How Chester Zoo is designing an employee-centric future with SD Worx

Chester Zoo is the UK’s most visited zoo. Home to 35,000 extraordinary animals and over 500 members of staff who share one thing in common - working all hours of the day and night to ensure the zoo is an inspirational and enjoyable place to be and to work in. 
It’s our goal to make managers more autonomous and allow them to manage their team without intervention from Payroll or HR. Visibility of the staff you manage is very important, and a digital solution has really helped that.
chester zoo
Andrew Williams Payroll Manager at Chester Zoo


Chester Zoo is no stranger to fluid working, they are proficient in balancing full-time permanent staff with seasonal and contingent workers, students and a variety of shift patterns. This means they need tight controls over time and attendance for accurate pay data and reporting, but they wanted a solution that would empower their managers to have more control and to be able to make employee changes more easily.

Designing the right in-person experience is imperative when visitors come for a day out, but Chester Zoo also understands the importance of cultivating a unique digital experience for its employees too. That's why they are dedicated to developing their employee experience through their digital HR solutions. 


In 2020 Chester Zoo started the transition from Kronos to Protime, a European workforce management solution from SD Worx. Chester Zoo had already been using SD Worx’s HR and Payroll solution and were looking for a workforce management offering that would easily integrate.

“ Protime was the natural way forward for us because of the integration you get from SD Worx’s HR. I am confident that employee data contained within HR & Payroll will match Protime. ” Andrew Williams, Payroll Manager, said.

“ You can have the best time and attendance system in the world but if it isn’t integrated and it gets out of sync you end up with incorrect data. Just a simple thing like a home cost centre can create trouble if it is posting hours worked to the wrong place. The right data produces the right results. ” He continued.

Protime has a huge global customer base, predominantly in Belgium, but as one of the earlier adopters of Protime in the UK market, Chester Zoo had the opportunity to shape the implementation process which took 6 months in total. 

“It was a learning curve for us all.” Andrew continued. “We did lots of testing and got to the bottom of any issues before we went live. We asked the Protime team questions and they’d either have the answers, and if they didn’t, they’d find an answer. This helped them create a template for the next Protime customer in the UK.”

Chester Zoo worked in an agile environment with the Protime team and their implementation consultant. Even after the solution was live, Chester Zoo and Protime had regular conversations to ensure the solution was tailored to them. “We have a good relationship and work with Protime and SD Worx to adapt the solution to our needs. In fact, we even spoke about absence calculations and average holiday pay changes just today.” Andrew said.  

Benefits & Impact

The integration with Protime, HR and Payroll from SD Worx has reduced data duplication and human errors caused by manual inputting. But it’s also driving the employee experience. We live in a digital world where employees are used to high levels of digital maturity throughout their personal lives – and expect the same from their working lives too.

“Before we used paper for annual leave forms, but now staff can submit absences on their desktop computer or mobiles. They can clock in and clock out on their phones. They have different options to suit them.” Andrew said.

“It’s our goal to make managers more autonomous and allow them to manage their team without intervention from Payroll or HR. Visibility of the staff you manage is very important, and a digital solution has really helped that.” Andrew continued.

As Chester Zoo prepare to bring staff back to work after flexi-furlough, they are in a strong position with more accurate data and reporting and an improved digital experience for their employees.  

Book a free consultation

Get in touch today to discover how our solutions can transform your Payroll and HR operations


Further reading

Leaving time & attendance in the past

Leaving time & attendance in the past: The future of workforce management

Download the guide

Investigating the business case for outsourcing payroll

Do you have a business case for outsourcing payroll

Watch on-demand

Why Costco chose SD Worx’s SaaS payroll solution

costco quote

Read case study