sorts this out for you, with minimal effort required from your end.
Desktop and mobile friendly, its platform provides a straightforward, simple way to unsubscribe. One that you’ll be pretty accustomed to if you’re a Tinder fan: swipe left.
Following your clean-up, Unroll Me then bundles the rest of your newsletters into one neat and tidy email that hits your inbox once per day. Take a peak into its contents, select what you want to read and dig in.
And the clincher? The app identifies all your newsletters for you instantly, so there’s no boxes to tick or lists to scroll through to have to submit. Ah, the magic of tech.
That’s pretty much it. Enjoy your once-a-day digest or if you don’t, delete the offenders. Suddenly, between Slack and Unroll me – and who knows who else we’re yet to discover – your inbox is looking a whole lot quieter. Which means you’ll actually be able to get some work done.
There are some stark differences between the US and the UK – the meaning of the word fanny, tea with or without milk, and the ability to laugh at oneself – and, perhaps not as obviously, in the staffing industry as well. But from a country who broke away from the UK based on some disagreements, perhaps that should be expected.
Having spent equally 10 years in the suburbs of New York followed by 10 years in the near heart (well, zone 2) of London, and now with Watu clients on both ends, I thought it may be interesting to have a peek into the key differences between the two in their approach to staffing.
When an agency’s first question is “Does your software have a limit of staff profiles?”, you know you’re looking big. They’re not asking if we charge for a certain number of staff or are there limited sign ups per day. This question means: I’m going to have a staffing book as big as a small city. Can your software handle that volume?
And this is what happens when nationwide tours mean exactly that. Agencies must cover 3.8 million square miles of potential promotions. That is A LOT of ground. And not just that, but much of it is spread out and not always well interconnected. Travel within the country can be expensive and that means local staff are a necessity.
This has knock-on effects that I believe shape the industry. Of course agencies still want good quality staff, but often, volume is king. Recruitment is less picky, doors swing on hinges allowing most in, and more people are given a chance to work. Interviews are, frankly, quite impossible to carry out in person unless agencies were to have an infinite budget to fly people around or agency representatives stationed in almost every city. Even virtually, when we’re looking at thousands of staff members, the dedication to recruitment would just be too costly.
What’s more, the agency and staff member relationship is a distant one. American clients ask about numbers, performing tasks en-masse, one-click solutions to apply to big groups, and a referral feature because this is the constant battle of US agencies: recruiting more and more staff.
This has led to the emergency of a new type of staffing: white label staffing. Now, software companies like Watu are popping up but with a twist – they come ready-made with staff. Sign up as an agency, change the branding and you have an instant book. White Label Staffing, for example, says it straight up: “WLS software is designed to look as though you have created your own staffing company.” It’s like instant noodles with your own sticker on top. Decide you want it, then be tucking into the steaming bowl mere minutes later.
Rather than agencies carefully guarding and curating their books, White Label Staffing flips this on its head and provides a book of staff to be shared. Agencies can even check staff reviews provided by other agencies.
So if the staff aren’t the distinction, where does the added value come from? I’m yet to have experience with this type of staffing, but I can only suppose it would come from the managers themselves, the way they communicate with clients and staff, the reports they feed back, the efficiency with which they work. And White Label Staffing isn’t the only software company doing so. This trend is on the rise and is buzzing in the staffing-agency-osphere.
And now the Brits. Mary Poppins, tea and scones, and stiff upper lips all tucked into 94,000 square miles of drizzly greyness. And within this, a fair number of awesome staffing agencies who value the personal touch and, au contraire to the US, turn away volume to focus on unique quality.
The difference isn’t just noticeable, it’s huge. Feature requests sent through to Watu from British clients focus on the individual; agencies want to track whether someone is brand trained, client approved, great at certain skills. The notes and sign-off sections are full of comments. “Fantastic in the interview”, “Saw Sarah on-site and full of enthusiasm”, or “Lent Johnny a few quid” are, believe it or not, commonly said by UK managers. Almost all agencies require an in-person interview or at least a video submission. The Brits, unlike the American hinge door, have the door to their books locked with a peephole into experience, character, and work history.
The relationship between manager and field staff is crucial. Agencies prefer staff loyalty and for a genuine friendship to develop. This is often brought about by various means though the key is always in demonstrating appreciation for the work done in the field. Sports days, open-invite parties, winners of the month. The staff are the focus of an agency’s efforts because as we all know, happy staff equal happy clients.
And in the UK, this is possible. Those 94k sqm can be covered by one team of staff: one EM and a small group of brand ambassadors, can all be city-hopping via short haul flights and vans. And that translates to that particular team having to be incredible, keeping their energy fresh, and choosing that nationwide tour over other offers of work. Because in such a small space and with so many events, staff often have a choice of which shifts they’d prefer to work. Drastically different to the US, where staff based anywhere other than NY/LA/etc may be lucky if an event comes their way.
I remember writing profiles for brand ambassadors to send across to clients. It would usually read something like “Motivated, brilliantly friendly, and particularly reliable member of staff who is also a part-time actress in Shakespearean plays.” And I meant every word. Chances are, I had personally met, spent time with, and was possibly friends with this staff member.
So whether you’re considering a virtual hop across the pond to open doors on either grounds, or just curious to know what the view is like from those open doors, this is just a glimpse into the other side. With such vast differences between the two types of staffing industries, it appears that being successful in both would take a very different approach – or perhaps, maybe what one provides is what the other is missing? Could boutique staffing take off in the US? Would UK clients accept white label staffing or in fact, would agencies even themselves be comfortable taking on pre-filled books full of strangers’ photos?
Maybe these options are open to all as long as one key point is kept in mind: in the end, no matter what route it takes from client to field staff member, it’s the quality of the staff member and their work in the field that matters. Whether one person of 40,000 on the books, or Joe who is your favourite EM for car brand tours in Scotland, it all boils down to the individual on the ground. And that’s where our focus should stay.