I’ve spent a lot of time with workforce management companies and their executive teams in the past 10 years. There are many amazing leaders in our space. But one leader, team and organization that has been through a palpable transformation is CEO David Ossip and his team at Ceridian. To borrow from someone I overheard in the hallways during their annual INSIGHTS conference, “That CEO knows his S#!*.”
In the 4 years since Ceridian – an underperforming, traditional payroll service bureau – acquired Dayforce – a startup cloud technology firm – the change is significant, and truly no accident. When I look back at my notes from past years, discipline is a word I see again and again. To rebuild trust with clients and employees, Ceridian leadership established a solid cadence of saying what it would do, and then doing it. This is a lesson for any company. Before you can be a strategic partner or a transformative leader, you have to build trust. And Ossip is open about starting at this basic level when he took over a company with dismal NPS and employee engagement numbers. This humble beginning for the executive team has made them sensitive to the pain their customers feel – they can’t hope to be agents of talent transformation if they can’t get payroll right.
In another symbol of Ceridian’s discipline, they continually highlight their core values – listed below in the very specific order they consider them in – and try to live them in everything they do. A few examples:
Customer Focus: Ted Malley, who heads up customer experience, has reorganized their service team to give customers access to a “pod” of support team members that know them and their unique circumstances, allowing for deeper relationships. And their XOXO customer group is at the core of much of their product innovation.
Transparency: In the opening keynote, Ossip opened the floor for questions, and the last one was a very specific question about a difficult implementation and an unsatisfied customer. While I’m sure some members of the Ceridian team were sweating it out, the issue was addressed head-on, and the minute the session ended the client was sought out by multiple members of the executive team.
Diligence: To me this is another word for the discipline and focus Ceridian brings to all of its endeavors. You see it in their commitment to their charitable foundation, their relentless dissection of every aspect of the customer journey to look for areas to improve, and even their decision to spin off LifeWorks, their EAP function, in order to refocus themselves as a technology company.
Optimism: This organization has been through a lot, including the loss of President Dave MacKay earlier this year. The difficulties they’ve been through, however, seem to have brought them closer together, and renewed their focus on improving the work lives of their clients. As was stated from the stage, Ceridian believes optimism is a learned capability.
Agility: Lisa Sterling, who joined the Ceridian executive team last summer, serves as both head of the talent product and the organization’s Chief People Officer. When she came on board she looked at the talent product roadmap and told the executive team they had the sequence wrong. They were unafraid to listen to the talent they brought in, and refocused their efforts to better serve the needs of not only their own internal customer in Sterling, but all their other customers as well.
I’m a big believer that organizations need to partner with solution providers that provide not only capability, but an organizational match that gives them the support they need to create the environment that will attract and retain the talent required to execute on business goals. There are lots of aspects to the features and functionality of the Ceridian product that may or may not fit a specific organization’s needs. But in addition to evaluating those characteristics, I think it’s important to understand the culture as well. The culture of Ceridian is one that is undergone conscious change to deliver better product and better services than it ever has before.