Last week, the British Heart Foundation (BHF) released the findings of a survey that shows that, despite all our talk of ‘decluttering’ our homes, many of us still snap up several new items of clothing every month; wear them only once; and then throw them in the rubbish, rather than donating them to a charity (or thrift) store - such as, say, one of the 750-plus shops run in the UK by the BHF, the country’s largest charity retailer.
Historically, the BHF’s retail network was run as an almost entirely separate business from the charity, but in recent years, the goal has been to bring together the two sides of the BHF, according to Kerry Smith, its director of people and organizational development.
It’s a huge task, she says, given the scale and diversity of the workforce involved: the organization has 500 paid employees in its support and research functions (the charity side of the business) and 3,000 in its retail operations. Most stores have a paid manager and assistant manager - experienced retail professionals who come to the BHF from high street stores such as Marks & Spencer and WHSmith. These retail employees oversee 18,000 in-store volunteers. Another 2,000 volunteers help out with fundraising and events. Says Smith:
We’ve done a lot of work to bring our workforce together - it’s been a bit like a corporate merger - but we still want to do a lot more to bring us all together so that everyone in BHF can share their skills and knowledge in support of our goals of medical research and supporting people with cardiovascular disease in whatever ways they can.
That’s why the BHF is embarking on an implementation of cloud-based software from human capital management specialist Workday, she explains.
This is a big opportunity for us to accelerate our goals and plans. It’s exactly what we feel we need to do in order to become a world-class employer.
It’s quite a significant leap for us, because up until now, we’ve always said that every penny raised must go to medical research and supporting patients, but on this occasion, we were able to demonstrate to the executive board that, to get us to a place where we can better achieve these goals, we need to have technology that helps everyone in our workforce do absolutely the best job they can.
Smith is expecting the rollout of HCM apps in Workday to be complete by the end of November, ready to be launched to staff in the New Year. From there, the BHF intends to roll out learning modules during the first half of 2018. Payroll will come third, by the end of 2018.
All together now
In addition to bringing together more closely the retail and charity sides of the BHF, Smith is hoping Workday will assist in helping greater staff mobility between the two sides, too. At present, she says, she’s got a retail employee working on secondment to her internal communications team and she’d like to see a lot more of that kind of cross-pollination of skills and experience:
Being a world-class employer, for us, means not tying employees to individual locations or individual roles. We know we need to compete with other employers for talent and skills and I feel that Workday will help us with career development mapping for our employees, flagging up opportunities elsewhere in the organization to them, showing what skills they’ll need to make a move, take on a promotion, and so on.
She’s also looking forward to better analytics that will help her, and other business managers within the BHF, have greater access to more metrics on employee retention and development. At the moment, she adds, it takes about 70 days for her to get a report that looks at the workforce as a whole:
That’s not good enough. The data I get is out of date by the time I receive it and it only answers the questions I’ve asked, rather than prompting me with other data to get new insights or ask new questions. We’re way behind the curve on this.
And, of course, new cloud-based apps will simply help to streamline day-to-day tasks that take too long today. One example is the submission of timesheets by store managers to the charity’s back-office support staff: this currently takes a great deal of emailing and manual data entry effort, she says:
We need to move faster. We need to be much more like other digital organizations. I feel like we’re moving from ‘digitally naive’ to ‘digitally mature’ and it may be a hard transition, but it’s what will make us not just a world-class charity, but also a world-class employer.