Helping Uniting Country SA manage its geographically dispersed workforce

How ELMO helped Uniting Country SA

Introduction

Established over 150 years ago, Uniting Country SA (UCSA) is a not-for-profit organisation providing services to families, single adults and children experiencing difficulties such as domestic violence, disability and mental health issues, financial distress, homelessness, and family breakdown in regional South Australia. With over 55 services provided from 27 sites across South Australia and a head office in Port Pirie, UCSA has a vast geographical footprint and is deeply committed to improving the lives of those in its local communities.

Problems Experienced

" It was very hard with the different sites. Port Lincoln is a five-hour drive from Port Pirie, so for us to wait for someone to go down there to collect information to be placed in someone’s personnel file was horrendous. In some cases, they had to post it, but then some things couldn’t be posted because it was confidential. So that would mean a five-hour drive just to put some information in a staff member’s file."
Donna Slade - People & Culture Coordinator at Uniting Country SA

With 280 paid employees and 140 volunteers spread across various sites in South Australia, UCSA is not without its HR challenges.

Donna Slade, People & Culture Coordinator at UCSA (based in the Port Pirie head office), describes the dispersed nature of UCSA’s workforce: “We have a centralised HR function in the head office, which generally oversees HR functions and provides advice and support,” she says. “The general day-to-day is handled by program managers and team leaders.”

While the centralised HR function was on hand to oversee functions and give guidance, most HR matters were managed by team leaders and program managers locally on-site, giving HR little visibility of whether or not critical people processes, such as appraisals, were taking place.

This set-up presented some challenges when it came to tracking people-related processes. “We were running out of room to keep hard copies of employee files, and because everything was paper-based, we didn’t know whether employees were having things like their appraisals completed or not,” Slade says.

Similar issues were experienced when it came to signing off employees for their end-of-probation periods. The inability to keep track of these processes meant that UCSA was beginning to fall behind with compliance with regard to retaining documents in the hard copy personnel files. Prior to adopting workforce management technology, Slade discovered when conducting an internal audit on personnel files that Uniting Country was only 6% compliant in this respect.

Due to the nature of UCSA’s work, ‘working with children’ checks are mandatory for all staff. Without an in-date check, staff cannot work. “Because all of our documentation was paper-based, it was always difficult to keep track of which employees held an up-to-date screening,” Slade explains.

With little visibility of what HR activity was happening regionally, the need for streamlined, centralised people processes became apparent.

In addition, when it came to reporting, UCSA ran very limited reports from an old, clunky system, from which users could download a spreadsheet, which meant it would take the employee responsible for compiling these reports five days to generate.

1 Managing paper-based personnel information across sites was complicated, inefficient, and made compliance burdensome
2 A lack of visibility across the organisation’s sites made tracking people-related obligations difficult – for example, performance reviews, probation period sign-offs, etc.
3 HR reporting was error-prone and time-consuming
4 The system was clunky and non-user-friendly

Solution

In 2017, UCSA selected ELMO as its HR technology vendor, to help it transform from a paper-based system to a cloud-based one. Starting with ELMO’s Learning Management solution in 2017, UCSA then went on to adopt Recruitment, Onboarding, Performance Management, and HR Core in 2019.

“We chose ELMO because it was a one-stop shop and everything could be uploaded onto there, and its modules were customisable to our needs here at UCSA. It was user-friendly and cloud-based. The system we had before wasn’t,” Slade explains.

As a not-for-profit organisation, UCSA felt ELMO’s solution offered the best value for money, while also providing the option to add extra modules further down the line. The product demos highlighted how extremely user-friendly ELMO’s technology was compared to that of other vendors.

The Result

" We’ve really taken advantage of the customer success sessions recently – they are just brilliant. The little tips and tricks you can learn in one session with those guys are just amazing. I think this is great and I wish we had been doing this the whole time. We aren’t tech-savvy at all, but those guys [at ELMO] always put it in a way that helped us to understand."
Donna Slade - People & Culture Coordinator at Uniting Country SA

Ease of reporting was one major benefit introduced by the use of ELMO software. Using pre-set templates, the reports run themselves and could then be easily exported, reducing the time spent on reporting by 80%. Having instant access to this information brings benefits for the program managers, since they no longer have to go to HR for this information.

Slade notes: “It’s definitely made us more efficient as an organisation from a HR point of view, and from a reporting point of view, we are definitely on our game.”

Due to ELMO’s technology being cloud-based, it meant that personnel information could be accessed from any site, removing the need for HR to post, or worse, drive employee information between sites.

Streamlined performance management and onboarding workflows have also been game-changers for the HR team at UCSA. “The automatic workflows, especially for onboarding and offboarding, have been excellent. Because they are automatic, no one can miss a step,” says Slade.

Not missing any steps has also brought compliance benefits. Not only has the system given HR the visibility to see whether critical people processes – such as probation and performance checks – are taking place, it also flags when employees’ ‘working with children’ checks are due to expire, notifying the employer and the individual every month, six months’ prior to the expiry date. This has made a huge difference to productivity levels and has provided UCSA with instant, real-time data.

In addition to being flexible and user-friendly, ELMO’s modules make UCSA’s people-related processes consistent, so that all employees are guaranteed the same experience when it comes to onboarding and performance management.

With ELMO, UCSA felt supported throughout the implementation process and beyond. Not only were they able to get the support they needed at any point (from their Account Manager, ELMO Help Desk, Implementation Team), with response times typically within two to three hours, but they also found ELMO’s Customer Success webinars highly valuable when it came to getting the most out of the technology.

Finally, ELMO’s Recruitment module greatly helped UCSA measure the efficiency and costs of their recruitment processes. Slade explains: “With the recruitment module, we can enter costs and track costs and we could never do that before. We had no idea how much we were spending on advertising roles, whereas within the ELMO Recruitment module we can – it’s pretty easy and tells us how many people will view the ads and where the application has come from – whether it’s an internal one or an external via Seek. It’s just extra information that we’ve never been able to provide before.”

Donna concludes: “As a result of ELMO, I think we have come along in leaps and bounds. For example, custom reporting allows us to search, filter and analyse extra little bits and pieces. We can see when things like end-of-probations are due to take place. We have significantly reduced our reporting time but have also increased the number of different types of reports we can provide. Because of ELMO, we are getting on the front foot rather than being on the back foot.”
1 Thanks to its cloud-based nature, ELMO provided HR with greater visibility of people-related processes across a vast network of UCSA sites, while removing messy and error-prone paperwork.
2 By acting as a single source of truth for personnel information and providing streamlined workflows, ELMO improved UCSA's compliance rates and made an enormous difference to staff productivity.
3 Reporting time was reduced dramatically, with easy-to-export data available at users’ fingertips.
4 Custom reporting provided UCSA with insights they’d never previously been able to access.
5 A single platform made people-related processes consistent across the board, so each employee was guaranteed the same onboarding and performance management experience.
6 ELMO provided a seamless, user-friendly experience with support available at all times.
7 UCSA was able to track recruitment costs and measure the efficiency of its recruitment activity.