Creating a tailored HR system for a unique workforce

Ocean Communications is a market leader in helping large companies provide exceptional contact centre services through highly experienced self-employed customer service agents.

All of Ocean Communications agents work from home and use their own equipment; meaning that Ocean Communication’s clients enjoy all the benefits of having responsive customer service teams, but without the usual overheads. It also means their customers can tailor the amount of service as and when they need it allowing them to increase or decrease their contact centre staffing levels whenever they need to.

This model of business has certainly won Ocean Communications many large, multi-national clients and a huge number of loyal agents over the years. However, from an HR perspective at least, it has also raised a few issues with managing a large workforce of self-employed staff – and this is where their relationship with Cezanne HR started.

What were the core reasons for Ocean Communications looking to invest in a new HR system?

Having a large workforce composed of self-employed personnel who choose their own working hours comes with some unique HR challenges, as Ocean Communication’s owner Jon Slee explained:

“Security of data and communications is very important to us. We wanted to ensure we were GDPR compliant by having our data all in one secure place – and offer a better service to our agents.”

“I know there are businesses like our own that are run by email and spreadsheets… I’ve even seen them sending out payslips on things like [Facebook] Messenger. That is simply not acceptable.”

“We also wanted to provide a way for our agents to sign their new contracts and have them, along with other important documents, such as their pay slips, all in one place. Cezanne HR just covers all the bases I need.”

Alongside, streamlining paperwork and communications, an easier way to manage time off was important too. Jon needed a system that made it easy for agents to book in their own absences but gave him the oversight he needed, too.

A tailored solution for a unique business

Jon also found that the unique make-up of his business simply wasn’t catered for by other suppliers on the market. “Every other HR system is designed around only employees and not for businesses that rely on the services of self-employed personnel.” Said Jon.

“For example, we found they were littered with the word “Employee” and you couldn’t amend that at all. Cezanne HR is different. You can edit it a lot more compared to others on the market and really adapt it for the way your business works.”

Letting the self-employed agents book off their own time is another area not well addressed by other HR systems. Jon says that “it’s an unusual setup [at Ocean Communications] whereby they [their contractors] can take as much absence as they want, without reference to us. With the Cezanne HR system, you can set it up so they have a 365-day entitlement, so they can book their own holiday and approve it themselves. They are in control of their own time, and I have visibility for when they are off, which helps with resourcing.”

With Jon deciding that the Cezanne HR system would be the right solution, he chose two modules that felt best suited the businesses’ needs – namely, Absence Management and People Management.

These modules gave the much-needed functionality and oversight Jon needed, and make it easier for agents too.

Great for Jon, great for his people

Another feature that has made a huge different to Jon is the option to distribute payslips through Cezanne HR. “Once the payslips have been generated using Xero, I can bulk upload everything to Cezanne HR and say, ‘Change the Xero person code to their name’ and allocate it to this agent; so, I’m not having to manually email all the payslips out, and I’m not having to manually change all the file names – it just does it all for you.”

“It’s just saved me hours and hours and hours each month!”

Lastly, whilst Jon has been the primary user of Cezanne HR’s system, he has seen a huge leap in engagement thanks to the introduction of the system.

“Our agents log into the system regularly to check documents along with the calendar, where they can see the next pay dates. We have had agents move across to us from other businesses after they have heard how organised our business is. As I mentioned earlier, some of them were being sent payslips by Facebook messenger!”

“Cezanne HR has resolved our issues 100% and allowed us to build better relationships with our wider workforce. It’s proved to be a very successful solution for our business.”