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 to portfolio from a job

watu portfolio staff profiles image of picture frames

For the times when you need to present staff to clients, we now have you covered straight from jobs.

Rather than adding staff members individually to portfolios, you can now do so directly from the job. What are the choices?

  • Adding all booked

This option allows for you to select everyone who has already been booked into the job, so rather than creating options for your client, you are presenting them with the team.

  • Adding all applied and shortlisted

When you need to present staff to a client for them to select who to book, adding all applied and shortlisted is your best bet. This will add anyone who has applied or been shortlisted to the job, but will not include anyone who is booked already.

  • Adding everyone linked to the job

Want to present everyone linked to the job, whether booked, applied, or shortlisted? Use this third option to add everyone, ever, into the portfolio.

And here’s how to get started:

First up, build your portfolio template by clicking on ‘portfolios’ and selecting which information you would like to show.

From within your job, hover over the menu button near the top right of the job information to apply the command to the whole job, or hover over the menu within each location to be more specific:

Booked staff in a job in Watu

Select which group of staff members you would like to add to the portfolio:

Adding staff to portfolio from a job in watu

This box will pop up, confirming who you are adding, and allowing you to select which portfolio you will add staff members to:

Selecting a portfolio within watu

Once you’ve added the staff, click back into ‘portfolios’ to check the profiles and add notes, if necessary:

Staff portfolio within Watu

And that’s it – grab the URL, whiz it across to the client and await their feedback. Job done.

Making the switch from brand ambassador to campaign manager

Photo by Szabolcs: photo of typewriter to symbolise switching from brand ambassador to manager photo of typewriter to symbolise switching from brand ambassador to manager

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?

More accountability

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!

Photo by Szabolc

Should you be paying staff for their travel time?

Should travel time be paid for staff commuting image Photo by Cliff: https://flic.kr/p/6h6Zu8

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.

They have stated that time spent travelling to and from a shift is not subject to minimum wage, consequentially meaning that although it’s working time, you do not necessarily have to pay for it.

What’s important to consider

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!

Photo by Cliff

 

The difference between American and British staffing agencies

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.

Photo by David Martyn Hunt: https://flic.kr/p/5A75s3
Milky or builder’s for you then?

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.

The Americans

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.

photo of alabama without event staff
Alabama: Beautiful, empty, and with occasional events.

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.

The Brits

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.

Photo by David Martyn Hunt

Photo by Trish Hartmann

 

Mapping your staff with Maptive

mapping promo staff with maptive

Every now and then, I come across an app that would come in handy for staffing agencies. And Maptive is exactly this. If you’ve found yourself trying to understand your densities of field staff placement, but instead are left staring at Excel sheets with postcodes by the hundreds, Maptive will be able to help by mapping your staff. “Your data, on a custom Google Map, crazy fast”, it promises. It’s the crazy fast bit that caught my eye.

Maptive have taken the cumbersome task of mapping and made it elegant, not to mention, foolproof. Provide them with raw data, and they will place your hundreds, or even thousands, of staff on a Google map. If you’re keen to explore your data even further, they provide the options of filters, radius circles, grouping, and determining the most efficient routes between locations.

So what can you do with a map of your staff? Well, it’s more like, what can’t you do…

  • Present your staff spread to a client needing nationwide coverage – and proof that you can do it
  • Know which locations you need to focus on for hiring purposes
  • Tackling a job with multiple stops? Easily find the quickest routes
  • Use the attractive display options to present to clients when displaying potential target areas
  • Share routes or other staff members’ locations with your Event Manager via Maptive’s mobile friendly feature
  • Use your imagination…

Begin with a free trial and, if you won’t be using it extensively, stick to the limited and free version. But if you’re ready to explore more, check out the different packages starting at $250 for 45 days.

It can be daunting taking on new software, but adopting new apps and finding which ones stick can be game-changers. If you give Maptive a go, be sure to let us know if it’s helped you out!

Is Getting Hit On Part of the Game?

“Can I film you saying happy birthday for a friend in France?” asked the guy in the conference. “Sure” I replied; after all what’s the harm in my face being sent across the world to wish a happy birthday. But as the guy took a few big steps backwards and aimed his camera phone slightly lower, it made me cringe inside (whilst simultaneously tugging down my dress). I had signed up to promote a company and I was aware it included wearing rather big heels and a very tiny dress, but I was starting to feel like a dolled up puppet.

According to this American promo girl, getting hit on is part of the game. It’s going to happen, and we have to accept it. “If you become a promo gal or booth babe, you are presenting yourself as a sex object” she says. Whilst I do agree that it’s going to Credit: www.mollieinseattle.comhappen, especially when we’re asked to slip – or is it squeeze – into a second spandex skin with the brand name written across our butts, I also firmly believe promo staff can change this image.

Just like air stewardesses used to be picked for their looks but now must demonstrate a variety of skills, the same is also happening for promotional staff. Experiential marketing is about a customer’s experience with you and it’s not just about making them feel good via a little flirt; there are so many other channels through which to engage. By demonstrating, informing, asking questions and yes, having a laugh – without the sleaze.

Agencies are catching on to this and offering ‘more than just beautiful staff’, whilst also making an effort to find our more about you as a person. They want to know what you studied, your talents, interests, and hobbies to be able to present you as a person, not just a picture. By doing so, the lucky folk who get to take part in your event don’t remember you as just a pretty girl – or guy – who was trying to sell a piece of kit. Instead, they have a genuine experience and form a memory, still associated with the brand, of a person who intrigued them with their knowledge, smiles, and sense of fun.