I'm excited to share a really big update with everyone today. You know we've been serving our peers in finance and accounting for the last two and a half years, and now, based on feedback and conversations we've had with you, we're excited to launch our strategic HR services.
We're going to focus on projects that really drive an impact to the bottom line — things like M&A and how HR plays a part in due diligence, things like PEO analysis and extraction for companies that have outgrown their PEO, headcount optimization, and leadership development. These HR challenges are not only important to finance and accounting, but they also have a P&L impact in HR.
Of course we'll do traditional HR projects and help companies fill their permanent positions as well.
We've tapped Tammy McCarty on the shoulder to lead the charge, and we are really excited about having Tammy on board. Tammy has a ton of experience … she's been a CHRO, she's led sales and marketing teams, and really has a great background to help us with this charge. Most importantly though, Tammy has been a partner to CFOs, and she's been a servant leader to her teams.
As we expand to serve companies’ HR needs, we’re staying true to the same values that set us apart in finance and accounting. We're going to continue down the path of being transparent, providing above-market pay to consultants, and serving our clients’ needs first.
We look forward to your feedback as we embark on this new chapter. Please let us know how we can serve you better!
After many years in consulting and professional services, Andy Cox founded CCN to fix some clear problems with the traditional consulting agency model. Then and now, he believed in the simple idea that by serving people first, everyone ultimately wins.
Professional Employer Organizations (PEOs) can be a terrific option for smaller companies without an in-house human resources team. Outsourced HR services like payroll, benefits, workers’ compensation, and 401(K) administration are an important part of getting started and growing momentum.
At some point, however, the costs will outweigh the benefits. How do you know when your company has outgrown its PEO?
Especially for high-growth companies, this is a critical question. Often companies stay too long with a PEO when their HR team can ultimately achieve the intended goal for less money: attracting and retaining a high-quality, diverse workforce.
The business case for PEO extraction
As companies grow, their needs change. PEOs are effective at creating cookie cutter benefits packages, but their one-size-fits-all approach generally isn’t conducive for growth as companies scale and require more tailored programs.
To compete for talent, companies require cost-effective HR programs customized to their specific needs. Tech companies, for example, often have different HR and benefits requirements than manufacturing companies. They need different strategies to compete and win.
“PEOs are effective at creating cookie cutter benefits packages, but their one-size-fits-all approach generally isn’t conducive for growth.”
Cost is another key reason firms leave their PEO. PEOs generally structure their fees based on a percentage of an employer’s total payroll. For organizations with a large and growing payroll (and/or highly compensated employees), PEO fees can get very expensive. Likewise, 401(K) and workers comp fees charged by PEOs can be higher than those sourced through brokers.
Case Study: Life Science Company
In 2017, I performed a PEO analysis for a growing biotech company. At the time, they were around five years old and had 40 employees. They needed to find out if they had outgrown their PEO.
Defining key business objectives
In order to determine whether their PEO was still a good fit for the company’s business goals, we first needed to understand their main objectives:
- Attracting Talent: In the highly competitive biotech industry, attracting and retaining top talent is paramount. This company had a real need to provide an exceptional workplace experience and to provide competitive compensation and benefits.
- Reducing Costs: Reducing costs and increasing profitability are always key considerations, but they were particularly top-of-mind for a company in growth mode when labor dollars were increasing.
“For organizations with a large and growing payroll, PEO fees can get very expensive.”
Addressing growing concerns
After almost three years with their PEO, the company was starting to experience symptoms that made them wonder if a PEO was still the right fit…
- The incumbent PEO continued to make repeated payroll errors impacting employees’ pay. This was clearly diminishing HR credibility.
- The PEO’s technology platform did not provide the leadership team with visibility into key HR metrics to drive business decisions.
- The company was unable to analyze health care expenditures because they didn’t have access to their own healthcare cost data.
- Renewal rates increased by double-digits year over year. The company absorbed a 20% increase in 2017 and faced a 16% increase in 2018.
- The PEOs HR services focused on compliance and risk, not people, employee engagement, or company missions and goals. The company needed a more customized solution to scale, not a one-size-fits-all approach.
Analyzing and comparing PEO costs
From the beginning, we were able to look at the bigger picture to complete a thorough analysis…
- We identified competitive brokers and service providers for each component that was migrated from the PEO, including workers’ compensation coverage, risk management, payroll, payroll reporting, employee benefits, and HR technology.
- We evaluated and compared current PEO costs with new proposed service providers.
- We evaluated the cost of leaving the PEO
The results of the analysis were clear. We were able to clearly demonstrate that the company would benefit from cost savings and other advantages from leaving their PEO.
Transition from a PEO to new HR solutions
Following the analysis phase, I then served as project manager through the PEO extraction and transition process. We were able to implement a comprehensive HR solution with a full suite of reporting capabilities, providing management with the HR insights needed.
The company invested a portion of the savings to provide more robust benefits, including…
- 100% employer-paid employee coverage: medical, dental, and vision
- Increased contributions to health savings accounts (HSA)
- Company-paid short-term disability and long-term disability
- Increased life insurance coverage
Once the transition was complete, open enrollment was held, employees were trained on the new HRIS system, and carrier connections were put in place to reduce overall process redundancies.
PEO extraction results
In the end, the company successfully migrated from a PEO to an “unbundled” service model with minimal disruption to the organization. The company benefited from new relationships with trusted vendors, and employees received improved benefits and customized HR services.
Ultimately, the company reduced annualized costs by more than $125,000 ($3,125 savings per employee).
Is your company ready for a PEO extraction?
By taking a complex problem and applying a simple but thorough solution, we were able to unbundle and do what was best for this biotech company and its employees.
This is what strategic HR consulting is all about: aligning your people with your business objectives.
Are you interested in exploring a PEO extraction? We have helped companies ranging in size from 40-500 employees, and we can help you too. Give us a call or send us a message to schedule your first no-obligation meeting.
The newest addition to the CCN team, Tammy McCarty is leading the charge as we expand our consulting and recruiting services to include strategic HR. She has a wealth of experience in HR and the business acumen to go with it. Tammy has always been a partner to the CFO and a servant leader to her teams.
These days, everything is “unprecedented.” Everyone is looking for a “new normal.” — We get it! We’ve all heard the same tired headlines, but did you know that thousands of companies are still hiring talent in Austin?
In fact, the majority of companies have actually maintained or increased salaries during the pandemic. Particularly in Austin, the market is still hot. Companies are going to have to offer competitive salaries and compelling benefits to fill open positions.
Let’s take a look at the hiring market in Austin and see what employers can do to attract and retain top talent.
Who’s hiring in Austin right now?
Many hiring managers see the unemployment numbers and expect there to be an abundance of candidates, but that hasn’t been the case in our experience.
“Salaries are holding steady, and competitive benefits are more important than ever.”
Austin-based company indeed.com currently shows almost 20,000 job listings right here in Austin. At CCN, we’re still seeing plenty of direct hire searches. Salaries are holding steady, and competitive benefits are more important than ever.
Sadly, hospitality, entertainment, and travel industries are suffering, but many others are carrying on business as usual or even experiencing increased demand. Some of the winners include grocery chains, logistics, and finance. In fact, a recent LinkedIn News survey showed that finance “now leads the way in employer confidence among U.S. industries.”
Here at CCN, we’re finding the biggest discrepancy to be in mid-level talent in Austin — roles like senior accountants, senior financial analysts, and accounting managers. In our experience, there is more supply and less competition in lower-level and senior-level positions.
These days we’re also seeing an increased number of job seekers from of out-of-town. Many talented workers are willing to relocate for work, and Austin’s robust market is the place to be. Demand for commercial real estate may be declining, but residential real estate is booming.
Tips for attracting great talent in Austin
Pre-pandemic hiring often emphasized lifestyle benefits with happy hours and break room baristas, but who needs bring-your-dog-to-work day when you work from home?
It’s time to cut the fluff and get back to basics with strong numbers and clear communication of work-from-home benefits. Many employers are now offering salaries at or above pre-pandemic rates. Candidates are much less willing to be swayed by non-monetary benefits; competitive health plans and retirement benefits are critical.
Non-monetary benefits may look different, but they are still a valuable way to create an attractive work environment and demonstrate a positive company culture.
- Work from Home Options: This perk is number one on every applicant’s list. Many like working from home, while others are ready to get back to the office. The majority want a combination of both. Either way, people want to know that there will still be flexible options after the pandemic.
- Flexible PTO: Job-seekers want to see policies that reflect the changing work week. Both small companies and top employers in Austin are moving to offer unlimited PTO.
- Provide Hardware: Proper computer hardware and connectivity are essential! Some companies are even providing office chairs and other accessories to bring home the creature comforts of the office.
- Food Allowance: Give your employees something special by delivering food for meetings or special occasions. Uber Eats and Door Dash allow teams to order food from anywhere in town and put it all on the same tab. Some companies are even offering a daily/weekly food allowance.
- Social Experiences: It’s easy for remote workers to feel like another cog in the wheel. Validate the importance of team dynamics and networking by virtual hosting happy hours and social events (inside work hours — no one needs an extra zoom meeting!). We’ve heard of companies shipping a bottle of wine straight to their employees doors or offering an expense allowance for delivery from Austin’s own Twin Liquors.
- Reimbursed Expenses: Remote working offers significant saving for employers. Some companies are sharing these saving with their workers by reimbursing expenses for internet, communications, and even rent.
- Continuing Education: Companies can show that they invest back into their employees by providing virtual learning experiencing or supporting continuing education. It’s a great time for workers to learn a new skill.
- Travel: According to a recent Harris Poll, 74% of Americans would consider taking a “workation” where they both work and play remotely from a vacation destination. Why not encourage or even reimburse employees who want to get out of the house and broaden their horizons?
Put your best foot forward
Because it’s such a hot job-seekers market, employers need to have realistic expectations about timing. Typically, skilled positions aren’t being filled right away.
Once you get applications in, it’s important to follow up quickly, or risk missing out. We’ve seen qualified candidates entertaining multiple offers in a relatively short amount of time.
“Once you get applications in, it’s important to follow up quickly, or risk missing out.”
Once the interviews begin, employers need to communicate clearly about benefits, compensation, and policies. Ask your team about their remote experience and find out what really matters to them. Be prepared for common work from home questions… Have you extended an official deadline for working from home? Can employees come into the office if they want to?
Leverage CCN to Find Great Accounting Talent
No matter where you are working from, our direct hire team is here to help you find great talent and navigate the remote knowledge transfer process.
Our recruiters have direct experience in internal finance and accounting departments. We know exactly how to spot the people you need — and we’re experts in video interviewing!
These days, our hourly direct hire pricing model is more attractive than ever, with many clients saving 50% compared to traditional compensation-based recruiting.
As CCN’s “chief matchmaker,” Delena helps connect companies with talented new candidates. With decades of personal experience in finance and accounting, she knows exactly what kind of people your team needs to succeed.
We have all been there. You know the feeling when one of your key staff members puts in their two weeks’ notice. Your to-do list (and your anxiety) start to grow… in a short period of time, you will have to gather some sort of position documentation, find candidates, and train a new hire — all on top of your regular work load.
“I’ve been on both sides of the transition process, and it’s never been a great experience,” explains Andy Cox, founder of Cox Consulting Network. “These days we often support clients through employee turnover both with interim consultants and our direct hire services, and it’s easy to see the burden it places on employers. Staff transitions happen all the time, so why aren’t companies better prepared? We knew there had to be a better way.”
“Staff transitions happen all the time, so why aren’t companies better prepared? We knew there had to be a better way.”
Recently while working from home during the Coronavirus, Andy and his team of consultants found themselves providing virtual knowledge transfer services more and more often. They knew that they needed an internal process for knowledge collection and training, but suddenly, it became clear that companies everywhere could hugely benefit from a dedicated knowledge transfer solution.
“We thought that knowledge transfer shouldn’t be a setback,” says Megan Kennedy, a consultant who worked closely on the new ‘KT’ process. “It should be an opportunity to grow.”
Today we're proud to announce "Knowledge Bridge," CCN's new complete knowledge transfer solution.
The problem with traditional knowledge transfer
For many of us, typical knowledge collection looks something like this… after someone puts in their notice, we look around for an old job description, and we ask that person to update it, if possible. We have them record notes about their daily tasks, and if we’re lucky, we have them sit down with a coworker or temporary consultant to help understand what to do after they are gone.
“I’m afraid that knowledge is walking out the door…. information that we may not be aware of that’s unique to the role,” explains David Tamez, Corporate Controller at Upland Software (NASDAQ:UPLD) in Austin, Texas. As the head of a 13-person accounting team, he’s no stranger to staff turnover. He runs a tight ship, but like so many of us, he describes how knowledge transfer is often so improvised.
“At that point, it’s probably a lot of hit-and-miss knowledge transfer… we’re relying on multiple people to fill in the gaps,” he says. “It’s rarely very well thought out. You’re just trying to survive.”
“It’s rarely very well thought out. You’re just trying to survive.”
“Staff transitions don’t just affect management,” Andy says, “Sometimes they can burden the entire team with undue stress and overtime.”
After the former employee leaves, there is an undefined period of waiting to begin the search process, to find the new hire, and to establish a start date. Once the new employee arrives, their predecessor is usually long-gone and there is no opportunity to ask questions.
Megan has had direct experience with this as interim consultant, and describes the experience, “Ideally, I would have some thorough notes to work from, but even in the best-case scenario, I have to do a lot of digging to get what I need. You also never have the organizational knowledge.”
CCN offers a streamlined process with dedicated support
Leveraging years of experience with finance/accounting staff transitions, CCN has developed its specialized Knowledge Bridge solution to streamline the process and create a positive experience for everyone involved.
The most important part of knowledge transfer is knowledge collection. Our process begins as soon as you call to take advantage of every minute you have left with a current employee.
During this period, we assign a dedicated transition consultant for your unique situation. In some cases, this person may act as an interim consultant, or they may work side-by-side with another interim consultant throughout the process. Our knowledge transfer specialists are trained to ask the right questions and meticulously document every detail to make sure no stone is left unturned.
“It’s hard for outgoing employees to proactively train their successor and anticipate questions from someone they may never meet,” says Andy. “When that person can sit down with a transition consultant, conversation flows naturally. Every question and key detail is captured and documented. It makes a huge difference.”
We provide the tools your new hire needs
At the conclusion of the Knowledge Bridge process, we deliver a position guidebook with everything your new hire needs to be successful. This goes far beyond a mere job description and notes to include topically organized documentation, key illustrations and screenshots, and recorded screen-share videos of key software tasks.
Your final deliverable even includes company lingo and acronyms as well as the organizational structure relevant to the position. These details often come second nature to current staff but can be a source of confusion for a new hire.
This valuable resource is yours to keep and update over the years for subsequent hires or training for related positions.
“It would relieve a lot of the stress and anxiety,” shares David. “It would begin that process of creating more documentation around a position so the next time someone leaves, we’re prepared… it would be highly valuable, especially for companies that are growing.”
“…the next time someone leaves, we’re prepared.”
When you work with CCN's Knowledge Bridge, you don’t have to train twice. We understand, companies don’t want to have to train an interim worker only to turn around and re-train the permanent hire later. With a transition consultant by your side, everything is combined into one streamlined process, and your training materials are all captured for future use.
“These days most accounting teams run pretty lean,” explains Megan. “Traditionally the whole team has to absorb the responsibility of training the interim consultant as well as the new hire. It's stressful and really impacts the team morale. I've noticed some people getting impatient with frequent questions, which rolls onto the new hire. It's not a great way to start a new position. We want to improve that situation for everyone.”
Make the most out of every transition
The next time someone puts in their notice, we hope you have a little extra confidence knowing that someone has got your back. Your specially trained transition consultant is there to share the burden and keep everything organized and on schedule.
Imagine bidding an employee farewell without worrying that valuable knowledge is walking out the door with them.
Imagine welcoming a new hire with a personalized training experience and all the resources they need already waiting on their desk.
We’re here to make every staff transition a positive experience for everyone involved.
“Imagine welcoming a new hire with a personalized training experience and all the resources they need already waiting on their desk.”
Get started today
If someone on your team has put in their notice, the clock is already ticking. Don’t hesitate to reach out to CCN and begin the process today. Companies can typically “burn” four to five days looking for an interim resource, but we start the day we get the call.
Give us a call or jump right into our position documentation survey. We'll provide you with personalized recommendations on next steps, helping you understand what you need to ensure a smooth transition.