Customer Story

National Timber Group streamlines and standardises HR services and processes

  • Onboarding processes enhanced, streamlined and standardised

  • Centralised company-wide access to HR information, documents and forms

  • Improved management visibility of KPIs and trends, supporting faster, better cost control and decision making

National Timber

A private equity owned business established in 2017, National Timber Group has grown through multiple acquisitions, and is the UK’s largest independent timber distribution & processing group. 

With branches and manufacturing sites across England and Scotland, the company supplies high quality timber, panel, and engineered wood products to a diverse range of customers. 

National Timber Group has a small HR department comprising Kate Rowntree, HR Systems Coordinator, two HR Business Partners, an HR Assistant, and an HR Apprentice. Two members of this small team work part time, 4 days a week.


The various companies acquired by National Timber Group over the years brought with them a varied set of rules and diverse working practices. Several of the acquired businesses had themselves previously grown through acquisitions, adding an extra level of complexity, and lack of consistency across the whole organisation.

These companies also came to National Timber Group with disparate time and attendance systems. “We had at least three different time and attendance systems used in branches across the group, with weekly-paid staff,” notes Rowntree. Other parts of the business, with salaried staff, used spreadsheets on shared drives to manage holiday entitlement, these being visible only to their local teams, not accessible across the group.

With the time and attendance systems nearing end of life, National Timber Group wanted to replace them, along with the manual systems, with a single, group-wide solution that would not only provide organisational consistency, but would also give managers enhanced visibility and essential insights.

“This is about giving managers and employees more ownership of their own data, their own processes, their own holidays,”

Kate Rowntree

HR Systems Coordinator


The reaction to the UKG platform from National Timber Group’s workforce has been positive. Before the UKG solution was rolled out, only weekly paid staff were using the various time and attendance systems at National Timber Group. As a result, managers had limited visibility of holiday or sickness absence, and there was no centralised access to such information.

The UKG platform provides group-wide visibility, without any additional input from managers. “We can just go in and get it,” Rowntree notes. “It's enabled our HR business partners to build relationships with managers. Managing those long-term sick cases, we have visibility of issues, and can deal with them, before they become crises.”

National Timber Group has seen similar improvements in holiday entitlement visibility. As Rowntree recalls, “With UKG we can see everybody's holiday balances, report to the board, and know what holiday balances we’re carrying over, for hourly paid, weekly paid, or salaried employees – that’s been a real benefit.”

Once the UKG solution had been in place for a while, the board began to ask what other data it could provide. Working with their UKG consultant, Rowntree and her colleagues built weekly reports tracking agency hours, overtime, total hours worked, holidays, and absence – previously none of this information was available. “Because the UKG platform is all one system, the data is all coming from the same place,” she notes. “We know that the data is consistent from all branches, in both England and Scotland, because it's all through UKG.”

With the industry feeling the pressure of current market conditions, this new visibility has been welcomed by the board, allowing National Timber Group to more clearly identify where there are costs, such as overtime hours and agency workers, that can be trimmed back.

Improved visibility is also enabling a closer focus on KPIs and how they change. With weekly reports on overtime and agency hours, for example, site managers can swiftly spot adverse trends and excessive costs, and work swiftly to address them. In one branch, where all staff were salaried, and previously not clocking in and out, much closer control can now be exercised for overtime usage. The UKG rollout has also prompted a wider conversation about all staff in all branches clocking in and out, whether hourly paid or salaried.

Similarly, with agency workers now clocking in and out, National Timber Group can check that agency invoices correctly reflect actual hours worked.

As is often the case when companies begin to use UKG solutions, unexpected benefits have also become apparent. Rowntree has found that employees who are on maternity leave are making use of their access to the platform to look at their holiday balances and plan ahead, submitting requests for the future, rather than having to wait to discuss with their managers when they return. This saves time for the employee and the manager, and enables the correct planning for the business.

Rowntree is enthusiastic about UKG from a personal point of view, too. “I've really enjoyed getting to use the system,” she says. “I particularly like that I can find out myself how to do most of the things that I want to do on the UKG platform.”

“At the moment, we’re only using a fraction of its capabilities,” she goes on, “but I am hoping to drive some further changes across the company, making the most of features we aren’t currently using, which I really like.”

She also has praise for the ease with which the platform can be customised to National Timber Group’s particular needs: “I've changed notifications and workflows to meet what we need. It’s great that we can change it ourselves rather than having to raise a support ticket or ask somebody at UKG.”

Rowntree feels the biggest benefit has been in the area of new hire onboarding. “Every week we have new starters. Previously, onboarding was pretty hit or miss, in terms of getting the right information to and from new starters,” she explains. “We now have set forms and processes in place, used by everyone, so we can track when information is missing. UKG has been key in enabling us to put standard processes in place and have a central point for all things HR-related.”

Looking to the future, there is much that Rowntree wants to do, including getting all staff onto the platform, using UKG’s Content Hub for signposting to further resources, especially for employees with mental health issues. She would also like to enhance National Timber Group’s processes for leavers and recruitment requisitions, along with various others: “We need to get our processes working better, rather than having lots of emails bouncing around, requiring people to remember to respond. Let’s get it all in the system, automate it.”

That should pay dividends in terms of saving HR time, and reducing the amount of email traffic Rowntree and her colleagues have to address, making information available so that managers can answer their own questions without going to HR. 

“This is about giving managers and employees more ownership of their own data, their own processes, their own holidays,” she adds.

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