Ultimate Software's Blog https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com Thoughts on Putting People First in the Workplace Fri, 20 Jul 2018 14:24:28 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.7 Chicago Bound: Join US at #SHRM18 https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/shrm18/ https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/shrm18/#respond Fri, 15 Jun 2018 17:21:03 +0000 https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/?p=1459 The 2018 Annual SHRM Conference & Exposition starts this Sunday in Chicago, and we’re packing our bags! Attendees will enjoy a series of internationally-renowned keynote speakers and a variety of networking opportunities, both in-person and online. And with more than 200 seminars, workshops, and sessions, including two led by Ultimate Software’s own subject matter experts, […]

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#SHRM18The 2018 Annual SHRM Conference & Exposition starts this Sunday in Chicago, and we’re packing our bags!

Attendees will enjoy a series of internationally-renowned keynote speakers and a variety of networking opportunities, both in-person and online. And with more than 200 seminars, workshops, and sessions, including two led by Ultimate Software’s own subject matter experts, there’s a plethora of educational opportunities for HR professionals at every stage of their careers.

Here’s where you can find US at #SHRM18:

“How to Use AI and Data-Driven Insights to Better Understand Your Employees”—Armen Berjikly, senior director of strategy at Ultimate, will demonstrate how HR leaders can improve employee experiences with HR-driven artificial intelligence (AI) that is as sensitive to statistics as it is to emotions. Visitors will see that, by complementing human insights, they can better understand and take care of their people. Register now.
Time: Tuesday, June 19, 10:00 a.m. Central time, located at the HR Technology Solutions Theatre (Booth #463)

“Don’t Let the Best Ones Get Away! How to Entice and Engage the Best Candidates with Pre-Boarding”—Cecile Alper-Leroux, VP of HCM innovation at Ultimate, and Claire Schooley, consultant on learning, recruiting, and employee engagement, will offer tips for companies to ensure that signed candidates make it to the first day on the job. Attendees will learn how they can use technologies and techniques typically associated with onboarding to prepare their candidates and have them feeling good about the decision to join the company, by creating lasting connections that help them become passionate, productive team players—from day zero.

Time: Wednesday, June 20, 10:00–11:15 a.m. Central time

We look forward to seeing you in Chicago! If you can’t make it, be sure to follow #SHRM18 and @UltimateHCM on Twitter for real-time updates from the conference.

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The Business Case for UltiPro Perception at SPS Companies, Inc. https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/drivers-of-employee-engagement/ https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/drivers-of-employee-engagement/#respond Wed, 06 Jun 2018 10:00:01 +0000 https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/?p=1451 by Corey Kephart, VP of HR, SPS Companies, Inc. At SPS, we have thrived for 80 years by maximizing value in our business and by investing in our people. When we selected UltiPro for our human capital management in 2016, we found a platform that would do both—help us save costs and increase productivity, and […]

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by Corey Kephart, VP of HR, SPS Companies, Inc.

drivers of employee engagementAt SPS, we have thrived for 80 years by maximizing value in our business and by investing in our people. When we selected UltiPro for our human capital management in 2016, we found a platform that would do both—help us save costs and increase productivity, and elevate our employees’ work experience.

When I discovered UltiPro Perception in 2017, I saw endless opportunities to harness value from the tool and drive transformational change in our organization. The business case for UltiPro Perception is clear: if we can understand the drivers of employee engagement, we can make the right investments to boost engagement, and these investments will lead to better business results. I was excited to get started, and we launched UltiPro Perception in about two weeks.

To date, we have used UltiPro Perception to power surveys on almost 20 topics, such as benefits, engagement, and leadership development, through more than 30 surveys overall. Our ability to receive instant feedback through the solution has helped our leaders take action quickly, and be responsive to the needs of our employees.

Beyond the ability to impact organizational performance, my favorite part of UltiPro Perception has been the positive response and genuine enthusiasm from decision makers at SPS, from the chairman and the CEO, down to the senior managers that oversee our different facilities. They often describe the UltiPro Perception reports as the best resource they have ever seen from an HR department, and I take great pride in the ability to provide this level of value.

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“People First” Software Key to Merging People, Tech in Future of Payroll https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/apa-congress-future-of-payroll/ https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/apa-congress-future-of-payroll/#comments Mon, 14 May 2018 13:12:59 +0000 https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/?p=1419 Payroll is like the heart of an organization: when everything’s running smoothly, it’s occasionally taken for granted; but if something goes wrong, the results can be disastrous. Considering the tremendous accuracy and coordination required, coupled with the daunting task of countless variables changing each pay period, it’s not difficult to understand how and why payroll […]

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Payroll is like the heart of an organization: when everything’s running smoothly, it’s occasionally taken for granted; but if something goes wrong, the results can be disastrous. Considering the tremendous accuracy and coordination required, coupled with the daunting task of countless variables changing each pay period, it’s not difficult to understand how and why payroll mistakes can happen.

Historically, payroll provided the perfect opportunity for organizations to begin experimenting with software technology, especially considering these substantial demands. Standard applications, which became more mainstream in the 1980s, used source code designed for rule-based and repetitive processes.

Over the years, these solutions have become increasingly sophisticated. Today, automation has reduced a significant amount of payroll’s manual strain, simultaneously improving overall accuracy. These systems can execute data transactions, generate reconciliations, and even draw conclusions from their findings. As a result, complex tax and payroll calculations are instantly simplified, and most tedious accounting tasks are eliminated.

These innovations were met primarily with excitement, but as AI’s evolution continues at breakneck speed (launching us into the so-called “Fourth Industrial Revolution”), some payroll professionals have grown concerned. It’s clear that jobs will be impacted—just like they’ve been in every industrial revolution—but most agencies predict that AI, and other emerging technologies, will create far more jobs than they disrupt.

Millions of individuals, including payroll professionals, will require new skills, additional training, and more support during this process. But rather than becoming intimidated by emerging solutions, payroll should focus on learning to optimize these solutions, reskilling teams, and homing in on strategy.

This week, we’re thrilled to be attending our 20th annual APA Congress, where our product and industry experts will discuss AI and a variety of payroll-related topics. If you’re attending, please be sure to visit Ultimate Software at Booth 523 throughout the conference and attend Thursday morning’s general session, “The Future of Work and Pay: How Will Artificial Intelligence, Data, and Predictive Analytics Change the World?” featuring Ultimate’s VP of Products, Martin Hartshorne.

The future of payroll is coming. At Ultimate, we’ll continue delivering the best HCM technologies, so your people—and your business—can grow at the speed of technology.

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10 Places to Find US – Connections Edition https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/10-places-to-find-us-connections-edition/ https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/10-places-to-find-us-connections-edition/#respond Tue, 08 May 2018 10:00:16 +0000 https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/?p=1399 Last year, we debuted our “10 Places to Find US” series, designed to showcase the latest Ultimate Software mentions and news in the HR community. Back by popular demand, we’re thrilled to share this special “Connections” update on the latest places to find Ultimate: Surviving Leadership is a blog authored by HR leader and Influencer, […]

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industry influencer ultimate softwareLast year, we debuted our “10 Places to Find US” series, designed to showcase the latest Ultimate Software mentions and news in the HR community. Back by popular demand, we’re thrilled to share this special “Connections” update on the latest places to find Ultimate:

  1. Surviving Leadership is a blog authored by HR leader and Influencer, Mary Faulkner, a renowned industry influencer with significant experience in leadership, management, talent, and more. She attended our Connections conference and shared her thoughts in several blog posts, including When Tech and HR combine: What I saw at UltiConnect. Additionally, Mary partnered with analyst Ben Eubanks (#8 below) to film an exciting conference introduction video. Take a look, and if you’re not already, follow Mary on Twitter at @mfaulkner43.
  2. Red Branch Media is a marketing company specifically designed to assist HR professionals! CEO Maren Hogan, @marenhogan on Twitter, is an awesome marketer, but she’s also an amazing HR pro. She shared her insight about recruiting for tough positions at the conference and discusses her Connections experience in this blog post, Making connections at the Ultimate Software user conference.
  3. Tim Sackett, author of The Tim Sackett Project, is a legendary HR influencer who makes a point to blog every single day. Make sure to follow him on Twitter, @timsackett, as well as his blog for daily doses of HR related content! He’s already shared some awesome Ultimate content, including posts like Are HR conferences responsible for ensuring you connect? #UltiConnect. HR blogging is about making HR connections #UltiConnect features a video with Tim Sackett and Ultimate Software customers and new blogger, Cheryl Nelson!
  4. Kolor Me HR is a new blog by up-and-coming influencer Cheryl Nelson, @CherylNelsonPHR on Twitter. We’re thrilled that Cheryl included us in her post Down Memory Lane, and can’t wait to see all she has to write about!
  5. If you don’t already know Robin Schooling, @robinschooling, she’s a great HR leader with a wealth of insightful HR stories. She authors com and manages a long-standing HR series, Carnival of HR. We’re honored to be mentioned in one of the posts mentioned in March Madness Circa 2018 #HRCarnival.
  6. HR expert, Janine Truitt, authors the blog CzarinaofHR and live streams on Periscope at #AskCzarinaLive. She speaks to a variety of HR and life topics, and recently shot an episode at our Connections conference. Make sure to follow her on Twitter, @CzarinaofHR, and online.
  7. Employment Lawyer from tHRive HR Law, Kate Bischoff, also attended Connections this year. She live tweeted her thoughts on Twitter, @k8bischHRLaw, and shared more thoughts in her blog post, UltiConnect. Be sure to take a look!
  8. UpstartHR is an HR blog authored by Influencer and Analyst, Ben Eubanks, @beneubanks on Twitter. Ben focuses on HR technology, leadership, and even innovation in HR. He attended Connections and shared his experience in AI means HR can be more human. Separately, Ben is writing a book on AI technology in HR. Check out the preview in LinkedIn post, What is your workforce thinking? Leveraging #AI for employee sentiment analysis.
  9. While at Connections, Ben Eubanks also led a podcast discussing the importance of the HR/IT relationship and steps these departments can take to achieve their mutual goals. Ben interviewed Gregg Paulk, CIO for Anderson Center for Autism and long-time UltiPro customer, who shared a plethora of insights into the importance of HR technology in the post CIO shares How HR Can Build Better Relationships with IT.
  10. Jason Lauritsen is an admired influencer and member of HRExaminer’s Editorial Advisory Board. Jason attended Connections and actually moderated our “Women in Leadership” panel, which featured Janine Truitt, Mary Faulkner, Kate Bischoff, and Maren Hogan. Read about his (somewhat uncomfortable) experience here in Gender at Work.

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 LinkedInTwitterFacebookInstagram, and Pinterest.

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World Poetry Day the UltiWay https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/world-poetry-day/ https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/world-poetry-day/#comments Wed, 21 Mar 2018 10:00:29 +0000 https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/?p=1263 Today is World Poetry Day. To celebrate with a poem—why, there’s no better way! So in an effort to quench your poetic thirst, let Ultimate Software present: An Ode to Putting People First You’ve got a great product, an all-star team All’s well for a while, then you start to lose steam You check the […]

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world poetry dayToday is World Poetry Day. To celebrate with a poem—why, there’s no better way!

So in an effort to quench your poetic thirst, let Ultimate Software present:

An Ode to Putting People First

You’ve got a great product, an all-star team
All’s well for a while, then you start to lose steam
You check the numbers, there’s a problem with retention
Your most important asset, your people, need more attention

There’s trouble with your culture, frustration seems to brew
You sent an engagement survey last year, what more can you do?
To truly make a difference, take the path better traversed
Adopt Ultimate’s core principle. Put your people first.

You like how that sounds, onboard with the theme
But still a little unsure, “What does it all mean?”
It’s focusing on employees, far beyond the paycheck
It’s cultural transformation, with help from HR tech.

Sentiment analysis, BI, artificial intelligence
Our solutions are both innovative and elegant
Xander™ powers our platform, so the AI’s immersed
And it all comes together to put people first.

But did you know most people regret their HCM purchase?
It’s not product functionality; they’re disappointed with service.
That’s why we’re always available, meaning 24/7
To improve your experience and answer your questions.

Our personalized approach goes beyond software support
To help you optimize solutions and design your reports
We solve problems proactively, eliminate strife,
You’re more than a customer. You’re our “Partner for Life.”

It’s never too late to adopt a new perspective
Happier employees, better bottom lines, “Now that’s effective!”
For over 25 years, it’s been the Ultimate way
Respect and care for all; everyone, every day.

We’ve made the commitment, and so can you—
To achieve great success, put people first in all you do.

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Connections 2018 Preview: Plethora of “New Perspectives” https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/connections-2018-preview-new-perspectives/ https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/connections-2018-preview-new-perspectives/#respond Mon, 12 Mar 2018 10:00:04 +0000 https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/?p=1259 After months of anticipation, it’s finally here! Connections 2018, Ultimate Software’s annual customer conference, starts tomorrow in Las Vegas. This year promises to be one of our most engaging, productive, and exciting events yet, with a jam-packed agenda and more than 3,900 HR executives, administrators, practitioners, and industry influencers scheduled to attend. If you’re joining […]

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connections 2018After months of anticipation, it’s finally here!

Connections 2018, Ultimate Software’s annual customer conference, starts tomorrow in Las Vegas. This year promises to be one of our most engaging, productive, and exciting events yet, with a jam-packed agenda and more than 3,900 HR executives, administrators, practitioners, and industry influencers scheduled to attend.

If you’re joining us in Vegas, here’s a preview of what to expect at Connections 2018.

Interactive Breakouts

This year’s Connections theme is “New Perspectives,” and we have more than 135 breakout sessions covering over 65 different topics all designed to increase your knowledge of Ultimate’s HCM solutions and show you how to get the most out of UltiPro®.

Led by our subject-matter experts, these interactive sessions cover the complete HR spectrum—from managing payroll and time, to engaging and managing people, to reporting and analytics, to configuring and integrating UltiPro with third-party solutions. We even have breakouts tailored to Canada-based organizations and our customers with global employees. No matter which sessions you attend, you’re sure to learn plenty of useful tips, tricks, and strategies you can take back to the workplace.

Innovative Presentations
The conference officially kicks off Tuesday morning with presentations by Ultimate’s Chief Technology Officer, Adam Rogers, and Ultimate’s VP of Products, Martin Hartshorne. Get an inside look at the latest HCM technology Ultimate is offering to customers, as well as the game-changing innovations and UltiPro functionality you can expect to see in the coming months.

Connections has marked the debut of many Ultimate products and services. Last year, we unveiled our portfolio of advanced artificial intelligence (AI) technologies, Xander™, the next step in data science for HR. We’re primed and ready to share our newest solutions at Connections 2018, providing organizations with even more ways to enhance the employee experience and put their people first.

On Wednesday, you’ll hear from Scott Scherr, CEO, president, and founder of Ultimate. Discover the true power of making employees your number-one priority, as Scherr shares personal stories from Ultimate’s 25-plus-year history, highlighting our successes and challenges. Whether this is your first time at Connections or you’re a veteran attendee, Scherr’s talk is one you won’t want to miss.

Thursday brings results from the third-annual Connections 2018 Code-A-Thon. Witness what Ultimate’s skilled software engineers developed in a matter of days onsite at the conference, showcasing new UltiPro concept functionality based on attendees’ own ideas. And, we’ll announce the winners of our prestigious Innovation Awards, honoring our customers who’ve gone above and beyond with their use of UltiPro and Ultimate’s services in the past 12 months.

Inspiring Keynotes

Year after year, Connections features memorable keynotes from inspirational individuals, and 2018 is no exception. Come expecting to be entertained and enlightened. Leave with new perspectives on work and life.

On Wednesday, you’ll hear from Robin Roberts, co-anchor of ABC’s Good Morning America. Roberts has more than two decades of broadcasting experience, covering sports and news throughout her storied career. In 2012, she battled a life-threatening bone-marrow disease, but refused to give up her fight. She returned to the GMA anchor desk the following year, ready to achieve even more as a broadcaster. Now, Roberts will share her remarkable story and the life lessons she’s learned at every turn.

Bestselling author and impassioned speaker, John O’Leary, will deliver Thursday’s keynote. As a child, O’Leary sparked a massive explosion in his home that burned 100% of his body. Determined not to die, but to live a full life, O’Leary has spent adulthood as a source of inspiration for thousands of people, challenging each and every one to view their lives differently. Through his book On Fire: The 7 Choices to Ignite a Radically Inspired Life and his thought-provoking talks, O’Leary travels the world, helping individuals overcome personal challenges while celebrating the joys of life. 

Impressive Performances

Connections is also known for its incomparable evening events. In addition to our energetic Welcome Reception on Tuesday night, this year, we’re thrilled to welcome country-music all-star Kenny Chesney, who’ll perform a private concert during our Customer Appreciation Party on Thursday. Enjoy an eclectic setlist pulling from Chesney’s extensive catalog of country hits, guaranteed to have you singing along. It’s the perfect way to go out on the last night of Connections.

Plus, our conference emcee and Ultimate’s Chief Relationship Officer, Bill Hicks, always has a few surprises planned exclusively for Connections attendees, so you never know just what to expect from Bill and his friends throughout the week.

Philanthropic Efforts

It’s a Connections tradition to partner with inspiring organizations that change the lives of people around the world. This year, we’re partnering with Operation H.O.P.E., Inc. (Helping Other People Everywhere), a local Las Vegas organization that provides services and support to homeless and disadvantaged residents. Please stop by the Wynn registration desk #1 to learn more about the organization and write a personalized letter of encouragement to help empower and support those who truly need it.

We’ll see you in Las Vegas!
Follow #UltiConnect on Social

Can’t make it to Connections, or want to catch up on any parts you might have missed during the week? Follow Ultimate and #UltiConnect on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or LinkedIn for live coverage, photos, videos, and more throughout the entire conference.

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Industry Influencers Bring “New Perspectives” to Connections 2018 https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/industry-influencers-bring-new-perspectives-connections-2018/ https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/industry-influencers-bring-new-perspectives-connections-2018/#comments Tue, 06 Mar 2018 13:48:50 +0000 https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/?p=1255 Every March, Ultimate Software hosts its annual customer conference, Connections. This year, in addition to dozens of workshops, breakout sessions, a full lineup of inspiring keynote speakers, and an intimate live music performance, we’ve partnered with a variety of world-class HR influencers and bloggers to share the latest research and trends with you. During the […]

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influencers connectionsEvery March, Ultimate Software hosts its annual customer conference, Connections. This year, in addition to dozens of workshops, breakout sessions, a full lineup of inspiring keynote speakers, and an intimate live music performance, we’ve partnered with a variety of world-class HR influencers and bloggers to share the latest research and trends with you. During the course of interactive sessions, panels, and hands-on workshops, these industry leaders will provide guests with “New Perspectives” while sharing their expert opinions on compliance, recruitment, talent, and leadership best practices.

While most of these sessions filled within days of registration, we’re thrilled to announce that each session will be Livestreamed on Twitter.

Kate Bischoff

Attorney, tHRive Law

Kate is an energetic and enthusiastic HR professional, employment/labor law attorney, and technology aficionado. She wants to make companies better – not just compliant. With both domestic and international HR experience, she helps organizations create, revamp and implement effective HR policies and practices to drive innovation and business.

Connections sessions:

  • Compliance and Employee Communication
  • Women in Leadership Panel

Matt Charney

Chief Content Officer, Allegis Global Solutions

Matt has over 10 years of experience in HR and recruiting, working at organizations like Warner Brothers, the Walt Disney Company, and Monster.com. In 2013, Matt founded Recruiting Daily and has been writing for the site and acting as Managing Editor ever since. His impact on the industry continues to grow as he speaks globally on HR technology, recruiting, and the future of work.

Connections sessions:

  • Sentiment Analysis and the Future of Work

Ben Eubanks

Principal Analyst, Lighthouse Recovery and Advisory

Ben is an HCM industry analyst helping companies and vendors with strategy, content, and more. He has worked as an analyst for more than seven years, with five of those in an independent capacity. Ben specializes in HR technology, the future of work, recruiting, benefits, employee relations, and more. He also co-founded HRevolution.

Connections sessions:

  • Innovation Sprints: Discover the Potency of Applying a “Hacking” Mindset to Your Work

Mary Faulkner

Director of Human Resources, Denver Water

Mary is a talent strategist and business leader with almost 15 years’ experience in helping organizations achieve their goals through operations, as well as learning and development, with extensive experience in leadership and organizational development, coaching, key talent planning, talent acquisition, performance management, business partnering, HRIS, process and policy creation, and instructional design. In addition to her work within companies, Mary authors survivingleadership.blog and co-chairs the Denver chapter of DisruptHR.

Connections sessions:

  • Transforming Your HR Department: Implement Changes Today to Achieve Business and HR Results
  • Women in Leadership Panel

Maren Hogan

Chief Executive Officer and Founder, Red Branch Media

Maren is the Founder and CEO of Red Branch Media, an agency offering marketing strategy and outreach as well as thought leadership to HR and recruiting technology and services organizations internationally. She is a consistent advocate of next generation marketing techniques with over 15 years of experience in the HR and recruitment space. She has built successful online communities, deployed brand strategies and been a thought leader in the global recruitment and talent space.

Connections sessions:

  • 10 Ways to Draw Interest in Less Than Desirable Jobs and 50 Discrete Benefits
  • Women in Leadership Panel

Jason Lauritsen

North American Advisor, The Employee Engagement Awards

Jason has dedicated his career to helping leaders build organizations that are good for both people and profits – first as an entrepreneur, then a corporate HR executive, then as a consultant, researcher, and speaker. He has over 10 years experience in HR and is passionate about employee engagement, culture, leadership, technology, and talent management.

Connections sessions:

  • The Relationship Comes First: Discovering the True Path to Employee Engagement
  • Women in Leadership Panel

Tim Sackett

President, HRU Technical Resources

Tim is the President of HRU Technical Resources, where he employs his 20 years of HR and recruiting experience to run his $40M IT and Engineering contract staffing firm and RPO. He resides in Lansing, Michigan and works to improve the local, national, and global HR communities. In his free time, Tim writes for popular HR blogs like The Tim Sackett Project and Fistful of Talent.

Connections sessions:

  • When Your HR Metrics Fail to Connect with Your Organization

Janine Truitt

Chief Innovations Officer and Founder, Talent Think Innovations LLC

Janine is the Founder of Talent Think Innovations, LLC, a business strategy and management consulting firm. She has 10 years experience in talent management, technology, diversity and inclusion, and HR strategy that has taken her through staffing, pharmaceuticals, healthcare, and R&D.

Connections sessions:

  • Women in Leadership Panel

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Bobsledding Couple Looks to Bring Home Gold from PyeongChang Together in Latest #UltimateTeamMoment https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/bobsledding-couple-looks-bring-home-gold-pyeongchang-together-latest-ultimateteammoment/ https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/bobsledding-couple-looks-bring-home-gold-pyeongchang-together-latest-ultimateteammoment/#respond Fri, 23 Feb 2018 20:51:06 +0000 https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/?p=1246 Taking teamwork to another level, bobsledding pair and married couple, Elana Meyers Taylor and Nic Taylor, are on their ways to PyeongChang, going for gold in the 2018 Winter Olympics. In today’s #UltimateTeamMoment, read how the full-time partners and part-time teammates motivate each other on and off the bobsled track, and how they both could […]

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Taking teamwork to another level, bobsledding pair and married couple, Elana Meyers Taylor and Nic Taylor, are on their ways to PyeongChang, going for gold in the 2018 Winter Olympics.

In today’s #UltimateTeamMoment, read how the full-time partners and part-time teammates motivate each other on and off the bobsled track, and how they both could end up celebrating on the podium this month in South Korea.

Bobsled Teammate, Husband Nic Taylor Is Ultimate Teammate as Elana Meyers Taylor Goes for Gold, presented by Ultimate Software

By Karen PriceTEAM USA Ultimate Team Moment

Elana Meyers Taylor is set to compete in her third Olympic Games, and her career path has seen her team up with a number of talented brakemen, and drivers in her early career, who’ve helped her reach her goals.

Her ultimate teammate, both off and even sometimes on the bobsled track, however, is her husband and fellow bobsledder Nic Taylor.

Married in April 2014, the two support each other in every way as they pursue their dreams, from cheering one another on to helping stay on track with nutrition and sleep to even embarking on a road trip when a bobsled doesn’t show up on time. That’s what happened back in December when Meyers Taylor’s sled got held up in customs before the world cup in Winterberg, Germany.

“When our sled didn’t show up, he and a teammate were the ones who drove to Munich six hours one way to pick up a new sled, so it was pretty incredible of them to do that,” Meyers Taylor said. “Then they had to turn around and get back in time for training. He’s always doing little things—although that was a big thing—to make sure I have what I need. He serves as my sports psychologist, coach, therapist; he does everything for me.”

Being an elite bobsledding couple means little twists on the everyday issues that other couples face. They don’t have a house or an apartment anywhere because they’re on the go so often, which also means they don’t have the utility bills that go along with that. But they do have Airbnb’s to find and pay for along with credit card, phone, and other bills. They also have to think about cell service and internet reliability in the areas where they’ll be traveling and staying and making sure everything’s paid in case they can’t—or shouldn’t—be accessing financial information while on the road.

Then there’s meal preparation. With both of them training and racing, nutrition is critical for both, but in different ways.

“When we’re at a hotel, usually the hotel provides food, but when we’re at Airbnb’s one of us has to do the cooking,” she said. “He does most of it so I can focus on training, even though he’s training, too, and our food habits are different as well. I have to lose and he has to gain (weight), so he has to measure food and make sure I have the nutrients I need while he eats double what I need to eat and still loses weight.”

Although her focus is the women’s two-man sled, which is the Olympic event, Meyers Taylor has also had the opportunity to pilot a four-man sled with Taylor as a teammate.

After Meyers Taylor won a silver medal at the Olympic Winter Games Sochi in 2014, the International Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation (IBSF) began allowing women to push four-man sleds for the first time. Since then, the two have raced together with results that this year included fourth- and fifth-place finishes at the North American Cup in Park City, Utah.

“It’s so awesome and so much fun, and one of the coolest things we’ve gotten to do,” she said of racing together. “Driving a four-man is in general amazing, but he takes care of everything with the sled so I can focus on driving the race. With him I know there are minimal things I’ll have to do as far as preparation. He takes care of it all and he knows what I need before I know I need it. With two-man you have a lot more responsibility as far as equipment goes, so it’s nice to have that break.”

When the two are away from the sleds, Meyers Taylor said, they try to minimize their shoptalk. At home, it’s the “B” word, and they have a rule about it.

“In order to bring up the ‘B’ word you have to ask permission,” she said. “Sometimes he’ll ask or I’ll ask and the answer is either, ‘No, we’re not talking about that right now,’ or sometimes it’s a yes.”

In addition to her Olympic medal, Meyers Taylor is also a two-time world champion. In short, she’s one of the best in the world at what she does. Yet one thing she was hoping for perhaps even more than making the 2018 Olympic team herself was that Taylor would make the team. Taylor, a former college track and field athlete who has pushed for pilots including the late Steven Holcomb and 2018 Olympian Codie Bascue, will travel to PyeongChang, but as a replacement athlete.

“(Trying to both make the Olympic team) is a lot of fun but it’s also hard,” Meyers Taylor said. “I want him to reach his goals sometimes more than I want to reach my own goals, and when he does or doesn’t it’s an emotional rollercoaster.

“Part of the reason I’m a driver is because I’m a bit of a control freak and in his career, there’s nothing I can do to control it. I can’t control if he’s put on the team or anything other than directly racing with him, and sometimes that’s hard. But when he does reach his goals, it’s better than anything I can do.”

Karen Price is a reporter from Pittsburgh who has covered Olympic sports for various publications. She is a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.

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Four Ways HR Can Support Retail https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/hr-can-support-retail/ https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/hr-can-support-retail/#respond Thu, 22 Feb 2018 14:40:01 +0000 https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/?p=1242 The retail industry is in a state of flux as consumers increasingly gravitate toward e-commerce. While brick-and-mortar stores continue to drive the majority of sales revenue, many retailers are adopting an omni-channel approach that provides customers with a seamless shopping experience and product availability both in store and online. This change, driven by technological innovation, […]

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hr retailThe retail industry is in a state of flux as consumers increasingly gravitate toward e-commerce. While brick-and-mortar stores continue to drive the majority of sales revenue, many retailers are adopting an omni-channel approach that provides customers with a seamless shopping experience and product availability both in store and online.

This change, driven by technological innovation, is affecting more than just where customers acquire their goods. There is less demand for in-store cashiers, and more demand for data analysis. Data is growing exponentially, include insight into how photos, videos, and social media affect sales. For retailers, this presents significant opportunity but requires a strategic overhaul. Instead of focusing on endcaps and placement of products, today’s employees need to translate raw data into actionable insight, utilize software that can offer a personalized shopping experience, and understand predictive and prescriptive analytics. As technology plays a bigger role in retail, employee roles are increasingly becoming skilled positions, demanding superior proficiency and better pay.

Meanwhile, the industry’s infamous turnover rate—surpassed only by restaurants—is now a real liability, as is its dependence on seasonal, part-time employees. To remain successful, retail suppliers must rethink their human capital strategies, nurturing loyal, long-term employees who understand the changing industry and are invested in adjusting their roles and responsibilities as needed. Retail has always been a relatively nimble industry, drawing from a large pool of often unskilled workers, but these changes have led to fiercer competition for talent, higher wages, and steeper turnover costs.

So how is it HR can support retail? By developing a more sophisticated approach to the employee lifecycle, from recruitment to performance to retainment. HR leaders are in the unique position to help companies focus on hiring the right people and developing them into engaged, devoted employees. Here are four ways HR can support retail as employees become an increasingly valuable—and expensive—commodity.

  1. Reduce labor costs and increase productivity

In 2017, 16 states increased the federal minimum wage, which is a baseline for many retail positions. As labor becomes increasingly costly for retailers, identifying and rewarding top talent is crucial. Combining people data with sales data can be daunting, but today’s best-in-class HCM solutions are capable of identifying top performers, finding skills gaps, and optimizing scheduling to align teams with customers’ shopping habits. API integrations are game-changing, as are mobile-access functionality and payroll solutions that can process complex earnings and taxation calculations.

2. Turnover and related hiring/training costs

Effective retention programs are crucial as employers move to promoting long-term employment. When managers don’t know someone’s at risk of leaving, they can’t proactively work to retain them. Retailers are also looking to increase employee engagement and productivity, which can be a challenge with part-time employees. Fortunately, today’s managers have access to valuable solutions that can help them predict retention risks and suggest meaningful interventions to encourage them to stay.

  1. Improve customer experience to increase sales

Many retailers struggle with insufficient resources to properly train sales associates. In today’s landscape, organizations must prioritize onboarding and improving the selling capabilities of their staff. New hires need to quickly understand the product and how to sell it to their target audience, especially during the seasonal rush. Successful onboarding speeds time to hire and expedites integration into store culture, leading to higher productivity and retention.

Advanced learning modules offer bite-sized, consumable videos that bring employees up to speed on everything from customer service skills to compliance, without taking away from time on the sales floor. And since it’s been proven that employee engagement directly affects customer satisfaction, managers can use advanced employee feedback solutions to improve both the employee and customer experience.

  1. Cost-effectively integrate store and HR systems

Disparate data sources and prohibitive costs are common obstacles to integrating systems. But retailers in particular benefit from the ability to share people data with other store systems without having to rekey information, especially as businesses begin to fully understand the impact these employee metrics can have on organizational success. Business intelligence (BI) data can quickly report on the “state of the business,” integrating with external information for a deeper understanding of sales, customer service, and productivity. Finally, compliance efforts—which have often plagued employers—are simpler than ever, with hands-off support for local and state payroll and tax laws. As a result, HR is free to focus on its strategic reorganization in today’s changing world.

Essentially, HR can support retail by being an active partner during this complete industry overhaul.

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New #UltimateTeamMoment: U.S. Women’s Cross-Country Ski Team Prepared for Success in PyeongChang https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/new-ultimateteammoment-u-s-womens-cross-country-ski-team-prepared-success-pyeongchang/ https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/new-ultimateteammoment-u-s-womens-cross-country-ski-team-prepared-success-pyeongchang/#respond Fri, 09 Feb 2018 20:00:43 +0000 https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/?p=1235 With the 2018 Winter Olympics here, Team USA is set to go for gold across the Games. In today’s #UltimateTeamMoment, read how the relentless and determined U.S. Women’s Cross-Country Ski Team looks to build on its worldwide success to finish on the podium in PyeongChang. Why the U.S. Women’s Cross-Country Ski Team Is a Multiple […]

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With the 2018 Winter Olympics here, Team USA is set to go for gold across the Games.

In today’s #UltimateTeamMoment, read how the relentless and determined U.S. Women’s Cross-Country Ski Team looks to build on its worldwide success to finish on the podium in PyeongChang.

Why the U.S. Women’s Cross-Country Ski Team Is a Multiple Olympic Medal Threat, presented by Ultimate Software

By Peggy Shinn

When Sophie Caldwell crossed the finish line in third place in a sprint final in Dresden, Germany, last Saturday, it was the ninth time that an American cross-country skier had finished on a world cup podium this season.

The next day, Caldwell and Ida Sargent added a tenth podium. The two Dartmouth graduates finished third in the Dresden World Cup team sprint. In 28 world cup races to date this season, the U.S. women’s cross-country skiers have finished on the podium in over a third of them.

It’s a continuation of the success that the women’s team began experiencing six years ago—and even earlier than that for the team’s long-time leader, Kikkan Randall.

Now 35 and heading to her fifth Olympic Games, Randall first stood on a world cup podium 11 years ago. And she has helped lead a growing women’s team to the front of the world cup—and world championships.

Since 2009, four different American women have won nine world championship medals—an unprecedented feat in this country. They have become the ultimate team.

Illustrating the team’s improved strength and depth, five different women have claimed world cup podiums this year. In previous years, Randall and 26-year-old Jessie Diggins claimed the bulk of the team’s best results. But now, Sadie Bjornsen, Caldwell, and Sargent have joined them. And team veteran Liz Stephen, a talented distance skier nominated to her third Olympic team, is coming into form, as is Rosie Brennan, who is headed to her first Olympics in PyeongChang.

As Randall said recently via email, “It’s been a pretty amazing season for the team, yet it feels so normal now.”

What has led to this new normal?

Talent and hard work are key, as is teamwork. In an individual sport, their strong team bond has helped lift all their individual performances.

Here’s what else is at play.

Success Breeds Success
When Sadie Bjornsen first joined the world cup tour in 2011, Randall was regularly finishing in the top three of sprint races—earning her first of three world cup sprint titles in 2012. The others hoped they could join her. But for most, it seemed like a far-off goal.

Around that time, a young phenom named Jessie Diggins joined the team, and in short order, earned a world cup podium with Randall in a team sprint. Then Diggins and Randall claimed the team sprint world title in 2013. Two years later, Diggins won her first individual world championship medal in the 10-kilometer freestyle (or skate) race, finishing second ahead of American Caitlin Gregg, who earned the bronze medal. Since then, Diggins has become a podium regular. And she won two more world championship medals in 2017.

Most recently, Diggins finished third overall in the Tour de Ski—the first time an American cross-country skier has finished on the podium in the grueling seven-day stage race. She also finished on the podium in two of the seven races (six, after bad weather canceled one).

Sophie Caldwell has claimed seven podium finishes since finishing sixth in the sprint at the 2014 Olympics—the best result to date by an American woman at the Olympic Games. She kicked off the 2018 Tour de Ski by finishing second in the Tour’s first sprint.

Liz Stephen has also had podium success in previous years, and Sargent got her first taste last year when she finished third in the sprint at the PyeongChang test event.

And Randall was back on the podium after taking maternity leave during the 2015–16 season. She earned her third world championship medal last February (bronze in the sprint), then finished third in a freestyle sprint in December, but has struggled with a stress reaction in her left foot for the past month.

This year, Sadie Bjornsen has become a podium regular as well. The 28-year-old from Washington state’s Methow Valley won a bronze medal with Diggins at the 2017 world championships. Then this season, she was the first to earn a world cup podium. She finished second in the season’s first sprint race.

“This year, for the first time, every single girl on our team goes into every weekend feeling like they could win a medal,” Bjornsen said. “It’s different than last year. I like to say that I thought I could win a medal [last year]. But it was more like I was confident Jessie was going to win a medal.”

“To have the depth on the team, to have somebody different on the podium, like in the Tour de Ski, it was Sophie and then Sadie and then me, just like boom, boom, boom, one after another,” said Diggins. “That is exactly the very best thing for a team. Everyone is feeding off each other’s successes and motivating each other and lifting each other up.”

The team makes a point of celebrating everyone’s successes, big and small, even as their successes have become regular events. All this celebrating means a lot of toasts, often twice in one weekend.

“It’s cool because everybody, despite the fact that there have been so many podiums, there’s still an equal amount of excitement that you’re sharing with each person,” said Bjornsen. “It always brings the level of our group higher when more people start doing better because they see themselves like, hey, I’m that good too.”

New Fearlessness
With the confidence that they now belong on the podium, the U.S. women are racing with fearlessness.

“You get that little bit of success and the confidence then comes, and the way you ski and see yourself in the pack changes,” noted Randall.

Sargent’s racing this year is a good example. A talented sprinter, she scored her first podium finish last February at the Olympic test event. This year, she is at the front attacking in the sprint heats.

“Everybody is putting themselves in a position where they belong at the front,” said Bjornsen. “Everyone is like these fearless fighters. They’re not afraid to try things.”

Experience Is Paying Off
Of the seven women on the A and B team, six have Olympic experience and have been competing full-time on the world cup for over five years. Randall is in her 17th year on the U.S. Ski Team, Stephen her 13th.

“We’ve been doing this for a long time, and some of us who were quite a bit younger a few years ago, like me, Sophie, and Sadie, I think that we are getting to the age where now we have quite a bit of experience, so we’re learning in the sprint rounds how to avoid accidents, how to move through the rounds, how to pace,” said Diggins.

Randall has noticed her teammates improved experience and maturity as well.

“Everybody has figured out how to make a good lifestyle and routine here in Europe,” she said. “They’re all approaching it from a super-professional level. Everyone kind of knows what works.”

New Wax Truck
Ski wax plays an important role in cross-country skiing—perhaps even more so than in alpine skiing because, except for the few downhills encountered on cross-country trails, speed is generated by human effort. The easier that skis glide over snow, the less effort that a skier must exert to go fast. And in classic skiing, kick wax is key for skiers to propel themselves forward.

Waxing is a mix of alchemy, chemistry, and a technician’s touch. And the big Nordic teams from Norway and Sweden set up giant tractor-trailer trucks that expand out and up, creating mobile labs at each race venue.

Until this year, the U.S. cross-country ski team’s wax technicians worked in small wax cabins (fashioned from cargo containers) at race venues. They trucked skis, tools, and wax to each venue, then unloaded the gear into the “cabins.”

Now, thanks to a grassroots fundraising effort, the U.S. Ski Team has its own wax truck that debuted in December 2017. And the skiers have noticed the improved wax and more collaboration between skiers, wax techs, and coaches.

“The classic waxing has taken an enormous turn for the better,” said Bjornsen, who worked hard in the off-season to hone kick wax and her technique. “It has a lot to do with our new wax truck and the ability to have the entire team work together and find the best wax possible.”

Olympic Expectations
In Sochi, Randall was a favorite to win a medal in the sprint, but she did not advance out of the quarterfinals. The team was an outside favorite to medal in the relay but finished eighth.

Going to PyeongChang, the U.S. women are medal contenders in multiple events at the Olympic Games for the first time ever.

Diggins and Stephen have both finished on world cup podiums in the skiathlon (7.5 kilometers of classic skiing, followed by 7.5 kilometers of skate skiing). Bjornsen, Caldwell, and Sargent have each had top-three finishes in sprint classic races (the sprint alternates between freestyle and classic technique at each Games). Diggins has a world championship silver medal in the 10K freestyle race, and Randall has a world cup 10K podium finish on her resume. Diggins and Randall are world champions in the team sprint (in the freestyle technique, which will be contested in PyeongChang), and multiple women on the team have earned world cup podium finishes in the event.

And the team is most hopeful for a medal in the 4×5-kilometer. They have finished second or third in several world cup relays in the past five years and have finished fourth in the relay at the past three world championships.

“Just making those teams is going to be a challenge with everyone skiing so well,” noted Randall, who still has foot pain but is back racing and hopes to return to form by the Olympics.

“It’s a really cool position to go into the Games with the idea that you can medal,” said Bjornsen. “I think medals, even individual medals, take a team in a good place. If we all go into the Games with this excitement and also some confidence and the same feeling we’ve been having the whole entire year, I think that there are a couple people on our team that will be standing on the podium for sure.”

A freelance writer based in Vermont, Peggy Shinn has covered four Olympic Games. She has contributed to TeamUSA.org since its inception in 2008. Her book, World Class: The Making of the U.S. Women’s Cross-Country Ski Team, is now available on Amazon and at your local bookstore.

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