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Executive Spotlight


Meet Jayson Saba, VP Market Research and Industry Relations, Ceridian

By Frank J. Mendelson

Editor’s Note: Jayson Saba is the Vice President of Market Research and Industry Relations at Ceridian. In addition to leading market research and industry analyst relations, he is responsible for Ceridian’s global marketing strategy. Prior to joining Ceridian, Saba was the lead analyst covering core HR, workforce management (WFM), and outsourcing at the human capital management practice of Boston-based Aberdeen Group. He speaks at HR industry events, writes blogs, and contributes to HR and industry-leading publications. His blogs have been featured on TLNT, ERE, Wired, the Huffington Post, and others.

How is the changing role of the global payroll professional—typified by greater interaction with the human resources department, data analysis, and strategic planning—making an impact in the field?

We are seeing a shift in the role of the global payroll professional where historically the focus was on maintaining compliance and paying employees accurately. We now see a huge focus on leveraging payroll data to drive business decisions. The challenge is being able to trust the data. Is it correct and is it current? For large global organizations, the answer is seldom “yes” to either of those questions.

What are the emerging trends or issues that have your attention in global payroll?

The ongoing business issue will be compliance—more specifically country-specific compliance with regard to labor rules, regulations, taxation, and money movement. The emerging trend is the need to consolidate payroll data into a single view. With that comes the expectation of having a strong payroll platform—not just service, but a technology that aggregates data and provides accurate visibility into global payroll processes and costs.

Is there a frequently asked question you think will no longer be part of the conversation in global payroll?

“Is cloud the right model for deploying global payroll?” We get asked this question occasionally, but in my former life, writing about payroll and advising payroll executives, that was the question of the day. Cloud has proven to be safe, flexible, and easy to deploy.

What resources do you use to stay current on the latest trends and legislation in global payroll?

As the leader of Ceridian’s Industry Analyst Relations team, I constantly read the latest research about best practices and try to learn from third-party experts. I’ve found and its corresponding LinkedIn group to be invaluable resources.

In addition, we subscribe to local publications for certain countries. We’re constantly sharing knowledge with our local partners. Moreover, we have the best customer community in the world, and we get feedback from our customer advisory boards. Ceridian provides a knowledge-sharing hub that gives us an opportunity to discuss with our customers pending or potential legislation.

How can a global payroll department integrate on a strategic level with corporate finance, human resources, and other departments to provide a competitive advantage?

I have always said, “When in doubt, trust your payroll data.” I believe the global payroll department holds the key to a trove of data that enables better decision-making. In addition to people costs, global payroll data provides visibility into turnover, retention, average days a position has been open, absenteeism, tardiness, overtime costs, and much more. Finance will have visibility into labor costs across countries, which locations are staying to their budget plans, which positions are going over, and what these leaders can learn from each other. Global payroll data can tell HR when someone joins the company, when that person leaves, how long a position was vacant before it was filled, which leaders have a turnover problem, and which leaders are doing a good job promoting their people, etc. All of this insight leads to being a true partner to global business leaders.

How would you advise someone whose company is just beginning to expand to a global payroll with regard to risk management and compliance?

We are very consultative and focused on customer success. It’s important to understand what our clients are trying to accomplish. The strength of the solution is equal to the expertise of the vendor. While it is important to ensure the technology is easy to use and provides the necessary data, it is also critical to choose a partner that understands compliance, money movement, and labor laws—a thought leader.

What is the one thing that happened in the past year that you didn’t see coming but has had a most profound impact on global payroll?

The hot news this past summer was the Brexit—the U.K. leaving the European Union. Not only does it add substantial volatility to exchange rates, which are critical for proper reporting, but it will have an impact on how U.K.-based companies pay their employees in the rest of Europe. Rules impacting money movement may be impacted. As companies start navigating this, there could be a ripple effect. This is why it is very important to choose a partner who gets compliance at the country level.

Is it possible to have a single global payroll solution and service?

Yes. I believe that with the right partner, a company can have a single global payroll provider. While there might be countries that need to be addressed by local in-country service providers, the right partner can ensure these providers are on-boarded and trained properly. The main objective is to have a single view of the data, and this can be done with the right platform.

What are the biggest challenges for global payroll teams?

Historically, payroll has been viewed as a commodity. “Pay my people accurately, and keep me compliant.” However, today’s reality demands a strategic focus, specifically, on visibility. Beyond compliance and risk, the biggest challenge is to convince senior leaders to start thinking beyond just cost. Building a strong business case based on the return on investment and not just the cost of ownership is crucial to being able to transform the status quo. Partnering with business leaders across departments is critical, and quantifying the impact of having quality data on the business is key.

How is technology helping global payroll become more strategic?

It comes down to two things: One, an intuitive and easy-to-use platform for employees and administrators; and two, a single view into global payroll data. The user experience will relieve global payroll practitioners from administrative tasks—all the way from simple change-of-address requests to complex spreadsheets and pivot tables. This will free us up to use the valuable data we capture to be better partners to decision-makers across the organization.

With technology and data-driven HR decision-making emerging, how do you see the role of the global payroll professional evolving?

The global payroll professional will have to be aware of and ready to react to the latest industry trends, such as how to manage data, the benefit of consolidating the global data of human capital management (HCM) suppliers, and how to set up your service model for success. Additionally, when compiling a list of potential global payroll vendors, global payroll professionals will need to keep a number of factors in mind. First, make sure the technology aligns with your company’s compliance and ties the overall technology, data, and service model strategy together. Secondly, look at all aspects and offerings of each vendor and technology to determine if a single global provider will be best to meet company needs.

What are the most important qualities of a leader?

I believe a leader is someone who helps people on his team and those around him unlock and achieve their full potential. I really try to be a “servant” leader, one who strives to ensure that others thrive. I am a servant first, leader second. Serving to me means treating people with respect, listening, mentoring, and celebrating/promoting individual and team successes. I also believe in collaboration by involving team members, getting their input into priorities and direction, and asking them to balance team priorities with their own personal and professional development.

What are key qualities you look for in the people you hire?

Our CEO, David Ossip, is a believer in, and an advocate for, hiring for “FIT.” It is critical that we find people who believe in what Ceridian is attempting to do, who like to have Fun, are Intelligent and will work well with others in Teams—we call it FIT. In a recent interview, David said, “When it comes to intelligence, we test not if the person knows everything at the time of the hire, but whether or not the person has the ability and aptitude to learn. We also want people who are more interested in a team than a specific title or role.” And I agree. Hire for fit and train for skills. Would you want to work with someone whom you can’t sit next to on a five-hour flight? I want to work with people who prioritize making the team better.

When you attended college, did you have an idea what you wanted to do with your career?

I really didn’t have a clue, which is why I majored in business administration, to provide me with the most options after graduation. After a couple of years running a small, family-owned business, I realized I liked numbers and people. So I decided to go back to graduate school to get a master’s degree focused on HR management, hoping to get a career in HR or payroll. I ended up in a practitioner role as an entry-level HR/payroll coordinator for a mid-sized global organization with offices in North America, Europe, and APAC. This was my first involvement in global payroll. Afterward, I worked as a project analyst for a large financial services company supporting employer services and individual retirement businesses. Later, I was an analyst at a research firm leading the payroll and core HR practice before coming to Ceridian.

What books are on your reading list?

Over the summer, I read No Hero: The Evolution of a Navy SEAL, which talks about what goes into becoming a Navy SEAL. It really changed my perception. I had originally thought SEAL training is just about how strong, tenacious, and smart an individual is, but so much of it is teamwork. I was fortunate enough to hear the author speak at a Ceridian event. It was fascinating to hear about the transparency in communication, breaking down projects to smaller milestones, and holding people accountable without judgment. I recently picked up Stephen Denning’s The Leader’s Guide to Storytelling, which talks about how leaders can use stories to engender change within their teams and companies.