Ultimate Software's Blog http://blog.ultimatesoftware.com Thoughts on Putting People First in the Workplace Tue, 23 May 2017 19:20:02 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.7.5 Navigating the Complexities of Listening to the VoE http://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/listening-voe/ http://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/listening-voe/#respond Fri, 19 May 2017 10:00:20 +0000 http://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/?p=1000 The reality of having five generations in the workforce is upon us, as Gen Z begins to enter the workforce. At over 74 million strong and growing, these post-millennials “digital natives” are poised to become the largest working generation yet. They share many similarities with the millennials, but also have their own unique set of […]

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The reality of having five generations in the workforce is upon us, as Gen Z begins to enter the workforce. At over 74 million strong and growing, these post-millennials “digital natives” are poised to become the largest working generation yet. They share many similarities with the millennials, but also have their own unique set of expectations and assumptions they bring to work (see my LinkedIn blog post about truly communicating).

I travel quite a bit, and I always come away from my many conversations with HR and business leaders with incredible, and often poignant, examples of the new reality of working with the changing workforce. I am continually made aware of how a simple slight can have lasting implications for many people in the workplace, and how significant it can be to simply hear a person’s concerns and respond to them.

When discussing this at a recent presentation to HR leaders, an audience member affirmed the importance of listening to your employees, recounting a recent exit interview they conducted with a valued employee. The employee said, “I asked a question and never got a response. I just wanted a response. I could have handled the answer either way, but I never (even) got a response.” Sounds simple enough; we all get busy with the flow of work life and may assume that not responding will be taken as a sign that we don’t yet have an answer or are busy. But it could just as easily be seen as a sign that the person and question don’t merit a response—and clearly our assumptions can be dangerous, as this HR leader found out.

Another instance is related to feeling whole and safe at work. In Ultimate Software’s 2016 study about satisfaction at work, 95% of respondents said “the ability to truly be themselves” is directly tied to their satisfaction on the job. Six out of 10 people said that feeling emotionally unsafe at work would cause them to quit—on the spot. I heard a story of how one long-time employee had made all the difference for a transgender colleague by being vocal, and even protective, in his acceptance of the employee’s change in gender.

That same week, I was asked by a customer about how to handle fluid gender identity when current U.S. EEO compliance reporting requires either male or female identification (learn more in my post about workforce fluidity). I was glad to let him know that, at Ultimate, we provide our employees and our customers voice and choice with configurable technology, to provide them with local flexibility while ensuring compliance with regulatory requirements. Listening, rather than dismissing the request as an edge case, not only made our customer able to support his employees better, but also demonstrated that if HR supports one person in an unusual situation, they will support everyone in more commonly occurring scenarios. The key is to listen and act.

This is the kind of stuff that led many of us to get into the work of HR and people leadership, and is why it is so critically important and meaningful for organizations to be prepared for the conversations they will be having with their employees in the coming months and years. It’s why, at Ultimate, we have an initiative to truly listen to the “Voice of the Employee” (VoE) and follow through with action, and it’s why we are repeatedly ranked as a Best Company to Work For.

Leaders are often told their people are their priority, though in the bustle of the day to day, that can be lost. But be assured that, for the employees, a conversation that may seem less than critical to a leader can mean everything…even a reason to leave.

 

Hear more from Cecile at the Vancouver HR Workshop on May 31. Register now!

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Employee Handbooks: Your Ultimate Guide http://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/employee-handbook-guide/ http://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/employee-handbook-guide/#respond Thu, 11 May 2017 10:00:58 +0000 http://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/?p=997 Guest post by Kate Bischoff, Employment Lawyer & HR Consultant Shoved deep in some desks of supervisors and employees, the employee handbook resides.  For some, the handbook has lived in this dark corner of the workplace for years without a thought or care. In other workplaces, the handbook rests right there on the desk, enjoys […]

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Guest post by Kate Bischoff, Employment Lawyer & HR Consultant

Shoved deep in some desks of supervisors and employees, the employee handbook resides.  For some, the handbook has lived in this dark corner of the workplace for years without a thought or care. In other workplaces, the handbook rests right there on the desk, enjoys frequent reading, and is referenced when needed. Where does your employee handbook live?

employee handbookLawyers, like me, love handbooks (I’m not joking). Handbooks set expectations—both employer and employee expectations. Take, for example, one of the most important policies: sexual harassment. From this singular policy, employers can expect employees not to engage in sexual-harassing conduct, and employees can expect the employer to do something about it. Employees learn what the employer defines as sexual harassment and how employees can report it if they see, hear, or otherwise experience it. And, as a bonus for lawyers, we can use the policy to protect the employer if a claim is ever raised.

Employee handbooks take on all shapes and sizes. Some are true tree-killers, coming in at over 100 pages.  Others are on smartphone apps available at employee fingertips 24-7, with links to forms that an employee might need. Here are a couple of tips for all handbooks:

Make Them Readable & Accessible

Some of the best advice I ever received was “write for fourth graders.” This is especially true for handbooks. While all of your employees might be post-graduate-degree holders, a handbook with too much legalese, jargon, or seven-syllable words is not going to be understood by most.  If you write it to a fourth grader, your employees (and potential jurors) can better understand it. It’s accessible and, therefore, meaningful.

Handbooks Should Contain Only What’s Necessary

Hundred-page handbooks make my heart hurt. Employees are probably not going to read such tomes, even though they acknowledge an in-depth reading at the start of employment. Plus, with such detail, it is unlikely that the employer is doing everything it says it will do in a handbook of that size. An at-will employment statement, harassment, discrimination, retaliation, leave (and FMLA, if it applies), and some state-specific policies are the only policies employers must include. My favorite add-on policy is “use good judgment in all situations.” It pretty much covers everything else.

Use Your Handbook!

If you say you’re going to do something in your handbook, do it. Forgetting, picking and choosing, or actively working against what’s in your handbook hurts you and your people, because you show that the handbook doesn’t mean what it says. This breeds mistrust and resentment among employees. You don’t want this, even though you have the power to change the handbook at any time, with or without notice.

Talk About Your Handbooks with Employees

Employees should have a handbook available to them. They also should have a member of management, including HR, available to answer questions about what’s in there. Walk through the handbook with new employees. Hold a meeting to discuss changes when you make them.  Being open and honest about what’s in there helps create an environment of trust.

Update, Update, Update

One last thing, please update your employee handbook. Run it past your friendly neighborhood employment lawyer. Like life, employment law moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around at it once in a while, you could miss it. In all seriousness, new requirements are made all the time. Being out of compliance is easy if you don’t regularly have someone take a look.

Handbooks are creatures of culture. If your handbook sets a tone of doom and gloom, that will be reflected in your culture. Think about this when you draft, revise, and rollout a handbook.  Find the right person to work with you to make your handbook a useful tool that employees look at, value, and don’t shove into the dark recesses of their desks.

 

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Introducing “10 Places to Find US” http://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/introducing-10-places-find-us/ http://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/introducing-10-places-find-us/#respond Wed, 03 May 2017 10:00:20 +0000 http://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/?p=982 In addition to Ultimate Software’s official blog, there are many places you can find US online and throughout the HR community. Our new series features topical coverage of Ultimate’s cloud technology and workplace culture from the perspectives of various thought leaders, industry analysts, and people-first organizations. Here are 10 Places to Find US: Recruiting Daily—RecruitingDaily.com […]

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In addition to Ultimate Software’s official blog, there are many places you can find US online and throughout the HR community. Our new series features topical coverage of Ultimate’s cloud technology and workplace culture from the perspectives of various thought leaders, industry analysts, and people-first organizations. Here are 10 Places to Find US:

  1. Recruiting Daily—RecruitingDaily.com published a 300+ Women in HR Technology That You Should Follow and Support list on its blog to support Women’s History Month. Ultimate Software’s Jody Kaminsky, Julie Dodd, and Cecile Alper-Leroux were featured on William Tincup’s list.
  2. The Tim Sackett Project—HR expert and blogger Tim Sackett attended the Ultimate Software Connections customer conference in March, sharing his experience in posts What If You Could Predict All of Your Turnover and Every Moment Counts.
  3. HR Happy Hour—Ultimate was featured on Steve Boese’s HR Happy Hour episode titled “Artificial Intelligence for HR and for People.” The episode discussed how technology can improve your performance and talent management by empowering HR and managers to better understand your people.
  4. Acacia HR Solutions—HR outsourcer, expert, and blogger Sabrina Baker joined Ultimate at Connections and shared Elevated, Enlightened, Engaged at #UltiConnect 2017 and Conferences, Events, and New Resources—Oh My!
  5. UpStart HR—Ben Eubanks wrote a post outlining 40 Free Training Sources for HR and payroll professionals. He included Ultimate’s #PeopleFirstPodcast as a valuable resource.
  6. HR Bartender—The #PeopleFirstPodcast was also featured on Sharlyn Lauby’s blog, HR Bartender, as a way professionals can use technology to advance their HR careers.
  7. Jeff Waldman—Thought leader Jeff Waldman also attended Connections and shared his opinions in three posts, HR Technology Companies Can Be Awesome Places to Work, Why You Should Care About Your Technology, and Balancing Software and the Human Element. Jeff also joined Ultimate at Canada’s largest HR conference, HRPA, and shared some awesome experiences on social media.
  8. SHRM—Ultimate’s Cecile Alper-Leroux and Micole Kaye hosted SHRM’s Twitter Chat on March 8.
  9. T Recs—HR thought leader and author Mervyn Dinnen flew across the pond from the U.K. to spend the week with Ultimate at Connections. He penned Are You Listening to Your Employees after listening to an Ultimate customer share his story about how UltiPro® helped his organization transform its retention.
  10. Red Branch Media—Recruitment marketing expert Maren Hogan attended Connections and shared her key takeaways in her post What Small Businesses Can Teach Enterprise HR.

For the latest Ultimate news, updates, and happenings, visit www.ultimatesoftware.com, look for Ultimate on your favorite HR blogs, or connect with US on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Pinterest.

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Using Payroll Software to Alleviate Tax-Time Woes http://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/payroll-software-simplify-taxes/ http://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/payroll-software-simplify-taxes/#comments Fri, 28 Apr 2017 01:05:25 +0000 http://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/?p=990 Just like how February is for sweethearts and November is for feasting, for many Americans, April is synonymous with one thing: filing taxes. Depending on your personal and financial situation, the process can be relatively smooth or plagued with technicalities, and the same is true for businesses. If you’re a small company with a few […]

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Just like how February is for sweethearts and November is for feasting, for many Americans, April is synonymous with one thing: filing taxes. Depending on your personal and financial situation, the process can be relatively smooth or plagued with technicalities, and the same is true for businesses.

payroll softwareIf you’re a small company with a few local employees, it’s possible that your tax services process can be reasonably handled by an in-house employee. But for most businesses, managing employee taxes is an extremely complex endeavor, as you’ll need to manually navigate through thousands of tax jurisdictions—there are 7,000 in Pennsylvania alone—to assign the correct tax code for each employee. And the price of non-compliance is steep; in 2014, the IRS issued 6.8 million penalties related to employment taxes alone, costing US businesses $4.5 billion. For these reasons, it often makes more sense to use payroll software and services that can meet your organization’s unique needs while conserving internal resources and ensuring IRS compliance.

How Payroll Software Can Help

Some payroll solutions offer a comprehensive tax management feature to help businesses handle all tax and compliance computations, including withholding requirements, multi-state taxing rules and reciprocity, and more. All U.S. federal, state, and local tax regulations can be updated automatically, as well as Canadian federal and provincial/territorial regulations. And to simplify things even further, these solutions often leverage the latest geographic information systems to automatically determine the correct tax codes for employees.

As a result, tax information is processed quickly and accurately, simplifying the administrative process and mitigating compliance risk. Technology providers can even provide services to print, seal, and send you your year-end tax forms, ready for immediate distribution. For Ultimate Software, tax services are just another way we’ve designed our solution to put people first.

Service: Putting People—and Their Taxes—First

In addition to UltiPro’s strong payroll solution, service has always been a differentiating factor. In an industry where 7 out of 10 HR decision makers report regretting their HCM provider choice, Ultimate stands proud with a 95% customer satisfaction rate. We’re in the people business, and we treat our customers as partners for life. This means that you’ll work closely with one of our dedicated representatives—throughout the entire process—to define and implement the strategies that make sense for your company.

To learn more about how Ultimate’s HR, payroll, and talent management software can fulfill your human capital management needs, join us for a live UltiPro Web Demo on April 27, at 2:00 p.m. Eastern time.

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Ask Adam: Creating a Positive Employee Experience http://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/positive-employee-experience/ http://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/positive-employee-experience/#respond Thu, 20 Apr 2017 10:00:13 +0000 http://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/?p=974 “Employee experience” has become a standard HR buzzword, and today’s executives are increasingly recognizing and prioritizing its influence. In January, Forbes published “The Employee Experience Is the Future of Work,” and we now know that “ee experience” is the #1 driver of employment outcomes. Unfortunately, measuring—even defining—the drivers of positive employee experience can be tumultuous, […]

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“Employee experience” has become a standard HR buzzword, and today’s executives are increasingly recognizing and prioritizing its influence. In January, Forbes published “The Employee Experience Is the Future of Work,” and we now know that “ee experience” is the #1 driver of employment outcomes. Unfortunately, measuring—even defining—the drivers of positive employee experience can be tumultuous, primarily driven by a lack of data outlining exactly what contributes to employee happiness, satisfaction, and fulfillment.

As an HCM technology company defined by our “People First” philosophy, pinpointing the key factors facilitating a great employee experience was necessary both for our own development and to add value for our customers. We partnered with the Center for Generational Kinetics to conduct a comprehensive study of U.S. working adults and found that two-way trust, nurtured through open and ongoing communication, was critical for a positive employee experience. Other important factors included organizational culture, professional development opportunities, innovative technology, promptly addressing concerns, and safety—both physical and emotional.

We recently presented these results in a webcast, and received so many great questions that I didn’t have time to answer them all. Here are a few of the most common questions, along with my suggestions. If you have any other questions about our research or the employee experience, please let me know in the comments below!

Q: How can I determine how employees feel?

A: Just ask them—and often. Today’s workforce values inclusion, coaching, and ongoing feedback. Instead of relying solely on formal performance management processes, which are certainly useful but have a slew of limitations, modern organizations are beginning to implement more frequent, informal positive employee experiencecheck-ins and pulse surveys. On-demand surveys allow you to gauge how your employees are actually feeling in real time, particularly when your solution uses advanced sentiment analysis technology to accurately dissect open-ended text. Armed with substantial data about the health of your organization, you’re empowered to quickly address areas of concern and dramatically increase positive employee experience.­

Q: How do you build trust?

A: At its core, trust is based around communication, transparency, and action. The goal is to develop managers into better people leaders who are in tune with their teams and empowered to take ownership of engagement. Technological solutions can provide structured and proactive coaching support, including practical suggestions for taking the most effective action.

Q: What investments should my company make to create a positive employee experience?

A: Fortunately, you don’t need to dismantle your entire organization to improve the employee experience for your people. Little things can make a big difference—but it’s crucial to invest in both career development and modern technology. Providing ongoing learning opportunities to your employees will challenge and motivate them while improving overall satisfaction. Employees are also heavily impacted by the tools they use to get their jobs done, as well as those they use to access their pay and benefits information. Even I was shocked by our research results regarding technology in the workplace—one in three employees said they would consider leaving their jobs because of outdated technology.

Implementing these strategies will help positively influence all manners of the employee experience, including fostering ongoing communication, providing career clarity, and—most important of all—building trust between your organization and your employees.

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Ultimate Unveils New Ways to “Elevate” Employee Experiences at Connections 2017 http://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/connections-2017-new-products/ http://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/connections-2017-new-products/#respond Wed, 12 Apr 2017 10:00:05 +0000 http://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/?p=953 Last month marked Ultimate Software’s largest-ever Connections customer conference, with more than 3,000 HR professionals, analysts, and leaders gathering in Las Vegas for the four-day event. Connections 2017 centered on the theme of “Elevate” and featured a dual keynote presentation by Ultimate’s Chief Technology Officer, Adam Rogers, and VP of Products, Martin Hartshorne, who showcased […]

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connections 2017Last month marked Ultimate Software’s largest-ever Connections customer conference, with more than 3,000 HR professionals, analysts, and leaders gathering in Las Vegas for the four-day event. Connections 2017 centered on the theme of “Elevate” and featured a dual keynote presentation by Ultimate’s Chief Technology Officer, Adam Rogers, and VP of Products, Martin Hartshorne, who showcased Ultimate’s latest human capital management solutions designed to elevate the employee experience.

Here’s a special look at how Ultimate plans to help organizations better understand their people, support their development, and increase their productivity in 2017, and in the years ahead.

Improving Understanding with Smarter Surveys, Advanced AI

Because understanding employees starts with good listening—and 75% of American workers say they’re more likely to stay with a company longer if their concerns are heard and addressed—Ultimate is excited to introduce UltiPro Perception™. Using advanced natural language processing (NLP) and machine-learning algorithms, UltiPro Perception delivers a smarter employee survey with sentiment analysis to uncover how people truly feel about work. Perception interprets open-ended responses in real time and delivers instant insights to managers and leaders, so organizations can better listen, understand, and act on employee feedback to improve satisfaction and increase retention.

Taking the power of Perception and UltiPro’s suite of analytics even farther is Xander, Ultimate’s “People First” artificial intelligence (AI) platform and its next step in HCM data science. This portfolio of advanced AI technologies combines analytical intelligence and emotional intelligence to support organizations in every aspect of HR. Built on NLP and machine learning, Xander will enable Ultimate’s solutions to automatically understand, predict, prescribe, and act on all relevant HCM data.

Supporting Development with Modern Learning Experiences

Three out of four people in the workforce say professional development is necessary to remain satisfied at work, according to The Center for Generational Kinetics. To help organizations shift from offering employees one-time training to providing continuous professional development, Ultimate introduces UltiPro Learning. This solution delivers a modern learning experience and a compelling, person-centric approach to development, in which people learn in ways they find most convenient and helpful—from traditional courses to short, user-generated content. With the ability to conveniently share knowledge among teams and communities, users are empowered to become educators, teaching their peers while learning from one another.

Through UltiPro Learning, organizations can provide employees with consumable, on-demand content, social and collaborative tools, and mobile access to educational resources—so learning and professional development can continue to take place, even in workplaces where desktop computers aren’t always available, such as in retail stores and restaurants.

Increasing Productivity with a New Native Mobile App

Soon, employees will be able to do much more than learn on their preferred devices. This summer, Ultimate officially launches UltiPro’s new mobile app. Natively available in the Apple and Android app stores at no extra cost, this mobile app puts the most frequently used and relevant UltiPro functionality in people’s hands, elevating employee productivity with better notifications, easier collaboration, and enhanced interaction. Employees can sign in with a simple touch ID or pin code, clock in and out of shifts, view schedules, request time off, and more.

Another standout feature of UltiPro’s mobile app is its Pay Insights feature. Organizations on average receive 1,150 calls and emails from employees about their pay annually, according to Bloomberg BNA. Pay Insights helps prevent pay-related confusion and distractions by breaking down an employee’s paycheck, so they can better understand how earnings and deductions will affect their pay.

With convenient access to critical information and tools, UltiPro’s enhanced mobile app will help employees stay productive at work, in the field, and on the go.

For more Connections 2017 coverage, follow #UltiConnect on social media, and visit Ultimate’s Facebook and Instagram pages for exclusive photos, videos, and insight from the event.

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How Big Data and Analytics are Shaping the Future of HCM http://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/big-data-prescriptive-analytics/ http://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/big-data-prescriptive-analytics/#comments Thu, 06 Apr 2017 10:00:56 +0000 http://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/?p=945 We’re officially in Q2 of 2017, and it’s clear that some of the same industry-leading trends that having been influencing HR for years have continued to advance and will remain hot topics for the foreseeable future. Big Data and its natural counterpart, analytics, showed the potential to impact nearly every aspect of HCM–and recent advancements […]

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We’re officially in Q2 of 2017, and it’s clear that some of the same industry-leading trends that having been influencing HR for years have continued to advance and will remain hot topics for the foreseeable future. Big Data and its natural counterpart, analytics, showed the potential to impact nearly every aspect of HCM–and recent advancements have made them increasingly instrumental for today’s HR and business leaders.

Leveraging Yesterday’s Data to Change Tomorrow

Big Data provides a staggering wealth of quantitative information, often mined from millions of complex data points to shed light onto patterns, trends and outliers that can significantly affect organizations. Because of Big Data’s sheer enormity, advanced analytics are necessary to glean any usable insights from these massive collections, and current technology is capable of much more than simply detecting organizational trends (although this alone is quite valuable, too).

prescriptive analyticsToday’s analytical HCM solutions can predict everything from performance success to retention risk, using unbiased mathematical algorithms to forecast future scenarios with tremendous accuracy. What’s more, the development of prescriptive analytics takes predictive measures one step farther, offering fact-based, real-time suggestions at key decision points to assist employers in making their most crucial leadership decisions. These prescriptive analytics solutions are part of a new generation of insight-driven tools that enable organizations to easily harness the power of Big Data and gain a competitive edge for the future.

HR leaders and executives are empowered to proactively plan for and protect against obstacles, instead of responding retroactively. American Fidelity Assurance Company, for example, benefited significantly from implementing UltiPro’s data-driven predictive analytics, and an in-house curriculum that guides managers through step-by-step strategies to motivate high-risk, high-performing employees. In addition to improving retention, American Fidelity was able to concentrate on developing their high-potential and top-performing individuals and increase engagement among employees (and management) as a result.

The People Factor

As human resources professionals, it’s important not to forget the human aspect. Let’s face it: people can be complicated and unpredictable. While data analysis has come incredibly far in its evolution from real-time to predictive to prescriptive, a common criticism of Big Data is its inability to recognize the emotions and motivations behind why people acted the way that they did.

Understanding what inspires employees and what they care about most is a crucial aspect of building a workplace that values, engages, and retains its people. Annual performance reviews and exit/stay surveys simply aren’t effective enough at recognizing the actual employee experience. That’s why I’m extremely excited about new sentiment-analysis technology, which combines natural language processing (NLP) and machine-learning algorithms to interpret and analyze comprehensive open-ended surveys and reveal underlying employee emotions. These surveys, which can be sent out at regular intervals and completed on both desktop and mobile devices, reveal not only what your employees are saying, but also the underlying emotions they’re feeling. Here’s a glimpse of how it works:

Using prescriptive analytics and sentiment analysis means that today’s leaders can review both quantitative and qualitative data to understand past trends and future developments. Even better, they’re supported by real-time, actionable insights to improve every aspect of the employee experience while pinpointing future high performers and flight risks. Big Data and analytics may be the same buzzwords we’ve been using for years, but they’re anything but yesterday’s news.

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2017 Connections: A Look Back at Ultimate’s Largest-Ever Customer Conference http://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/2017-connections-elevate/ http://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/2017-connections-elevate/#comments Thu, 30 Mar 2017 14:20:27 +0000 http://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/?p=938 Nearly 3,000 HR professionals and business leaders assembled in Las Vegas last week for an at-capacity 2017 Connections, Ultimate Software’s annual customer conference. Living up to this year’s theme of “Elevate,” the jam-packed, four-day event featured more than 60 hands-on workshops and engaging breakout sessions; a full lineup of inspiring keynote presentations; a nonstop, 48-hour […]

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Nearly 3,000 HR professionals and business leaders assembled in Las Vegas last week for an at-capacity 2017 Connections, Ultimate Software’s annual customer conference. Living up to this year’s theme of “Elevate,” the jam-packed, four-day event featured more than 60 hands-on workshops and engaging breakout sessions; a full lineup of inspiring keynote presentations; a nonstop, 48-hour Code-a-Thon; and an energetic pop-rock concert by platinum-selling Maroon 5. Concluding the week with an unforgettable community service project, customers had the opportunity to participate in Ultimate’s award-winning “People First” culture, most recently recognized as #2 on People magazine’s inaugural 50 Companies That Care list.

Attendees also received an exclusive look at what’s ahead in HCM cloud technology, as Ultimate unveiled its newest product and service offerings and presented an in-depth preview of its roadmap. The event kicked off with a tag-team keynote presentation by Adam Rogers, Ultimate’s chief technology officer, and Martin Hartshorne, Ultimate’s vice president of products. The duo detailed the newest UltiPro® features and how they’ll enhance the employee experience, putting people first at all stages of their careers.

A Humble Leader and A Fresh Prince

2017 connectionsOn Wednesday, Connections attendees heard from Scott Scherr, Ultimate’s chief executive officer, president, and founder. Humbled by his reception, Scherr delivered a heartfelt address recounting the company’s 27-year history, from its modest beginnings with two cubicles and four employees to its current culture of more than 3,700 employees strong.

“When the thunderbolts came, we never choked,” said Scherr. “We always broke through together, and became stronger because of it. We were relentless, and we always made sure the main thing remained the main thing. And that main thing has always been you, our customers.”

Scherr reiterated the importance of preserving a “People First” workplace culture, and discussed how Ultimate has never waived when it comes to taking care of its people. That includes covering healthcare premiums for all employees and their families; making every employee a company shareholder with restricted stock units; and offering a 40% dollar-for-dollar match on employees’ 401(k) contributions. It’s this unyielding care, Scherr said, that has led Ultimate to bring the best people onboard—people who remain relentless in creating innovative products, delivering industry-leading service, and always caring for Ultimate’s customers.

Following Scherr’s presentation, the audience had the opportunity to listen in on a candid conversation between Oscar nominee Will Smith and Ultimate’s CTO Adam Rogers. During the chat, Smith shared insightful stories from his childhood, relayed lessons he’s learned throughout life, and even showcased some beatboxing skills.

With regard to succeeding in HR and in business, Smith said companies have to shift their focus “from product to people,” and make improving lives their number-one mission.

“No matter how great your product is, it doesn’t mean anything if you damage people in the process,” said Smith. “When you elevate people, your product will be fantastic.”

F-14s, Stick Figures, and Frenzied Fans

Thursday’s events included two TED-style talks that provoked thoughts, a Code-a-Thon demo that wowed the crowd, and a rocking performance that pleased all fans.

Carey Lohrenz, the U.S. Navy’s first female F-14 Tomcat Fighter Pilot, provided a personal glimpse into her former high-stakes career and discussed the positive impact of taking calculated risks, whether in the air or on the ground. With so much going on in our professional and personal lives, it’s easy to get overwhelmed or try and complete several tasks at once, said Lohrenz. Her advice? Focus on the fundamentals, and don’t let fear prevent action.

“When we are overwhelmed, we start to pull back. We’re afraid to take risks, and we wait. But, taking action will mitigate fear,” said Lohrenz. “Often times, we think, ‘I’m just gonna wait, then I’ll go for it.’ Don’t wait for an invitation to make a difference.”

Tim Urban also spoke about action—or a lack thereof—as he offered a procrastinator’s perspective on why some people wait until the final hour to act.

Author of the acclaimed blog, “Wait But Why,” Urban used stick-figure illustrations to tell the story of an “Instant Gratification Monkey” and a “Rational Decision Maker” that continuously compete for prominence in a procrastinator’s mind. He then introduced a third character, “The Panic Monster,” as the driving force that finally takes charge when a deadline arrives.

After a thoroughly entertaining explanation of a procrastinator’s daily plight, Urban departed with a motivational message: “Everyone is procrastinating on something important in life. Pay attention to the Instant Gratification Monkey. Start today…okay, maybe not today…but sometime soon.”

Thursday also included the highly anticipated results of Ultimate’s second-annual Connections Code-a-Thon. A team of Ultimate’s talented software engineers spent two sleepless days coding a prototype solution based on ideas submitted and voted for by customers. This year’s requested solution centered on a Job Description Library.

Audience members cheered with approval as Joseph Cutrono, manager of research and member of the Innovation Team at Ultimate, premiered the working prototype. The new feature enables UltiPro users to search within an existing job library; build configurable description templates; and view, print, or email descriptions as PDFs. Cutrono also announced that the feature is officially now on UltiPro’s roadmap, which drew more applause.

2017 connections

Capping off Thursday’s complete schedule was Ultimate’s Customer Appreciation Party, featuring a private performance by Maroon 5. The concert included a showcase of standout songs—from early hits (“Harder to Breathe” and “Sunday Morning”) to new favorites (“Animals” and “Daylight”)—and even a surprise cover of Prince’s classic track, “Let’s Go Crazy.”

Community Service and #UltiConnect

Before wrapping up a memorable, engaging, and productive week in Vegas, Ultimate customers and employees participated in a special community service project. Rising and shining early on the final day of Connections, attendees teamed up with nonprofit Clean the World to prepare hygiene kits with soaps and bottled bathroom amenities donated by local hotels. The kits will be distributed to servicemen and servicewoman through the USO Las Vegas.

Missed this year’s Connections, or want to catch up on all the happenings from the conference? Check out #UltiConnect on social media, including photos and videos on Ultimate’s Facebook and Instagram pages.

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The High Cost of Low Service http://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/high-cost-low-service/ http://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/high-cost-low-service/#respond Wed, 15 Mar 2017 10:00:49 +0000 http://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/?p=888 A couple weeks ago, I discussed the importance of customer service and shared Kelton’s 2016 findings that nearly 7 out of 10 HR decision makers reported they’ve regretted their HCM provider choice, predominantly due to poor service. The study concluded that the majority of respondents agreed that customer service is as important as or more […]

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A couple weeks ago, I discussed the importance of customer service and shared Kelton’s 2016 findings that nearly 7 out of 10 HR decision makers reported they’ve regretted their HCM provider choice, predominantly due to poor service. The study concluded that the majority of respondents agreed that customer service is as important as or more important than product functionality, but only 35% believe their current provider is doing well with partnership. It’s clear that organizations aren’t meeting their consumers’ expectations, but how much is customer dissatisfaction really costing U.S. businesses?

It turns out, about $62 billion per year in lost sales.

Lost sales from existing customers.

That’s $20 billion per year more than in 2013—about a 51% increase in just three years. The 2016 NewVoiceMedia study found that nearly half of respondents reported switching to competitors explicitly due to service concerns, and most of those had switched more than once.

Changing workforce demographics may be partly responsible for the significant uptick in direct revenue loss. Millennials ranked themselves three times more likely to switch providers based on service issues than baby boomers did, so it seems younger customers are simply less willing to put up with poor service. But what exactly constitutes poor service? According to the study, the most common reasons for switching were: feeling unappreciated, unhelpful/rude staff, being passed around to multiple people, not being able to speak to a live person, not being able to get answers, and being put on hold for too long.

customer service whitepaperIt’s worth noting that the above figure does not include additional revenue loss stemming from negative word-of-mouth and price sensitivity. Moreover, 60% of people share their negative experiences with other consumers, often on social media and online review sites with a large potential reach. Also consider that approximately two-thirds of consumers are willing to pay substantially more for products if they believe the company provides excellent customer service.

Great service significantly impacts the bottom line, nurturing loyal customers who are easy to retain and inclined to naturally promote their experiences to peers. At Ultimate Software, we enjoy these benefits as a direct result of our commitment to putting people first. As part of that commitment, 84% of our employees are focused on improving the customer experience, and we prioritize service initiatives—such as our unique collaborative support model, which significantly decreased inquiry resolution time for customers.

In an industry where most respondents have had service issues with their current providers, we stand proud with a 95% customer satisfaction rate. We place a high value on our customers, and it shows. Our customers value us in return.

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Inspired By People http://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/inspired-by-people/ http://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/inspired-by-people/#comments Fri, 10 Mar 2017 21:30:55 +0000 http://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/?p=934 What inspires you? What wakes you up each morning and motivates you to face life’s challenges? At Ultimate Software, we’re inspired by people. It’s why we started our company more than 26 years ago, when we recognized an amazing opportunity to put people first: to provide the “ultimate” HR and payroll software that would inspire […]

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What inspires you? What wakes you up each morning and motivates you to face life’s challenges?

At Ultimate Software, we’re inspired by people. It’s why we started our company more than 26 years ago, when we recognized an amazing opportunity to put people first: to provide the “ultimate” HR and payroll software that would inspire people in the workplace and empower them to achieve more.

We’re humbled and honored to be named one of Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work For six years in a row, and the #1 Best Large Workplace in Technology the past two years. We’re fortunate to be here, and we know we’re here because of people—our employees, our customers, and our communities. They continue to inspire us, to better ourselves and to always do the right thing. So we look to pay it forward and inspire others in return. We wake up every day thinking of new ways to care for our people and to make Ultimate not just a great place to work, but a second home.

Establishing an Inspiring Home Away From Home

First, we focus on fostering a supportive, family-like environment where colleagues listen to one another, feel comfortable sharing ideas and taking risks, and work together to achieve their goals as a team. This positive, productive atmosphere inspires our employees to create innovative products that help people work more efficiently and effectively. They’re also motivated to constantly do more for our customers, providing extraordinary service and personalized, proactive support.

Next, we ensure our employees have the tools, resources, and technology they need to thrive as professionals. We’ve implemented a companywide performance management program in which employees set goals, track their progress, and have ongoing conversations with team leaders rather than a quick, once-annual review. We also offer a variety of flexible opportunities for continuous learning, from on-demand online training courses to hands-on leadership development workshops, so our people can gain new skills and grow their careers. This in addition to internship programs providing real-life experience, assistance for tuition and certifications, and specialized training for those in customer-facing service roles.

Supporting Our People’s Whole Selves

We also realize the need to support our employees not only as professionals, but as people. Since 2014, we’ve formed three diverse Communities of Interest: PrideUS for our LGBTQIA community; Women in Leadership for employees at all job levels; and UltiVETS for veterans and active service members. Each hosts several networking and social events throughout the year, including organizing Ultimate’s Inter-Office Pride Days, sponsoring seminars for Girls Who Code, and hosting barbeques for veterans. These groups bring us together to share and celebrate our unique personal experiences, and everyone at Ultimate is invited to get involved in some way.

No matter how much we do for our people, though, we’re always most inspired by what they do for others. Near and dear to us are the heartfelt contributions our employees continue to make in the community. Over the past year, 93% of our employees have participated in charitable giving. They’ve utilized their company service days to volunteer at nonprofit organizations. They’ve donated to charitable causes and helped those impacted by natural disasters, terrorism, and other unexpected events. They’ve stepped up to support colleagues and families who’ve endured personal tragedies. We are genuinely moved by the unending selflessness of our people.

From day one, we set out to create more than a successful HR technology company. We wanted to build a workplace that inspires people to trust, respect, and care. A company that encourages employees to bring their best selves—their whole selves—to work each and every day. A family that always looks after its own, in good and bad times, and makes a meaningful difference by giving.

I am extremely proud to say, that’s US.

Through our employee-centric culture, HR cloud solutions, collaborative customer service, and charitable efforts in the community, we hope we inspire others to become “People First” companies, too. Because we believe that when people succeed, companies succeed.

So, what inspires you? For US, we’re inspired by people.

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