Here’s How UKG India Is Helping Organisations Bring Employee Experience To Blue Collar Workers
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Here’s How UKG India Is Helping Organisations Bring Employee Experience To Blue Collar Workers

, Senior Manager - Editorial & Content, Naukri
, Senior Manager - Content, Naukri
Sumeet Doshi, Country Manager India, Ultimate Kronos Group

ATT connected with Sumeet Doshi, Country Manager India, UKG as he talks about the company’s inception and journey, how it is bridging the workforce management gap in the Indian markets, and its HR delivery solutions that have put it on the global map as one of the leaders in this space.

Can you give an overview of UKG’s business in India and overseas? What is the contribution to the global workforce, in terms of business and employee? 

We have a long and illustrious history as a company, but UKG as a brand was officially created on October 1, 2020. It was formed by the merger of two very large companies, each of which is a market leader in its own right: Kronos and Ultimate Software. Both these companies came together on the 1st of March 2020 and on October 1st, the company was officially named UKG as part of the merger. UKG incorporated both the brand names ‘U’ for Ultimate Software and ‘K’ for Kronos. So there you have it, the Ultimate Kronos group. Kronos itself has been a company founded in 1977. It’s almost a 45-year-old company that specialises in workforce management. 

Global revenues are in the range of roughly 3.2 plus billion dollars. The total number of employees globally is around 14,600. We’ve developed quickly since then. I was in fact, the third employee of Kronos, India at that point. Recently, we crossed the 2000-employee mark in India. In fact, in the 15 years that we’ve been operating in India, we’ve grown to over 2100 workers in a variety of roles such as local sales and marketing, engineering, product development, cloud, and so on. 

So, are all 2100 employees focused on the India business, or is any global outsourcing also done on-site here?

It is a mix of both. For example, if we look at the good chunk of these 2100 employees in our engineering and product development teams, they are focused on global product development, including India. Then we have a cloud team which supports customers in India as well as across the world. Hence, a lot of these teams tend to straddle across geographies because of the nature of their job. And that’s where your synergies and benefits come in. Of course, we have very specific sales organisations for India as well.

Could you offer us some more information regarding your solutions in the country?

Our focus and solution approach in the Indian market, and for most of the global markets is around workforce management. When we started operations in 2007, we realised that workforce management is a big gap area in the Indian markets. There are two parts to it.

  • One is the life cycle management of an employee; 
  • The second is, managing your employees, especially in organisations like manufacturing, retail, and healthcare BPOs.

Let’s take manufacturing for example. The output comes in from the people on the shop floor. The job of manufacturing is to identify the right amount of people who come in at the right time, right shift, and with the right skills so that they can go ahead and produce that product and deliver it to the market.

When you visit an IT company or a bank, you’ll see that a lot of effort is put into improving the employee experience. But how much is being done in the manufacturing industry to improve the experience of the 80 % of non-white collar workers? That’s where using digital solutions, like workforce management, actually helps take care of employee preferences and their requirements, and at the same time, delivers better outcomes through some of the tools that are available. 

Also read: This Breakfast and Snacks Startup Will Double Its Employee Count in 2022 Through Strategic Workforce Plan

Do you specialise in working in the auto and manufacturing sectors?

We have multiple verticals, but yes, manufacturing is, undoubtedly, one of the biggest sectors. And so is retail. Again, retail has extreme dynamism when it comes to how people need to be identified.

This is not, however, a hiring or training problem. This is both a problem of allocation and a problem of availability. And this is what “workforce management” helps solve. The problem becomes even more acute in a retail environment where the predictability of the number of people walking in at any point in time is so uncertain. The problem is also significantly enhanced in a BPO kind of environment. 

Whether it is large logistics, warehousing companies, or airports, our customers look at their working style, and their 24/7 operations. In today’s digital and social age, if a customer has one bad experience with even one employee, let’s say in a retail store, they will probably vent on social media, causing a big issue for the retailer. So having the right person at the right time at the right place across industries, is what we are able to solve. 

What will be the top three or five categories/sectors that you will be catering to?

Manufacturing is our largest sector, followed by retail and BPOS. We also do a lot of work in logistics, warehousing, transportation, etc. Healthcare is really important for us globally. When I say healthcare, I also mean hospitals. And when I say manufacturing, I mean pharma,  auto, FMCG, heavy engineering, metals, and mining, etc. And each one of them has its nuances when it comes to managing its workforce. We are able to solve their problems in all of these sub-verticals of manufacturing.

The majority of the sectors you cater to are not cloud-native. How do you get started with them?

HR technology has progressed far over the previous decade or two. There was very little adoption of lifecycle HR solutions in the Indian market in the early 2000s. There were only a few organisations, particularly the top companies, that were turning to the HR vendors. And it took time where everyone wanted to install lifecycle solutions in a full-fledged manner.

It clearly accelerated during the pandemic, and there is no doubt that it will continue to accelerate, but it has been steadily increasing over the last 5-7 years.

To get back to your point, workforce management has always been considered a secondary requirement after HRMS. This is still the case today. Traditionally, workforce management systems have been considered very rudimentary systems with organisations believing that if they could just put in a couple of biometric devices and have workers punch in and out, their job would be done. However, this does not provide any visibility or information. Over the last 14 years, we’ve done a great job of evangelising to this market – about how workforce management is more than simply a hardware solution, and how or what huge business implications it can have for any company.

So, in summary, the maturity of adopting workforce management solutions in the Indian markets is not yet at the level of HRMS, but it is catching up quickly, for a couple of reasons: one, because employee costs are beginning to rise significantly, as we’ve all seen with the great resignation, which has primarily impacted IT organisations, but has a cascading effect across industries. Second, as employee costs soar, companies are becoming increasingly interested in being able to track staff productivity. And it is precisely where we step in.

The first and most obvious benefit of implementing a workforce management system is that it facilitates complete automation, from planning to tracking to payroll payment at the end of the month for all the employees in an organisation. It also eliminates any inadvertent payroll leakages that may occur. We’ve observed with customers in India and around the world that if you don’t have automated workforce management systems, you could actually be losing 3 % to 5 % of your payroll to unwanted leakages. These are unintentional errors caused by manual and excel sheet processing. As a result, the solution pays for itself in a matter of months. That’s the beauty of investing in our workforce management software.

Second, while productivity can be a little nebulous to manage at times, the impact can be significant if done correctly. The third area, where workforce management plays a very significant role, is compliance management. Whether it’s the new Labour Code, the Factories Act, or the Shops and Establishment Act, businesses often struggle to know how effectively they are complying with the law on a daily basis. Automated solutions can help to implement a stronger compliance strategy within organisations.

And last, but not least, better employee experience. HR solutions are built to drive employee experience, but they tend to focus a lot on the white collared employees only. A workforce management solution goes down to the last employee, even if he’s a contract employee – from giving him access to his data on his phone to checking how much overtime he’s earning to looking into his attendance – the employee feels more engaged and realises that the organisation is taking care of him. And all of this can be digitally enabled today with the tools that are possible through a workforce management solution. 

When you visit an IT company or a bank, you’ll see that a lot of effort is put into improving the employee experience. But how much is being done in the manufacturing industry to improve the experience of the 80 % of non-white collar workers? That’s where using digital solutions, like workforce management, actually helps take care of employee preferences and their requirements, and at the same time, delivers better outcomes through some of the tools that are available. 

What is the number of blue-collar workers in your workforce management software?

About 60 % is made up of blue-collar workers. And when I say blue-collar, I’m referring to jobs in manufacturing and logistics, with roughly 40 % of those being white-collar jobs, such as BPOs. The value is slightly different in both places, however, the things I talked about around cost, compliance, and productivity all remain the same. 

Any Covid-19 led innovation on the shop floor that also increased the adoption rate?

We introduced a facial recognition device so that employees didn’t have to do a biometric fingerprint punching; instead, use facial recognition for allowing access to employees in the office. There were mechanisms devised to allow organisations to conduct contact tracing on their premises. So, if someone was found to be Covid positive, the system uses the software to track people who were close to that person in the last 12 to 24 hours.

The newer conversations right now centre around the whole hybrid workforce. To be honest, I believe that many organisations are still learning. And that’s where tools and solutions like ours are actually making a significant impact. As work models keep evolving, you will need a tool that can constantly evolve with them. 

Speaking of your existing area of expertise, what are the additional requirements now? 

We recently launched a very significant new solution area. HR service delivery is the name of the product. It is a new space in HR that is still in the evolving stage. 

According to Josh Burson, one of the world’s most well-known HR professionals, 41 % of HR time is spent dealing with employee requests. It could be a request from an employee who comes in with an impromptu request to relocate, or trying to figure out his/her leave policy, etc. These are random requests that keep coming in all the time from employees. And the larger the organisation, the more the number of requests that keep coming in. 

HR service delivery is a tool or a set of solutions that will sit on top of all process delivery solutions, whether they are HR solutions, workforce management solutions, or payroll solutions and will serve as a medium for employees to communicate with HR via a service delivery layer.

Employee queries can be addressed through a chatbot on HR service delivery as a conversation. By doing this, HR can reduce a considerable amount of non-value-added work and provide a better employee experience.  Many times employee emails to the HR department get lost in translation and motion.

The HR service delivery can potentially even extend to ex-employees for queries like EPF, or a better alumni experience. Therefore, service delivery is crucial.

Furthermore, many companies are doing a variety of things, such as deploying a chatbot, a knowledge portal, or a process automation layer, but we believe that bringing all these together as an established service delivery layer with all the capabilities is an area that will grow, and we want to be first in the market when it comes to this area.

Also read: Can Chatbot Technologies Replace the Human Touch in Recruiting?

Is there something from the developed market that has been introduced to the delivering market, or is there a global solution in the works?

This is a solution that has proven to be quite effective in established markets. In fact, our HR service delivery solution has around 3000 or 4,000 customers worldwide. In fact, Gartner puts us as the leader in this space, but we’ve observed that adoption levels in India aren’t quite as high as they are in the United States, but I believe that, given the size of the workforce and the rate of growth we’re seeing, it’ll only be a matter of time.

Anyone in the country who has already begun experimenting with it?

We have a few international customers that use it in India and are extremely happy with it – roughly 75 to 80 customers in India as part of the global rollout. Manufacturing, including FMCG, pharma, service delivery, and retail all are important. 

How many people you’re looking to hire and what would be the social channels that you’re looking for?

We’ve grown rapidly in the last few years. In fact, I think we’ve had roughly 20 % CAG over the last five years. We are committed to hiring at least 500 people this year, which is a good 25% increase from where we are today, and we don’t see that growth slowing down anytime soon. It will only continue to grow as we, as an organisation, expand at a breakneck pace around the world.  It will mostly be in technology, technical roles, R&D, and engineering functions.

~ with Moumita Bhattacharjee

Registered Name: Ultimate Kronos Group (UKG) is an American MNC with dual headquarters in Lowell, Massachusetts, and Weston, Florida
Year of Incorporation: UKG was founded in April 2020 as a result of the merger of Ultimate Software and Kronos Incorporated
Number of Employees: 14600+ global, 2200 in India
Founder: Mark S. Ain (Kronos founder) – 1977
Key Executives: Aron Ain (CEO, chairman), Christopher Todd (President), Hugo Sarrazin (Chief Product and Technology officer). India’s key leadership includes – Sumeet Doshi (Country Manager), Ashok Saxena (VP Engineering) & Nitin Wadhwa (Director HR)
Business Line: UKG™ (Ultimate Kronos Group) is a global leader in HR and Workforce Management solutions.
Hiring Pipeline: 500 people have joined in the current UKG fiscal, and another 500 are expected to be added in the rest of the year
Workforce Growth: 19% CAGR for India over last 5 years
Workforce Pie: 1200 Eng & Product, 200+ Cloud, 400 Implementation & Support, 100+ Global Finance Services, 200 Enabling functions (including IT, HR & Sales/Marketing, Internal Audit, Legal etc.)
Key HR Factors: Industry Leading employee health benefits, Special 4 weeks COVID leave, Employee Relief fund, and making every U Krewer a part of our long-term growth via Restricted Stock Units are a few to mention.
Key Investors: Private equity firm Hellman & Friedman, who was the controlling shareholder of both Ultimate and Kronos, is the controlling shareholder of UKG. The Blackstone Group, which also owned stakes in both previous companies, is the largest minority investor with a 20–25 percent stake. Other minority investors include GIC, Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, and JMI Equity


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