Tech & Innovation Blog

Women Engineer Magazine Top 50 Company.


Recognition, Awards, Women in STEM

Woman Engineer Magazine: 2021 Readers' Choice: A Top 50 Employer

ADP is thrilled to earn a place on this year’s 30th Annual “Top 50 Employers” in Woman Engineer Magazine for a second year in a row.

Readers of Woman Engineer Magazine chose top US companies they would most like to work for and/or whom they believe would provide a positive working environment for women engineers.
They chose ADP as one of the Top 50.

ADP is proud to build diverse teams that represent the diversity of our clients to drive innovation. At ADP, we focus on inclusion and reflect a diversity lens within our products.

Our focus on such programs as our partnership with Girls Who Code and our Women in Technology Leadership Mentoring Program has led to distinctions such as AnitaB.org naming ADP a 2020 Top Companies for Women Technologists Winner in the Large Technical Workforce category.

AnitaB.org recognized ADP for making the most progress toward women’s equity among companies with large technical workforces. We know that having a more diverse organization makes us stronger, and we are proud of supporting women in technology.

Our Global Product and Technology (GPT) organization stays close to industry benchmarks and has adopted measures to continue to drive progress. ADP also supports philanthropic organizations that nurture the career development of girls and women in the technology field, helping them fulfill their potential as future tech leaders.

Our technology leaders are committed to driving diversity, including recruiting and developing women technologists while providing opportunities for them to grow their careers.

Some recent product examples include the ADP DataCloud Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) Dashboards to help companies see real-time workforce demographics. Some other products to promote a diverse workforce include our Candidate Relevancy tools and the award-winning Pay Equity Explorer.

We strive to offer personal development opportunities through self-driven platforms, and our International Women’s Network and our Empower Committee focused on Women in STEM. Regardless of your role, we offer opportunities for women technologists. Meet Some of the Women of ADP DevOps and how they drive data-centric development.

Some recent product examples include the ADP DataCloud Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) Dashboards to help companies see real-time workforce demographics. Some other products to promote a diverse workforce include our Candidate Relevancy tools and the award-winning Pay Equity Explorer.

Visit us at tech.adp.com and learn more about what we do.

Tech & Innovation Blog

ADP Wins 2020 Breakthrough AI Award


Recognition, Artificial Intelligence, Data Science

Video: AI and machine learning to help our clients

Congratulations to our DataCloud team! Recognized for its impressive capabilities and significant value it brings to businesses, ADP’s DataCloud won a 2020 AI Breakthrough Award in the “Best AI-based Solution for Data Science” category. Watch the video.

AI Breakthrough AwardsIn a constantly shifting world of work, businesses, now more than ever, are looking for a solution that helps them make informed decisions about their organization. Enter ADP DataCloud, a powerful people analytics solution.

Utilizing Artificial Intelligence (AI), the solution analyzes aggregated, anonymized HR and compensation data from over 30 million workers in more than 730,000 organizations to allow companies to benchmark and compare compensation data, turnover rate, and overtime. Endless possibilities open for better managing a global workforce when pairing this empirical data with the power of machine learning (ML) and AI.

The AI Breakthrough Awards recognize the top companies, technologies, and products in the Artificial Intelligence industry today. As more and more companies join the growing global AI market, this awards program honors those that stand out among a crowded field of competitors. In other categories, winners included IBM, Capital One, NetApp, and others.

Congratulations to the team for all your hard work to deliver amazing solutions and real-time trends to our clients. Way to break through!

Tech & Innovation Blog

Meet (some of) the Women of ADP DevOps


Women in STEM, Voice of Our People, DevOps

Collage of Stella, Natalia, Tao, Monica

One group of women within our DevOps team share their story of camaraderie and making a difference at ADP. Every day, they work in close support of one another to tackle exciting technical challenges and to drive data-centric development across the company.

ADP is a 2020 Grace Hopper Award recipient for our commitment to diverse teams and the overall development of women, no matter where they are in their careers. One group of women within our DevOps team share their story of camaraderie and making a difference at ADP. Every day, they work in close support of one another to tackle exciting technical challenges and to drive data-centric development across the company. We recently caught up with Monica Bansal (Application Developer), Natalia Ermolayeva (Senior Application Developer), Tao Hu (Principal Application Developer), and Stella Jia (Senior Director, Application Development). It was clear from our chat and how they complement each other’s work why they’ve become such a tight-knit group. Below, they share what makes their collaboration work so well, their recent wins, and what they’re excited to learn—and build—in the months and years to come.

What do each of you do at ADP, and why did you join the team?

Monica sitting by a body of waterMonica: My job is a blend of application development and data analytics—I assist ADP’s data scientists with experiments and then build out the APIs. I’ve been with the company full-time for about a year now; I started as a summer intern while getting my master’s in data science and computer science. I knew I wanted to continue my career in this field, and I liked getting to work with real data and implement it in the real world. I did another part-time internship last spring while finishing my degree, and then I joined Stella’s team.

Tao: I’m a principal application developer, which means I build many of the libraries and components that allow our work to scale—they become the blueprint other teams implemented. I’ve been with ADP since 2013. Before that, I worked in finance as a Java developer. A friend of mine recommended ADP after my company moved farther from my home. I have two young boys, and I wanted to make sure I had time to take care of them. I knew ADP had a reputation for being a family-friendly employer.

When I started at ADP, my work focused on producing reports. But once Stella joined, our team shifted to more machine learning. I love problem-solving and simplifying processes, so it’s been really fun for me.

Natalia: I’m a senior application developer, and I see my role as keeping data safe and available—I handle testing and operations. I’m very new to ADP; I joined about four months ago. One big attraction was the level of collaboration between departments. I was very impressed with the people who interviewed me. Everyone was very professional, and they mentioned many modern tools that I was excited to use. I knew ADP would be a good place to broaden my skills across a lot of different areas.

Stella runningStella: I’m a senior director for application development. My job is to lead the Application Development team and make sure we’re delivering insights that will help ADP build better products. As Tao mentioned, that involves a lot of machine learning work and other statistical analysis, as well as data mining and visualization techniques. An intrinsic strength of this team is connecting the data to the real people we serve. When we look for patterns and anomalies, we’re trying to figure out how we can make people’s jobs easier as we ADP innovate and grow.

I joined ADP about four years ago; a mentor and friend I’d previously worked for recommended I apply. He had great things to say about the leadership and the vision for transformation from a service company to a technology company. The people were great, too, and I liked that I’d get to learn about a lot of domains I hadn’t worked in before. I think it’s an excellent environment for anyone who wants to grow by adding value and helping others.

How do you support each other’s work?

Tao: We’re helping each other every day, sharing results and ideas for new approaches. For example, we’ve been using a new data analysis tool to build some reports, and now we’re looking at other projects that might benefit from those same functionalities. Because of our roles, Monica and I work especially closely, but I feel like I can pick up the phone or message anyone on the team when I have something to figure out, and I’ll get help right away.

Natalia with a cat on her shoulderNatalia: Yes—I like that my teammates are always just a call or text away. Knowing each other as people, chatting and joking around makes it so much easier to communicate and work together. We’re comfortable sharing ideas freely and collaborating, even when we’re not in the same room.

Stella: Definitely. We’d love to hang out in person more, but even with everyone virtual, it’s turned out really well. And that collaboration is so important. I think of the team as a set of pillars—if any of them aren’t there, none of it works. Monica is doing the analytics and research, slicing and dicing the data. Once we’ve found something we want to build upon, Tao steps in to create that foundation. And then Natalia is there to make sure we’re not only maintaining privacy but keeping things sustainable from an operations perspective. We all need each other, and we’re all working toward the same goal and figuring out how to measure success, which could be a product’s stickiness, preventing errors, or saving people time.

Monica: I think everyone on the team is naturally very passionate about working toward what we all want to achieve. You can always go to someone with a question, and everyone pitches in when someone needs help to make sure we’re hitting our targets. Stella is great about making sure we’re all happy and doing the kind of work we want to be doing.

Tell us about some of the ways you’ve made an impact at ADP.

Tao in Death ValleyTao: We recently started using a new workflow manager tool, which has been a big win. Before, if we had a lot of ETL (extract, transform, load) jobs, we’d get files from other teams and load them into the database. With all the pieces and feeds, it wasn’t easy to see the status of any particular piece. That was frustrating. Stella recommended a workflow tool, which I hadn’t heard of at the time. After I got up to speed, we started building things out, adapting the data monitor and using the workflow manager to grab all the outputs, sending them to the monitor, and building the dashboards there. Now we have an accessible overview to see what’s working and what isn’t. It’s been so helpful.

Natalia: Due to the nature of my work, success isn’t always obvious. If things run smoothly, no one notices what happens in the background, which means I’ve done my job. As I get more familiar with how things work at ADP, I’ll have some opportunities to automate more daily, repetitive tasks. That’s a big priority.

Monica: We did an error-detection project recently where we built a model to help us flag problems on the back-end when a client runs their payroll and how users respond when they get those warnings. If we have a proper pipeline of data to run the model regularly, clients can see predictions for the entire week, and we can see whether they’re using or ignoring the information, which tells us whether we need to make some corrections.

More broadly, our team helps others understand the importance and potential of data, especially here at ADP, where we have such rich data. We want to drive data-centric development, which starts with data collection. Before we can do the analytics, our data needs to be clean. So we work with a lot of other teams, helping them understand how to use the tools and making sure they’re comfortable and up-to-date on everything they need.

Stella: We are part of a data-informed culture. Technology evolves quickly. At ADP, we want to stay ahead and be proactive rather than reactive. Data is a huge asset in that effort. It gives us much faster feedback loops and insights into our clients. We can quickly see when and whether a client’s hitting a milestone.

But to leverage that asset, as Monica mentioned, we need a certain level of data literacy throughout the business. If developers understand how data can help them build a better product, it will be much easier to scale. Part of our team’s job is to encourage data literacy. We also help establish standards, offer training, and get development teams running on an autonomous path to adopt a canonical format every team can follow. We find that it is contagious. Once a few teams embrace the data, other teams understand the benefits more quickly and have more colleagues to help them learn.

What are you excited to learn next?

Natalia: There are a lot of tools I’m excited to learn more about, including the ones my colleagues have mentioned. I’m looking forward to using new technologies in general, particularly machine learning tools. I think I’ll have many opportunities to code for our team’s internal purposes, for affirmation and monitoring, too. Because I’m new to the team, I’m also learning the big picture and how everything’s connected. ADP is great with documentation, so I can find almost everything I need on my own. But I can always ask my colleagues or get up to speed through a learning session with one of our senior team members.

Tao: I’m excited to keep learning new technologies, too. I’ll often jump over to educational resources to get a quick sense of something, then I come back and try to use it. The machine learning side of things is especially exciting. Besides learning new languages, I love new concepts for how to approach our work.

Monica: I feel like I’ve grown so much already! From the start of my first internship to now, I’ve been able to work on many different services and projects, from machine learning models to APIs to analytics. Whenever Stella says, “I have an idea,” we get excited. The technologies are always changing, and that helps us grow.

Stella: One thing I’m thinking about is how to give developers more visibility into what we do. As Natalia mentioned, most of our foundational work tends to happen behind the scenes. We look forward to building stronger connections with our frontend partners, which will provide even more opportunities to enjoy the results and get recognition for our work.

At ADP, our talent pipeline is so important. It’s about getting the right people and building a strong culture. We want the goal, in everything my team does, to be a better developer experience. We strive to make people happy, make their jobs easier, make their days more efficient. If we provide them with a platform that allows them to test and measure their ideas more quickly, they’ll have more time to explore new ideas and innovate.

Tech & Innovation Blog

“Building a World of Truly Inclusive Technology,” AnitaB.org Names ADP a Top Company for Women Technologists.


Women in STEM, Recognition, Grace Hopper

AnitaB.org Top Companies for Women Technologists Winner

AnitaB.org recognized ADP for making the most progress toward the equity of women among companies with large technical workforces. We know that having a more diverse organization makes us stronger, and we are proud of supporting women in technology. Hear from Krupali who describes her recruiting experience with ADP at Grace Hopper.

DylanAt this year’s virtual Grace Hopper Celebration hosted by the nonprofit social enterprise AnitaB.org, they announced ADP earned the distinction as a 2020 Top Companies for Women Technologists Winner in the Large Technical Workforce category. Read the full press release here.

AnitaB.org recognized ADP for making the most progress toward the equity of women among companies with large technical workforces. We know that having a more diverse organization makes us stronger, and we are proud of supporting women in technology.

Our Global Product and Technology (GPT) organization stays close to industry benchmarks and has adopted measures to continue to drive progress. ADP also supports philanthropic organizations that nurture the career development of girls and women in the technology field, helping them to fulfill their potential as future tech leaders.

Our technology leaders are committed to driving diversity, including recruiting and developing women technologists while providing opportunities for them to grow their careers.

KrupaliSince we are celebrating Grace Hopper, let’s check out a post about one of our attendees and hear from Krupali as she describes her recruiting experience with ADP & Grace Hopper.

#WomenInTech #ADPLife

To learn more about our Campus Programs, visit Who We Hire.

Tech & Innovation Blog

Race Against Time: How ADP’s Product Team Helped Thousands of Businesses Secure Critical Paycheck Protections Loans


Pandemic, Innovation, Voice of Our People

Businessman hand presses web clock time sign button

Bill and Terri look back on a whirlwind weekend in April, when the Small Business Administration (SBA) had launched an unprecedented new loan program established by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act). Here’s their story.

In the wake of COVID-19, ADP’s product teams have worked tirelessly to ensure our clients weather the storm. We wanted to catch up with two of the people who’ve made this possible. Bill Leonard, Director of Product Management, was once the payroll director for ADP. He advises early-in-career colleagues to say yes to new opportunities—it’s brought him to where he is today. Terri Thomas, Senior Director of Product Management, says that she owes her 35-year career at ADP to outstanding mentors and the advice she received from day one: Don’t be afraid of what you don’t know.

Below, Bill and Terri look back on a whirlwind weekend in April, when the Small Business Administration (SBA) had launched an unprecedented new loan program established by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act). Tens of thousands of companies applied in the first hour alone. Thanks in part to our team’s hard work, many loans went to ADP clients in the first funding round.

Take us back a few months when you first got involved in this project. How did it start?

Terri ThomasTerri: I remember I got a phone call the day the CARES Act passed, the last Friday in March. The SBA would start accepting loan applications under the new Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) the following Friday. We wanted to be there for the thousands of ADP’s clients we expected to apply for the loans and give them the tools they would need to help their employees. That meant they needed information from us as soon as possible. I was asked to take the lead on the product side.

We had already been working on the provisions of the FFCRA, or Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which had passed the week before and potentially affected all 600,000 companies who use ADP. But the impact of CARES was massive, too, and we had far less time to take action. So, there was no debate, no red tape. We just got on a call and started working.

Bill: Absolutely. There was limited funding, especially in that first round, so our clients all wanted to be ready the minute the application period opened. We wanted to have their payroll cost reports and other supporting documents ready by Monday.

There were a couple of factors that made that difficult. For example, loan amounts were based on each employee’s annual payroll cost but capped at $100,000 per person per year. We couldn’t just pull data and run a report. The number of moving pieces was pretty astounding due to the rapid shifts in the regulatory environment with unnaturally compressed timelines. We had to respond just as quickly to ensure our clients could keep up and continue to thrive. We had a clear objective; we knew what we needed to do. I think ADP is at its best when we have a dragon to slay.

What were those first couple of days like before the project went live?

Bill LeonardBill: First, we needed to interpret the regulations. We received excellent internal guidance from ADP’s Legal and Compliance teams. They were fantastic in helping us navigate the regulatory language to figure out exactly what it all meant. We couldn’t make any assumptions—for example, defining full-time equivalent hours for employees. In the Affordable Care Act, that meant 30 hours per week, but in this legislation, it was 40.

Since ADP serves so much of the market, we had support at the federal level to ask questions and get answers quickly—and in some cases, we even made recommendations that helped shape the SBA’s guidance.

Terri: Agreed; our Legal and Compliance teams were amazing. The government would release something at 1 a.m. that we’d have to translate the logic of it, to see whether it changed what we were doing, and Legal was right there with us. FTE and lookback periods were big ones, and we also had to figure out what costs qualified, in terms of retirement and health care, and wages. Plus, there was a whole other set of guidance to interpret when it came to loan forgiveness.

ADP has such a large, diverse group of clients—everything from multinational corporations to pizza shops—we offer many different products to our client base. We had to find a way to produce reports that accommodated all those differences but were still consistent enough that a lender’s API could pull out the information they needed. So there were many conversations regarding which fields to “lockdown” and which to let clients edit. For example, if an employee doesn’t come back to work because their job is eliminated, the portion of a PPP loan based on their payroll cost usually isn’t forgivable. However, if an employee has the option to come back to work and refuses, it is. So, we had to build options for clients based on their unique situation.

What happened once the reports were posted—and what’s happened since?

Terri and a man each holding tuna caught on a fishing tripTerri: In the first couple of days after we launched, clients relied on us to help them navigate the calculations. We explained why the numbers on our reports were different from the gross wages they saw on their regular payroll reports—and why they were supposed to be.

One thing that helped, though, was that we’d been able to quickly create not just the reports but some FAQs and other collateral. We shared that with our clients and our Service teams. I think those resources were a big key to our success. We got so much positive feedback from people saying how relieved they were to log on Monday morning and see that we were already on this. They didn’t have to go searching for answers.

Bill: Yes, I think from the client’s point of view, the most valuable thing we gave them, especially in that first week, was assurance. Many business owners were really scared—imagine your company’s entire existence is in question, and here’s this possible lifeline, but you don’t know how or whether you can actually use it. We were able to say, “We’ve got it; we’ll help you through this..”

Terri: Also, while we’d had to make some executive decisions internally to get through the initial launch, we immediately shifted into getting external input. We were pulling everyone into working sessions—clients, CPAs, banks—to find out what they thought about every aspect of the project and how we could do things even better. We kept iterating based on that feedback coupled with the government guidance that continued coming in. We’re still tweaking things even today.

What did you learn from this project that will help you going forward?

Bill and PlutoBill: I think this project was an excellent example of keeping things simple. As Terri mentioned, ADP has lots of different products and tools, and for a good reason—we have many different clients. When we simplify, the easier it is to deploy new features and enable innovation. When things like this happen, it needs to be easy, innovative, and quick to market. Most of all, it needs to be right for our clients.

I also learned a lot about—and from—our team. There were many times when Terri and I and the rest of the people leading this project would talk something through, and then a developer would come back to us with a question that was complete gold and entirely changed the way we’d been thinking.

Terri: I couldn’t agree more. It doesn’t matter what your role is; if you have an idea or a suggestion, we want your voice to be heard. Innovation happens here at all levels, and the feedback is immensely powerful in moving the company forward. I’ve already seen numerous examples, and I’ve only been in this role for a few months. My goal as a leader is to encourage that as much as I can.

In true ADP style, the collaboration we saw between teams was amazing. Nothing was about titles or who was attached to what product. The difference this time was that people who don’t ordinarily work together teamed up to make this happen, and having all of those unique perspectives at the table was incredible. Our shared purpose is something I really love about ADP. We’re all working toward the same goal of making an impact for our clients.

In closing, Terri and Bill, you’ve been here 35 and 27 years, respectively. Would you share how you’ve seen ADP change and what advice you would give new people starting with ADP?

Terri: I had some fantastic mentors, and they pushed and made me think about the different opportunities. The advice given to me from day one was don’t be afraid of things you don’t know. That stuck with me for 35 years, and I leaped into things that I never thought I’d even consider. You control your own destiny. Nothing is just handed to you. I got myself in the door and continued to drive my career into different areas. It took a lot of hard work, but I was dedicated to doing it and have had many supporters. So, to me, the sky is the limit at ADP. You don’t have to be stuck in one area. You can go anywhere. It’s like taking a new job when you transition to your next role.

Bill: There is a lot of runway for people on the technology side these days. If you wanted to go into management, there has always been plenty of room there. Today, there’s been much more opportunity to stay on the technology side without having to move into people management to grow your career. As an example, this year, we named our first Distinguished Engineer.

Tech & Innovation Blog

Next-Gen Payroll Captures the 2020 Top HR Product Award


Recognition, Awards

Human Resource Executive Winner 2020: Top HR Product

ADP’s products continue to earn awards at a time when our clients need our innovative products the most. We are proud to be named a “2020 Top HR Product” by HR Executive.

ADP’s products continue to earn awards at a time when our clients need our innovative products the most. We are proud to be named a “2020 Top HR Product” by HR Executive.

ADP’s Next-Gen Payroll Platform enables companies of all types – from local small businesses to global conglomerates – to pay their employees their way. This real-time global payroll platform gives clients and their employees unprecedented transparency into how they are paid, along with predictive insights and suggested actions. Companies no longer need to guess the impact of regulatory changes but can proactively model these changes in real-time and plan for the future. At the same time, employees, contractors, and gig workers all have complete visibility into how their pay is calculated along with actionable tips on improving their financial wellness. Who couldn’t use that?

Built natively on the public cloud, this real-time global payroll platform:

  • Gives practitioners and employees unprecedented transparency into how they are paid;
  • Empowers practitioners to more easily understand the effects of regulatory and policy changes, enabling a stronger strategic partnership with business leaders by demonstrating bottom-line impact; and
  • Delivers a breakthrough employee experience with predictive insights to model and understand the effect of potential life changes.

Winning solutions at the HR Technology Conference are selected based on several criteria, including their level of innovation, value-add to the HR professional, intuitiveness for the user, and ability to deliver on what they promise.

Read the full press release.

Tech & Innovation Blog

Team effort: Building a better customer experience through cross-functional collaboration


How We Work, Voice of Our People, Team Collaboration

A collage of several portraits of people.

At ADP, every milestone is achieved–and celebrated—together. The work by Sachin Ghag and his team to improve the year-end testing experience for 401(k) administrators is no exception. Along with the Architecture Group, the “Agile Archers” and the “Avenging Explorers” worked across time zones and collaborated with other ADP teams to bring a brand new user experience to life in four short months. Hear from Sachin about how his team got it done.

By Sachin Ghag, Senior Manager, Global Product Development and Technology, Retirement Services

At ADP, every milestone is achieved–and celebrated—together. The work by Sachin Ghag and his team to improve the year-end testing experience for 401(k) administrators is no exception. Along with the Architecture Group, the “Agile Archers” and the “Avenging Explorers” worked across time zones and collaborated with other ADP teams to bring a brand new user experience to life in four short months. Below, hear from Sachin about how his team got it done.

****

At the start of every new calendar year, retirement plan administrators at millions of companies across the U.S. add the same pesky item to their to-do list: year-end testing. To ensure their businesses are compliant with federal law, they must confirm that their 401(k) plans are within a half-dozen or so Department of Labor standards, which cover everything from which employees qualify for a plan to how much they contribute. If administrators discover any issues, they must resolve them relatively quickly.

For years, this process was largely manual. Test results came in a single PDF, and companies that needed to take corrective actions had no online option to track whether those issues had been marked as resolved. Instead, administrators had to call ADP for a status update. But we saw an opportunity to save our customers time and better use our resources. It was clear that we could offer a better experience.

We’re always looking for ways to optimize our processes, so a self-service dashboard for year-end testing had long been on our list of projects to tackle. And the timing was perfect: ADP had just started accelerating digital transformations across the company. Our plan was ambitious: We wanted to give clients not just a real-time view of their status, but a central hub for every resource they’d need to resolve any issues. By September 2019, our team in Global Product and Technology (GPT) was ready to dive in. But we knew that the GPT team would need help from our colleagues along the way.

To kick things off, we held a discovery session with the dashboard’s product owner and the UX team, who had already created a mock-up of the end-to-end user experience. Once we made sure we fully understood what we needed to build, we broke the desired product down into features, created user stories for each one, and developed a timeline based on three-week sprints. We wanted to leave plenty of time to test every scenario before the January 10th launch, so we set a target date of December 12.

The first step, we knew, would also be the hardest: Before we could build the APIs and UI that would make our self-service dreams a reality, we needed to move data from a highly complex mainframe system—which most of the Retirement Services GPT team had never worked with before—into SQL. So once our chief architect had offered some invaluable initial feedback, including new processes for transferring the mainframe VSAM data into SQL, we turned to ADP’s subject-matter experts: the Mainframe team. Together, we decided they would extract the millions of records we needed into a text file, updated daily, which we would then import into the SQL site. And of course, updates had to go both ways; we also needed to figure out how to send changes back to the mainframe—re-running tests as soon as possible after users completed corrective actions to ensure the two sources were synced.

Throughout the development phase, collaboration was key. A challenge with the time difference, when our India Global Product and Technology team was half a day ahead of our Mainframe colleagues in the U.S. Being flexible and thoughtful, we managed to meet jointly for an hour or two nearly every day, and were even able to turn the time difference into an advantage. Because our U.S. teammates worked while we slept, they would often have suggestions and solutions ready for us by the time we started the next day.

Once the initial development work was done, yet another phase of collaboration began. We asked our colleagues in Service Operations, who work directly with clients, to help us test the dashboard. Sure enough, their real-life experience helped them find issues we hadn’t—especially around ADP’s 401k Sponsor site, which is used by plan administrators. If a user clicked on certain links within their ADP Task Tracker, for example, we wanted to send them directly to the new self-service dashboard—but many of those links still needed updating. The Service Ops team recorded each issue they found in a spreadsheet, and we fixed them, one by one.

In the end, thanks to hard work from our team and our colleagues across UX, Mainframe, Service Ops, and beyond, what started as an ambitious plan turned into a success story for our teams and our clients. In early January, we launched smoothly, on time, and with a warm welcome from tens of thousands of happy clients—whose reviews ranged from “I love how easy this was to navigate” to “You made my freaking day!” ADP’s leadership team also recognized our work with an award of appreciation.

Screenshot of a compliance window from a computer application.

The new year-end testing dashboard.

Since that first release in January, we’ve already built out some additional features—and we have plans to add more for 2021, including web identification of data integrity issues, which will allow our clients to visualize and modify data within their web session. But even when we aren’t actively working on the dashboard, the experience of building it continues to benefit the GPT team every day. We’ve been able to use the technical knowledge we gained to improve our work on several other projects, both within and outside of compliance. And most importantly, we’ve built relationships with other ADP teams that will help us better serve our clients for years to come.

Given all the things 2020 has given us, our clients will have a smooth year-end. A nice gift after everything that has happened in the world.

Want to Meet the Team?

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Hands holding a white walking stick

Disability Inclusion in the Workplace

In this second blog in a series focusing on breaking barriers and influencing social change, we celebrate International Day of Persons with Disabilities and offer ideas for promoting disability inclusion in your organization and in our communities.

December 3rd is International Day of Persons with Disabilities. The annual observance was proclaimed in 1992 by the United Nations General Assembly. It aims to promote the rights and well-being of persons with disabilities in all spheres of society and development, and to increase awareness and disability inclusion in every aspect of political, social, economic and cultural life.

This year also marks the 30th anniversary of the passing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The ADA prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life, including jobs, schools, transportation and places that are open to the general public to ensure that people with disabilities have the same rights and opportunities as everyone else.

You are no doubt familiar with the need to comply with the ADA in all areas of your business, but disability inclusion reaches far beyond compliance with the law. Proactively supporting inclusivity in your organization can have important and meaningful impact for your employees, customers and communities. CEB, now part of Gartner, found that highly diverse and inclusive organizations had a 26% increase in team collaboration and an 18% increase in team commitment. A study by Harvard Business Review showed that companies with higher-than-average diversity had 19% higher innovation revenues. So, how can you effectively and respectfully promote disability inclusion in your organization?

These are our clients, prospects, coworkers, and employees. How can your organization think about greater equity and inclusivity, especially during these times?

– Giselle Mota, board member of the ADP BRG, Thrive

Practice inclusivity

Be sure that your staff and leadership includes a diverse a range of employees and perspectives. When developing anything from internal policies to new products to client-facing marketing campaigns, getting input from employees and clients with disabilities helps ensure that you are addressing their needs rather than operating on assumptions. Martha Bird, Chief Business Anthropologist at ADP says, “It is important to design WITH excluded and diverse communities, not FOR them. Seek their expert input in the process.”

Representation is key to meaningful and genuine inclusion. If you have Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) or Business Resource Groups (BRGs) in your organization, you can partner with them on inclusivity initiatives to get valuable firsthand perspectives. At ADP, the Thrive BRG has a mission to understand the diverse impact of disabilities, end the stigma, and bring awareness and education to ADP associates about people living with disabilities. Susan Lodge, a Thrive board member and mother to a son with a genetic disease says, “This BRG has given me a new appreciation for the company I work for and the people that I work with. I no longer feel like I am the only one who faces the challenges that disabilities can bring. We are all in this together.”

Work to overcome bias

Inclusivity isn’t an “issue” just for people with disabilities; it’s important for everyone in your organization. Once you set the goal and expectation for a diverse and inclusive organizational culture, follow up with education aimed at promoting understanding and awareness of unique challenges of people with disabilities as well as the importance of inclusion. For example, adopt a policy of using people first language (PFL). People first language is a way of communicating that shows respect for people with disabilities by focusing on the individual and not their disability. For example, if you were discussing modification to your retail space for your clients, instead of saying “disabled customers”, you would use “customers with disabilities.” This recognizes that they have disabilities and allows you to be inclusive and respectful in your planning but doesn’t use their disabilities to define them entirely.

Disability inclusion in post-COVID business

Inclusion is particularly important right now. The global health crisis has highlighted inequities for people with disabilities. Routine healthcare needs like diagnostic testing and therapies are no longer as easy to access. Virtual and masked communications also present challenges that disproportionately affect people with disabilities. As Giselle Mota, board member of ADP’s Thrive BRG, Principal Consultant at ADP on the Future of Work and moderator of an ADP webcast on disability inclusion said, “These are our clients, prospects, coworkers, and employees. How can your organization think about greater equity and inclusivity, especially during these times?”

Learn more

Register for or replay this webcast for more discussion of this question and tips from ADP experts: Disability Inclusion in the Workplace: Best Practices for Engaging and Supporting ALL of Your People.

To learn more about ADP’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion, please visit our Corporate Social Responsibility site.

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Martha Bird, ADP's Business Anthropologist

Podcast: Fireside chat with Martha Bird, Business Anthropologist, on her career, insights on our current state, and emerging realities as a result of the pandemic

Tech & Innovation Blog

Podcast: Fireside chat with Martha Bird, Business Anthropologist, on her career, insights on our current state, and emerging realities as a result of the pandemic


Fireside Chat, Career Journey, Impacts of COVID-19

Martha chats with Tory, from Generations, our Business Resource Group which focuses on creating connections between emerging and established professionals. She shares her career journey, insight on our current state, adjusting to unfamiliar routines, and emerging realities as a result of COVID

PODCAST TRANSCRIPT

[MUSIC PLAYING]

[SPEAKER] Martha is Chief Business Anthropologist at ADP, where she helps design and create meaningful services, experiences, and products. Her approach both questions and contextualizes the social and cultural dynamics of technology. Martha understands technology as a cultural phenomenon and sees it as deeply embedded in the broader context of geography, social norms, language, physical space, and infrastructural capabilities. Martha shares insights about the people and the places where they make meaning with technology. Her expertise contributes to ADP’s ability to keep people at the center of innovation and design a better world at work.

[TORI DICKEY] Thank you, Martha Bird, for joining our Generation’s BRG podcast. We’re real excited to have you here today. My name is Tori Dickey. I am the Generation’s membership director on the National Board. And we look forward to having a terrific conversation today. Tell us a little bit about yourself and your career transition from academia to corporate ADP.

[MARTHA BIRD] Hi, Tori. Thanks so much for inviting me. I’ve been looking forward to this. Yeah, I’ve had a very interesting, I would say, a multiple set of careers. So I actually grew up in central New Hampshire, where for about 15 years, I ran a seventh-generation family farm. So I’m very aware of generations working together– both the benefits and the challenges. So I think that’s an interesting intersection with our interests.

But part of working as a farmer meant that I had winters kind of to myself. And it seemed to me that I should be doing something perhaps a little bit more productive given that there was nothing to do in the fields. And I was fortunate enough to receive a fellowship to Boston University where I was working then on my PhD in anthropology, not what the intention actually of teaching, although I think the track that was set up for me was probably more in that direction. But I was just really interested, as I still am today, in really understanding how people make meaning with the tools that they have, with the people that are around them, with the cultural spaces in which they exist. So that was sort of the start there.

And then once I received my PhD, I understood that there were other anthropologists like myself who had opted not to go into academics, and instead decided to pursue careers in industry. And at that time, which is about 20 years ago, the industry that was most attractive to us as a group was in technology. So long and short is I ended up moving to San Francisco. I worked in Silicon Valley for a number of years. And then I’ve moved my center of operation to London, where I worked for a good many years, basically there working in emerging markets, spending a lot of time in Russia, actually.

And then as way leads on the way in my life, I ended up moving back to the US and talking to Roberto Masiero who is my current manager. And he brought me in basically with the remit to bring some human wisdom to the digital tools that we built.

[TORI DICKEY] Very nice. Well, we are certainly lucky to have you. We’ve seen you out in a few different ADP corporate settings and definitely know that you bring quite a bit of value to our products and the direction which our technology will be going in the future.
[MARTHA BIRD] Yeah. I feel very privileged for the platform and the opportunity to actually kind of find some of these intersections between the human and the technical. And I think it’s– I feel very blessed to be able to do that.

[TORI DICKEY] Certainly. Let’s chat about COVID-19 and the impact across our different generations. What have you observed or recognized from our different generations?

[MARTHA BIRD] Well, on the outside, and not specifically about ADP, I’ve personally been really impressed by the shared social responsibility that I’ve observed across a number of generations. So on any given trip to the store, I see young and old and all those in between wearing some kind of mask I’ve also been deeply touched by the perseverance and grit of those elders who seem to be just getting on with it despite their physical challenges.

I wonder though how they’re keeping at home. Are they alone? Did they get enough human connection, which makes me think of a dear friend and mentor of mine who was 98? And he got to a point where he said he thought it made sense for him to hire a helper to come in to visit him a few times a week just to give him a good back scratch.

So human connection is critical. And those less fortunate enough to have access to technologies that enable us to connect, even if somewhat flat compared to the real thing, I think are very fortunate. And of course, some people, especially older folks, are taking to video conferencing out of necessity. So they are learning new ways of connecting while others, I’m afraid, are having a probably a deepening experience of isolation.

Of course, as people have been sheltering at home, there is the necessity for parents and children and perhaps grandparents to shelter together. And for those I’ve spoken to, it’s kind of a mixed bag of emotion. On the one hand, it’s a gift to spend time with family when you might otherwise be on the road commuting to work. You get to sit down with meals. You get to do family projects and just generally share time together.

However, there is also that feeling of, wow, this is a lot of additional effort to manage kids and work responsibilities and what other things may come up. And somewhere in the mix of emotion has been planted the seeds of work-life change where people have been forced to be a bit more transparent about their domestic life and responsibilities inherent in that life. So many of us have kept our professional personas really separate from our personal personas.

But for those of us fortunate enough to work from home, we’ve had to embrace a new kind of blending of the two. And I think the implications of this for the future of work are still really playing out. But I suspect we will see more opportunities for flexible work arrangements to emerge, like, where and how and when work gets done. And I’d love to see the idea of quality over quantity becoming really the true measure of professional success, as opposed to how many meetings one attends and how many hours one works.

[TORI DICKEY] Yes. And that’s a great point. I’m right there with you with regards to how we view productivity or how we view success as a shift. So what do you think about the new normal we keep hearing about? I mean, we’re all facing the unfamiliar routines, keeping more personal distance. What are your thoughts as it pertains to ADP and our culture?

[MARTHA BIRD] Yes. It’s interesting, Tori. I have been giving a lot of thought to this term, new normal. And personally, I feel like the term, emerging realities, is better because I believe it captures the multiple ways people are learning to adapt and evolve. It’s a dynamic term that implies change in movement, whereas I think a new normal feels, to me, a bit static, which is really the way culture works.

For, example, what might be new to one person is the same old thing for another. And similarly, what I might find normal might well seem out of the ordinary for another person. So it’s not really about a one size fits all. If we have learned anything I think over the past several months, it is that people experience life differently depending on many and varied factors like age, ethnicity, income, education, and access. So for me, I like emerging realities.

[TORI DICKEY] Very good. So is the handshake a thing of the past days and now considered taboo?

[MARTHA BIRD] I’m not sure I’d call it a taboo, but then again I’m an anthropologist. So my mind goes to the original meaning of the word which was related to like sort of supernatural forces that had the potential of doing evil. So to avoid taboos, we’re set up to get away from these dangers. So supernatural malevolent forces aside, if nothing else, those who follow I think the CDC and the WHO guidelines won’t be shaking hands anytime too soon.

Of course, two, many cultures don’t shake hands when greeting others. So for instance in Thailand, people put their hands at chest level and bow. And so in other places for religious reasons, some people don’t shake hands. Particularly, men don’t shake hands with women.
And then there’s also the thing about order, the order of shaking. And the pressure of the handshake can vary depending on the age of those gathering with deference to elders. But I think it seems safe to say, however, that for the near-term, handshakes will be avoided by many people. Whether these will become a thing of the past seems unlikely, given the hope that we’ll soon see a vaccine for COVID-19, and also the fact that the process of cultural behavior changes in very lengthy process.

[TORI DICKEY] So do you have any messaging or words of wisdom on how we can support our different generations in ADP through this change?

[MARTHA BIRD] Yeah. I think the main one that comes to my mind is to be kind to yourself. That’s first and foremost. And then understand that most people are experiencing a sense of anchorlessness and uncertainty. So it’s OK to feel vulnerable, and it’s even better to be honest about it.

And listen with intention and respect your teammates. So I think listening is a sign of attention-paying. It’s a form of reciprocity, an affirmation between a listener in a speaker and vice versa. I think it signals a partnership, a collaboration rather than a one-way conversation. So active listening, I think, builds more trusting relationships.

Think back on a time when you felt like you were truly heard. And then think back on a time when you felt ignored. How did you feel about that person? So is that person someone you’d respect as a leader?

There are few feelings more apt to generate withdrawal and apathy than the feeling that your opinions don’t matter. It really doesn’t mean that everyone needs to agree with your opinions, but it does mean that feeling dismissed will never engender respect.

[TORI DICKEY] Great message. And I appreciate your words of wisdom here for us today with the Generations BRG.

[MARTHA BIRD] Mm-hmm. Thank you.

[TORI DICKEY] Yeah. How about the shift to a remote work environment? Are there different ways that you see our leaders might approach performance, coaching, or mentoring, and the employee engagement we have here at ADP?

[MARTHA BIRD] Yeah. There’s a couple of practices that come immediately to my mind. So interestingly today, my team is welcoming a new intern. And then the team leader has organized a Webex welcome to the team call so that we have a chance to say, we’re glad you’re here. Now, that’s an entirely new experience, and I’ll be happy to report back how that goes.

But it’s a step in the right direction. Yes, is it as good as having a get-together around our shared table where we have lunch? Maybe not. But is it a signal that we really care that this person is actually showed up? I think it is. So that’s I think that’ll be interesting to see.

And on the lines of human touch, I think leaders should adopt an attitude of open and honest communication to encourage more human-centered, I think, working relationships. This goes to what I was just saying really about attentive listening. And I think it starts by carefully curating inclusive remote meetings where everyone has a voice. So set aside time at the beginning of meetings to share fears and concerns and invite open discussion.

Set aside time for regular and predictable one-on-ones, perhaps inviting the associate to walk and talk during the conversation. I actually find that really a nice practice because so often we’re just crouched over our laptops, and it just doesn’t feel particularly humane. And I always really feel like there’s a lot more flow of conversation when I’m able to sort of just have a natural walking about. So I think that’s one thing.

And then ask the teammate how they prefer to be mentored. And something that I know has been successful in other companies– and I’ve seen it with friends that I know– is to pair teammates across generations. So creating mentorship opportunities in both directions– I just think it’s hugely valuable.

And then I share this with your listenership because I think this was something that I found really exceptionally engaging– was, I had asked teammates to share a photo of themselves as very young children, and then to write a single sentence. What would you say to them now?

Not only did this open up an opportunity for shared fun; it also gave the team an opportunity to learn more about childhood in different cultures, and underscored the reality that, regardless of current age, we were all kids once. So it proved to be a really successful exercise in terms of team sharing, cross-cultural learning, and multi-generational understanding. And I really recommend it to your listeners.

[TORI DICKEY] I like that. I think we’ll go ahead and launch that. Maybe our virtual chapter can help facilitate some fun around doing just that I certainly have had a similar experience in bringing about 10 pictures to a workplace environment and found that it really helps us to shift into that human dimension, find a common bond, and identify areas of discussion to build on that relationship and/or mentorship. So great suggestion, Martha. I appreciate that.

[MARTHA BIRD] My pleasure.

[TORI DICKEY] So one last question for you as we wrap this up. How do you view history and tradition in ADP? For example, our locations will have potlucks or other activities such as chili cook-offs. Do you think that we’ll see these again anytime soon in our in our workplace?

[MARTHA BIRD] Yeah. I don’t think we’ve seen the end of in-person gatherings. Humans are dependent on connection, and we form communities around these interpersonal opportunities. So ADP has a strong history of putting people first and, I think, with a very solid focus on family, whether it’s for the associates or for clients. And as a company, ADP has a consistent track record, I think, of supporting the communities in which we live and prosper.

This makes sense really is to give back to those who allow us to prosper. So how we give back may change, but the act of doing so is ingrained in the values of the company, and I don’t see that changing. I see changing eventually a return to more of these sort of in in-person get-togethers.

[TORI DICKEY] Good. Well, we certainly look forward to that time coming sooner than later.

[MARTHA BIRD] Yeah. And in the meantime, share photos of yourself as young children.

[TORI DICKEY] Yeah. There you go. [LAUGHS] It’s a great second-best while we bridge the gap. All right, well, thank you so much, Martha, for your time today and participating with the Generations BRG, the GenCast. We do hope that you’ll be able to join in future events or activities that Generations hosts as well.

[MARTHA BIRD] Well, I’d really look forward to that, Tori. And thank you so much for inviting me. It was my great pleasure.

[MUSIC PLAYING]

[LOGO] ADP, Always Designing for People.

[TEXT] ADP and the ADP logo are registered trademarks of ADP, Inc. All other marks are the property of their respective owners. Copyright © 2020 ADP, Inc.

Tech & Innovation Blog

Podcast: Fireside chat with Don Weinstein, CVP, Global Product & Development on his career and the latest tech happenings at ADP


Career Path, Fireside Chat, Latest Tech

ADP Technologist, Nik Palmer, hosts an engaging chat with our Global Product & Techology leader, Don Weinstein, and the executive sponsor for our Generations Business Resource Group. Don chats about his career path and gives some advice. He also shares the latest tech happenings at ADP, machine learning, and our evolving products. The Generations BRG focuses on creating connections between emerging and established professionals.

PODCAST TRANSCRIPT

[LOGO] ADP, Always Designing for People

[NICK PALMER] Howdy and welcome to the GENcast podcast. My name is Nick Palmer and I will be your host for this episode with Don Weinstein, Chief Product and Technology Officer here. Don is also the Executive Sponsor of Generations.

His role is somewhat unique as most companies separate product and technology. And what’s also interesting is that Don has a background in aerospace engineering and consulting prior to coming to ADP to work in corporate strategy and technology. Don, welcome, and thanks for sitting down with us.

[DON WEINSTEIN] Thanks, Nick. It’s great to be here.

[NICK PALMER] So to get started, let’s find out a little bit about you and tell us a little bit about what generation you identify with most closely and what are your standout roles.

[DON WEINSTEIN] Great question. I’m Generation X through and through. I do like from time to time looking at those different examples about the– or the differences in the different generations. And the one that always stuck out to me with Generation X being kind of a sandwich generation.

Stuck in between the boomers and the millennials is just kind of being the pragmatists in the room and figuring out how we help move things forward and make progress and maybe less about it was stuck between the me generation and the we generation before and after us.

[NICK PALMER] Building bridges versus building walls.

[DON WEINSTEIN] I like that. I hadn’t heard that, but I’ll quote you on that going forward. It’s really about just again, not trying that overly call attention to ourselves as a generation as much as just moving things forward. I was going to say, my top two stand out roles are advisor provider, which I was told was a somewhat unusual combination, but that’s all I know.

[NICK PALMER] Right on. Yeah, I don’t think I’ve met one of those yet. So that’s interesting. So tell us a little bit about some technology happenings here at ADP. If our listeners haven’t had a chance to listen to your recent HRExaminer executive podcast with John Sumser, we’ll make sure that we put a link up there and encourage them to take a listen.

In that podcast, you cover some excellent material there about how ADP is addressing diversity and inclusion via our products and our client services, most of which is just given away for free. Can you share a little bit about the GTP diversity and inclusion strategy and its intended impact for both clients and associates?

[DON WEINSTEIN] Yeah, I’d be glad to. And I think the first thing to peel back on is this isn’t some new idea that just came to us because of obviously what’s been happening, the increased focus we’ve seen based in large part on the recent tragic incidents with George Floyd and Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery, which I think have created a renewed focus on the problems and the challenges that diversity has and that we have with diversity as a country and in particular in the workplace.

So I am glad for that renewed focus. But this is something we’ve been thinking about for and working on for a while. I’d point you back to, it was 2016 when we launched our Pay Equity Explorer and actually was recognized as an awesome new technology for 2016 by HR Executive Magazine the HR Tech Conference.

And in particular, what made the Pay Equity Explorer great or an awesome new technology is it took this long founded challenge that we know about, disparities and discrimination and pay practices in the workplace, and took a new angle to it where we could leverage ADP’s vast treasure trove of data so we could understand industry benchmarks, both outside an organization, as well as inside an organization, and in addition to which we can apply machine learning algorithms to help identify not just– you see the classic studies that say, OK, in this context, women get paid 82 cents on the dollar.

It’s a constantly moving benchmark so I don’t remember what the latest is. But that was a relatively recent one. And it’s important. And it’s important to know. But it’s not actionable. OK. So what do I do about it? More importantly, where do I get started?

And so the Pay Equity Explorer was able to break that down using machine learning to crawl through a client’s data and identify very specific, this individual in this job relative to this internal and external market benchmark is being underpaid by this exact amount and here’s how you can take care of that.

And I think that was a real breakthrough in terms of attacking that problem. And we looked at that across all dimensions. We looked at it by gender, we looked at it by race, we looked at it by ethnicity, because trying to get multi-dimensional on the problem.

And that was really just the first such example. We followed that up with a couple of more products, one of which we focused on including a little about diversity and inclusion and inclusiveness. We’ve been very focused on accessibility in our products.

And I’m talking about making content more accessible in particular for folks who may be visually impaired or other types of impairments that would prevent them from being able to access their normal workplace tools.

So our core application, My ADP, that’s used by employees and managers, as well as our ADP mobile application, we’ve been embedded enhanced usability and accessibility controls. We’ve been doing that for years. I’m actually trying to remember when we started. It’s been so long that we’ve been at that I couldn’t I couldn’t tell you off the top of my head, but it’s been a while.

[NICK PALMER] I know I’ve supported AudioEye for a while now.

[DON WEINSTEIN] Exactly. AudioEye as a partner, we’ve worked with on both to consult with us on how to design our products to make them more accessible, and then they have plug-ins that handle all different types of impairments and get us beyond level two on the web content accessibility guidelines.

And those are just a couple of examples. I could drone on forever. You probably don’t want me to. We’re continuing to push the ball forward. We had a couple of things in the works. We’re working on some new diversity inclusiveness dashboards with our data cloud team to give clients better analytics about what they’re doing, multiple different metrics around– you’ll get the entire talent lifecycle.

Are we recruiting diverse talent pools? How are we rewarding? How are we retaining? How are we promoting? And taking all of that through a D and I lens. We’ve kind of already started working on that next iteration when obviously the external environment kicked it up a notch in terms of our priority level.

And you had asked the question not only from an external angle but also from an internal angle. So I’m super excited that we’ve been able to partner with our internal ADP D and I team, in particular Aisha who is our Chief Diversity Officer, to have ADP be client number one for any and all new products that we want to push in this area.

And actually have been having great success with Sreeni Kutam about making ADP client number one for any of our enterprise HR products. And diversity inclusiveness is just the latest example that we’re putting a lot of energy into right now.

[NICK PALMER] As we move from a service company to a technology company, it’s interesting to see that dynamic come into play and adoption of that agile startup mentality of using what we build internally. That’s awesome. So, tell us a little bit about your path towards executive leadership and how that shaped your approach towards management of people and product.

[DON WEINSTEIN] Yeah, I’ve had somewhat of a circuitous path. You pointed out in the intro that I was an aerospace engineer by training. I started my career at General Electric. And I was working in the satellite telecommunications side of the house.

So I worked on such projects as the Dish Network and GPS. So if you’re using Waze on your way home at some point or the next time you’re in the car, you’re welcome. And truthfully, a lot of people worked on that project. You can imagine I was just one of many really brilliant and talented folks who did that.

But it was fun. It was an exciting place to start a career. But how I got from there to the payroll and HCM industry, it was not a linear trajectory whatsoever. I was bought, sold, merged, acquired six different times in my first several years. GE at some point decided to get out of that business.

They sold it to Martin Marietta. Martin Marietta merged with the Lockheed Company, became Lockheed Martin. Lockheed Martin shut down the facility I was working at. There were 5,000 people there when I started. And I was the 10th to last to walk out the door and shut the place down.

And now it’s just an industrial brownfield site that’s been sitting there unoccupied for 20 plus years, which is kind of sad. What I learned in some of that– first thing, so, coming out of that, I didn’t know what to do with myself.

So what do you do when you’re a 20-something engineer and you don’t know what to do with the rest of your life? I went back to school and got an MBA. And then when I finished up my MBA, I still don’t know what I wanted to do with myself?

So what do you do when you’re an overeducated 20-something who doesn’t know what to do? You go into consulting and tell other people what to do. I don’t know what to do with my life, but let me tell you what to do with yours.

Consulting was a good experience for me in that up until that point, I had only known one industry, one business, and one functional area. So it really helped me broaden myself out. And I think if there’s one or two takeaways I could take away from that experience, it’s I had the opportunity to work in a lot of different industries on a lot of different problems, and having that cross-functional type of experience I think was useful.

Even starting my career at GE, they really encourage some rotational type assignments. I have noticed within ADP, we probably don’t do that as much as other organizations. Also I made a stop at IBM for several years. And we used to joke at IBM, it stood for I’ve Been Moved.

But at ADP, I think we have folks who tend to spend more time in one area. And it’s great for developing deep expertise in that area. And some of the stuff that we do, you have to be pretty deep and expert to do it.

But I think also we can benefit and folks can benefit from taking that kind of side step rotational assignment to learn about the business through another lens and then come back. It’s something I’ve been encouraging within my technology organization now. Really, two things.

One is getting more rotations within technology, including on my leadership team. So the simple way we think about it is I’ve got the applications side of the house, as you said, the product side. And then the traditional infrastructure, the technology side.

So we’ve been rotating people within products, moving from one product, maybe moving from a shared product like our identity management or reporting solution into a market facing product like RUN or Workforce Now or something like that.

Gives people a different perspective. Moving between the application side and the infrastructure side of the house. So we’ve done a handful of rotations there. And I think we’ll do some more. And also encouraging bi-directional folks from the technology organization to roll out into business type roles and vise versa.

Folks who are in the different sides of the business who have interests or an aptitude for technology to come do a tour of duty in the technology world and then go back to their functional areas with a greater appreciation for what we’re doing here.

It’s something, like I said, I was able to benefit and take advantage of early on in my career. And I think that’s something that I’m trying to encourage others at least within my scope of influence in GPT to take advantage of as well. Does that make sense?

[NICK PALMER] Yes, it does. That’s great. I think that I’m going to quote you on the merged, bought, sold, and acquired. Yeah. One of the things that you said in there that was particularly interesting was about that tour of duty in rotation.

And that’s something that I’d like to make sure that we’ve heard is covered again and mentioned again because that’s something that we’ve heard from our membership, saying how should I approach the career path and moving forward?

Should I jump around and try lots of different things? Or should I stick and go deep expertise? And I’ve obviously stuck and done the deep expertise side of things. But I tell people all the time, jumping around and gaining a broad perspective, that’s also equally valid.

They are opposite sides of the same coin. And as long as you’re holding that coin and paying attention to it, either one can afford you great insight and knowledge and career path opportunity. So thanks for sharing the opposite side of the coin from what I typically do.

[DON WEINSTEIN] Yeah, and if I could just put a nuance on that, I like to think about it as a major and a minor. Because I wouldn’t want to create the false expectation. I think too much jumping around, also a bad thing, right? I think you need to stay long enough in an area to develop a certain level of depth and expertise.

And that’s it. That’s your major. And then when you have that depth of expertise in a certain area, then when you go out into another area, you may be a novice in that new found area, but you can be valuable to the folks there because you bring the expertise about something else that they don’t know about.

So for instance, do a typical one again in my area, is if I’ve got somebody who’s super knowledgeable about infrastructure and then they go do a rotational assignment on the app side of the house, they may not know everything there is to know about app development, but they can bring to that team their richness and depth of experience on infrastructure that is going to be beneficial to the team.

And then potentially, like I said, not then move on to the next thing and the next thing and the next thing. But do that as sort of like a side step and then come back to infrastructure and be a better infrastructure engineer because you understand more now how the application that your infrastructure is supporting.

So a little different than saying jump around as much as you do a sidestep, come back. Maybe apply what you learned. Maybe do another one, come back. So I think it’s useful for somebody to have a major. I’ll tell you, my life experience, as I said, I started out as an engineer. Spent several years in engineering.

Coming out of engineering, I went into consulting and I got to apply that in a bunch of different areas. Then I did some work in strategy. Came back to product. Then I came to ADP. Well, did a long tenure in project management.

Went out to strategy. So I was a Chief Strategy Officer for a couple of years. Came back to GPT. So not floating all over the place, but sidestep, come back, sidestep, come back, learn a new skill, come back and apply it kind of model, if that makes sense.

[NICK PALMER] Right, and I think how I would encapsulate that nuance that you’re talking about is you have to do the tour of duty. You have to learn something, not be a tourist and jump around. So there is a difference in terms of your depth and understanding that you gain in a tour of duty versus just being a tourist to a new location.

[DON WEINSTEIN] Very well said, yes.

[NICK PALMER] So let’s get into the big elephant in the room. One of the biggest hurdles we had in late FY 20 was the rapid change to remote work modality. The business continuity team recently discussed this undertaking in their internal webinar.

And you talk about the international effort in depth on the HRExaminer podcast. The company saw some wonderful productivity engagement through the process. And as associates continue to work remotely and some areas slowly begin the process of returning to the office, what kinds of productivity and technology challenges do you see arising?

[DON WEINSTEIN] Yeah, it’s a good question. And something we’re thinking a lot about these days, of course. The first thing I observed is as we moved everybody remote, there was this certainly surge of connectivity going on that causes a lot of technical challenges. And now we’re keen thinking already ahead to like, what the year end is going to look like and is that going to be another surge.

But the productivity question is I think the one that’s even more interesting because you see different views out there and different scenarios about, well, are we more productive in a remote setting or are we less productive? That’s a question that comes up from time to time. And I’ll share just a couple of dynamics.

And these are anecdotes that I’m observing. I don’t claim to have the full settled science on is work from home more or less productive yet. But the one thing I noticed is in the past where we had most folks working in an office and then a minority working from home, I thought it was hard to be in that subset minority of folks who weren’t in the office, versus when everybody is remote, it seems like, if you’re having a meeting and there’s 12 people in the meeting and nine of them are in the room and then three are on the phone or the video, you’d see that the folks who were on the phone or the video, every once in a while somebody was like, oh, stop, wait.

Folks on the phone, do you have anything to add? Because it almost becomes an afterthought. Whereas when everybody’s remote, I actually think it makes that aspect of it work a little bit better. But now that we’re talking about reopening, and by the way, just for full disclosure, I’m in sitting in Roseland right now because part of the very first wave of US pilots, Roseland was the first office and I was in the first cohort of folks who raised my hand and said, sure, I’ll come back into the office.

So I’m in Roseland right now. But some of our offices around outside the US have already started to open up. Shanghai was the first and a handful in Europe as well. But I think it’s a challenge when you’re in this partial hybrid state, right? So if everybody’s remote, I think the collaboration works better.

And in particular getting more voices heard. But when some folks are remote and some folks are in the office and you have this partial stasus going, I’m not sure that that works as well. And that’s something that we have to be very mindful of as we hopefully at some point start to transition back.

And the second thing I’d point out is where we have mature teams of people, I’ve got a mature team of folks, they’ve been working together for a while, they know each other, they’ve been working on their products for a while, they know the products. I think those teams going remote were capable of doing so.

And it was almost a seamless transition. Now we’re at the point, it’s July, and this is the time of year when we have our new college grads start showing up. So I’ve got close to 100, I’ve got 150 total who will be showing up here over the next several months. And so the ability to onboard and assimilate those new hires into the company– so first they have to learn about the company, about the products, about the other team members.

For most of them, it’s going to be their first real work experience. And the ability to manage through that in a remote setting I think is a little bit trickier. And it’s one that I don’t know that we’ve cracked the code on, but we’re mindful of now that we’re going through a virtual onboard process.

So I think those are some real challenges that we need to be really taking seriously here the longer that this stretches out. I don’t know what that would be like to onboard as a brand new, fresh out of college graduate, my first real job, my first company, and I’m remote for six months. Nobody knows. I mean, I saw Google came out and announced they’re going to be remote at least till next summer. Not saying that they’re right, but it just shows you where things are moving.

[NICK PALMER] Yeah, the vision is definitely down the road as opposed to next week or next month.

[DON WEINSTEIN] That’s right. Definitely doesn’t feel like it’s around the corner.

[NICK PALMER] And I think the key thing, though, that you bring up is that we’re mindful of it. We’re aware that this is a potential issue. And unless we are aware of it, we can’t really do anything about it. So it’s good to hear that we’re paying attention and monitoring, even if we don’t have all the answers right now. We’re closely watching and observing to see what those answers might become and reveal.

[DON WEINSTEIN] Exactly.

[NICK PALMER] So in terms of that, how do you see the business resource groups and Generations playing a role in this remote and hybrid environment?

[DON WEINSTEIN] It’s a great question. It’s an important one. And I’ll go back to the beginning of my career and tie that into why I always felt so passionate about Generations and the work you all are doing here. And that is that I felt like I did have a good onboarding experience when I first started my career back at GE.

Again, I came in as a brand new, fresh faced engineer right out of college and got to work on some pretty complex stuff. But I was lucky to really have– and this gets the spirit of Generations. We brought people in together as a class. So we had a cohort of people I came with, that I bonded with, and some of whom are still my closest friends to this day. So I had a lot of peer interaction and learning through it together.

And then we had senior level mentoring. And I remember a couple of mentors in particular who really took me under their wing and showed me the ropes a little bit and helped me really accelerate my career by being able to learn from the wisdom of some of the folks who had been there together and enjoy the camaraderie aspect of being part of a group of people and not feeling like I was at it alone.

It’s one of the things we’ve tried to bring to, as I mentioned, and we called our GPT Development Program when we onboard the new college graduates. We bring them in as a class and try and create that spirit. And we assign them mentors from within the broader organization. And as I look at where we are as an organization right now in terms of moving folks out of the office remote, I think it’s been about 20 or so weeks here in the US since we went to remote work.

And again, I know there was this initial surge of productivity because people were certainly, we had a lot of work to do as we were responding to various aspects of the COVID crisis from a regulatory or compliance aspect. And there was just the change element there, I’d say, almost like a mini little euphoria.

I’m speaking for myself now. I’ve been coming into an office for 30 years and I never really had an opportunity to work from home for any kind of extended period. So it was just different. You get a little bit of an, I’ll call it an adrenaline rush.

But I’ve seen and I’ve also read some interesting articles by others about how that phenomenon played out in a number of different organizations. But after that initial adrenaline rush, now we’re settling in for the long haul. And how do we keep folks engaged?

How do we avoid burnout in a world where if you’re like me, the whole work life balance, whatever it was went away because I wake up and get my first cup of coffee and, boom, I’m right at it. And then I just keep going all day, all night. That’s not a recommendation or a lifestyle tip, but it makes it harder.

And so there is some notion that the longer this drags on, the current scenario, you’re worried about either, you’re worried about burnout, you’re worried about fatigue factors, you’re worried about people losing engagement, losing connectivity to their team or to their organization.

And so I think the work that business resource groups do is probably more critical now in this type of environment than ever before in terms of creating a sense of affinity and shared purpose with people who have common interests and common objectives that span organization or function or job, but rather say, we have connectivity at a purpose level here.

And so I’m thankful that our ADP, that our HR organization had the foresight to start us down this path several years ago. And we’ve got this kind of infrastructure in place now today. Because I believe it’s critical to helping folks navigate the current crisis from a personal work life relationship aspect.

[NICK PALMER] Right on. Thank you very much, Don. We appreciate your time here today. And I wanted to thank you personally for your guidance and suggestions for the Generations Group. I know that we are looking forward to an amazing FY 21.

One of the things when we connect and we talk about is books and self-improvement that we’re undertaking currently. So would you like to leave the Generations members any suggestions on what you’ve been reading or studying lately?

[DON WEINSTEIN] Yeah, I’d be happy to. I’ll just share with you what I’ve been reading. I don’t know how helpful it is. But I’ve become quite a big fan of this– is an academic, a historian at Oxford, Yuval Noah Harari.

He’s written a few books. Sapiens was a history of humankind. Homo Deus was a kind of a forward looking one. And the current book that he’s got out there is called 21 Lessons for the 21st Century. And it couldn’t, in my opinion, couldn’t be more timely.

It was sort of a little dark, if I would offer, and maybe it’s in keeping with the times. It’s funny, he published it before the pandemic or some of the unrest that we’re seeing happen. But seems to have a little bit of– seemed a little prescient in that.

But I can skip you through some of it because there are like 20 chapters like, yep, that’s where we’re at. That’s not working, that’s not working, that’s not working. And I get to the end, I’m like what’s the answer? So what do we do? And his only answer is meditate.

[NICK PALMER] I’m a big fan of those books. I would recommend them to all of our Generations members. I know we’ve shared a couple of those in previous quarterly book roundups. So thanks for the plug on those.

[DON WEINSTEIN] Absolutely. This is the generation that’s going to carry us forward. So meditating and being a little contemplate, not the worst idea right now.

[NICK PALMER] Thank you very much, Don. We appreciate your time today. And we will look forward to having you back sometime in the future.

[DON WEINSTEIN] Thank you. My pleasure.

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