Interview with Tom Hammond, Paychex Sr. Director, Product & Program Management, Part 1
Tom Hammond manages the product and program teams that point the way in the continuing evolution of software for entrepreneurs to enterprises, including the Paychex FlexSM human capital management solution. We sat down with Tom recently to discuss where HR administrators are having difficulties and how his teams are working to address them with the latest technology.
Could you tell me a little bit about your adventure here at Paychex, what brought you in, and what you’ve been doing up to now?
July 2nd was my 25th anniversary with Paychex. There have been some really exciting times behind us, but I think even more exciting times are ahead of us.
I started out as an analyst writing software requirements for our payroll application and then was the first person hired into our project management official team. Later, I took over managing that team.
Eventually, I was in charge of product management. And that’s where my passion lies today, having the product team that comes up with the vision of where we are in the marketplace, and where our products are leading, and where we need to improve them, as well as having the program team that actually puts together the plan to execute on that vision, and then doing the finances as well. It’s really a cool job to have quite honestly.
Successful products must meet real customer needs. At the SHRM Annual Conference and Exposition, attendees specifically mentioned issues with recruitment. How is Paychex addressing those needs?
I really believe that Paychex FlexSM Hiring—our product that includes onboarding, recruiting and applicant tracking, background checking, etcetera—allows Paychex to help put the client in the right light with their prospective employees from day one. And why I feel that way is if you think about first and foremost managing a HR organization for 75 to 100-or-more employees and you have any semblance of turnover, you’re going to have anywhere from five to ten positions open on any given day.
You have to manage your way through. You’re going to need to give employees feedback from multiple division heads, department heads, and managers of different arms of the organization. You’re going to act as a talent manager. And what’s great about Paychex Flex Hiring is it’s really built for that particular user. It provides the client with the opportunity to filter and sort using keyword searches from an applicant pool that can be pretty deep.
It also allows the administrator to actually send potential employees who are a better fit for another job over to a counterpart, where a lot of our competitors don’t offer either one of those advanced features and functions. So, we have a really strong offering in recruiting and applicant tracking.
What happens after they find the right person for the job?
Once you actually find the right person, you’ve got to get them to come into your organization. And I think Paychex Flex Hiring is a leading tool that could really help a small- to mid-sized business win that war for the best talent and get them engaged from day one.
When you look at onboarding, you think about questions like, “If I have recruiting and applicant tracking and I have a customized, branded portal, what’s important to me and what am I looking for? What makes my business tick? What are its values? What are its guiding behaviors?”
Then once you get someone to come into business that you like, you want to engage them immediately to encourage them to stay with the company.
How can technology engage a newly hired employee from day one?
Imagine being able to create a customized welcome email with who you are, why you’re excited about them joining the company, when they’ll start, maybe a picture of their desk, a link to the dress code and documents they’ll need to fill out—and it’s all electronic. Click here and it will take you through an automated process to get you set up for payroll, benefits, etcetera.
That, to me, is providing an immediate social connection to a new employee.
How can clients deal with the turnover and onboarding cycle?
When you have turnover, you’re constantly in a catch-up mode where you’re out there looking for people. And then, once you get them, you’re taking them through all of that laborious process to get their paperwork completed.
How about if we just did it all for you electronically and took that whole mess off of your plate and gave you tools where you could track where each person is in the onboarding process? And if they aren’t progressing at the pace that you think they are, send them out an automated message.
That’s the first step in getting the HR administrator out of that revolving door that they’re dealing with every day.
With our automated tools that provide online capability to change your personal information, your name, your address, your account information for direct deposit, your information for state and federal tax withholding you may eliminate people from coming in saying, “Hey, I just moved, what do I need to do?” You can do it from practically any device.
So, again, it’s taking the common problems. For example, in a business of 150 employees, you may have three of those requests a week that you can eliminate through self-service. That keeps you from having to go to a filing cabinet and pull out the forms, or send an email. Those are all enhancements to drive productivity.
HR Administrators at the SHRM conference also expressed frustration at dealing with cobbled together HR systems.
Paychex Flex is the only software for small- to mid-sized businesses that has recruiting and applicant tracking, and onboarding, payroll, and retirement services and benefits administration, and time and attendance, and performance management—all on a proprietary solution.
We offer that through single sign-on with single client and single employee records that drive the maintenance and management of all of those products and services.
Let me tell you why that’s important to an HR director or business owner. If they have their benefits administration from “Joe Benefits Administrator” and they do payroll with “Sally Payroll Organization” and those two are not integrated, they’re going to need to go into those two systems and make all of the same changes twice. And when they go into both of those systems, they’re going to have to use a separate username and a password each time.
Even when they’re using a system with a third party that they outsource to for particular elements of their solution, they’re going to have to be really careful with data integration issues. And they’re going to be plagued by a pain in the neck without single sign-on.
What if a business doesn’t need all of that functionality right away, but may grow into it?
We’ve built Paychex Flex in a way that is modular. Meaning if you want to add these things, we can do so by configuring your records, not by putting you through an upgrade that forces you to change platforms once you outgrow them.
Read part two of our interview with Tom Hammond for more about what HR administrators are looking for in an HCM system, and how Paychex Flex was built to address those needs.