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Digital Transformation Can Deliver Big Value

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Hathaway Brown School recently switch to Paylocity’s HR & Payroll solutions. See how automating processes with technology improved efficiencies.

A small school founded in 1876 might not be the first place you would look for an example of “digital transformation,” but Hathaway Brown School certainly is. A private institution outside of Cleveland, Ohio, Hathaway Brown provides an inclusive education environment for girls Kindergarten through 12th grade and both girls and boys in its Early Childhood Program.

The reality is – schools at any level have to continue to evolve just like any other organization. This doesn’t mean every school has to have the latest digital learning technologies and tools. Sometimes applying new technology to other parts of the organization allows your staff to focus on why they got into education in the first place—to teach and develop their students.

Even in capital-intensive businesses like manufacturing, where updates to plants and equipment take up a lot of budget, HR has taken on increasing importance and investment as companies look for new ways to increase productivity, streamline operations, and appeal to a younger workforce.

Aligning Employee Experiences with Organizational Purpose

In 2018, Gallup published a report on creating winning employee experiences. One of the key success factors they cite is aligning your employees’ experience with your organization’s purpose. In Gallup’s view, the experiences that are core to working in an organization—be it onboarding, key performance priorities, company gatherings—should uniquely reflect that organization’s distinctive identity and purpose.

As the company has grown, it has consistently reinvested to modernize the physical part of the business, upgrading to state-of-the-art plant equipment and embracing the latest technology to streamline manufacturing operations to stay ahead of customer needs.

For Hathaway Brown, that identity and purpose lives in their motto, “We learn not for school but for life.” The school embodies this through a fusion of academic and experiential learning in its curriculum that equips students to go out into the world and make a real difference.

Digital SOS

When Director of Human Resources Gerri Jeffrey joined the school back in 2012, she had responsibility for 200 full-time employees in addition to part-time staff, seasonal coaches, substitutes, summer program staff, and more. She was managing payroll related to more than 500 W-2s and manually handling other tasks like benefits enrollment, vacation time tracking, new employee onboarding, and staff development. Hourly employees were still using old-fashioned punch timecards, and Jeffrey had to add those hours manually for payroll each period. It was all a big drain on her time.

Compounding these issues was the fact that the payroll system didn’t speak to the other HR systems, like 403(k) and benefits, creating even more wasted time uploading the necessary information.

Jeffrey was so busy with manual, paper-based processes, she struggled to find time to focus on Hathaway’s employee experience. Plus, those same processes made it difficult for faculty and staff to stay up-to-date on their own payroll and HR information. That meant more calls to Jeffrey every time there was a question about payroll updates, benefits, vacation time, and the list went on.

If ever there was someone in need of some digital help, Jeffrey was that someone.

And she’s not alone. According to PwC, HR departments have fallen behind in the area of technology innovation. In a recent survey of business and HR leaders, PwC found that four of the top five ‘at risk’ capabilities in organizations relate the use of HR technology to improve the people experience.

Finding the Right Digital Solution

Jeffrey was intent on finding a way to do things more efficiently and after discussing it with her CFO and Head of School, they all agreed that improvements were needed.

During her evaluation, she discovered Paylocity and saw quickly that the company’s solution could fundamentally change her business processes and immediately save a lot of time.

Hathaway Brown first implemented the Paylocity HR & Payroll and Time & Labor solutions. Automating those processes provided immediate efficiencies. Hourly employees could clock in and clock out, and those hours could be uploaded digitally into the payroll. The system also integrated with the school’s 403(b) system saving additional time.

One of Jeffrey’s primary goals was to reduce her team’s administrative burden by giving faculty and staff the ability to access and update their own HR and payroll information. Paylocity’s self-service functionality empowers employees to view their information, initiate requests, and update all of their personal data on a single platform without having to call Jeffrey. Staff is now able to view their paychecks, request time off, check vacation and sick day allowance, adjust exemptions and 403(b) contributions, and more. The Paylocity Mobile App gives them the ability to complete these tasks from any device, and managers can review employee hours and approve time-off requests.

Additional efficiencies stemmed from Paylocity’s ability to manage Hathaway’s unique retirement plan contributions, which are matched at different levels depending on employment type and tenure. The school’s previous solution had a difficult time getting it right. With Paylocity, Jeffrey knew everyone would get the right percentage match, every pay period.

Progress on Multiple Levels

The school has made tremendous progress in its efforts to embrace the latest technology and automate more of its backend processes. Its results read like those from any big organization implementing successful digital initiatives:

  • Payroll processing time reduced from days to hours.
  • The administrative burden for the HR team reduced substantially.
  • With Paylocity’s rich Data Insights dashboards, Jeffrey has easy access to all the answers and reporting she needs, from year-end payroll tax reporting to policy compliance.
  • Faculty and staff appreciate the ability to view their information from any device at any time online.

The biggest benefit in Jeffrey’s eyes ties back to the employee experience and the school’s renewed focus on teaching.

“Our whole purpose was to free up our staff and faculty to focus on what’s really important—equipping our girls to go out in the world and make a real difference.”


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