In case you didn’t already know, OTG Management is a hospitality giant based in North America. Essentially, it operates retail stores and restaurants in ten (and counting) airports across the US and Canada.
So, whenever you do some shopping or grab a bite to eat while waiting for a flight in airports like JFK, Chicago O’Hare or Orlando International, you’re being served by one of OTG’s over 5,000 crewmembers.
Of these 5,000 employees, just 13% are salaried, while 87% are hourly workers and they are dispersed across different locations both within and between airports. For instance, “Houston airport is six miles long from end to end”, Alan House, executive vice-president of HR at OTG, tells UNLEASH.
As a result, technology is central to how OTG and its employees operate. “Our crew and managers do not have offices”, so mobile-enabled technology is key for productivity – this explains why OTG chose to work with HR tech giant Ceridian in 2016.
House notes: “If I turn the dial back to 2016, the things we were looking at were front end flexibility of the system. All of that existed with the combination of Ceridian and its Dayforce solution – it really offered a lot of flexibility with the mobile-enabled aspects of the platform [plus] it really delivered across the whole HR suite in one platform”.
Ultimately, for House, Ceridian and Dayforce helps OTG deliver a great and “unique” experience for all employees.
Ceridian, OTG and COVID-19
“We pride ourselves in taking care of our people, making sure they’re not just a number”, explains House. “One of our values is care. We care about our crew, and we want to see them succeed” – if “we take care of our crew, they take care of our customers. Everything else just falls into place”.
This caring philosophy really came to the fore during the pandemic. Once COVID-19 was declared to be a pandemic in March 2020, air travel ground to a halt, many airports were closed and in-person work became impossible.
“We went from about 5,000 crewmembers down to 400 within two weeks”. None of those employees were laid off, they were all furloughed. And Ceridian was essential in OTG navigating and streamlining that process.
“It was not something that OTG as a company had ever experienced. We had always grown over our 25-year life”, explains House. “Because of Dayforce, we didn’t have to go in and furlough one person at a time” – OTG could do it for whole groups of employees at once.
Ceridian also helped OTG comply with US and Canadian labor laws during the furlough process – “they were a great partner in walking us through exactly how this needed to happen and how the system could help facilitate”, notes House.
Those who weren’t furloughed faced a pay cut, but OTG has now reversed those pay cuts, which House notes isn’t something lots of companies were prepared to do.
OTG on post-COVID-19 hiring challenges
By August 2020, which was actually when House started his role at OTG, the company started to bring people off furlough.
Ceridian was on hand once again to help – “Ceridian had already helped us to set up furlough on the front end, and it really helped us on the back end to bring people back” – all the employee’s data was already in the Dayforce system so it made the process of re-employing people so much easier and smoother.
OTG also integrated its learning and development programs (including LinkedIn Learning) into Dayforce to help train returners about new COVID-19 protocols.
House shares that by early 2022, everyone who had been furloughed had been offered their jobs back, but of course some (around 10%) had changed career paths – “many people left the hospitality industry and moved elsewhere”.
This meant OTG had to go out and find new workers; Dayforce has been on hand here through its ATS product, but OTG also took the time in COVID-19 to digitize its general recruitment tech stack to drive efficiencies.
Enter Dayforce Wallet
Of course, OTG wasn’t the only company bringing back employees from furlough, and facing an exodus of staff from frontline, hourly roles.
In response, the hospitality giant has been leaning into new talent pools. “We went out and expanded our partnerships with lots of different organizations, colleges, universities [and] non-profits” – “that worked very well for us”.
However, “one of the things that we were competing with was the gig environment. The likes of Uber can pay everyday,” notes House.
“So, [in January 2022] when Ceridian introduced me to Dayforce Wallet, we thought this was a great way to compete and to put more power in the hands of our crewmembers”.
Dayforce Wallet is an on-demand pay product – basically, it means employees don’t have to wait for their monthly or weekly pay checks, they can get early access to their salaries whenever it suits them.
As well as not having to wait on a check, “they don’t have to have a bank account” – “many people in the US can’t get a traditional bank account, so it has really allowed them to [use it as] just a normal debit card”.
“I saw it, definitely, as a positive move for our retention and recruitment efforts”, notes House. To date, half of OTG’s staff are using Wallet, and the tech has gone done well with candidates and new hires.
“At first, people were a little skeptical about it, but over time, as people became more comfortable with it, it has become much more accepted”, explains House. It helped that certain people were very vocal about how useful Wallet is, especially during emergencies.
Given the difficult recruitment market in 2022 – “It was a challenge all year to recruit and find people” – the retention piece became front and center for OTG around Wallet.
“We have a fairly low turnover rate when you look at other hospitality companies”, but OTG’s retention has improved by 20% in the 2020s – House expects turnover to continue to improve in 2023. And Ceridian and Dayforce Wallet has had a huge role to play there.
New research from Ceridian, which surveyed 1,450 employees at customers like OTG, found that 63% saw Dayforce Wallet as creating a positive perception for their employer – 45% of 18 to 29-year-olds said Wallet was one reason they were staying at their current employer.
The future of HR tech at OTG
OTG’s use of HR technology generally has saved the company $400,000 a year, and the work with Ceridian around Dayforce has contributed $250,000 in savings annually.
This is primarily due to efficiency savings in recruitment, but also because enhanced data and analytics “has really helped us manage turnover and identify systemic…issues across the company”.
But OTG is not resting on its laurels, it wants to continue to digitally transform and driven even better experiences for staff (and therefore ultimately customers).
Engagement will remain front and center for OTG in 2023. With the help of Glint surveys, OTG wants to understand its crewmembers’ problems at work, and then fixing them.
Communication was the top issue identified in the survey, so OTG has implemented an initiative called OTG Cares, which is an umbrella project “really focused on enhancing our communication between management and crewmembers”.
On the topic of communicating with a frontline, distributed workforce (95% of whom don’t have access to emails), OTG has rolled out a new Ceridian product: the Hub. “We have used that as an additional way to communication with our crew on a monthly basis” – it talks about OTG’s values, but also shares birthdays and work anniversaries.
Another big focus for OTG is training and career development – in 2022, 10% of its staff were promoted, but House wants everyone to have those opportunities to “grow with us and stay of us”.
“Part of that is showing them how to advance in their careers” – for instance, sharing what they need to do to move from manager to general manager, or from an hourly worker to a salaried position.
In addition to looking at vertical career progression, OTG’s development is also about horizontal movement and giving people opportunities to move between different parts of the organization.
In terms of tech, OTG is continuing to work with Ceridian and has rolled out some new products – including AI tech and a texting service for recruiting.
OTG may have 600 positions open at a time, and receives 10 or 20 resumes for each role. “AI technology actually helps us narrow down the pool of candidates based on keywords, experience” – it ranks the resumes, so it means the HR team can quickly see who the best candidates might be to take to interview.
House is clear: “It’s not the final indicator of who gets the job, it’s just another tool that we’ll use in our candidate selection process”.
The Hub is very useful for communicating with employees, but obviously it doesn’t work for candidates. Instead, OTG is leaning on Dayforce ATS’ texting service – It “works well for younger generations who don’t look at emails quickly, but they’ll look at texts immediately”. This speeds up the hiring process for OTG.
Looking to the future, OTG wants more mobile-enabled HR tech. “I’d like to see…that everything that we can do on a laptop, can also be done mobile”, states House. “Great strides have been made, and there’s some stuff that is coming out soon”, but innovation is always needed.
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