The Oxford and Cambridge Club, the Mayfair institution that admits graduates of both universities, has elected to use Planday time and attendance software to manage its staff more efficiently.
The move is part of a modernisation drive aimed at bringing the 186-year-old private members’ club, based in Pall Mall, London, into the 21st century. The building itself is part of the Crown Estate and is a grade II listed building. The club has about 5,000 members.
Steve Drozdiak, financial controller at the Oxford and Cambridge Club, describes how he chose the software from Planday, a Danish company focused on scheduling and employee communication in the hospitality sector.
Drozdiak, who hails from Pittsburgh and has lived in the UK for two decades, says he comes from “a broad hotel background”. He was previously a project accountant at the Dorchester.
On arrival at the Oxford and Cambridge Club, Droziak says he found the systems and processes were “somewhat old school”, adding: “As recently as five years ago, the then financial controller was doing accounts in a handwritten ledger book, and payroll was done on an elaborate Excel spreadsheet.”
Before Droziak arrived, the club had not had a financial controller for six months. “In the past, a manager may have managed staff and payroll with a notebook in his pocket,” he says. “Planday allows us to connect with our staff and control our payroll costs.”
The club is currently being refurbished – a project that “runs into seven figures, so everything we do comes under scrutiny”, he says. “We didn’t have nearly as much information as before with the older ways to make decisions, and Planday is part of that.”
Drozdiak says he has worked with alternative software from Fourth Hospitality in his previous roles, commenting: “Everyone uses them – they are the market leader.”
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But he was casting around for alternatives, and came across Planday on the internet. Both suppliers came in to present at the club, and Droziak opted for Planday. “I had the feeling that, given the scale and scope of our company, we would slip between the cracks,” he says.
“Planday met with our team, and I was impressed by how seriously they took it. The interface itself is clean and intuitive. I didn’t want to burden our managers, chefs, housekeepers, and so on with a system that’s cluttered.”
The system also benefits staff morale, he says. “Staff are communicated to directly and they are getting information on their own. They can see how many vacation days they have at any time, and can ask for time off from the app. It tells them that if you work eight hours extra this week, you can flex it next week. In the past, they didn’t really know.”
The club employs 105 people in its core team and recruitment and retention is a big issue in the hospitality sector, says Drozdiak. “A lot of young people may not want to work and it’s a struggle to convince them to be a waiter. It’s hard to get people in the door. For porters and that kind of thing, we often have to go to agencies,” he says.
“Another challenge is that in London, we have a problem with the way the business rates have quadrupled. That’s hit all pubs, retail and hotels, but private clubs in particular because there is always a question about the basis for the valuation for a private club.”
In the past, the club’s payroll had been done on a spreadsheet, and work scheduling had even been done on scraps of paper. “We have a lot of responsibility for people’s lives and wages,” says Droziak. “If a scrap of paper goes missing, someone doesn’t get paid, or get their sick or holiday pay. We could not answer the question ‘how many days’ holiday to I have left?’. Now you just pick up your iPhone and the answer is there through the app.”
The club has decided to put all its staff on the London living wage in April, which means every new recruit will start on a salary of £21,000. “That is a huge step for us,” says Droziak.