As stadia and arenas across the world seek to reopen and operate amid COVID-19, one of the key challenges facing them is effective labour management. Humanforce seeks to aid businesses from across multiple industries to enhance this aspect of their operations. Ahead of his speaking appearance at TheStadiumBusiness Summit LIVE 2020, Nathan Miller, recently appointed managing director of Humanforce in UK and Europe, explains to how venues can build back better. What do you see as the main challenges facing stadia, arenas and sports organisations in terms of labour management in the COVID-19 era?

Nathan Miller: “The need to scale up and scale back at pace with efficient communication that meets the need of a flexible worker and team. We see the continued need to react to workforce complexity exaggerated by COVID-19, driving moves to reduce fixed overheads in real time and the likely increase in reliance on a flexible or more outsourced workforce model while still maintaining all the benefits of a permanent team.

“We know stadia and event venues have diverse workforce interactions and operate across a wide range of roles. They need to manage complexity as standard and the lead time to changes seems to be getting shorter. Only clever use of technology will allow the industry to rebuild better, driven by technology with a reliance on automation and data. 

“A daily and real time challenge in the return to post COVID-19 events remains the speed of communication to firstly open/close activity. If we look back to September 2020, when venues opened up and then shut – within 24 hours teams needed instant de-mobilisation.

“The implication is the need for a speedy reaction to changes in legislation and requirements in ensuring patron safety and compliance, and control cost, while retaining the engagement of the teams being affected or flexi-furloughing to accommodate the fragmented levels of demands.”

Nathan Miller

TSB: How can Humanforce help to meet these specific challenges?

NM: “Firstly, we hope the range of engagement options, messaging and ease of use and adoption for the team members via our mobile app to arrive at work, use geo-fencing, shift bidding and swapping, accessible while on the move, help employer and worker interact to deliver real time efficiency in the now instant need to amend staff levels and work requirements.

“We feel taking some of the complexity and applying simple demand-based rota plans and templates to empower the administrators in effectively planning, building, deploying and managing their teams helps counter some of the labour challenges.

“The high turnover nature of event-based work, and the requirement to be responsive to the market is critical and supported with automated onboarding. And we enjoy deploying our messaging and alert options, and noticeboards, to keep the people who need it most engaged and informed. It also allows you to build team spirit with a workforce that normally doesn’t work in the same department or physical location.”

TSB: Could you give us any examples of best practice in terms of customers you are working with?

NM: “I think the best approach, without sharing customer specifics, is where we supply a flexibility to their management and deployment options and the mobile engagement to deliver quickly to complex location, role and event logistics. Where management can capture the outputs, costs and impact from the operations quickly really helps, especially in their onward reporting in the case of end customers in some instances.

“Being able to spin up and deploy large scale solutions quickly has really been a help in the country’s response to COVID-19, and to integrate in-demand data to drive the complex balance of over or underservicing customers.”

TSB: How do you feel labour management issues will change as venues begin to reopen?

NM: “We know our customers are preparing for the recovery and reopening now, while business activity at their sites is low. With the recent announcements change is a daily activity for the venues and stadia teams, currently with limited people on the ground.

“The key will be strong communications and engagement with the teams and balance of efficiency and effectiveness when engaging un-furloughed teams for action in an environment where historical data will not inform metrics. Resource efficiently and directly as you look to re-engage and un-furlough teams for action.

“We feel some of the steps required where Humanforce supports include improving the ability for one-on-one and team-wide connections, connecting workers across locations with virtual notice boards and mobile tools, engaging employees using the channels they prefer right to a mobile.

“Businesses should use this to speak the language of the worker and endear the company culture at the moments that matter and those critical return contact points. We think our existing ability to help customers empower their people to make decisions about their work and their teams is a backbone to achieving this engagement.

“It will be more critical to support customers as they explore their next innovation and investigate our options to invest in resources for the future, like trace reporting, contactless clocking options and cloud-based access.” 

TSB: Is Humanforce developing any new innovative tech to help with this?

NM: “In terms of tech, we are able to manage vaccination records through our system, in a secure way. We expect this will be crucial, once a vaccine is available, to helping venues reopen. If you want to make sure everyone on your hospitality team is vaccinated, you can configure rules quickly and rest assured no one who hasn’t submitted a certificate/vaccine record isn’t accidently rostered on. This technology is already being used by our Aged Care customers to manage mandated flu vaccines.”

TSB: How would you assess the pandemic’s impact on Humanforce’s business, and how have you worked to address this?

NM: “The pandemic has really helped us to refocus on what’s important. People are, and always have been, central to our organisation. The pandemic has in many ways reinforced this.

“Whilst in isolation, we’ve taken the time at Humanforce to reflect on the chaos of constant change going on all around us, on what’s important to us and more importantly, to all of you. To uncover our true cause, we placed customers, users and employees at the heart of our discovery.

“Whether you wrangle the roster, deliver great service on the front line, lead the workforce, or the business – you were clear – it’s hard to keep the business running smoothly when there are so many changes with every single shift. We launched our new tagline – ‘Get Ready for the Next Shift’.

While we’ve changed our look, we’re also transforming from the inside to better serve your business.

“Our goal is for you to be ready for the everyday shifts that are constantly changing, but more importantly we want you to be prepared for the bigger shifts that we see happening across the globe today. In essence, it’s a promise that reflects the passion we have about partnering with you and driving your workforce success.

“Different industries have been disproportionality affected by economic downturn, lockdown and strain. We’ve found that working alongside our customers, be it in stadia, health, logistics, manufacturing, retail or hospitality, has been really important. Partnering with our customers has been key to helping them manage their workforce management throughout this testing time.

“Our key activity to work through the pandemic as a business has been to listen to customers and remain flexible ourselves in our operations globally to meet customer needs. As a technology business this has been a seamless flip to remote working and retaining customer engagements and meeting requirements throughout their impacts.”

TSB: On a broader note, what are your hopes for the recovery of the events and venues industry heading into 2021?

NM: “Our broader view has to be away from anything directly aligned to Humanforce and more to a resilience and rebound from the venue and events industry we love. Many of our customers and our industries ecosystem operators have been affected deeply by this last year and we want to see as many as possible emerge successfully and in fighting form to rebuild the confidence and great experience-led market. We have been, and should all be, proud to be part of showcasing world class events.

“We want to see workforces fully active, knowing how many wonderful events, experiences and celebrations are happening as we all look to re-socialise safely. Of course, that starts in 2020 with a great attendance to the Stadium Business Summit, making some great connections and meeting all the delegates.”

Nathan Miller will deliver a presentation on ‘Talent Retention’ before participating in a live Q&A during TheStadiumBusiness Summit LIVE 2020 on Tuesday, December 1 at 14:00 GMT. For further information, please click here