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Q&A: Peter Harte, Vice President of Enterprise Sales, EMEA, UKG

 As VP of enterprise sales in EMEA, Peter is responsible for providing expertise to UKG customers by helping them manage their most valuable resource: their employees…. View Article

INTERVIEWS

Q&A: Peter Harte, Vice President of Enterprise Sales, EMEA, UKG

 As VP of enterprise sales in EMEA, Peter is responsible for providing expertise to UKG customers by helping them manage their most valuable resource: their employees.

Can you tell us a bit about your background?

I’ve been with UKG for over 20 years, having joined the company in 1998. Starting out in the Australian office and having moved to the U.K. office in 2018, my main charter has been to contribute to the expansion of business operations in global regions. I’ve led management and direction of the sales and marketing functions throughout the world including Australia, New Zealand, Southeast Asia, Europe, Middle East, and Africa.

Prior to UKG, my background was in information technology and sales strategy. I served as global sales manager of AT&T in New Jersey as well as managing sales teams in its San Francisco office. I also held sales-oriented leadership roles at DHL and Xerox, where I supported global sales initiatives across geographies in EMEA.

 What does your role within UKG encompass?

 As vice president of enterprise sales in EMEA, I’m responsible for providing expertise to UKG customers by helping them manage their most valuable resource: their employees.

Pre-pandemic I spent the majority of my time travelling to meet with leaders who are transforming their organisations from the inside out, and supporting them through the current and future challenges facing their workforce. These meetings have now turned virtual, but the focus is the same—to help organisations to look at their workforce as more than a cost, but as their strongest, strategic advantage. Alongside this, I deeply believe in innovation and stability of cloud technology to further support and strengthen the employee experience.

My mission is simple: We should always look for the best in people—managers, team members, and all other professional colleagues. It’s only when we expect and embrace the value of our employees that we can build organisations where people truly love to work.

 How is UKG’s technology specifically helping retail customers during this exceptionally challenging time?

Pre-pandemic, our technology was helping retailers thrive by providing the right workforce management and human capital management tools. Our solutions enable retailers to simplify and modernise once onerous workforce processes and free up manager and employees to do what they do best—service their customers and add value to the business. By providing things likes mobile app capability for self-service shift swapping, automated best-fit scheduling based on floor traffic and customer demand, and data-backed insights for accurate decision making, employees feel empowered and excel at their jobs. Our CEO Aron Ain regularly says that great business are powered by great people, and great people delight customers and propel a business forward. We’re here to help them do that.

When the pandemic hit last year, most businesses experienced a lull in activity but as we know, retailers such as grocery stores and online shops experienced a boom. Needing to hire more staff and ensure worker safety, those who did not have a modern workforce management solution felt the pain. Our technology has helped our retail customers to manage staffing complexities, navigate safety and compliance regulations as they changed rapidly, and enabled clear communication with employees, while effectively managing the ‘new normal’.

We found that the two areas our customers were immediately interested in from a workforce management perspective were attestation and contact tracing. Many organisations had to quickly implement a system which meant that employees arriving to their place of work will attest to the fact that they are healthy, symptomless, and ok to work. This then leads into the contact tracing element.

One of the immediate advantages our customers saw was following our introduction of an automated reporting capability to help streamline the employee contact-tracing process. This functionality is still being used today and when bricks and mortar retailers reopen in the coming months, will certainly be of great use once again.

Another key component is mobility. We always knew that mobile apps are the norm for consumers, and we’ve blazed a path in that space for some time now for workforce management—but COVID-19 has really caused an uptick in the adoption of mobile app and employee self-service options to manage and communicate with your now dispersed workforce.

How has the world of work changed over the past year for retailers and how does this impact the future? 

 The pandemic has brought about a dramatic change, forcing organisations across all sectors to rapidly adapt to the new normal with exceptional speed, as demand and operating constraints change. Most retailers have managed this change extraordinarily well, with click and collect and home delivery services having been expanded dramatically.

But with the world of work in a continued state flux, it’s essential that retailers take advantage of modern technologies to help support and enable their workforces. Luckily the retail sector is generally more advanced in its uptake of technologies compared to other sectors, and understands the importance of engaging and empowering the workforce, in turn improving the customer experience.

As we look forward, we believe that the future of work will be driven by data-led transformation. The ready availability of accurate, real time information is essential in enabling leaders to make the right decisions, quickly. Businesses can only manage risks, control costs, and exploit new revenue opportunities effectively with visibility, control and flexibility, across both the workforce and the systems used to manage it.

Those that embrace new technologies, update processes and adopt a holistic, human-centric approach to workforce management, will enjoy increased resilience in future crises, and the ability to pivot swiftly to capitalise on emerging opportunities before competitors do.

The pandemic has hugely impacted the HR function for retailers and there are now far more considerations than ever before, with compliance now being more challenging. How can retailers tackle some of these challenges? 

With new rules in place for ensuring worker safety amidst the pandemic, and the country having exited the European Union, retailers are currently operating in a challenging environment when it comes to compliance. Furthermore, as labour laws potentially change as a result of Brexit, and processes for hiring talent from elsewhere in Europe changes, compliance complexities are set to continue for the foreseeable future. Just when retailers thought they were on top of compliance issues, teams are now finding themselves having to reskill.

Three key factors of driving an increased focus on compliance in HR teams: global complexity, changes in regulations, and penalties for noncompliance. Each of these three is growing, giving HR added concerns trying to keep up with a fast changing, more complex world, with higher fines and penalties for doing it wrong. Retailers should therefore look to services which help them to easily navigate rules and regulations. By using an HR Service Delivery platform to manage employee files and ensure legal compliance, it becomes easy and efficient to standardise procedures and to respond if/when there is an audit or a lawsuit. You can manage local processes, forms, and files digitally — anytime, anywhere.

UKG has talked about the need for trust to be a foundational imperative to creating high-performing workplace cultures. What do you mean by this and how can retailers instil more trust?

Our company tagline is “Our purpose is people” and we truly believe that the key to organisational success lies in great people who are empowered and engaged. But you can’t simply create an engaged workforce overnight—it takes time and must be built on a foundation of trust. Trust in leadership. Trust in your manager. Trust amongst your teams.

Trust in the workplace has become top of mind as more organisations come to the realisation of its importance in creating high-performing workplace cultures that better serve customers and their communities.

Recent research from a global survey by The Workforce Institute at UKG found that nearly two thirds (60%) of U.K. employees say trust has a direct impact on their sense of belonging at work.

The insights, which were part of the “Trust in the Modern Workplace” report by The Workforce Institute at UKG and Workplace Intelligence examine the current state of trust—especially between employees and leaders—and the opportunities organisations can create by making trust a foundational element of their employee experience.

While many retailers have been focused on the immediate issues that the pandemic and Brexit have presented over the past year, those that place a focus on ensuring trust is an imperative foundation within their organisation will obtain competitive advantage.

To find out how UKG can help your retail operation visit their website here.

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