St. John is a nonprofit organization operating in 40 countries worldwide, and is involved in various business and humanitarian exploits and was essentially established in 1100 AD which makes St. John the oldest brand in the world!
Like most nonprofit organizations, St John is focused on getting donations and effectively managing their volunteers and employees and was also facing some of the same challenges that many nonprofits experience on a daily basis: understanding how many hours employees and volunteers are working, managing forms, reports, and checklists filled out by volunteers, streamlining communication, enhancing onboarding and training processes, and much more.
St. John was on the lookout for an all-in-one solution that could help them tackle these challenges so they could fully grow their organization, and that’s exactly what turned St. John to Connecteam.
“In the South Africa branch, Connecteam is very helpful in keeping track with our ambulance operations and staff, and our volunteer members which we call ‘The Brigade’. Those members are made up of youth volunteers and adult members. Connecteam proved vital to maintaining an accurate and updated list of our team members and their information and in time tracking their volunteer work. Part of our staff is completely operating out of the office and part of the office so we are using the time tracking system in various flexible ways.”
Dianne, the National Head of Youth, and Jon, the Director of Ambulance, sat down with us (Connecteam) to share their experiences with our employee app.
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1. Before Connecteam, what were you using for daily operations?
One of the reasons we came to Connecteam is because we didn’t have a good way to digitally track our members and staff. We were doing everything by paperwork and we needed to go to a digital sort of format. And we looked around for platforms that could help us to do that, where we could be paperless.
Connecteam also gave us a level of oversight on a national level to know what our local levels were doing. For our Johannesburg division, we have an immediate oversight on what our members and staff are doing on a daily basis, which before we didn’t have. We relied on manual reports that were reported once a month by somebody who maybe didn’t see all the people either.
I could literally log on at any moment on Connecteam and see what’s happening and have a fully up-to-date understanding. For example, I can look now at Durban, and I see which medic is on which event and at what time. A big change for us as you can understand!
2. Tell us about the challenges you faced before Connecteam.
So there were a couple of reasons we started looking at digital solutions. For one, our system was open to manipulation, it was all just paperwork and we would lose a lot of information and records. Because it was all paper if somebody moved on, and if they didn’t hand over the records, then we would lose that. We would literally only get the information (of what our people were doing, how many patients they saw, how many volunteer hours they were doing, etc.) at the end of the month if we got it at all.
It also bridged a massive communication gap for us. Because we’re such an old structure and established nonprofit and paramilitary organization, everything is very hierarchical historically. For example, as the Head of Youth, I would have to send an email to the Heads of Youth in various areas and they would then disseminate the information. Now we don’t have to do that anymore. We don’t have to rely on people so it creates seamless communication throughout the organization and we can reach every single volunteer directly. So even if we have an officer who is not very strong at communicating, that person and their team still get the same level of information. Connecteam leveled the playing field for us.
Also for our team members, let’s say I’m situated in East London, I’m now able to go and check how many hours I’ve worked and can see what other people are doing across the country. Connecteam empowered the user at an end-level to engage with us (Dianne and Jon).
Another thing to add that was quite useful, and in fact necessary, is that we’re running a COVID-19 project right now where we’re supplying health care workers to several hospitals around the country and the geotagging is really important so that we can see that people are where they should be when they clock in. It was so easy to keep track of our volunteers and staff.
That’s quite an important aspect, which was important for our business even before COVID 19. As we do a lot of event-based medical work, we’ll go to sporting events, concerts, etc. and we’ll often have a lot of staff working at these events who may work for us on an hourly basis. So for the calculation of hours for volunteers, it’s quite important to see that people are where they say they are and how long they’ve been there. Previously how that worked is through pen and paper – not very efficient at all. So if someone arrived and said they got there at 10 AM and left at 4 PM, there was no way to validate that really was the case.
3. Tell us about the features you use most and how they are helpful to your company and employees.
After that the time clock is the main feature we use and the geofence, we insist on everyone using it. In fact, one of the reasons we took on a premium pricing plan is to ensure the geofence was a thing. So for all events, hospitals, and so on, we have the geofence enabled to ensure everyone is clocking in and out where they’re supposed to be.
The invitation link made our life so much easier, we can just send a link to new staff members or volunteers and let them fill in their relevant information. Later we can add to it, and it makes the entire process of onboarding and offboarding staff members very clean and organized – this was exactly what we came for, to begin with, looking to organize and track our team members in a better way.
Targeted communication using Smart groups
We also use smart groups to separate communication between our staff, especially as we have adult members, kids, volunteers, etc. We can’t have kids in the same group as adults, for obvious reasons like child protection and all of that. That’s been really useful to use and we use Connecteam to really push content to groups in a targeted manner, as well so they get content that’s relevant to them only.
So through updates, we have been sending lectures, competitions, that sort of thing. Updates are a great way to further enhance our communication and engagement with our volunteers and paid staff. It really makes a big difference.
Dianne says she uses the schedule for training purposes which is super effective and Jon intends to start using it in the future as the need arises, especially as it can help to offer shifts to volunteers and paid staff, and it can help scale our organization as well.
Customize folders and content
LOADS. So when it comes to customized folders, that’s where we send all our links, updates, and policies. For example, we created forms and checklists so when the medic arrives at his/her shift, they can check the vehicles and more. We created policies and regulations so if anyone is confused as to what they need to wear then they can go look at the regulations, and the youth can see policies directly specific to them on Connecteam through the customize feature. Through this feature, we can make sure everyone reads and signs policies so that we’re all on the same page. It also creates a level of accountability which we quite like.
We also created a training tab with the customized folders and we linked it to our Google Drive so instead of uploading documents onto Connecteam, we just created a hyperlink to the Drive so all our stuff is stored on the cloud and we allow access to it to our teams.
4. What ROI have you experienced?
Our ROI starts with us finally being able to quantify how many people we have and how effective they were, so we immediately have that. We know exactly how many members we have at each place which wouldn’t be the same for other businesses and especially non-for-profits. As we’re a nonprofit organization knowing how many team members you actually have may prove more challenging than you would think, Connecteam gave us an immediate idea of how many members we have.
With regards to volunteering, we can tell exactly what qualifications we have across the board, we can do a skills order across there, and we can also see what sort of time our volunteers are doing, how they’re doing, and where and what they’re doing.
And communication is pretty epic.
It’s enabled us to run and pay people in a manner we wouldn’t have been able to. So the timesheets and time clock have really created an effective way of administering those two areas so that we can see paid and volunteers. This flexibility of the timesheets and time clock is really cool and useful for us.
5. What were your impressions regarding the implementation process?
We did quite a lot of development with Yuval and everybody else on the team. Everybody at Connecteam is great, the turnover times were amazing. Yuval is very fantastic! He doesn’t sleep.
6. Would you recommend Connecteam to your peers? Why?
We’ve already recommended Connecteam! We introduced it to the St. John international team that is now using it at the CEO level.
And there are quite a few other organizations using Connecteam as well just based on our experience.
Dianne, “I’ve recommended it to recruiters for employee management for big, international companies, and also I’ve recommended it generally to many other managers.
We are now rolling out Connecteam within St. John in a different area which is our paid staff, so our training staff and our centers. We are bringing it to our employees and not our ambulance services.”
7. What surprised you about Connecteam?
I found it really cool that everyone at Connecteam is open to suggestions, which is quite nice. That was surprising but totally welcome.
8. Anything else you’d like to add about your experience with Connecteam?
I think it’s fantastic how everyone at Connecteam will go above and beyond to help your clients.
When we started using Connecteam for ICC (an event we had here in South Africa), we launched another account from Connecteam, it wasn’t designed for this purpose. But everyone at Connecteam literally busted their butts to try and make sure that it worked. And we were able to run schedules for 270 children doing different things in different places. And we were able to communicate internationally, like even though it wasn’t designed for that, Connecteam didn’t skip a beat to help me personally try and figure it all out. So from a customer side, Connecteam’s service and willingness to just be amazing is really epic. It’s made us work so much smarter than we would have and how we were before. I love the product.
See How St. John Improved Their Daily Operations By Implementing Connecteam