Q&A: Nicole Bello, Group Vice President, EMEA at UKG
Nicole joined UKG in 2018 as Vice President of small and midsize business and channel sales in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.
Prior to UKG, Nicole built a strong track record in sales and business development, serving in several leadership positions at ADP and holding senior roles in Europe, North America and the United Kingdom.
Nicole earned a Bachelor’s degree in Marketing from Florida Atlantic University as well as a Master’s Degree in Business Administration with a focus on leadership from Drexel University.
What does your company do? / What is your USP?
UKG is a global leader for HR solutions and workforce management. We provide technology and services that inspire people across industries and elevate the work experience. Currently, UKG is helping more than 70,000 organisations across every industry to anticipate and adapt to their employees’ needs beyond just work.
At UKG, our purpose is people. We strive to deliver a customer experience like no other, as we work to deliver exceptional value and, more importantly, confidence. Our customers rely on our technology to support their teams, their unique business goals, and their employees so we’re passionate about being a long-term partner that can support them through times of success and times of challenge.
What is special about the platform and your approach?
We take a people-first approach when building technologies, which helps us put people at the heart of what we do, from the creation of our solutions right down to the moment they’re first used by a customer – and beyond.
Our approach helps leaders navigate enormous challenges, particularly during the pandemic, which changed work life for employees forever. For example, we introduced a framework called the “life-work journey” — designed to show how employees may have vastly different experiences based on distinct phases of their lives, both at home and on the job. To help organisations inspire their workforces at all stages, we introduced an entirely new kind of solution called UKG People Operations, one tailor-made to take care of people no matter where they are in their journeys based on “Life-work Technology™.”
Life-work Technology incorporates the two essential components of people operations: People systems to inspire your workforce and work systems to help businesses thrive.
What might retailers in the UK NOT know about your solution/team that will help them?
The UK retail sector is weathering a storm, and one of the biggest challenges retailers currently face is how to attract and retain workforce amid a staff-shortage crisis. Employees are looking at several factors such as better work-life balance, flexibility in work, workplace culture, organisations’ stance on macro-issues and more, when choosing an employer. Employee engagement and experience are key! However, many retailers struggle to prioritise both employee experience and optimising business performance.
UKG People Operations provides a unique methodology for retailers to prioritise both these pillars by following a three-part approach. First, it provides technology that allows retailers to adapt flexibly to evolving future of work. Second, it helps align employee needs with customer and business needs by leveraging technology to offload managerial headaches, providing easy access to information, and enabling greater communication, even between a hard-to-reach field workforce. Third, it draws on years of customer insight and research by UKG to guide retailers in how to be an employer of choice.
What advantage does your team/solution add?
At UKG, we advance Life-work Technology. We know that the traditional approach of separating systems from people (human capital management) and work (workforce management) doesn’t help customers find the balance of what makes their people happy and their businesses great.
Our solutions help organisations effectively break through traditional workforce needs by seeing the whole person, anticipating their needs beyond just work, and thoughtfully adapting to meet them. It’s about innovation in service of all people.
This helps businesses fostering and harness organisational adaptability and resilience by elevating the ability to make meaningful decisions while decreasing the time it takes to adapt. Our solutions also help to provide a workplace with the proper guidance to be effective and compliant, and people with the autonomy to transform outdated practices to proactively solve problems.
Life-work Technology is focused on helping all customers build a culture of belonging through intelligent systems that listen, coordinate feedback, and help detect bias. Culture is something that we like to champion. Companies across the globe are competing for talent, and often its having a people-centric culture that can help businesses truly stand out while elevating work for their employees.
So, we help our customers develop a safe, trusting and caring environment within their organisations to create a community of belonging. This belonging often involves creating personalised experiences for employees, because everyone has different requirements. This is critical to attracting and retaining employees, so our people and our solutions really do support businesses to help their people feel valued, with opportunities to grow and pride in where they work.
How are retailers using your systems to gain competitive advantage and what does best practice look like? Can you share a case study with us?
We are extremely proud to be working with the customer base that we have. We currently serve some the largest companies in the world but also provide exceptional offerings and support to small and medium sized retailers. Sixty percent of NRF’s top 100 retailers currently trust and use UKG to run different aspects of their people operations.
In the UK, leading retailers in all categories such as grocery, apparel, and e-commerce use UKG.
UKG customer enjoy a sustainable competitive advantage delivered in the form of impactful business metrics, including labour cost control, productivity, compliance, and employee experience.
One example is Crocs, a world-renowned casual footwear innovator, which sells shoes in 85 countries and employs more than 6,000 people at retail stores and distribution centres. Previously, most of their regions operated independently of one another and relied on manual processes for their workforce management needs. It was difficult to view data across networks and understand where the efficiencies were. Since going live with UKG, one of the biggest benefits to Crocs, Inc. has been the ability to securely access UKG technology from any location worldwide — on any device — and get visibility into key labour data from a centralised location.
Mobile accessibility allows employees to view their schedules and swap shifts, so they can better plan their life and work responsibilities. Managers can also better align budgeted hours to how many store or warehouse employees are needed at any time to meet customer demand.
Another example is The Very Group, which sells over 2,000 famous brands and delivers 49 million products to over 4.5 million customers every year and employs around 1600 staff. They were able to improve scheduling of staff based on forecasted throughput to avoid bottlenecks, meet strict internal SLAs and provide market-leading delivery options to customers. Automated time and attendance also eliminates payroll errors and reduces the time spent on payroll administration, helping to reduce unwanted costs and achieves better compliance.
Are there other companies you partner with?
UKG believes in being a partner for life for our customers, so in order to achieve this it’s important that we have a comprehensive partner programme that enables our customers to benefit from unique products and services as their business adapts and evolves.
Currently we have over 150 technology and service partners on our programme, enabling us to meet the most demanding of requirements.
The UKG Partner Network helps extend the value of our customers’ investment in UKG by offering innovative solutions and services that drive transformation, deliver meaningful experiences, and reduce time spent in multiple applications.
With more than 350 partner solutions and services available in the UKG Marketplace, customers can explore, select, and connect directly with our broad partner ecosystem that covers all major business verticals, helping to meet customers’ unique needs by connecting them to industry-leading providers around the world.
Our Technology Partners deliver advanced features and functionality to UKG solutions through seamless API integrations that automate processes, reduce manual errors, and offer innovative capabilities. Our Services Partners, including those who specialise in consulting and implementation, accelerate time-to-live and drive successful business outcomes for our customers before, during, and after their go-live date.
Technology is only as great as the people behind it. That’s why we build trusted partnerships that deliver more than exceptional value to your organisation — we deliver confidence. Let’s work together to drive your organization forward.
Learn about our extensive partner network, covering all major business verticals, that connects to industry-leading providers around the world.
What challenges and opportunities do you see in UK retail for the rest of 2022 and into 2023 / What challenges are retailers facing right now to prepare better?
Retail has evolved at lightning speed in the past few decades, but now, retailers must pivot yearly, monthly and sometimes weekly in order to adapt to consumer habits, technology and challenges. From global supply chain issues and the pandemic to the need to switch to online and employee demands, the list is endless.
In 2023, this need to adapt in an agile way will continue. Consequently, this flexibility and adaptability will need to be fostered in the workforce too. Retail need teams of flexible, engaged and empowered people to meet whatever challenge and customer demand lay ahead.
In 2023 we see that there are two major factors are troubling retailers.
First, complexity of business is growing as work is changing, with new formats and multi-channel impacts. Consumer expectations are higher and growing, while digital transformation is more critical that ever.
Second, retailers are struggling to find and keep talent. Employees want to work when they want to and often not at peak retail hours, such as weekends. Additionally, many people are drawn to alternative ways of working such as becoming part of the gig economy. This is likely because it’s a flexible way to earn money, usually on the individual’s terms. So it’s more important than ever that retailers capture this pool of talent by creating their own flexible methods of employment.
How will you address these challenges and turn them into successes?
Retailers should see opportunity in these challenges. Everyone is in the same situation, but it’s the ones who embrace the challenge and invest in their people and who will succeed. Building a strong ‘people focused’ culture and brand will help retailers attract the talent they need to thrive.
Retailers need a human centred approach to workforce management to gain their trust. For instance, technology that allows employees to easily request and swap shifts or enables managers to build optimised schedules automatically that consider individual employee preferences can create an exceptional workplace experience for both managers and frontline workers.
Allowing employees easier access to communicate and connect with peers, managers, and other leaders can signal a more open and transparent culture that workforce today respects and needs. Proactive initiatives and executive sponsorship on topics of diversity, inclusion, environmental goals can give employees a feeling of belonging at the workplace.
These are some ways in which retailers can not only retain exceptional talent but also attract new staff.
What is on the horizon for you as a company?
We have plenty of exciting projects planned for 2023. We’re a market leading HCM provider, rated highly by Gartner, Forrester and other analysts, but we’re not stopping there.
The world of work is evolving, and what people want from their work is in the spotlight more than ever. So, we’re investing in further technological advancements, delving deeper into the sectors we operate in to provide an even better service to a broad range of customers, and we’re putting more emphasis on the importance of businesses being great places to work.
This is a huge challenge for businesses across every industry, and macro-economic trends are only exacerbating this. We recognise that the road ahead will be a difficult one, but it will be a crucial journey to go on in order to reach a place where all businesses have a more connected workforce, better business performance and happier people.
If you would like to meet some of the UKG Team, they are attending the Omnichannel Futures Conference in London: Register HERE