CSD is committed to cultivating opportunities for Deaf individuals to succeed. CSD opened its doors in a broom closet at the South Dakota School for the Deaf in 1975 to provide sign language services. Since then, CSD has become the largest non-profit in the world supporting the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community. CSD has created, and continues to create, innovative tools and resources that are designed to combat the high un/under-employment rate among Deaf people.
Jonathan began his undergraduate studies as a business major at the University of Texas. Before long, he realized that Finance and number-crunching weren’t for him, so he transferred to the School of Communications to follow his true passion. During the course of his studies, he decided that HR was the field he wanted to pursue. “It was very obvious to me throughout both business and communications school that people are the most important part of any business. To have a career focused on elevating the experience of those people was really important to me.”
Like many new graduates, Jonathan struggled to land his first job. After hundreds of applications, he was hired for a role at the Texas School for the Deaf because he was one of only two candidates who knew sign language, having studied it in college. After seven years, he left to work at a marketing agency and enrolled in graduate school at St. Edward’s University, where he eventually earned his Master’s Degree in Organizational Development.
Around the time he graduated, he was recruited by the former Vice President of HR at CSD to come onboard as an HR Manager. However, about a week after he started, she announced her resignation. Having just started in his new role, Jonathan didn’t apply for the now vacant HR Director position. Time went by, and candidates came and went, but after a few months the position still hadn’t been filled. “At that point, I messaged the VP saying ‘I noticed you haven’t filled your position, and I don’t want to sound ungrateful for the opportunity you’ve given me already, but I want to admit that I’m interested.’” Her response? “It’s about time!” He became the Director of Human Resources, and after two years, was promoted to his current role of Vice President of Talent & Culture.
“I’ll go out on a limb and say that no one likes running payroll. There’s a huge opportunity for error, and it’s a big deal to someone if an error does occur.” Given the high-stress nature of the responsibility, Jonathan knows the importance of working with a system that’s easy to use. Unfortunately, in his experience, that’s been hard to come by.
“I don’t think many payroll providers give a lot of thought to what the experience is like for the person who’s actually going to be running payroll, or for HR professionals who need access to payroll information for things like reporting.” When Jonathan came onboard to CSD, they were using Paycom for payroll and HR. Paycom was sufficient in terms of processing payroll correctly, but it wasn’t a good experience for administrators or for employees. “There was really limited access to information, even if it was their own information.”
Jonathan’s priority in adopting a new HRIS was ensuring that it was a user-friendly platform—for everything from HR to payroll to benefits. Both administrators and employees should find it intuitive to use, thereby improving efficiency and enhancing company-wide visibility.
CSD’s structure is inherently disparate. With Contact Centers scattered across the globe and administrative employees working virtually, it was a challenge to keep employees from feeling siloed. Jonathan wanted a tool that would enable communication and increase engagement among all employees, wherever they may be.
Jonathan and his HR colleagues were often forced to act as middlemen. The CFO needs to know an employee’s salary history? Ask HR. An employee needs to submit an expense reimbursement form—or even just find the form itself? Ask HR. Jonathan knew that the more accessible the information, the better.
When it came time to evaluate new solutions, the team at CSD quickly eliminated Workday, because “they essentially told us that they wouldn’t talk to us for less than a million dollars a year. So first of all, it was out of our price range, and second of all, it was sort of offensive.” Plus, Jonathan knew with Workday, CSD would be a small fish in a big pond and would probably receive a matching level of support. “Waiting two months for a response to an issue was not going to cut it.”
Jonathan and the team at CSD heavily considered Ultimate Software. “Although it did have some functionality of modern HR systems, on par with what Namely offers, the user experience was lacking. Being a global company, we wanted a system that would bring people together. For us, it was really key to get a system that people would like to log into and engage with.” Plus, Ultimate’s sales experience did not leave a favorable impression. “They were overly aggressive in their sales efforts, which to me was off-putting. If you have to push that hard to sell something, that’s an indication that what you’re selling probably isn’t very good. The product should speak for itself.”
When Jonathan first encountered an early-stage Namely at the SHRM Annual Conference, he was hesitant at first. “Namely had a teeny 10-foot wide booth, no swag left to give away—you get the picture. But we chatted for a little bit about the product, and I came away thinking ‘Hey, this actually sounds pretty good.’ In contrast to Ultimate’s aggressive sales approach, I was able to continue the dialogue with Namely’s sales team over the course of several months after the conference to learn all that the system was capable of and make sure that it would truly be the best fit.” After thorough consideration, Jonathan was convinced that Namely was the solution for CSD.
To Jonathan, the social feed is what sets Namely apart. “Namely does a lot of things that other HR and payroll systems do—the ‘meat and potatoes’ of an HRIS, if you will. But Namely’s social feed is completely unique. Given that we’re a global communications company and operate a largely virtual workforce, keeping people informed, keeping people from working in silos, and keeping people committed to the good work that we do are important challenges for us to tackle. Namely offers a mechanism for employees to come together, understand what everyone else is working on, and stay motivated around our common cause.”
Jonathan knew that a transition to a new payroll provider is never fun. To make matters worse, Paycom told CSD, “You have five days to get everything you need, and then we’re shutting off your access.” Not expecting such a short deactivation period, payroll was not yet set up in Namely. But Jonathan needed to pay employees, and Namely would be his only way to do so. “So I shot a flare up and reached out to every person I knew at Namely, saying ‘Listen, I have to pay everyone. I need you to get this ready so I can do that.’ Namely staff worked late nights and even through the weekend to get it together for me, and we ended up being able to run payroll on time. Knowing that I needed them, and they went the extra mile to come through for me? That’s a good partner.”
“In my eyes, one of the big signs of a system’s success is how many questions you get after it launches. I love how intuitive Namely is—in many ways, it looks like the social media platforms that people interact with every day. People ‘got it’ right away.” Not only did it quickly click for employees, but administrators also found it straightforward. Take reporting, for example. With Paycom, this was a game of trial and error. “You’d have to sort of guess which fields you needed to use, click ‘run report,’ wait five minutes for it to process, realize ‘Shoot, that was the wrong field,’ go back and change the fields, and repeat that process until you finally got it right. With Namely, reporting is quick and easy.”
With a renewed focus on employee engagement, CSD is making moves to further engage the whole company. For example, CSD is implementing Fond, a Namely partner that specializes in employee recognition. “I don’t think CSD would have been willing to invest in an employee recognition platform had the investment not already been made in a system like Namely. Even at the executive level, they can see that our employees have become more engaged, and that engagement is important.”
One of Jonathan’s favorite engagement initiatives is CSD’s ‘Live Here Give Here’ campaign. “Because our Call Centers are all over the country, and even international, much of our administrative workforce never gets to really know what they’re doing, which is a shame because they’re doing some really great things, both related to our mission but also more broadly to our desire to do good in the world. So we launched ‘Live Here Give Here,’ in which we challenge our employees to dedicate 10 hours a year to community service—not necessarily something deaf-centric, just any effort to make the world a better place. Just last night, a group from our Minnesota Call Center posted a picture of them volunteering at a food kitchen together as part of this initiative. We launched this program because of our recent realization that engagement is really key to uniting our workforce. But this program wouldn’t have been as nearly as powerful if we didn’t have the platform for employees to share their efforts. We have Namely to thank on both counts.”
For those considering the switch to Namely, Jonathan suggests looking at the implementation process as an opportunity to revamp your internal processes, rather than just maintain the status quo. “When we went through the implementation process, we were just trying to get through it, so we said ‘Oh yeah, just set up everything the way we’ve always done it.’ After we used the system for awhile, we thought to ourselves, ‘Wait, why are we doing this this way?’ I would encourage other HR professionals to think about what they want to happen and then build the system towards the future state, rather than building it for the existing state and finding that you want or need to change it later.”
“I’ve never regretted the decision to go to Namely. If I were to move to a different organization—not that I have plans to—but it’s very likely that I would try to implement Namely there. I think it’s a great product, and more importantly it’s one that was built with the HR professional in mind. I really appreciate that. I also really appreciate all the opportunities I’ve had to provide feedback to the Namely team. I feel like I’m listened to, my team is supported, and all in all, that Namely is a great product and a great company.”
CSD is one of 1,000+ companies that use Namely to streamline their HR, payroll, benefits and time management needs.
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