Tower Hamlets charity City Gateway is streamlining its people processes and supporting rapid growth with the help of on-line HR software solution Cezanne HR.
City Gateway provides training and a route into employment for young people and women in London. It has a team of 163 staff, based across four sites, who run everything from apprenticeship programmes and vocational training courses to community events and drop-in youth clubs.
The charity has expanded enormously in the past year, almost doubling its staff members, and was finding that its previous spreadsheet-based system for managing HR processes such as annual leave and sickness absence was no longer fit for purpose.
HR Manager Simon Cook started to look around for a Cloud-based system that would allow the charity to cut down on admin and manage all its people processes in one central, easily accessible place. Cezanne HR appealed because of its flexible pricing model and ability to grow alongside the business and meet some of its more specialist needs.
“We found that a lot of HR software providers didn’t really cater for the SME market and were too expensive for a charity like ours that doesn’t have a huge pot of money to draw from,” Simon explained.
Cezanne HR is offered on a pay-as-you-go basis with monthly subscriptions being adjusted up – or down – to reflect the number of staff being managed at any given time. HR software pricing starts at just £2 per employee per month, with special rates available to charities.
“The system is very flexible and it has been able to move up alongside us every month as we have added more staff,” said Simon. “We also have quite complex needs in some areas – and the Cezanne HR team have been great at helping us see how we can tailor the system to meet our specific requirements. Every time we have come up with a challenge they have been able to help us find a solution”.
A good example of this is the charity’s unique needs in terms of managing annual leave. Unlike other education providers, it doesn’t offer term-time contracts or close down completely over the summer months. Employees are offered varying annual leave packages which reflect their working hours and practices – including the option to apply for ‘bonus’ leave or to ‘sell’ holiday back to the charity in return for a portion of their salary. “It’s quite complex and there are many different permutations but we have been able to manage it all through the system, which has saved an enormous amount of admin time,” said Simon.
City Gateway has been running Cezanne HR for six months and has now rolled the self service element out across the organisation. This means that individual employees can now log on via a secure server and update their own personal contact info, check how much holiday entitlement they have left and record sickness absence.
Simon believes that the detailed analytics the system is able to provide on areas like sickness absence will be enormously helpful to the charity as it continues to grow and move forward.
“It will allow us to see key performance indicators across the organisation and within individual departments and will help us make better decisions about areas where we may need to improve,” he says.
The charity’s previous paper-based performance management process is also gradually being phased out and transferred across to Cezanne HR. “Going forward, the whole performance management process will be administered through the system, which will make everything much more transparent and consistent,” says Simon. “I used to spend an enormous amount of time continuously sending emails and chasing people up, but now I have a dashboard which shows me stage by stage exactly where everyone is in the process.”
City Gateway is also just starting to use the HR portal, which is built into the system, to house key HR documents and plans to make it an integral part of the Intranet it is currently developing.
“Cezanne HR has very much supported the growth of the organisation,” says Simon. “It has proved to be extremely adaptable and has been able to meet our needs as we have continued to expand our services. It has also taken away a lot of the admin burden – and with only a small HR team, has released much needed resource so that we can operate more strategically.”