Customer Stories

Systems for Research streamlines complex payroll

Powerpay frees up HR time to focus on a positive employee experience.

Researchers rely on powerful tools that offer greater visibility into the molecular world. In Canada, scientists trust Systems for Research to provide a wide array of the latest scientific instruments currently available. 

“Our customers tend to be those who are pushing the edge in their respective fields,” says Laura Belmar, HR Coordinator at the Kanata, Ontario-based company. “We connect them with the most innovative technology and service providers in the world.”

During the pandemic, Systems for Research supplied Canadian scientists with one of the technologies used worldwide to study SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. “Cryo-electron microscopy lets researchers view biological molecules, such as the spike protein on the coronavirus, at the highest possible magnification and resolution,” says Belmar.

The company has been collaborating with universities, industry, and health science institutions since its founding as a family business with a handful of employees in 1992. Today, with about 25 employees, it’s the country’s largest source of advanced microscopy technologies from leading suppliers in the U.S. and Europe. 

Seeking a new payroll solution for a growing organization

In the company’s early days, Systems for Research processed its payroll manually. “It was manageable, but then in 2008 we acquired a service division for the microscopes we were selling and more than doubled our employees,” says Belmar. “We inherited the service company’s payroll system, which was a huge struggle to operate. I was in sales but started helping with payroll, and there was a steep learning curve and virtually no customer support.”

In addition to a lack of proper onboarding and day-to-day support, Belmar says the legacy payroll system used outdated methods. “They were very paper-heavy, depended on regular mail, and weren’t willing to consider switching to soft copies and more digital processes. We realized pretty quickly that we needed a new payroll partner.”

An industry colleague recommended Ceridian’s Powerpay solution just over a decade ago, and implementation happened quickly. “Switching to Ceridian was easy from day one,” says Belmar. “They delivered a thorough onboarding, and the interface was immediately much easier to understand. Ceridian helped with data input and followed up with me after my first payroll.”

Transforming processes with a user-friendly payroll solution

Though Systems for Research is a small business, multiple factors complicate the company’s payroll. For one, there are two separate payrolls: one for sales employees, and one for service employees. Also, the company’s employees work remotely from across Canada and receive allowances based on their roles for costs such as vehicles and internet. Then there are variables such as bonuses, commissions, sick time, and different vacation accumulators.

“Powerpay gives us so much flexibility in customizing the tool for our particular needs, which are many,” says Belmar. “Paper processes are long gone, of course, and everything is automated. But I still rely on Ceridian customer support at year-end and whenever something comes up that I’m not sure about. Every time I reach out, no matter who I speak to, they have the knowledge to quickly answer my question.”

Empowering employees and freeing up HR time

Systems for Research uses Powerpay Self Service, which gives employees consistent access to their pay details, tax statements, employee data and more. “It’s so much easier for our employees
to find what they’re looking for right when they need it, and I get far fewer ad hoc requests,” says Belmar. “It’s also convenient from a security standpoint. I don’t have to send sensitive documents
as attachments.”

Not having to juggle routine employee inquiries and search for documents has saved her valuable time that she now devotes to improving the employee experience. “I have more time now,
which allows me to better determine whether they’re receiving all the support they need to do their best work and maintain personal wellness.”

Managing payroll changes and complications with ease

When new people join Systems for Research, Belmar says onboarding is seamless with Powerpay. “My workload doesn’t increase as the payroll increases because everything is already tailored to our unique employees.”

While a growing workforce is an expected payroll complication, the economic disruption of the pandemic was not. According to Belmar, Ceridian reduced the stress and uncertainty of navigating government economic programs. “Powerpay stayed on top of the federal subsidies for small businesses and had the Temporary Wage Subsidy integrated into the system, so it was easy for us.”

Securing the right HR advice at the right time

A few years ago, Systems Research expanded its partnership with Ceridian by adding HR Advisory Services. Powered by e2r, a professional services firm, it offers small businesses expert advice in navigating employment and labour laws. “The advisory service has been an outstanding adjunct to our business,” says Belmar. “Before, we were spending thousands of dollars on employment lawyers as needs would arise. It was expensive and impersonal.”

There are several plans to choose from, offering various levels of verbal and written advice at a flat monthly rate. “For a small business, this cost predictability is crucial,” says Belmar. “We can come to e2r with any issue at any time, whether it’s offboarding, medical leaves, or deciphering new employment legislation.”

Systems for Research has also worked with e2r on larger projects, such as revamping its HR manual and securing employment agreements for everyone on staff. “E2r showed us what we were missing from our HR department from a legal perspective,” says Belmar. “We feel very secure from a liability perspective now, but even more importantly e2r has ensured we understand employer requirements for each province. We have great peace of mind knowing that all of our employees are covered and receive the benefits they deserve.”

Reflecting on a strong partnership

Looking back on the company’s evolving partnership with Ceridian, Belmar says it’s been transformative for the business. “Ceridian’s exceptional service and support has allowed us to grow while keeping payroll and HR as a one-person, in-house operation. It’s been an amazing journey.”