How payroll can you help you find superstar performers in the workplace

21 Jul

Benoit Gruber, VP, global product marketing at Sage, shares with us how payroll can help you find and keep your star performers.

FindingSuperstarEmployeesFinding your star performers

Modern HR and payroll technology can help you manage colleague performance and development. With workforce analytics, you can now find your star performers and keep hold of them.

Depending on your industry, the cost of your workforce is likely to be between 30-50% of your total overheads.

Through payroll data you can collect information about salary, absence, overtime, training costs, and return on investment. Cross-reference this data with qualitative information you have about colleagues—how they are viewed in terms of your performance culture by their peers, superiors, and teams—to develop a complete understanding of who your high achievers are.

Create a breeding ground for talent
Trend analysis allows HR to understand the working conditions that allow new stand-out talent to bloom.

For example, if a certain department has a low turnover rate and consistently good appraisals, then using data to find out why will help you recreate the department’s environment across the entire business.

Technology can also provide tools that help you decide which colleagues could benefit from training—it provides valuable insight to inform decisions that a paper-based system could not do.

Turn your star performers into mentors who can help other colleagues who find the business more challenging and need inspiration.

Often the star performers expect support for self-directed training—HR is in an ideal position to help create innovative programs and bring in new training platforms.

Keeping your star performers happy

Top-performing colleagues seek higher pay and greater opportunities. According to a U.S. survey by Gallup, 32% of people cited a lack of promotional opportunities as a reason for changing jobs, ahead of 22% who claimed pay and benefits caused them to seek a new position.* It’s important to identify the stand-out colleagues who are helping to drive the company forward, and do what you can to retain them.

Start by looking at payroll and performance data to make sure that your star performers are getting the remuneration they deserve for driving your business forward. This could mean better pay or bonuses or simply positive feedback showing that you appreciate the extra hours they are putting in.

It’s also worth bearing in mind what your competitors offer in terms of salary, working hours, vacation time, and benefits—you need to be at the very least matching and ideally exceeding them.

You should also have a way of identifying what your star performers value most. There is no point in investing in costly initiatives or training programs if your colleagues aren’t going to benefit from them. Give them the opportunity to shape their own careers and determine how they are rewarded.

Left alone, star performers will see opportunities with competitors. Your payroll data gives you the chance to build a complete view of the talent in your business—what creates, motivates, and retains the star performers, wherever they are in your organization. It’s important to take notice of what payroll data tells you, because once a star performer has handed in his or her notice, it’s already too late.

Find out how Return on Employee Investment can help you find rockstar employees by tuning into our latest webcast.

Benoit Gruber

VP, global product marketing at Sage

* Gallup, Inc. January 2015

Five great places to start analyzing payroll data

14 Jul

Benoit Gruber, VP, global product marketing at Sage, shares five unexpected places to look when examining your payroll data.

Analyzing Payroll Data

Payroll is a vital source of data in your business and has the potential to have an immediate financial benefit. It can provide a monthly snapshot of your company’s health. Furthermore it is, by its nature, one of the most up-to-date sets of data in your business. Businesses are required by law to keep live payroll information, so there is no chance of your making decisions based on old news.

There are a number of payroll metrics that can give you a deeper understanding of how healthy your business is from a financial point of view. Here are five places to look when analyzing your payroll data:

  1. Remuneration: Salaries will be an obvious place to start. With these numbers, you can build other metrics into your analysis such as a return on investment (ROI).
  2. Turnover: It’s not good news if you have a high staff turnover rate—it may signify a deeper problem within the business when it comes to areas such as conditions, morale, and corporate culture. And it can cost money in lost productivity, recruitment, and training.
  3. Absence: Analyzing data on sick days and vacation time will help you understand when workers are more likely to be absent and whether employees are taking their annual leave at the right time of year for the business.
  4. Overtime: If employees are regularly working more than their agreed hours, consider what this means in terms of productivity and the way people are working. You can find out whether it’s more cost-effective, for example, to hire part-time or additional staff.
  5. Training costs: Payroll departments can be under pressure to find ways to cut costs and improve efficiency. With a training cost metric, it’s possible to walk that tight line between making cuts and ensuring employees are upskilled properly.

Across each of these areas you’ll find a huge amount of data available to examine and because it covers such a long period of time, it should be easy to start spotting trends. With the right technology it can give you a great platform for future planning, with the reassurance of knowing you have a constantly up-to-date view of your business. It should be the first place you look, before planning for the future.

Interested in learning how to get payroll right and analyze your data better, contact us at 1-866-271-6050 or visit our website.

Benoit Gruber
VP, global product marketing at Sage

Why payroll is an untapped gold mine in the business world

7 Jul

Benoit Gruber, VP, global product marketing at Sage, shares with us why payroll is the untapped gold mine of business insight.


Payroll is one of the most commonly underused resources available to businesses when it comes to insight. It has the power to shine a light on your largest resource and overhead—your people. Tapping into payroll data analytics can help you gain a better understanding of where your strengths and weakness lie. A good payroll system should provide data that shows you where your money is going and how you can benefit from your most valuable assets, your employees and customers.

In the past, the unfortunate perception of payroll was of a repetitive administration machine. But that’s changing. Innovative updates to payroll technology have delivered payroll a seat at the reporting table, and businesses are better able to analyze their greatest asset and largest cost.

Payroll now has room to play a more strategic and valuable role. Compensation for employees is not simply a cost to contain, but an important consideration that will save money and drive efficiency in the long term.

However, payroll professionals must use and understand the large amounts of data available to them if their businesses are to keep up with the competition. Research by Sage and IDG has found that companies with more effective data grow 35% faster.*

Reporting is crucial

As highlighted by our research, reporting is key to business success. It can contribute not only to growth, but also to the productivity of employees. Businesses with more usable data increase productivity by 10%.*

For payroll professionals, it allows you to understand and make best use of your company’s biggest capital investment—the employees. After all, the wages a business commits to the workforce have a direct impact on the money it makes.

Reporting and analytics are of immense value. And they can help in the two biggest financial priorities—cost reduction and forecasting—allowing your company to grow and succeed in a business world where every advantage counts. When you combine payroll data with qualitative elements such as performance culture, skills, behavior, and experience, it can help you form a picture of the issues affecting business performance.

Download our white paper to learn how to stay in control of your business with an in-house payroll system.

§  Tell us in the comments – what insights have you gained from Payroll?

§  Contact us if you have questions.

Benoit Gruber

VP, global product marketing at Sage

* Impact of data effectiveness on business outcomes at medium sized business in North America and Europe study performed February 2014

Gen Z Tech Habits: Different from Millennials, Gen Z’s Habits May Surprise HR

2 May

Business manI admit it; I’m getting old.

But I didn’t realize just how old until a recent software conference where I had a speaking session on the subject of intra-company communications. Among my topics of conversation were:

            • What information needs to be communicated
            • Whom it needs to be communicated to
            • How it needs to be communicated

It was during my introduction – as I mentioned the third item in this list and gave the briefest of teasers – that I let following words escape:

“ …and although email is the most common corporate communications method, we’ll discuss how other methods need to be a part of your communications initiatives…”

And from the back of the room, barely discernable, came a brief snort, followed by this from a twenty-something:

email… c’mon out of the 90’s, guy…”

And I realized he was right.

That’s not to say that email has no place in communicating with millennials today, but whereas I still think of email as my primary means of receiving corporate communications, email might rank third or even fourth on many millennials’ list of “preferred communications methods”.

And so, when it comes to delivering critical HR information to today’s employees – whether it’s about changing benefits, drug test results, expiring certifications, or renewing visas, it shouldn’t come as any surprise that text message is now how millennials typically prefer to receive this information. Email might be their second choice for delivery method – but corporate communications via social network or even via personalized webpage are both growing realities today.

But it’s more than just the devices that millennials are using. It’s also their whole approach to what information they want sent their way.

You see, older folks like me are still enamored with the reality that we can get so much information, so easily, and so quickly. Unlike us, millennials grew up with this reality; “getting everything” – such as daily absenteeism reports, training course news, or COBRA updates – is their norm. And they’re rebelling against it. “I already get way too much email” is a commonly-heard complaint and today’s HR organizations need to focus less on providing content and more on personalizing content and on exception content. “Tell me only what I need to know” is the millennials’ refrain.

Lastly, millennials are forcing HR departments to recognize a greater sense of self-empowerment among their employees. Historically, HR has focused on “top-down communications” – that is, communicating with managers so they can then communicate with their employees.

Although some HR issues have to be channeled through managers, many don’t. Communicating directly with employees shortens the process, speeds the result, and empowers staff. So take a look at your HR communications and do your organization a favor – deliver only what’s needed, send it in the form most likely to be read, and don’t interject a layer of management just because it’s always been done that way. As millennials have shown us, habits are made to be broken.

Don Farber is a guest blogger for the Employer Solutions Blog and the Vice President of Sales (and co-founder) of Vineyardsoft Corporation. Visit his website at

Social Media Recruiting: Use of social media for talent acquisition, recruitment and screening

1 Apr

Social media can be used by hiring managers and specialists to find eligible job candidates.

Social media is growing as a recruiting platform for hiring managers and recruiters. It helps recruiters and human resource specialists determine who has a large professional network using websites such as LinkedIn, Google Plus or Twitter. It also helps human resource professionals by gauging  if the individual is a fit for the company. For example, if a potential job candidate posts photos on social media that can be deemed irresponsible or does not uphold an active account, these factors may reduce the candidate's chances of being hired. On a positive note, a candidate that features friendly photos and active social media accounts will be received more positively by a recruiter.

How can human resource specialists use social media to acquire talent and make the recruitment process simpler? Social websites can be used in the following ways for HR professionals:

1. General recruiting
Websites such as LinkedIn and Twitter are growing more popular as job-posting mediums among recruiters and HR specialists. According to the Society for Human Resource Management, 77 percent of respondent companies use social networking websites to recruit for specific career opportunities. In part with using websites such as Indeed, Monster or the company website, head hunters must post the jobs on social media using equal employment opportunity legalities or an affirmative action tagline. Furthermore, the postings must be retained like any other hiring description as required by law.

2. Talent acquisition
Social media is not only beneficial for recruiting, it is also useful for tapping into large communities of talented individuals. For example, many artists use websites such as Facebook and Tumblr to post their creative works for talent specialists to find. According to Time magazine, Facebook has seen the greatest gain in overall recruiter usage over the past five years. Thanks to Tumblr and Facebook algorithms, it is easy to like a page and find similar pages. Since many artists and creative individuals follow each other on social media, this opens up new pools of talent to recruiters looking for creative individuals.

3. Screening
Because of the recent rise in social media recruiting, working professionals today are asked to keep clean websites. Viewing a candidate's social media profile is one of the first steps a recruiter will take when interviewing candidates. For example, a candidate may have a well-produced LinkedIn profile, yet inappropriate photos on their Facebook account. As such, recruiters should use social media to gauge the responsibility and cultural fit of a candidate and human resource management software to ease general processes.

What are the most and least stressful jobs available?

28 Mar

What jobs are most stressful and which are the least demanding?

While everyone can claim they experience stress in their careers, some face it more than others due to strenuous work conditions or mentally challenging clients. For example, teachers in elementary school classrooms may face higher levels of stress than someone working a reception desk at a doctor's office. Individuals in labor-intensive positions such as construction, contracting and mechanics may face physical wear and tear, yet team dynamics and satisfying end product results increase their satisfaction levels.

For hiring managers and human resource specialists, it is best to know what jobs are the most stressful physically and mentally for employees. There is no clear-cut answer, but the resulting industries may surprise you:

Most mentally stressful jobs
Surprisingly, some of the most mentally stressful careers include TV news broadcasting hosts, actors, event coordinators, photojournalists and reporters, according to Forbes. The high stress of these positions comes from their need for accuracy, a strong professional look and the pressure of a perfect end product. In the general workplace, CEOs and brand ambassadors face more stress than interns or regular salaried workers.

Least mentally stressful jobs
As said by Business News Daily, the least stressful professions on the market include hairstylist, medical records technician, jeweler, librarian, laboratory technician and information security analyst. These positions are stress-free due to their flexible hours and low-risk industries. Non-seasonal retail positions are also listed as a low-stress industry for many employees.

Most physically stressful jobs
List Surge's top physically stressful jobs include military personnel, construction workers, cocoa farmers, general farmers, fishermen, miners, astronauts, oil rig workers and firefighters. These jobs top the list due to their high physical needs and their long, strenuous hours. Other physically stressful jobs include restaurant busboys, woodcutters, butchers and bodyguards or security services. These jobs are physically demanding due to their need for brute strength to accomplish the task. They also involve technical skills such as proper catch-and-release techniques for fishermen and proper drilling for miners.

Least physically stressful
According to Career Cast, office-based positions and physical therapy are considered the least physically stressful because they involve large amounts of sitting and constant human interaction. Of these, audiologists, dietitians, software engineers, programmers, dental assistants and speech pathologists experience less stress because the work is done primarily in one room and in a quiet setting. However, some careers such as animation, yoga and graphic design can lead to carpal tunnel if the employee does not take frequent breaks to stretch their hands.

Human resources and the year ahead

23 Mar

What's new for 2016 in human resources?

Human resources is a constantly evolving field. On one hand, new technologies will dramatically affect how employees get hired or dismissed, the efficiency of payroll and other components of HR. On the other, regular changes of regulations mean businesses and HR professionals must remain fully aware of what's happening to labor laws and guidelines. The year 2015 brought some major advances, often coming from issues as widely variable as predictive analytics and the Affordable Care Act. With 2016 fully under way, more advances in technology mean human resource planning should benefit while keeping apace with the times.

2015: The ACA and overtime dominates
If there is one issue that was and will remain a challenge to HR experts and officials, it's the Affordable Care Act. With the full law not taking effect until 2020, there are still some hurdles for employers to consider. In 2015, some of the top stories by HR Benefits Alert talked about the ACA to some degree. For one example, the IRS announced guidelines that would identify who qualifies as a full-time employee and therefore qualify for health insurance provided by the employer. The 30-hour threshold is different from the standard 40 hours used by most companies, which presents potential hazards.

An equally important change was new rules regarding the Fair Labor Standards Act, particularly concerning overtime. In early July, the Department of Labor announced the overtime exemption threshold would go up from $25,660 to $50,400 in annual salary, starting in 2015. Employees receiving a salary below the threshold must be allowed overtime, with some exceptions to specific tasks such as administrative duties.

2016: More agile, personal HR
While the regulations above will cause a stir in 2016, technologies will also play an important role. For example, the HR Trend Institute noted Agile HR practices, which include cutting down on meetings, keeping teams small and using collaboration as the focal point of all functions, will be an important part of changes in 2016 as more companies embrace them.

Another major development will be artificial intelligence. While predictive analytics enabled some understanding of a potential recruit and whether they will last at a company, AI platforms such as IBM's Watson are now creating opportunities to assess people before you even meet them.

On a less technological level, a big trend is taking better care of the employee by using a more personal approach to his or her productivity. For example, there is a greater emphasis on individualization, which intends to treat workers more like clients. In addition, there's a major push away from work-from-home practices in order to make employees more personable and build a stronger work culture.

ACA Reporting: Preparing for ACA reporting requirements

18 Mar

Reporting for the ACA is simple with this how-to guide.

The Affordable Care Act, formally known as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, is a health care statute launched by President Barack Obama in March 2010. In 2016, employers and insurance companies are required by government law to file to the IRS and provide forms and copies to recipients. These forms include 1095-B and 1095-C that must be sent to the IRS after being filled out by employees. There are many preparations human resource specialists should take when researching ACA requirements and 1095-B and 1095-C forms. Here are the three steps all businesses should take when getting ready for ACA reporting.

1. Learn your compliance basics
The most important thing a HR specialist can do is learn the basics of ACA compliance. According to the Obamacare Facts, the ACA is a health care initiative that requires all Americans have health care coverage, or they must pay a penalty charge. A company can purchase large or small-scale plans depending on the size of their organization. For companies with under 50 employees, the company can purchase insurance through the Small Business Health Options Program. If your business does not not allow for employers to file for health insurance under your chosen plan, whether it be private or public, your company will face serious fines. For more about compliance, visit the IRS website for Employer Shared Responsibility Provision information.

2. Reporting
Your business must withhold an additional .9 percent on employee wages per month in order to file for ACA reporting. As well, your business may be required to report the value of health insurance coverage the organization currently has. Effective in 2015, your business must file an annual return for 2016 reporting what types of health insurance you offered staff members. Lastly, if your company provides self-insured coverage to employees, you must file an annual return in 2016 reporting what information you actually cover for employees.

3. Getting forms to employees
Companies can receive copies of the 1095-B form if their health care coverage meets the minimum requirements of "minimum essential coverage" under the ACA. Your company's personal health care provider should send out 1095-B forms at the beginning of the calendar tax year.  Some employees may receive a copy of the 1095-C form. The only difference between the two forms is that the 1095-B is typically used for large-scale employers while the 1905-C is used for smaller companies. If your company has not received these forms, contact your health care provider immediately. 

The 2016 FICA: What’s changed?

14 Mar

Medicare and Social Security tax rates remain mostly unchanged for 2016.

The Federal Insurance Contributions Act changes on a yearly basis. The amounts employees and other individuals must pay  into programs such as Social Security, Medicare and Supplemental Security Income can vary, based on each agency's funding needs. There were a lot of adjustments made in  2015 to take into account the enactment of particular provisions of the Affordable Care Act. With this in mind, what changes were in store for FICA in 2016? As it turns out, very few adjustments happened. For the vast majority of businesses in the United States, the situation is unchanged. This means a payroll manager has little to worry about.

The more things change
There were only two adjustments for FICA rates and thresholds for 2016, according to the IRS. These changes relate to election workers and domestic household workers such as nannies, cleaners and other similar employees. The former is important, since 2016 is a presidential election year.

For election workers, the threshold to pay for Social Security and Medicare increased. Now, they must earn at least $1,700 before they pay taxes for these two benefits, up from $1,600. Domestic household workers also received an increase in their threshold, from $1,900 to $2,000.

The more they stay the same
Otherwise, practically everything else in the FICA rates and thresholds remains unchanged, for there were no cost of living adjustments. Employers and employees should expect to pay 6.2 percent of their compensation to Social Security. This contribution has a taxable earning limit of $118,500 dollars.

For Medicare, employees and employers will pay 1.45 percent of their compensation in taxes. There is no limit on maximum taxable earnings. For those employees exceeding $200,000 in compensation, there is an additional 0.9 percent tax on Medicare. This brings the total rate to 2.35 percent.

Self-employed persons keep their total taxable pay rate of 15.3 percent, with 12.4 percent for Social Security and 2.9 percent for Medicare. The maximum amount a self-employed worker would pay into Social Security is $14,694.

For those around retirement age, the means test remains the same. The maximum earnings exempt limit while under retirement age – which is still 66 – is $15,720. In the year a person reaches the age of retirement, the exempt limit is $41,880 in the months before that birthday and no limit after. The maximum monthly benefit for workers at full retirement age is $2,639.

Supplemental Security Income remains the same as well. The payment standard is $733 for individuals and $1,100 for couples. Resource limits are $2,000 for individuals and $3,000 for couples.

3 common mistakes made in interviews

10 Mar

Job interviews can go wrong because of how a candidate answers his or her question.

There are a lot of reasons professionals can lose job opportunities. Maybe the resume didn't match up to the company's needs. Perhaps the work culture didn't quite work with the candidate's expectations. However, the most common reason potential recruits fail to get an offer is because something went wrong with the interview. The mistakes that a person can make when talking to interviewers can vary, but these errors, when committed often, leave them little room for recovery. Here are some critical errors that cost applicants the job that managers should consider in human resource planning:

Talking negatively about the previous employer
A common reason people switch jobs is that they don't like the company they work for. There can be various reasons for that: There's a mismatch in culture, or some grievances developed. It could also just be that the company is a terrible place to work. However, interviewers don't know or care about the company applicant worked for. They only concern themselves with the applicant. If that person starts speaking ill off his or her current employer, it will make the HR team wonder when he or she will do the same for their company.

Failing to do research on the company or job
Some people will apply for any job because they feel a desperate. That's understandable to some degree, due to whatever issues they may have where they currently work. However, that doesn't excuse applicants from at least researching the company and position before the interview, according to RH Accountemps. Practically every company has a website , so candidates should at the bare minimum look through the website and find out more about what they're dealing with. To interviewers, an uninformed recruit is someone who isn't interested in the position and is just looking for work.

Talking too much or too little
Applicants should understand they are at the whims of the interviewer. At the same time, they shouldn't feel like they're under somebody's thumb. This extends to how they converse with the HR team during the interview the process. If candidates talk over the interviewer overall, there's a great risk they'll sound arrogant in comparison to the people that would become their bosses. They should avoid interrupting the person asking questions, as suggested by The Sedona Group Austin. On the other hand, they shouldn't be afraid to speak at length about certain subjects. By limiting their answers to brief sentences, it may indicate to the interviewers that they know little of the subjects on which they're supposed to be experts.