lifesave connecteam case study

Connecteam Employee App Saves Time & Money for “Surf Life Saving” Nonprofit Organization

60 +
114 +
25 %
Accidents reduction
Hours saved per month

Key Takeaways:

The Challenge:

Surf Life Saving is a nonprofit on a mission to protect its community in and around the beaches of New Zealand.

Like many other nonprofit managers, Pia Harpour, the Community Education Manager of Surf Life Saving Northern Region struggled with:

  • Uncertain volunteers’ availability
  • Tricky volunteer scheduling with a lot of back-and-forths
  • Excessive manual paperwork management
  • Clunky communication in different channels
  • Inconsistent training & onboarding process for new volunteers


The Solution:

  • Digital scheduling via Connecteam mobile app instead of “pen & paper” scheduling over the phone
  • In-app dedicated work chat with filters and groups for streamlined communication, instead of emails, social networks, and phone calls
  • Robust mobile knowledge base for health & safety protocols, tutorials, and educational materials, instead of old-fashioned classrooms and printed notes, delivered across the coast
  • Single digital timesheet with direct export to payroll, instead of dozens of Excel spreadsheets
  • Mobile training and onboarding program that is created once, and accessible for anyone, anytime


The Outcome:

  • Saved 160 hours/month on volunteer scheduling and made the employee scheduling process easier, faster, and more accurate
  • Clear and instant availability overview at any given moment via a mobile dashboard
  • Saved five hours of driving a week by moving all educational materials into the mobile app, and allowing local site admins to update their own information
  • Freed up time for important tasks for the organization, by centralizing all the communication in a one dedicated work chat
  • Simplified employee time tracking & payroll process by moving from manual tracking to Connecteam’s solution
  • Reduced number of accidents by easily distributing digital safety & hazard workflows to volunteers and instructors
  • Saved multiple hours for payroll by switching from manually analyzing and processing 60 separate timesheets to a single, digital, easy exportable timesheet with hours and overtime precalculated automatically

“It was all super daunting and hard until I stumbled upon Connecteam. I don’t think you understand the impact it had on my job: I honestly don’t think I would have made it through the season without it!”

Best Tool To Solve Your Management Struggles

Quick scheduling, simple time tracking, digital knowledge base, & more!

Start for FREE

Through Connecteam Employee App, Surf Life Saving Save Time & Money On Daily Operations As A Nonprofit Organization


As a nonprofit, Surf Life Saving is on a mission to protect its community in and around the beaches of New Zealand through lifeguarding, surveillance, and water safety education services. These lifeguards are highly trained in first aid, search and rescue, and lifeguard operations.

Pia Harpour, the Community Education Manager of Surf Life Saving Northern Region explains, “We employ local lifeguards, educate the local schools and kids, so it helps us help the community and keep the coasts safe.”

With such an incredible mission, Surf Life Saving was battling some of the same challenges most nonprofits face:

  • No guaranteed funding
  • Very few regular employees and technological resources
  • Heavy multitasking and a lot of coordination between different teams
  • Hiring, training, and managing dozens of new seasonal volunteers or part-time employees every summer

Pia had too many moving parts she needed to manage and too little resources for it, so she started to look for a solution that could solve all the challenges on her plate, but not require a huge budget which is how she found Connecteam.

“It only took my team an hour to master Connecteam, but now it cuts out the ridiculous combination of text, calls, emails, and social media.”

Challenges Faced:

Pia says that one of her favorite parts of this project is the community education in schools they run, but being a not-for-profit, they don’t have guaranteed funding. Pia is also the only person to do the rostering (scheduling), preparing the lifeguards as educators, and advertising. Alone, she is dealing with a workforce of nearly 60 people across three education programs, organizing public events, and managing 13 locations they teach at, across a huge area. 114 schools and around 10,000 students would have been educated over the summer of 2020 if it wasn’t for the COVID-19 pandemic.

She initially went on the hunt for an employee management system (EMS), hoping to find one that combines employee learning, training, AND an employee management system, but couldn’t find it all in one product, until she found Connecteam. “I’ve never seen an app so quick to change and add features for your plan… It’s incredible to know I can ask anything and get a fast response from a dedicated customer support team!”

With 50 hour weeks in the peak season and an extra 4 hours of driving time between the sites almost every day, it’s easy to see why doing paperwork after such days was particularly exhausting.

A clunky, hard to use CRM with a huge manual users guide, and handwritten notes from the supervisor also didn’t help much.

Neither did a Google Spreadsheet which always left her wondering:

  • Is this the latest version of that spreadsheet? 
  • Have the lifeguards been notified of the sheet update? 
  • Are they available for the shift? If not — when will they notify about it?
  • Have they even seen that a new roster (schedule) is out?

In Pia’s own words “scheduling errors were neverending”, and she had to message every single person when a new roster was coming out and sometimes it was enough for just one lifeguard to be unavailable for the shift — to change the whole team for that shift or cancel the shift altogether.

“114 schools with multiple education sessions each – with a separate timesheet and a pile of paper notes for every session, that I would have to distribute across the locations miles away from each other. It was just ridiculous!”

The All-In-One Solution

Real-time Availability:

“The availability function in Connecteam’s roster is one of my favorites so I can see exactly who’s available to teach and that was a game-changer.”

Employee and volunteer availability was yet another manual spreadsheet Life Surf Saving had to keep up to date. Since it’s a seasonal, summer job, often this nonprofit will hire university students, which have inconsistent availability.


Efficient Time Clock:

“Connecteam is a huge time and money-saver for us: it gives us so much transparency and helps us work more productively.

“I don’t know how the manager before me ran volunteers’ timesheets without Connecteam, but now they can just clock in and clock out from their mobile phone, or click one button and add a commute later.”

The job used to need manual, time-consuming entry of up to 60 timesheets a week/fortnight with many mistakes and missing adjustments.
Now with Connecteam, it’s so much easier for Pia to see hours worked and add all the extras as simple tick boxes. If an employee is due overnight allowance or gas money or has comments — they can add it to the built-in shift notes and attachments: rather than handing in a paper timesheet and forgetting about it — everything is logged on Connecteam. “It’s a smooth process from employees to managers and the export options have saved hours for our payroll person”, says Pia.

Connecteam’s live geo-tracking uses “Breadcrumbs” technology that allows for tracking employees’ location while they’re clocked in and on the move, with minimal effect on their battery or data plan. On the employees’ side they clock in and out as usual, while the administrators are able to view their route during the shift over the enlarged map you already use and even play a video animation that connects all the breadcrumbs together into a single trail. Breadcrumbs track employees’ location while they’re on the clock, whether their app is opened, closed, or running in the background.



Dedicated Material (Workflows, Surveys, & Training):

“It’s an extra pair of hands in reality.”

Life Surf New Zealand is really big on health and safety and that used to create a huge amount of paperwork.
Building your own workflow function is an amazing feature for Surf Life Saving that’s led their sister organization to join Connecteam as well. “As soon as the risk analysis forms created in the workflows are submitted by lifeguards across the country — managers get an instant copy, and if anything is out of place, they can act immediately.”


Manager Fields:

I use statuses (manager fields), and I love them: when I put site/venue admins in a shift, tag them as a user, and they accept that — I know that it’s in their calendar and they’re not going to double-book their space. And that goes for rostering/scheduling people as well.

Having to make so many last-minute changes, means that you can see when people accept or reject a shift, and add the reason in the notes. The manager fields and notes allow for the much-needed flexibility to meet the needs of the team and get the work done. “For example, if the distance to the venue was much further to where they live — I can reschedule them to venues closer to home.”, says Pia.



“This season, the library is even being updated by the site/venue admins themselves! Another thing off my plate.”

Life Surf Saving also uses the library often to be able to train and develop their staff. The training materials are divided up into locations so everyone can directly access key information from their own mobile phone:

  • full venue arrangement
  • club procedures
  • emergency response procedures
  • health and safety, and so on.

Each venue that they teach at runs slightly differently and being able to access that information without volunteers having to call the office every time is empowering.


Efficient Digital Scheduling:

“This is such a big time saver for me because I don’t have to do everything by pen and paper or unrelated spreadsheets anymore.”

Final Thoughts

We asked Pia to summarize her final thoughts about her experience with Connecteam, and that’s what she said:  “Connecteam is an incredible and professional lift for the organization, to move away from social media platforms, to have everything on one smooth, dedicated work channel with clear records.”

“It’s also a true all-in-one app that’s incredible for the price!”

By continuing to use the website, you consent to the use of cookies. read more