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 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.

GDPR Compliance

GDPR compliance image

As of May 2018, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will come into effect, two years after its adoption and with the aim of protecting the data of EU citizens. GDPR compliance is mandatory and will apply to Watu as we hold the data of thousands of staff.

The regulations define new standards and procedures which companies handling data will have to follow, in order to protect EU citizens and help them be aware of their data rights and security.

How does this affect agencies?

Agencies hold thousands of staff member’s private details including names, email addresses, home addresses, and so on. The GDPR states that there are two main parties involved who must align to ensure the standards are carried out.

A controller specifies how and why personal data is processed, while a processor conducts the actual processing of the data (source). In this case, agencies are the controllers and Watu is the processor, and in this instance, the controller is responsible for ensuring the processor is following the law.

What are the new rules, and how will Watu approach them?

Breach notification:

If our security within Watu was ever to be breached and data exposed which could result in a risk for the individuals, it is Watu’s responsibility to inform the agency as soon as possible. The rules state that notification to the individuals must be within 72 hours.

Right to access:

Individuals may, at any time, request “from the data controller confirmation as to whether or not personal data concerning them is being processed, where and for what purpose” and this must be provided as a free service with the option of the information being provided in electronic format.

  • If the Watu team receives a request from a staff member for details about their data, we will confirm that the agency is processing the data provided via the profile template questions, for use related to booking them work.
  • The data is already provided via their staff profiles, which staff have free access to at any point, and we can provide copy in electronic format if so requested.
Right to be forgotten:

Staff may state that they withdraw consent of their personal data being held at any time. In this case, Watu would be responsible for removing the data as well as ensuring the agency no longer accesses this personal data.

  • If a staff member contacts Watu after having cancelled their account, and requests that their personal data be erased, we are able to do so by changing their personal details to ‘blanks’. If they were no longer due any payment, we would also be able to erase bank details. As such, the agency would no longer have access to the staff member’s details effective immediately.
  • The profile itself would not be deleted however, as this is used as an important holding space within the software’s history, for example, in previous payroll, previous jobs, and so on.  Having the profile exist, even with blank information, is crucial as it retains the factual history of Watu, especially considering the potentially high turnover rates.
Data Portability:

This rule states that the individual must have access to their held data and we must be able to provide it in ‘machine readable format’ to be passed on to another controller.

  • If a staff member reaches out to Watu, we are able to provide them with this data which would include their profile template details and bank details, as they were ‘previously provided’ by the individual.
Privacy by design:

This refers to building a safe structure from the start, as well as limiting the access of data.

  • Watu ensures that its data is kept extremely secure, and its our first priority with regards to the software. The data is held with a reputable company called Linode, and includes encryption where necessary.
  • With regards to ‘data minimalisation’ which states that only the minimum data must be required and accessed, we encourage agencies to only ask questions in the profile template which are relevant to the type of work.
  • Additionally, bank information is only gathered after a staff member has been confirmed by the agency, so that we do not unnecessarily collect private data.
  • As for access being limited to only those who need to access the information, we have ensured that each client account is kept separately and this is why each Watu client has a unique URL, to ensure there is never crossover. The only people with access to this data are the agency managers, the Watu customer happiness team, and the developers.
Data protection officers:

 

A company must hire a DPO if handling a certain type of data, such as criminal convictions, or if monitoring the data subjects on a large scale. Watu does not have a specific DPO, however we consider the protection of data to be the responsibility of the entire team and as mentioned earlier, the security of this data remains our absolutely priority. As changes in law come about, we will work together to ensure Watu remains in accordance with the legal requirements.

Summary

As per the above guidelines, Watu already fulfils many of the requirements stated by the new GDPR. We have a consistently transparent and helpful policy and many of the requirements have been in practice already, such as offering to wipe staff data or ensuring that structures are designed with security in mind.

We will continue to operate as such, and welcome queries and comments from any agencies.

Newsflash: Watu system updates

Image of tools from Unsplash to represent Watu's features

We’re constantly working on giving you more, and better, tools within Watu. As a front-end user of Watu, you may sometimes be wondering what we’re working on behind the scenes, so in case this is you, here is a list of recent releases which are visible to to clients*;

*this means you will be able to see the difference. There is plenty that goes on in the background which would only make sense to developers 🙂

Booking Emails are Clearer

This is the latest release and one which many of you have been asking for! Previously, ‘successful booking’ emails listed the shifts with details at the top of the email, followed by exceptions.

This was confusing. For everybody.

Image of booking confirmation email from Watu to temporary staffer

Now, as seen above, it lists each shift with its details, unless all the shifts are exactly the same in which case it lists the detailed information just once.

Introducing Canadian Payroll

For our lovely and loyal Canadian clients, we released a detailed payroll data capture section integrated into Watu, much like we have for the UK, US and Australia. This means that Canadian accounts will now be able to ask staff for their bank account payment details, SIN numbers, and everything else necessary to be able to pay staff.

Image of bank detail capture in Watu for Canada

And when payroll is being exported, all this information will automatically populate the spreadsheet. Hello, simple payday.

Fixing a calendar glitch

When staff were looking at the calendar to pick a date – like their birthday – the white text would show up against a white background. Oops.

Image of Watu's calendar feature

This has happily been corrected!

Easier profile cancellation for staff

Whilst the system previously had many blocks in place for staff cancelling their profiles with an agency, we eased some of the restrictions so that staff can now cancel even if they had been shortlisted for a job – as long as the job is in the past.

This should mean fewer emails to managers asking to be suspended.

Portfolio background image

Previously, the portfolio background had two black sections on either side to contain the image. We realised that this wasn’t ideal for some agency images, so the image now covers the entire background.

It’s ever-so-slightly sleeker and a slight adjustment to a feature we’re excited to be renovating in the future.

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

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

Job Applications Rock

When booking a person on to a shift you need to ascertain their availability, their suitability & their interest in the job.  Without your own job market you achieve this filtering by sending SMS to staff or calling them to see if all three factors coincide with the details of your job.  This is time consuming and costs money.  It’s also potentially damaging for the agency brand as staff will register and never ever hear from the agency again.

Managing your own job market addresses all of these redundancies:

Time – By publishing your job to your market place, your staff are able to review all open opportunities, review the details of that job from description through to dates, location, shift times and pay and then made a decision on whether to apply.  At this point, no time has been spent by the staff manager in ascertaining any of these particulars with staff.

Accuracy – Staff confirm their suitability and availability in their application.  Information that can be lost on a phone based booking is all noted, increasing the booking accuracy.

Cost Saving – No SMS notifications or phone calls, and far less time spent by the staff managers means booking costs are reduced.

Reputation – Giving staff the opportunity to view and apply to all opportunities means your staff are always up to date and don’t feel like they are never offered work.  WIth a simple way to decline applications, they don’t feel ignored and it ensures that your staff managers can be accused of booking favorites, an accusation that can lead to agencies gaining a bad reputation.

Just four great reasons to be utilising your own job market!