Aligning with Leadership’s Top Objectives

January 13, 2020

Aligning HR and the business is different for every organization, but with Paylocity’s help, Hissho Sushi transformed several manual, error-prone processes.

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In Gartner’s 2019 Future of HR Survey, over 800 HR executives from 650 different organizations ranked their key “business” objectives. The top five were: 

  1. Grow the business 
  2. Improve operational excellence 
  3. Execute business transformation 
  4. Innovate for success 
  5. Optimize costs

These results may not be surprising, but what do they really mean from a day-to-day perspective? Understanding these objectives doesn’t necessarily translate to knowing how they tie to your role and efforts. Yet, aligning with the goals of the business and having the right people, processes, and systems in place are critical to success, especially in high growth organizations. 

Below, we highlight how HR initiatives can ladder up to each of the broader business objectives identified in the Gartner survey, and provide real-life examples of that alignment in action. 

1. Grow the Business

Growing the business typically depends on a lot of factors HR is not directly involved in—higher sales, increasing a client base, etc. But HR can play a critical role in this objective by providing the capabilities needed to support the company’s growth plans. HR’s ability to find, recruit and hire the right talent can either support a company’s smooth expansion or stall its growth. 

Take Hissho Sushi for example—a fast-growing company providing turnkey sushi bars in 1600 upscale supermarkets, airports, hospitals, universities and corporate foodservice locations. Started in 1998 by a husband and wife working out of their kitchen in Charlotte, North Carolina, Hissho opened 500 new locations in 2019 alone. 

“High growth is great for job security in HR, but it’s really tough on processes and systems like recruiting, payroll, benefits and performance management,” said Penny Kirsch, Director of Human Resources at the company. 

As Hissho grew, recruiting was (and continues to be) a huge priority, With the company hiring across the country to support its expansion, Kirsch and her team found it difficult to balance the time required to find the right talent with the time involved supporting those candidates through the hiring process. So, Hissho deployed Paylocity’s recruiting solution that automated the entire process from job postings and candidate applications through background checks, offer letters, and onboarding. As a result, Kirsch and her team are now able to focus more time on finding the right talent for Hissho and less on managing the administrative part of the recruiting process.

2. Improve Operational Excellence

Everyone wants to be more efficient, but when you’re in the weeds, it’s difficult to take a step back and look at the big picture. While there is no magic wand to streamline processes, eliminate errors and shorten cycle times, evaluating one critical process at a time can have a major impact. 

Hissho’s business model centers on reducing the overhead and risk for venues to offer fresh, high-quality sushi. This requires employing hundreds of remote W-2 hourly employees – many of them skilled sushi chefs who set up shop making and selling fresh sushi in those venues. 

Payroll processing for this growing base of remote employees became a huge challenge for Hissho. Daily paper timecards had to be filled out by each employee, approved by a regional manager, sent to headquarters in Charlotte, and then manually keyed into the company’s 3rd-party payroll system. Each payroll run took two full business days and the inefficiencies and errors involved created a bottleneck for the HR team and the business. 

Working with the help of Paylocity's HR & Payroll technology solution, Hissho geofenced over 180 "stores," which requires remote employees to be at the store location to clock in and out, but enables them to do so via a preconfigured tablet or their own mobile devices. The more accurate time reporting, easier manager approvals, and automatic uploads of employee hours cut payroll processing time by 75% – from two days to half a day – for Kirsch and her team.

3. Execute Business Transformation

While the term transformation may seem intimidating, this may not be as unattainable as you think. Identifying the right tools, technology and partners can support future growth and create operational efficiencies that take the pressure off HR and payroll. This allows HR to focus on people, while also impressing the executive team with your forward-looking and business-centric approach. 

At Hissho, one of the biggest challenges was managing the payroll and benefits administration requirements of the growing number of sushi chefs working remotely. After switching payroll management solutions twice due to lack of product functionality and poor service levels, Kirsch knew she needed a solution provider with the vision and ability to stay a step ahead of Hissho’s needs. This started with the geofencing capabilities mentioned above, which were unavailable elsewhere on the market at the time. 

Similarly, Kirsch wanted the flexibility to use the systems that were best for Hissho and not be limited in her choices based on another solution’s integration limitations. Hissho switched to Paylocity in 2019 and experienced a seamless transition that automates updates between 401(k) systems. Their workers’ compensation and health care benefits integrations also save the company considerable time. The key to this transformation was in finding the right fit for Hissho’s evolving needs in functionality, flexibility, and service. 

4. Innovate for Success

As an HR professional, innovating for success will hopefully be the most fun for you. This objective is all about finding ways to help the company differentiate itself. There are so many directions this can go – interesting benefits, fun workspaces, unique feedback and development. While this can be a bit of a rabbit hole, it is vital to remember than any direction you take should be authentic to your culture. 

Moving to a modern digital solution has alleviated a lot of pressure for Kirsch and her HR team, so they can focus on supporting Hissho’s growth and “work hard/play hard” culture. “It has freed up people to focus on higher-value activities – whether that’s HR program development, supervisors training employees, or sushi chefs thinking about new and more interesting menu offerings,” Kirsch said. 

One specific addition to this newfound “white space” was a new Performance Review & Journaling solution designed to help managers engage staff and provide productive development feedback on a regular basis. In addition to streamlining the performance management experience for all involved, Kirsch believes this will also provide more insight into the company culture and enhance the employee experience at Hissho overall. 

5. Optimize Costs

Optimizing costs isn’t always about spending less. The key to aligning with this objective is in justifying your spend. In order to do that, you need to identify the right HR KPIs and leverage data to connect HR investments to business goals. Those KPIs could center on employee recruiting, retention, benefits usage, or healthcare costs. Not only will it keep senior management in the know on important people trends in the organization, but it will also highlight your alignment with the business. 

In addition to some key process efficiencies that helped justify a new solution, Hissho deployed Paylocity’s Data Insights module, a real-time dashboard and analytics tool, which provides reporting on key HR metrics. Kirsch uses it to provide Hissho’s executive team with the latest data and trends on payroll, benefits usage and cost, retention, turnover, and hiring. This enables the executive team is to make more informed decisions related to HR matters and ensure that Hissho remains an attractive place to work and build a career — now and in the future.

Aligning HR and the business will be different for every organization, but Hissho is a powerful example of alignment in action. Modern, digital HR and payroll systems play an important role in operating efficiencies and business improvements. The company has transformed several manual, error-prone processes, reduced payroll processing time by 75%, delivered big cost savings via more accurate time reporting, and freed up staff to focus on more strategic activities to support the company’s growth. For more details, read the detailed success story. 

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