March 23, 2020

Leading through COVID-19: An update from David Ossip

Ceridian's Chairman and CEO David Ossip shares a perspective on the last week, and insights on the value of communication, culture, and coordinated preparation in times of complexity.

What a difference a week makes. And, as we all know, it’s been one very long week

Organizations around the world are beginning to adjust to this “new normal” which, with social distancing, closed borders, lockdowns, and shuttered storefronts and restaurants, doesn’t feel at all normal. Yet, the human spirit triumphs – with countless random acts of kindness at home, in the workplace, and in the community.

Last week, I shared a few thoughts about the need for frequent communication, an agile culture, embracing the latest technology, top of the house coordination, robust preparation, and corporate social responsibility. Today, I’d like to provide a quick update and then share some information about a timely innovation we are bringing to market that will help employers and their employees.

 

Communication

Now more than ever, communication must be transparentauthenticfrequent, and – above all – two-way. In the past week, we’ve established an online hub for our employees to access everything they need in one place. We’ve moved from periodic updates from the top of the house to daily updates. These emails don’t come from a generic H.R. or Corporate Communications email account. They come from my own email account. Each day, I typically receive between 50 to 150 responses from Ceridian employees to these emails, and I read each and every one of them. In the past week, we’ve held five virtual employee town halls via Zoom. And the participation and level of engagement from our employees has been through the roof.

We’ve held helpful webinars for our customers and the public, and we have more coming over the next few weeks. And we have helpful resources available on our COVID-19 Central hub, which I invite you to check out.

At times like this, it’s also critical to communicate with customers, governments, and investors. During those conversations, it is as important – if not more important – to be in listen mode, rather than broadcast mode. This is a time when we all need to share and learn from the best practices of others. We’re all in this together

 

Culture

You can have the best product in the world, but eventually a competitor will attempt to copy it. From past experience, building a great culture is actually harder than building a great product, which – in itself – is never easy. Culture is something that cannot be replicated easily, and it is a source of true competitive advantage. In the past ten days, my colleagues and I have been reminded of this hundreds of times. We have an awesome team at Ceridian. Whether it is our sales team, our customer service team, our product development team, our IT team, or our corporate functions, I am awestruck at their focus, agility, and optimism. We also have some employees in critical functions like print production that come to work on-site, so that our customers’ employees can get paid. These Ceridian teammates are true heroes, and we cannot thank them enough.

Going largely virtual has had its occasional moments of much-needed levity. At Ceridian, we have long embraced video technology. Rather than seeing people in their work stations, we are now inside their homes. In the background, we’ve seen some folks looking like hockey players on a playoff run with stubble and beards; toddlers on mom or dad’s lap; brothers and sisters playing tag; and dogs and cats running around. Sure, it’s a little chaotic at times, but it’s wonderful to keep that in-person feeling and human connection. 

 

Technology  

Our IT team, led by Warren Perlman, is amazing. Quietly and in the background, they prepared and got us ready to go virtual. They made sure we had the laptops and the band width we needed. For our employees, it doesn’t matter if they are in Canada, the United States, Mauritius, the U.K., or Australia, it’s totally seamless. We can communicate with each other and with our customers, vendors, and partners with ease and with an in-person feel.

 

Coordination

At times like this, coordination is key. We have a great dedicated COVID-19 Response Team, led by our EVP Erik Zimmer. They have the experience and authority to make the right decisions – quickly. This allows Leagh Turner, our President and Chief Operating Officer, and the rest of our senior leaders to keep the focus on the business

 

Preparation

All I can say here is that past preparation is paying-off now. Our Business Continuity Plan was robust, and it is working. It has really allowed us to stay focused on what we do best, rather than scrambling, stumbling, and playing catch up.

 

Corporate Social Responsibility

Beyond going virtual to #FlattenTheCurve, we are encouraging employees to perform random acts of kindness – like calling neighbors who are seniors to check in with them and to see if they need anything or just saying “thank you” to a tired paramedic, nurse, or doctor. There are so many unsung heroes in our society: the people who grow and produce our food, the railway workers and truck drivers who move those goods, the grocery store and pharmacy workers. They all deserve our heartfelt praise and thanks.

 

Introducing Dayforce Wallet

Last week, I noted that creativity is a corporation’s greatest currency in a world that is looking a little more confused and complex. Justine Janssen, our SVP of Strategic Initiatives, and an amazing team have been working on something called Dayforce Wallet

Since the beginning of 2020, we’ve moved rapidly from a period of economic expansion to a time of real hardship for so many. Dayforce Wallet is a game-changer that gives employees greater control over their financial well-being with instant access to their earnings. With Dayforce Wallet, employers can help to minimize financial stress for their employees by making any day payday. In April, Ceridian’s Dayforce customers in the United States are going to have access to it. Employers and employees can learn more about Dayforce Wallet here. Stay tuned for more updates from us on this.

As always, if Ceridian’s experience can be helpful to you, please email me directly at david@ceridian.com. I can also be reached on LinkedIn or @dossip on Twitter.

Take good care everyone,

David Ossip // Chairman and CEO // Ceridian

David Ossip

David Ossip is Chairman and CEO of Ceridian. As CEO, David led Ceridian’s transformation from legacy provider into an innovative cloud Human Capital Management company. In April 2018, Ceridian completed the largest technology IPO in Canadian history, raising over $800 Million. Ceridian also completed a secondary offering for an additional $400 Million. David has been named Canada’s Most Admired CEO by Waterstone Human Capital, and one of the Highest Rated CEOs by Glassdoor. Under his leadership, Ceridian has been named a best place to work for millennials, for women, and in technology.

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