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Sona webinar with Style Acre
Customer story

How to cut 60% agency spending, boost staff morale, and streamline payroll

Sona webinar with Style Acre

We spoke to Becky, Director of Operations, about what changed at Style Acre once their staff got Sona.

Style Acre provides supported living, day services, and community activities for adults with learning disabilities and autism. They operate across Oxfordshire, so they needed a scheduling solution built for employees and people they support across multiple locations, and manage the unexpected.

By giving their staff access to Sona, they cut agency spend, improved consistency in care and streamlined payroll. Read about how they’re seeing the benefits of these improvements in their staff retention, morale and beyond.

Watch the full conversation here to hear exactly how you can also make the most of Sona.

Cutting agency costs by more than half

Style Acre was spending up to £40k per month on agency costs, within the first week, this went down to around £16k. Their staff instantly took to the Sona app as the central source of truth. This meant that offering up-to-date open or shifts to their employees became easy, and now they were able to prioritise their own staff to fill gaps in their roster.

All staff now had visibility and autonomy over their schedule so could see and book overtime shifts.

"We were spending £35,000 to £40,000 a week, which is far bigger than I was comfortable with. Now, we're down to about £16,000 a week."

Once open shifts are picked up by an employee, Sona automatically emailed and cancelled the agency worker within the allowed cancellation period.

"I can hone down when we use our agency colleagues to make sure that we're using them at the most cost effective time and spreading their usage that way."

But that’s not all, Becky from Style Acre is clear that any changes should have a positive impact on care, because it’s all about the people that they’re supporting. So staffing isn’t a pure mathematical calculation.

By sharing:

  • a single source of truth,
  • equal opportunity to pick up overtime,
  • a view of schedules 2 or 3 months ahead of time,

Style Acre were improving work-life balance for their employees, while improving consistency and quality of care for the people they care for.

"If we've got the right people at the right time, then they are going to have a good day and a good week and be doing the things that they want to do."

How collaborating consistently with agency staff increased morale

The ongoing recruitment and retention challenges mean that most Social Care organisations will work with agencies to fill in gaps. So it’s not about cutting them out completely but improving the collaboration and drastically reducing the overall need for agencies.

"This has been absolutely incredible … I can suddenly see how many different agency colleagues we have across the whole organisation … I've really been able to slim down the number of people while not losing any of that effectiveness."

For the first time, Style Acre had complete visibility of how, why and which agencies were used across each team and location. Managers were now able to manage which shifts to assign to a preferred agency or agency worker without losing the continuity of care achieved when familiar faces are there for the people they support.

"What Sona enables us to do is map our core staff first and on top of that layer, consistent agency colleagues so that while they might not be directly employed by us, they become a part of our teams."

Sona automatically notifies agencies once a shift has been assigned, so managers have more time to focus on improving quality of care, and spend less time on admin. This opened them up to make use of personalised dashboards and reports to drill down in specific areas of the organisations. They were able to spot patterns and to pinpoint which departments, teams or locations are utilising agencies more than others and why. Head Office could get a crystal clear view of the biggest causes for agency usage and absence, e.g. vacancies, staff sickness etc.

Reaping the multiple rewards of accurate payroll

Getting payroll wrong creates endless back and forth while decreasing trust and autonomy for employees, automating this stopped all that for Style Acre.
Becky argued that payroll is now “more accurate than ever” with reduced queries and errors.

Sona gave Style Acre employees, managers and the payroll department complete visibility over worked shifts. It intuitively specifies which are contracted hours, overtime or absence, holiday leave or sickness and how each will be paid.

"I think now it's more accurate than it's ever been, because the people that we employ can see exactly what we're going to pay them … they've got visibility about whether or not that shift is a contracted shift or overtime shift..

All staff took to making the most of the app to make their life easier. Employees were able to view the exact shifts they were working clearly and well ahead of time. While managers could now amend compensation in seconds because they could see all the shifts that need manual review at-a-glance.

"It's reduced the number of queries and any confusion that we've had around pay because that transparency is there."

Seamless processing, yet again, opened managers’ time up for tasks beyond admin. Managers were able to make the most of the easy payroll reporting and make decisions to help Style Acre grow and provide better quality of care. 

Improved intentions mean improved retention

All of these small changes have meant that Style Acre could be confident that their teams felt heard and seen every step of the way. This had a noticeably positive impact on their staff retention.

"...That's the bit that creates a reason for people to stay, because we work with them in a way that works for them… Our retention figures have definitely improved in the last six months of this year."

At their core, Style Acre aims to improve the consistency and quality of care for the people they support, and taking care of their employees is a key pillar to do this. Having these shared values makes it easy to find success with Sona.

Find out how your teams could benefit from Sona. Book a demo with the team today.