Gabriel Alvarado
VP and General Manager
UKG Latin America
/
View from the Top

UKG: Human Capital Management in the COVID Era

By Alejandro Enríquez | Wed, 01/27/2021 - 06:00

Q: How does UKG help companies manage their workforce and which industries are you focused on?

A: Kronos has evolved into UKG. This is our new venture but our focus remains on people, offering end-to-end workforce management solutions. We are really proud of our evolution. We are now a US$3 billion company with more than 12,000 employees. During our fiscal year that ended in October 2020, we reported double-digit growth and in Latin America, we reported more than 15 percent growth even though the scenario worldwide seemed particularly difficult.

We have a strong focus on manufacturing activities, retail, logistics, and last-mile deliveries, airlines, and telecommunication services. When lockdown measures were enforced in April and May, we knew our solutions could help our customers resume their operations in this new reality. Our challenge was to address both the health of employees and the growth of the companies economically.

Regarding the automotive industry, we closed a deal with Nissan Mexicana in December 2020 and started implementing our system in early January. We also work with Tier 1 and Tier 2 companies, as well as OEMs, including Ford, GM, and FCA. This sector is important for us since it represents more than 3 percent of Mexico’s GDP and provides 1 million direct jobs and 3.5 million indirect jobs.

Q: How are you supporting your customers amid the pandemic?

A: Our GESTANN solution can help companies with the strategic planning of employee shifts, taking into account different variables such as roles and skills, risk groups, and health profiles. The priority for everyone is to minimize the risk of in-house contagion. GESTANN allows us to take all preventive measures into account to minimize that risk. If someone gets infected, our solutions improve the company’s traceability to identify possible contacts and isolate other at-risk employees.

During the peaks of the pandemic, we brought experts from the medical field to provide our customers with greater clarity about how the virus behaves. Our efforts in 2Q20 focused on being close to our customers despite sales dropping almost 50 percent. In 4Q20, sales increased more than 200 percent and we met our budget for the year.

Q: As workforce management experts, how did you embrace the pandemic’s effects?

A: I am aware of everyone’s commitment to the company but shifting totally to a remote working scheme was still challenging. We enabled communication channels to maintain personal interactions. On a personal note, I organized a virtual coffee chat with every one to talk about their lives. We even created virtual integration activities like sushi nights where a professional chef guided us through the process. Interaction is key for motivation and by getting creative and close to each other, we not only became a stronger team but also promoted mental health. For us and our business, the most important element is people. Human capital must always be committed and motivated. Our engagement rate among our employees, evaluated by external consultants, is around 98 percent. We are also ranked first by Great Place to Work.

We took a proactive approach to replicate our internal strategies with our customers. At the end of the day, we are human. We invited clients and suppliers for a virtual coffee chat to touch the human fibers we all share. This has helped our relationships to grow from a business relationship into one based on mutual trust. UKG's success in 2020 is due to our understanding that we are humans and people are the most important element in a company.

Q: How did you support companies from all sectors migrating to remote working schemes?

A: All of our solutions are mobile and can be used remotely. That being said, we often tell our customers that a person checking in at 8 a.m. sharp is not the most important aspect of workforce management. The relevant element is productivity. Discipline is the cornerstone of success. It is not about schedules but about what they do during their working hours. Depending on the organization, there are opportunity areas to address. At UKG, for instance, we work based on results. Rather than hours, we take a look at our employees’ KPIs. At manufacturing locations, supermarkets, pharmacies, or other related industries, remote work is not possible and we have our solutions for them. For organizations with hybrid or remote schemes, we offered them mobile solutions to monitor their employees’ activities while still focusing on results.

Leadership should also evolve. In Latin America, people are used to managers who resemble a bossy superior rather than a leader. By betting on remote work, leadership also evolved to trust people were actually working and designing strategies to keep track of everyone’s results. It is not about working harder but smarter. In Latin America, people are used to measuring their work by hours and many countries in the region have the highest number of hours worked. Still, productivity remains low. In developed countries, the average working hours are around seven per day, while in Mexico the average is nine hours. Productivity-wise, we are at the very bottom.

Q: What are the challenges introduced by recent labor reforms and how do they impact your solutions?

A: Our systems are really flexible and we can incorporate new rules into our system. We meet 99 percent of labor standards in the world. We have 50 years of experience doing this. Any specific element demanded in a country can be replicated in another. Our system evolves constantly and we can adapt to any changes to legal reforms and common practices from country to country.

The automotive industry in particular is facing labor content value rules (LVC) established in USMCA. We can monitor that in real-time. Our solutions include monitoring employees’ real-time activities, income, productivity, and quality. Thus, defining LVC is really easy for us since we collect that data automatically. By performing simple analytics, companies can have all the data they need, by country, state, region, and facility, which helps them to make faster and more informed decisions.

 

Ultimate Kronos Group (UKG) combines the strength and innovation of Ultimate Software and Kronos, building on 70 years of combined experience from two leaders in workforce management and HR solutions. In Mexico, the company serves AAA clients across different sectors.

Photo by:   UKG
Alejandro Enríquez Alejandro Enríquez Journalist and Industry Analyst