Editor’s Note: Jennifer Kelly Greene is Senior Director, Global Payroll, Payroll Tax, and Global Mobility at Otis Elevator Co., who works as a global payroll shared services leader.
How did you get started in your career?
I began my career in payroll at ADP and spent most of my career focused on people management, talent development, and building my leadership skills. I chose to move into a management track rather than technical because I found the relationship side of our business so rewarding, while continuing to develop technical and industry knowledge. I valued my connection to the client base and brought that experience to my current role where our business partners and employees are our customers.
What were some of your early career lessons?
An early career lesson was to raise my hand for challenging projects and put the time and effort into learning and developing. Even if you are not completely confident in your ability to be successful, bringing enthusiasm and a collaborative approach will help you get the support you need. Rely on mentors and subject matter experts and listen.
What emerging trends in global payroll are demanding your attention? How will they exert impact?
We’ve seen a huge shift in how employees access information about themselves and their organizations. Just a few years ago, online and virtual interfaces for payroll information were few and far between, and their functionality was extremely limited. Now, many organizations operate entire HR departments virtually, and employees can access paystubs, view tax documents, and even request time off without speaking to another human. That said, the need for intuitive employee tools and efficiencies of systems is something that we are taking very seriously and something that we need to continue to work on. This is in addition to the complicated undertaking of shifting employees to a wholly virtual system. But the benefits are clear—working with seamlessly integrated, world-class systems is now necessary to build efficient, cost-effective organizations.
What are the chronic challenges for companies that have or are moving into global expansion?
Luckily, as technology continues to develop and improve, these challenges will continue to be mitigated over time. Even so, it is an incredibly difficult undertaking to establish a clear global vision that engages all global locations and earns commitment from organizational leaders. In addition to making sure that global expansion runs smoothly in general, there are always concerns regarding the cost to implement these systems. But the costs will pay for themselves over time, so it is our job as payroll professionals to make the benefits of these expansions known.
What resources do you use to stay current on the latest trends and legislation in payroll?
I’ve committed myself to attending several professional conferences and vendor events for several years. The benefits include learning about new payroll initiatives, expanding my network, and hearing from people throughout the industry. Additionally, professional memberships such as the American Payroll Association (APA), the Global Payroll Management Institute (GPMI), and the Conference Board provide resources so I can stay up to date.
How can a payroll department provide support on a strategic level to corporate finance, HR, and other departments?
Cross-functional partnerships can improve the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of organizations. I’ve already mentioned the immense amount of data that we collect in payroll. That data can be extremely useful to other sections of our organization. HR and finance can glean a lot of useful conclusions from our data sets, and we also have developed robust analytical strategies in payroll to accurately assess that data. The in-depth knowledge of these functional areas is crucial in developing new strategies across teams. This includes the expertise that payroll professionals can bring in the areas of tax, accounting, and global mobility with the goal of developing innovative potential cost-saving initiatives.
What are the biggest challenges for payroll teams, and how are they addressing these challenges?
This past year has presented new challenges and opportunities to connect with our colleagues in many ways. The technology enhancements in communications has made the world a smaller place. People who are connecting across different global geographies can experience similar relationships and communication methods that may have been reserved for those in the same locations or countries. Creating an environment that recognizes and celebrates our differences, cultural sensitivity, and respect for local norms is critical to creating a cohesive global organization—one which our organization has taken seriously. Luckily, one of our biggest challenges yet has been managing all our different time zones.
What strategic advice would you give to a company moving from a domestic to a global payroll?
It’s important to consider your short- and long-term organizational goals. What do you want your organization to look like in two, five, or 10 years? And how will a global payroll organization help you achieve those goals? This will help establish a governance framework, which will be critical in building a global organization and will ensure sustainability and resilience. Additionally, choosing the appropriate global partners that can help you meet your goals and your budget is tantamount to success. A great global partnership will be able to meet your ongoing business demands while remaining flexible and agile enough to support you for years to come.
What are the things you would like to see payroll vendors address in the next three years?
With such a surge in globalizing payroll organizations, vendors must continue to provide standard offerings in all countries. This enables the implementation of shared services and growth for their clients. An attunement to compliance and shifts in local politics are critical to supporting global companies, because it can help them stay ahead of changes and provide innovative solutions to business challenges. Simplifying integrations and out-of-the-box solutions and automation is key to creating and maintaining successful partnerships that can grow with clients’ organizations. Of course, meeting the demands while providing competitive pricing is also critical.
How do you personally manage to balance work and pleasure?
Global payroll management requires working across all time zones. Given that, I find it is important to balance the early morning and evening meetings by taking time during the workday to exercise and get outside. I enjoy cycling, hiking, and boating with family and friends, and balance the long hours with those activities during the workweek and on weekends.
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Frank J. Mendelson is Acquisitions Editor for the Global Payroll Management Institute (GPMI) and the American Payroll Association (APA).