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Craig Fearon (11 Posts)

Craig Fearon

Craig Fearon is a Senior Director, Product Management with SumTotal and a self-described “time & attendance geek.” With over 17 years optimizing time & attendance, scheduling, absence management and more, he’s mastered the art of incorporating complex requirements and unique customer feedback into a user-friendly system. Outside of work, Craig enjoys spending time with his wife Angela and their two four-legged children Juno (Rottweiler) and Vimy (Rottweiler/Shepherd Mix).

July 5, 2018

SumTotal Workforce Management is Outpacing Competitors


Nucleus Research just published their Workforce Management Technology Value Matrix 2018.  For the second year in a row, Nucleus positioned SumTotal Workforce Management in the Leader quadrant. I’m also happy to say that as a reflection of all our continued innovation and commitment to our customers, SumTotal moved further to the right, reinforcing and solidifying our position in the market.

Why SumTotal WFM is moving on up

While I could happily go on espousing all the wonderful ways the SumTotal WFM solution deserves this recognition, I think it best if we hear what Nucleus Research, independent industry analysts, have to say.

For example, the report’s authors, Brent Skinner and Trevor White, write that SumTotal’s “usability and functionality are improving faster than the average for the market.” They also recommend SumTotal as a consideration for compliance-driven organizations, “especially when an employer’s workforce requires up-to-date credentialing (e.g., certifications, licensing).”

As noted in the report, we are the only vendor in the market with out-of-the-box functionality that validates an employee’s training and certification requirements when they are being scheduled. This unique capability gives organizations the assurance that only those employees correctly trained and certified for the position are scheduled, mitigating risk and ensuring compliance.

To learn just how crucial this is, and why it is so important, I recommend checking out the Mitigate Your Risk by Validating Employee Training and Certification webinar.

Nucleus also called out our “flexibility and nimbleness in handling complex scheduling and benefits management for wage employees.” SumTotal’s WFM solution is designed so that we can assist organizations with managing and administering very complex rules and requirements, especially those found in union environments, and in particular if there many collective bargaining agreements (CBAs) in place. One customer we work with has over 100 different CBAs, each one with additional degrees of intricacy.

Customer feedback

At the end of the day, it is still best when you hear that the people you work for are happy. So, I was delighted to read in the report that “Nucleus’s analysis of users finds them highly satisfied with their SumTotal WFM deployments overall.” As a vendor in a highly complex workforce management market, it is easy to deliver innovation, but it is much harder to achieve high marks for customer satisfaction.  It is very satisfying to hear this and know that our customers are confident and putting their trust in SumTotal to manage their time & attendance, scheduling, and absence management requirements.

Also, I would like to thank the SumTotal Workforce Management team, our Customer Support, Professional Services, Cloud Operations, Engineering, Product Management, Sales teams and all others who not only deliver service and support to a world-class solution but also make our customer’s satisfaction their top priority. Well done!

Read more about why SumTotal is a Leader by downloading a complimentary copy of Nucleus Research’s Workforce Management Technology Value Matrix 2018 report.  Then, learn out more about SumTotal Workforce Management and how our solution can help you better manage your workforce with time & attendance, scheduling and absence management!



May 31, 2018

Top 5 Trends from the 36th Annual American Payroll Association Congress


I’m just back from the 36th Annual American Payroll Association (APA) Congress and Expo, at the Gaylord Resort and Convention Center in National Harbor, Maryland.  It was another successful event – lots of engaging keynotes and thought-provoking training sessions. The weather was also very interesting – the severe storms in DC delaying flights and causing travel chaos for many. Despite the daily deluge of rain, spirits remained high, and neither the enthusiasm nor the energy of the attendees dampened.

A little background to the APA Congress

Just in case anyone is unfamiliar with the APA Congress, here’s a brief overview. With over 1,800 attendees, 180+ educational sessions and 100+ exhibitors, it is the largest conference and expo focused on payroll and associated disciplines in the world. It is the event for payroll professionals, and while the focus of the event is on the US, there was a significant presence from many international payroll associations and professionals including representations from Canada, the United Kingdom, Mexico and Australia.

This diversity of experience and knowledge makes the Congress essential for anyone working in payroll/HCM. Not only do you leave with a ton of new information and insight, but you also come away with a greater sense of what your peers are doing and thinking.

This year I came away a very real sense that payroll as a profession is moving to more of a strategic function.  To highlight this, here are 5 key trends and topics that payroll professionals face:

#1 – Fair Labor Standard Act (FLSA) violations are still occurring and are costly

We are still seeing many incidents of FLSA violations by employers.  While the number of cases is slightly down, the dollar amounts awarded to employees is increasing.  A large portion of these violations are the result of inaccuracies regarding payments for time worked especially concerning overtime, meal breaks, on-call and other time-related areas.  In the past four years, the Department of Labor recovered over $1B in back wages for employees as a result of violations.

#2 – The “Gig Economy” is driving changes to the frequency of payroll

To encourage retention organizations are looking at different and creative types of benefits and structures. For many this means implementing more frequent payroll cycles; payments are now weekly and even daily for some organizations. One presenter spoke of a company that provides such an offer and although there was a slight premium, over 80% chose the daily payment option. This had the knock-on effect of forcing their competitors to provide a similar remuneration scheme.

The downside to such a system though is that daily payroll adds significant complexities and challenges to your processing, so consider all factors before deciding to offer this.

#3 – Talent Is the top CEO concern

Josh Bersin from Bersin by Deloitte gave one of the keynote presentations and talked about how CEOs see the recruitment and retention of talent as a major problem. Granted, at first this seems unrelated to payroll, but the current approach to driving employee engagement is by consolidating payroll, time & attendance with Talent and Learning solutions, the consequence of which means payroll is moving from a peripheral role to a more central one.

#4 – As the world turns, do does changes to tax and legislation

Another year and another round of changes to tax and legislative changes for payroll departments to manage. Signed on December 22, 2017, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act is having a major impact on payroll departments, as it impacts a wide range of changes for standard deductions, elimination of the personal exemption, child tax credits, employer-provided assistance and benefits, W-4’s and much more. And that’s just at the federal level!  Depending on your state and municipal area, there may be even more changes.  Processing payroll accurately is getting more and more complicated!

#5 – Artificial intelligence, machine learning and personal assistants are coming!

Everyone at the Congress was talking about artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and personal assistants and what these technologies will mean for payroll, HR departments, supervisors, and employers.  At the minute the consensus is that all this new technology will not only help make better and more informed decisions, it will also enable us to handle routine tasks better.  Many also believe these technologies can remove, or even eliminate, unconscious bias from the workplace. How? Primarily by taking the human out of some of the decision-making process and using machine learning, an objective entity, to predict for example which employees will violate attendance policies and recommend corrective action.

It is an exciting time for payroll and I look forward to seeing how as a profession we embrace the changes that are ahead. The APA continues to play an essential part in this journey, and if you are not already a member, I recommend joining.

Next year, the Congress is in Long Beach, California. Let’s hope the golden state lives up to its name.

I look forward to seeing you there.

In the meantime, take a look at how SumTotal’s solution can address these concerns.

May 15, 2018

How Mismanagement of Employee Absences Is Costing Companies Money


On any given day Bureau of Labor research shows that 3% of the workforce is absent, costing the US economy $84 billion a year in lost productivity, breaking down to an estimated $1,685 per employee.

And it’s a cost expected to grow in tandem with the changing demographics of the workforce. By 2020 there will be five generations working together, meaning five different approaches to absences.


In the workplace, this diversity of attitude can translate into the following scenario:

“East is late again,” Phyllis muttered under her breath. “What kind of name is East anyway?” The 19-year-old often strolled into work around the time when he was supposed to clock in. “Chill” is what the other younger workers call it. Pure laziness is what Phyllis thought! If she had been “chill” in her younger days, she would have been out on her ear in the blink of an eye.

“Phyllis is SUCH a downer,” East texted to his colleague. “She’s always glaring, and I think she must have some vendetta against me on a personal level. LOL! I’m just going to stay away from her!”

This difference of viewpoints adds to the impact of absences and can result in conflict in the workplace.


What can you do?

While employees are entitled to take time off, there are measures all organizations should be taking to help manage absences and ensure employees are adhering to company policy.

This solution is called a formal Absence Management system and it will:

  • Track paid and unpaid absences
  • Ensure labor law, workplace standard, and safety regulation compliance – crucial given there are on average 200 labor laws change each year
  • Provide real-time accrual visibility and validation
  • Provide a formal supervisor approval process
  • Communicate company policy regarding time-off and what documentation is required when employees are absent.
  • Ensure employees receive the accruals and absences that they are entitled to receive

We’d also add it is essential that any such system is easy-to-use and offer self-service capabilities to ensure you reap maximum benefit by bringing the system directly to employees wherever, whenever and however they access it.

But its function isn’t simply to regulate or maintain records; it also gives you the data to identify problem areas, which in turn allows you to get proactive about managing your absence programs and policies including:

  • Identify trends
  • Evaluate working conditions
  • Review corrective wellness programs
  • Enforce disciplinary actions
  • Make better staffing decisions
  • Educate and empower managers
  • Monitor and adjust your employee absence strategy and policies

With multiple generations working together, Absence Management systems and practices perform a necessary function of ensuring objectivity and equity in how absences are handled. In turn, this creates a better work environment, one where regardless of an employee’s position or age, they know and understand what will happen when they choose not to go to work.

Learn more about the costs of employee absences in a multigenerational workforce. Listen to this webinar and download an Infographic.







May 10, 2018

A Review Of Perspectives 2018 From A Workforce Management Perspective



Perspectives, our annual user conference, took place recently. I’m still exhausted from the few days at the Bellagio in Las Vegas, but I’m also energized. As the song says, “The future looks bright” and since how we manage our workforce is the bedrock of any organization, let’s take a look back at Perspectives from a Workforce Management viewpoint.

Josh Bersin’s keynote, “Learning in the Flow of Work” was very engaging and, as always, Josh loaded us up with insightful data. Here are three key points I took away that relate to Workforce Management:

Look internally to develop your workforce.

The cost of training an internal candidate is a fraction of the cost of hiring externally.  Too many organizations do not consider their current talent pool and instead rely on the hiring process vs. promoting and training from within.  Training and promoting internally results in a more engaged and productive workforce and lowers your overall costs.

Embed learning into the flow of work.

Learning is not just driven by your Learning Management System (LMS), it must be available and easily accessed on the various applications that your employees use on a daily basis. A good example is being able to take an online course to be certified to bid on an available shift.  Providing this level of embedded learning engages all of your employees – especially your hourly employees. 

The best way to learn is to practice and repeat using the training provided. 

This is a no-brainer when you think about how we naturally learn.  However, too many companies are not putting enough emphasis on the practice component of learning, resulting in a reduced value from training, and in some cases, leads to a reduction in productivity.

Brent Skinner from Nucleus Research presented a session on the Measurable Impact of Workforce Management Integrated with Core HR, Learning, and Talent.  I have had the pleasure of working with Brent many times, and true to form, he delivered an excellent presentation.  Brent focused on the five factors that drive value: Breadth, Repeatability, Risk, Collaboration, and Knowledge.  He also walked through Nucleus’ 4 orders of ROI – Direct, Semi-Direct, Indirect and Very Indirect.  Historically companies often discount Very Indirect Savings as these relate more to areas such as improvement in employee engagement.  However, in today’s business reality, where attracting and retaining top talent for both salaried and hourly employees is challenging, more and more CEOs and CFOs are paying attention to the Very Indirect Savings as they relate to employee engagement.

Several studies put the cost of hiring minimum wage hourly employees at around $3,500 per hire, with this figure increasing exponentially in line with the employee’s hourly wage.  If you have low engagement which results in high turnover, your recruiting costs alone are significant. There is an easy remedy. Providing increased self-service and offering employees more input into their schedule improves engagement and retention, thereby reducing such costs.

On the topic of self-service, my colleague, Rita Battista, and I presented a session on the Evolution of Self-Service in HR.  Rita and I discussed how self-service in Workforce Management could increase employee engagement, reduce costs and result in significant savings for organizations that embrace this functionality.

One of our customers presented a very informative session on how they track and manage their employee’s adherence to their attendance policies.  Our customer spoke in detail about how they implemented Occurrence Tracking, a component of SumTotal Workforce Management, and how they used a points-based approach to change employee behavior around starting work on time, long lunches and no-shows. While this customer has significantly increased adherence to their attendance policy, they also made significant changes recently to their Occurrence Tracking. They now focus on the areas that produce the most significant drop in productivity and less on minor infractions such as being 5 minutes late for the start of your shift.

My colleagues, Warren Gouws and Norman Ford, presented a fascinating session on increasing compliance through Workforce Management.  They spoke about the risks and potential costs as a result of employees improperly trained or certified for the jobs they are scheduled to do. The harsh reality is that in the US, every day 14 employees die on the job. While we will never eliminate accidents, we can change behavior and actions on the job through ensuring open access to learning for all employees.

SumTotal has now bridged the gap that exists in traditional standalone LMS by providing a unified offering between SumTotal Learn, now loaded with Skillsoft Compliance content, and SumTotal Workforce Management that will validate that employees possess the relevant training/certification to complete the assigned task/role. Beyond the financial risks of not providing sufficient training for employees, companies have a moral and legal obligation to their employees to offer effective training.

If you were not able to make Perspectives this year, I encourage you to start thinking about attending in 2019.  You will come away with many new ideas to bring back to your organization not only to reduce costs but also increase your employee engagement!

February 13, 2018

Worried About Workforce Management Compliance Issues? Read On.


Just before 2017 drew to a close, HR Dive conducted a reader poll, one particular result of which might surprise some of you. Turns out more than half of the respondents said that their top compliance concern for 2018 were state and local laws and not, as most believe, issues around family and medical leave, EEO-1 reporting or joint employer liability.

When I read this, I thought how interesting given that just recently my colleague, Mike Van Doren, wrote about the many ways workforce management solutions are underused as tools for ensuring compliance, particularly where it applies to assisting organizations address employee issues such as overtime notifications, certifications and whether employees possess the correct and relevant competency that complies with local/state or federal regulations, fatigue management and missed meals. All of which are issues that can and do vary from state to state and even within a state.

Recent news headlines demonstrate that this concern is justified.  There are many examples of lawsuits and settlements for legislative compliance violations, particularly for FLSA breaches. Only recently I read about a large settlement- just under $4m- paid out by a health care provider who had been sued by a number of employees alleging that the organization had automatically deducted meal breaks whether they were taken or not. This had the direct result of large numbers of employees being underpaid.

Whether it is over unpaid overtime, missed meals, off the clock work, “on-call” payments, unpaid work or a variety of other violations, lawsuits are costly for organizations. The monetary settlements alone when a company is found guilty of a Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) violation are high and typically cover legal costs for the plaintive and may also involve punitive fines and damages.

Beyond the financial loss, organizations risk damaging their corporate credibility when not complying with FLSA requirements.  Typically most of these lawsuits are highly publicized and attract a lot of unwanted media attention, additionally they can cause problems with recruiting and retaining top talent.  Employees do not want to work for an organization that whether intentionally or unintentionally does not accurately pay them for their time worked.  Employees may fear retributions by not reporting inaccuracies that they uncover and simply will leave the organization rather than draw attention to the problem.

It is incumbent upon each employer to ensure compliance to FLSA and the myriad of local, state, federal and even international legislative, regulatory and union/contract requirements.  To find out the minimum meal period length required in your state, check here.

Organizations are not in it alone. A robust and integrated Workforce Management solution can assist in this pursuit, can provide payroll with the accurate time that an employee has worked and ensure that employees are accurately paid.

Find out how SumTotal’s Workforce Management can help your organization ensure compliance with FLSA and other legislative requirements.

Happy 2018!

November 14, 2017

Why hourly employees need performance reviews


I think it’s safe to say that popular wisdom would lead us to believe that giving hourly employees performance reviews is a colossal waste of time and resources; that the sheer volume and high turnover rates of such workers means investing the time to perform reviews is not good business practice.

But this mindset is changing, in part as a response to the growing number, and therefore impact, of hourly workers on business today. The latest US Department of Labor data revealed a surprising statistic. More than 78 million Americans, or almost 59% of the US workforce, are paid on an hourly basis.

These large numbers mean that if the turnover rate in your organization is high, you have a problem.  The Center for American Progress estimates the costs of replacing a $10 per hour worker is at least $3,000, which alone may not appear significant, but usually a company will have a larger number of hourly employees making this rather more costly.

But a 2017 Retention Report by the Work Institute revealed that many, 75% to be exact, of the reasons employees leave such jobs are preventable.

So what can you do?

While there are many measures to be taken, starting with the employee evaluation and performance review process is an excellent first step.

Performance reviews perform an important function, and I’m not just talking about rating how well someone is completing a task. No, I’m talking about something a little deeper.

The top four purposes performance reviews serve

#1 Giving a staff member a sense of belonging, of noting when they are putting in extra effort and acknowledging them for a job well done, or conversely providing guidance when their work is not meeting expectations.

#2 Providing feedback on adherence to time & attendance policies – both positive and negative, if applicable. Showing them the number of times they were late, left early, took long lunches, unpaid days off, and even how much sick time they have used.

#3 Identifying any areas for improvement, training and possibly advancement.

#4 Demonstrating their value to the organization, which in turn will lead to them valuing the organization and less likely to leave.

Of course, the very nature of the hourly worker can make scheduling a review a problem in itself.  When or how should such evaluations take place in the hourly workplace?  Suggestions for accommodating the work schedule and not overburdening the employee (or you) include keeping the performance review short and limited to say 15 minutes, scheduling the review for outside of peak times, ensuring that you are not leaving the workplace understaffed, and using online performance tools to optimize your face-to-face time.  Get creative!  There will be gaps in the schedule where this can be fit in – just work around them.

A study on America’s hourly workforce illustrates the length of time employees stay in their jobs is often an indication of how engaged they are — in other words, how much they care about their jobs and put effort into their work but also know that they are valued by the organization. It is in your interest to encourage and engage all employees, not just your salaried staff.

We can help you achieve this. Our SumTotal Talent Expansion Suite includes the tools and real-time feedback you need, including performance reviews and time & attendance tracking, to help you optimize and better engage your entire workforce.

It’s simple. Start here with a discovery call.

September 20, 2017

Looking for a better way to manage employees who arrive late to work?


Consider the following scenarios…

Emily constantly shows up late for work.  She takes long lunches and frequently leaves work early on the days that she actually bothered to show up. However since Emily is a top performer when she is present, the supervisor neither tries to correct this behavior nor has the supervisor ever formally disciplined this employee.

Frank is the exact opposite. Always on time for work, Frank leaves only when his shift has ended and never takes long breaks or lunches.  One day, he gets a flat tire on the way to work and is 20 minutes late. His supervisor adheres to the company rules and writes up a formal disciplinary note for tardiness.

What went wrong? Or do you think nothing went wrong and the supervisor dealt with each employee in a fair and appropriate manner?

While it is true that the majority of organizations have established employee attendance policies that cover everything from expected arrival times, lunch and other break durations, when an employee may leave at the end of the day and perhaps some general guidelines for excused and unexcused absences, how these rules are interpreted and applied is a very different story.

It is an all too common story as almost every organization contends with this problematic issue. “Problematic” because employees want and need to be treated fairly and equally but human nature being what it is, this does not always happen.  When the gap is obvious it leads to employee disengagement, low morale and in some cases, legal action.

The complicated truth is that rule enforcement is complex and supervisors must take into account exceptions for the unexpected, whether that is anything from a flat tire to unexpectedly needing to look after a sick relative. Organizations therefore need to be realistic in their approach to the application of these policies, but this, this is the tricky part.

The question then is can you achieve fairness while adhering to the company rules?

Yes, with a Workforce Management system.

How will it solve this dilemma?

It achieves this by automatically managing attendance policies and by implementing systemized and streamlined processes regarding the management of employee attendance records, thereby taking the supervisor out of the equation. Now the supervisor is no longer viewed as “the enforcer” which fosters a more positive employee/supervisor work relationship.

Furthermore, we all know how inconsistent enforcement of policies takes a toll on employees’ morale and engagement, so any measures taken to remove the potential for disparity is beneficial to all. Low morale can lead to disengagement and disengagement comes with a hefty price tag. Studies show that that disengaged employees cost companies between $450 and $550 billion a year and with such high stakes, it makes sense to address such an important part of the employee experience.

Ready to make enforcing attendance policies a positive motivator for your workforce? Experience SumTotal Workforce Management as a Manager or as an Employee to start your journey.

June 19, 2017

How Absenteeism is Killing your Bottom Line


Productivity losses linked to absenteeism cost employers $225.8 billion annually in the United States, or roughly $1,685 per employee. Such figures are alarming and should be motivating for organizations to take measures or they’ll end up needing to impose damage control.

But what I’m finding, is that opportunities to address this issue are often overlooked; that not everyone working in HR is aware that a system can be put into place that will look at the problem and automatically minimize both the occurrence and the consequence of an absent employee.

Vacations, bad weather, sick kids, jury duty, military leave, and so many more legitimate reasons for missing work are fully justified. Although, if you’re not properly tracking and adhering to legislation and policies, compliance failure and your reputation are at stake.

While we all need to miss work at times, there are some offenders or policy abusers who disrupt productivity with their abrupt absences. You’ll experience the premium cost for yourself with the administrative burden, and likely decreased morale stemming from the potentially higher workloads of those who do make it to work.

For example, how do you treat the following?

  • Tardiness: does it count against an employee’s allowed absences?
  • An employee facing a difficult personal situation: is your policy flexible? If it is, what measures have you taken to ensure against claims of favoritism or discrimination if employees feel that certain employees are treated differently?
  • Managers with differing expectations: some might be very strict and stick to the letter of the law, while others might be seen as more relaxed or understanding. Like my colleague has written about before, managers often have unintentional bias. Do you have a process that can highlight those employees who take advantage of your organization, or employees who are habitually late? Do you reward those who follow the rules?

Tracking occurrences will pinpoint problems and even positive behaviors. By establishing patterns like tardiness or the habitual ‘long weekend’ offenders, you can use the insight to identify those involved, estimate losses due to their behavior and have automatic notifications or warnings in place.

Don’t settle for the silent bottom-line killer of accepting absenteeism and make tracking occurrences part of your workforce management strategy. Schedule a discovery call to see how tracking occurrences can lead to positive employee behavior and protect your earnings and output.

May 31, 2017

Payroll Rocks the World! 10 Takeaways from APA Congress.


I recently had the opportunity to attend the American Payroll Association (APA) Congress in Orlando, Florida. It had been a couple of years since I last attended. It was great to see and interact with many old colleagues, industry analysts, partners, customers, and enjoy four days of being the unabashed time & attendance geek I am.

Payroll Rocks the World was the theme of this year’s Congress and, in my opinion, was very appropriate as collecting time & attendance and paying your employees is the bedrock of an organization. At the end of the day, employees expect to have their time accurately recorded and paid correctly for the work they do. If it is not, then they have little-to-no motivation to be productive or even show up for work. So yeah, payroll is the rock star of any organization!

The agenda was chock-full of great presentations and keynote sessions.

So what did I take away from the Congress?


So à la David Letterman, here is my Top 10 list of trends that all payroll professionals and organizations should have on their radar:

1.       Time & Attendance and Payroll are slow to the cloud.

Due to a number of factors, these business processes have been one of the slowest to make the move. However, this is changing as organizations start to realize the benefits of moving to the cloud, such as lower internal costs, access to the latest system releases, less dependency on IT and much more.

2.       Data security, data integration, and legislative changes are payroll’s biggest challenges.

Time and payroll data is highly sensitive by nature and payroll professionals need to ensure the security of the vendors and solutions that they select. With companies expanding through acquisitions and inheriting various systems, integrating these with the existing systems can be very complex. Payroll professionals today not only have to keep track of legislative changes in their home country, but also in every country that they do business. This is a daunting task for most organizations.

3.       Getting basic HR details in a global organization is hard.

“All I want is a Global Headcount Report!” was a common complaint heard many times in sessions or in speaking with attendees. With the challenges of growth through acquisition, country specific systems, and older platforms, getting basic data such as a global headcount or total wages and salaries report is no longer a simple task. Organizations are looking for one system to be the single source of record for this type of reporting. This is not a replacement for country specific payroll and HR, but rather a master system to handle consolidated reporting requirements.

4.       Fair labor Standards Act (FLSA) proposed changes for the salary threshold of exempt employees is still on hold.

A decision is expected towards late summer. However, there is a possibility that the Department of Labor may submit a new proposal with lower thresholds than in the original proposal. Stay tuned…

5.       Your workforce is changing.

The Millennial generation is not going to accept legacy and manual processes. In order to compete for top talent, organizations need to align their processes and systems to meet the challenges presented by this new generation.

6.       More and more organizations are starting to track location worked for mobile employees.

With increasing complexity in tax reporting for workforces that may work in multiple jurisdictions during the course of a year, more organizations are looking to improve their ability to track where both blue- and white-collar employees actually work.

7.       Standardize policies and systems.

Treat all employees fairly and equally. It is best to have the “system” enforce policies such as attendance. This removes the manager from the process and makes the system the “bad guy.”

8.       The rise of the contingent workforce.

Not only are we seeing more generations in the workforce now than ever before, but we are also seeing more contingent employees being embedded into daily activities. Employers are bringing in specific skill sets on a contingent base to fill gaps in their workforce either for a specific duration or on a project basis. The mix of full-time and contingent labor is causing challenges collecting time & attendance and ensuring that all are paid correctly.

9.       Comp Time for the private sector in the US may pass into legislation this year.

Comp Time allows an employee to bank overtime instead of having it paid out automatically. The legislation for the public sector in the US was passed a few years back, but it now looks like this will also become an option for the private sector. Assuming this does pass in the near future, it will add more tracking requirements for employers. Start planning now!

10.    Self-service is a must, especially for younger employees.

Self-service gives your employees the flexibility they need to better manage their work-life balance. For example, employers should avoid forcing employees to work overtime. Sometimes this is not avoidable but where it can be, a better approach is to put the overtime shifts out to bid allowing qualified and interested employees the opportunity to work rather than just forcing someone to. With the Millennial generation, self-service tools will be key to longer-term tenure.

If you are involved in managing time & attendance, scheduling and absence management or payroll for your organization, I highly encourage you to join the American Payroll Association or your country’s payroll organization such as the Canadian Payroll Association, Australian Payroll Association, South African Payroll Association, or The Chartered Institute of Payroll Professionals (UK).

October 11, 2016

Key Learnings from the American Payroll Association 2016 Fall Forum

Recently I had the opportunity to attend the American Payroll Association (APA) Fall Forum at the Mirage Hotel and Resort in Las Vegas, NV with my colleague Mario Besner, Senior Product Director for Payroll.  This three day forum was packed full of learning sessions for attendees on such topics as FLSA changes, best practices, benchmarking, Affordable Care Act, future technology trends, compliance and much more.  I was able to attend a number of these sessions in addition to meeting attendees and discussing their time and attendance and payroll requirements at the SumTotal booth.

APA Fall Forum Recap

The top 5 trends and topics I took away from the conference are as follows:

1)      The Fair Labor Standards Act Changes for Exempt Employees is causing angst for employers.  With the December 1, 2016 deadline fast approaching, organizations are struggling to determine how best to manage the new minimum salary levels for exempt employees. To add complexity, there is still some uncertainty regarding bonuses and how they factor into the minimum threshold. The net is that if your organization has not taken steps to address this change, the clock is ticking… View this on-demand webinar to get guidance on how to navigate the changes.


2)      Recent technology innovations are game changers for payroll.  According to the presenters, unified data, mobile and the cloud have significantly redefined Payroll and Time & Attendance.  SumTotal is well positioned as our Payroll and Time & Attendance solutions already address these game changers.


3)      Machine Learning will impact Time & Attendance and Payroll technology in the future.  For example, machine learning could help predictably populate a user’s timesheet based on previous patterns.  This could offer significant usability and time savings for employees.


4)      Payroll teams are recruiting staff with different skill sets than in the past.  Specifically they are seeking employees with soft skills, tech skills and most importantly flexibility! The face of payroll is changing and the staffing needs are adapting to meet this. Employees should be encouraged to seek payroll certifications and training such as that offered by the APA.


5)      There are an estimated 10,000 payroll and time and attendance software changes per year required to support legal and regulatory compliance changes globally!  This is amazing and speaks to the ever dynamic and changing discipline of payroll and time and attendance management.  This figure also reinforces the value of organizations such as the APA and its counterparts worldwide that deliver important legislative updates to members.

In summation, payroll is the single most strategic and important system that touches every single employee in your organization!  Payroll departments and processes have been transformed from a cost center and perceived low value function in organizations to a mission critical strategic business unit.

I encourage you to visit the APA’s website for more information on the association and benefits to you and your organization.

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