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.

Transforming Your Search in Watu

Following on from how to make the ideal staff questionnaire, some of you brought up specific cases that could do with more detail. You asked, I’ve answered. Here are two features within Watu that can make the difference to your bookings by transforming your search:


Creating a Group or Shortlist of Staff to Search

What if you want to search your top 10 staff? Or search within only the specific group of people who have worked for a client before? If you want to create a searchable shortlist, here’s what to do:

  1. Email with the title and what answer options you’d like. For example: Dear Watu, I’d like a manager’s-only section called “Santa Clause Lookalike” and the answer options to be tick boxes ‘yes’ or ‘no’. 
  2. We’ll add that question in to the profile template but only visible to managers
  3. You select your staff members who are rather round and very friendly, hit ‘edit’ within their profiles and tick ‘yes’ or ‘no’
  4. Come Christmas season, type in ‘Santa Clause Lookalike: yes’ and receive focussed results

This is a really flexible feature and allows you to create all types of lists, groups, and searches. Answers aren’t limited to yes/no either – have multiple tick box answers, text answers, URL’s or even files to upload. Just remember that it takes our developers a day or two to make these changes within your system.


How do Internal Roles Work?

This is a really connected feature within Watu and can change the way you book staff. Again, a step-by-step guide keeps things simple:

  1. Within the feature ‘Roles’, choose to add the roles that suit your business
  2. Select the appropriate staff member, hit edit and select the roles that you know they are appropriate for
  3. Searching for staff? Enter the role name to focus on that group. Advertising to staff? You have the option to advertise ONLY to those people whose included roles match that of the shift you’re advertising. Just look for the little tick box in your advert
  4. After a job, you’ll also have the option to automatically add that role to a person’s profile

Again, these roles are only visible to managers so it’s a way to quietly control which staff are suitable for specific jobs. And even better, ‘Roles’ is completely within your management so any changes you make are instant.


Best of all, these changes can be made whenever you want, for free. Either individually, or working with both these features, provides you with a more powerful search and focus for your jobs, ensuring you find the most ideal match for what your clients are asking for.

Country names in staffer search

Watu is global, and sometimes this has unexpected consequences on your workflow – like searching for a location that has namesakes elsewhere in the world. To help dodge these mix-ups, we’ve added a tiny tweak to the search box that automatically adds the name of your home country to your location queries.

Suppose you searched for staffers near a place like Portsmouth, and got no results:

failed search

Wait, that’s got to be wrong, you know you have staffers there! Could it be because you meant the old coastal town in Hampshire, but our geographic search thought you’d meant the old coastal town in New Hampshire? A quick look at the map will tell:

failed search with map

Many of our clients operate only or mostly in their home countries, so the new search box explicitly suffixes the location query with the country name:

new search small

But then how do you search for staffers in other countries? Easily: just type a comma and follow it with the name of the country – or for that matter state, province, suburb, really anything that describes the location you have in mind. The automatic country suffix will disappear and leave your search exactly the way you typed it:

new search comma

There it is, another small step on the road to making your work easier.

Searching on notes

In all systems that handle information, once you have enough information, there’s only one way to handle it: search. We, humans, are handling more and more information every day. Today we couldn’t think of a mailbox that doesn’t support an amazing search system, yet before Gmail, that was the norm.

After we released notes, I wasn’t really surprised we got the question: can we search on notes? Yes, you can now search on notes:

Notice that it’s the same staffer search you already used thousands of times. At Watu we are working hard to not only make search possible, but also easy and intuitive. We have several exciting new improvements coming soon. Stay tuned!

A tip to search for staffers in different states

We recently released mass-messaging and you’ve been using it quite successfully. You can easily click on the Active link and message all your active staffers. But what if you want to message all your active and all your pending staffers in one go? You can always do it with two messages, but Watu is all about efficiency, so let me show you a trick.

Once you click on Active, you’ll get a search bar that says “State: Active”:

You can add more states to the search by typing either “state” or the name of the state you want and picking from the list:

Once you select a second state, you’ll get the results from both of them:

Everything else works as before, you can further narrow the search by adding more search criteria, mass-message, and in the future, maybe more actions too.

Mass message your staff

If you click on “active” you’ll notice something different in Watu today. The Message action is enabled even though no staffer is selected. This is new.

This is the number one requested feature for Watu and today it’s finally available to all users: mass mailing staffers.

If you click on Message without selecting any staffers you’ll get a slightly different message window:

In this example, message all 183 active staffers.

In effect, you are now able to message all of your ‘active’ staffers (staff that are approved and live in your database).  Mass mailing works for any search you run in Watu. For example, let’s search for staffers that like the color green:

Simply click on the Message link and you get a messaging popup showing you that you are about to send a message to staffers who have stated their favourite colour as green:

Since we don’t know whether you want to message everybody who likes green, regardless of state, we give you the option to pick staffers that are pending, rejected, suspended, etc.

Messaging is the only mass-action we have for now, but in the future there will be many more as we look to streamline the job of booking staff. Mass actions enable you to easily affect a lot of people making them a powerful action.  With this in mind, remember uncle Ben’s wise words:

with great power, comes greats responsibilities

Search just got better

As of this morning, watu search just got better.

Not only have we reduced search result times from an average of 4 seconds down to an average of 2 seconds, but we’ve also rolled out field by field search without the inherent complexity (complexity = slow = expensive) usually attributed to field by field (different search boxes etc.).

Our mission with search is to increase precision (enabling more complex searches and higher value results), reduce down lag times (we’re very conscious that time is money in the staffing world)and make it easy. With ex Googlers sitting in the watu team, search is something we’re really interested in and we’re looking forward to continuing to improve the experience for you.

We’ve created a short video to show you how our new search works. As always, we love getting your feedback. You can e-mail us, press the HELP button in your database or tweet us at @watuapp.

Oh, one more thing. We’ve just launched our website at, we hope you like it.

Geographic search

We just released geographic search. There’s not much to say about it because it’s very simple to use. Select distance, type location, and all your results will be within that distance of that location. You can do pure geographic searches, like this:

or mixed searches, like this:

Notice that you also get the distance in the cards when doing a geographic search.

Searching Staffer Profiles

A quick example of how you can easily search WITHIN a staffers profile.  We’ve logged in on the manager side of Watu as Steven Spielberg.  We’re going to search for Michael Duncan as we’re shooting a movie about Ben&Jerrys and we’ve heard he loves ice cream.  This is how his profile appears;

Now we want to search within Michaels profile to see what type of ice cream he loves.  By clicking CONTROL F (windows) or COMMAND F (mac), we can easily search within his profile…

And within his notes too.

Making it much easier and faster to get to the information we’re looking for.

Watu, saving staffing teams time and money.

New search functionality

We recently released a new search functionality that included both an infrastructure change as well as a new design that allows us to show more information on the search results.

Like before, you can search for the staffers’ names:

You can also search for any piece of data that is part of a profile and it’ll show it to you right back in the search results:

I suppose you need to know how to operate a radio to be 007 or to travel back to the future.

Your search may as well match data in different fields, like in this case matching both colours and flavours of ice cream:

You can drill down your search results by adding keywords that can match any other information in the profile:

This means, that at a glance, you can see why we are displaying each result. There’s no need to go into the staffer profile and scan it. As we handle more and more data, bigger profiles and as well more people there’s only one way to manage it: search. Search is hard, but at watu we put a lot of emphasis in finding the right results and displaying them in the correct way.