For more than 50 years, Tremploy has provided government-funded vocational training services to approximately 135 adults with intellectual disabilities at any given time. Clients attend on-site programs that provide employment training and teach life skills like communication. And the organization’s Employee Assistance Program provides support for clients who are working off-site for agencies such as the City of Charlottetown, the Department of Tourism, and the University of PEI. The nonprofit also offers a vocational assessment and guidance program called Career Bridges, for individuals considering a career change or further training.
Many of Tremploy’s 40 employees have been with the organization for a while, some more than 25 years. Half are unionized, and most work full-time out of the organization’s main Charlottetown location. The rest work out of regional locations. No matter where they’re based, employees are bonded to the mission, the clients, and each other. And every day, they make a difference.
Tremploy began its payroll partnership with Ceridian more than 21 years ago, on the advice of its bank. Shelley Watts, Tremploy’s Finance Officer, was the auditor at that time, and remembers the implementation well: one of the major benefits of moving to Ceridian’s batch payroll system, was that the organization was able to do away with its enormous 14 by 17-inch payroll registers and replace them with 8.5 by 11-inch paper. It was a game-changer.
In February 2021, Tremploy made another move, this time from Ceridian’s batch payroll system to Powerpay cloud-based system. Watts knew the implementation would go well but was still a bit nervous: any change in payroll systems has the potential to disrupt processes and programs. Watts’ small team of two – herself and her bookkeeper – didn’t have time to be bogged down correcting errors after the fact.
And they didn’t have to. Tremploy waited until after year-end to start the transition. Within a few weeks, they were up and running in Powerpay. “It was quick and painless,” says Watts. And the results were noticeable almost immediately, beginning with cost savings.
“When you're a nonprofit, you have to make $1.50 out of $1. Because we're government-
funded, budgets are always tight, and you’re always asking yourself where else can you get a dollar from. Powerpay’s slightly lower fees make a big difference to an organization like us.”
Moving from a batch-based system, which was time-consuming, to Powerpay also simplified the payroll process. The system’s interface is intuitive and user-friendly and makes it easy to do everything from accessing employee data, running payroll, making changes to pensions and contributions, pulling Records of Employment (ROEs), and tracking union membership. Previously, Tremploy’s bookkeeper had to manually stuff envelopes with employee cheques, but with Powerpay, they arrive pre-packaged and sealed.
“Powerpay has saved us approximately half a day on payroll every two weeks, and an hour and a half stuffing envelopes. We're looking at about five hours each pay cycle that's saved,” says Watts. Over the year, that adds up to more than two weeks of work saved.
Being on a cloud-based system is also making a difference. Watts and her team can now access data from anywhere and, if a snowstorm – or a pandemic – hits, they know they can run payroll remotely from wherever they are. Before, when a system update was due, it took time and effort to make the necessary changes on Tremploy’s server. Now, updates happen automatically.
It’s also easier to support staff, says Watts. “Say an employee wants to know the impact of making a change to their RRSP contribution. In three minutes, I can make the change, run the preview, and give them the information.”
In 2021, Tremploy launched a program that will provide paid employment training to up to 150 clients. Those who join will earn a stipend based on their attendance. In the past, the government agency funding the program would process electronic funds transfer (EFT) payments directly to clients. But this year, it decided to outsource that work to funded agencies. Tremploy wondered if it would be able to process the stipend payments, totaling over half a million dollars, and issue the related T4As using Powerpay.
It only took one call to the Powerpay help desk to confirm that the system could support Tremploy’s and its funder’s needs. Watts was thrilled.
“Having that confidence is big. We were going to look at a different program, but I said, ‘I know we can do this through Powerpay. This program can do anything.’ This morning, I got a call from the government asking what program we use because they've got a couple of other organizations that they're going to be funding that are going to be doing stipends also.”
Ceridian also helped Tremploy navigate the quickly changing landscape of pandemic-related federal government subsidies and take advantage of the Temporary Wage Subsidy program.
“I was working from home and doing payroll near the end of the day. I called the support team knowing they have many payroll customers all trying to get through to them at the same time. I dealt with the same CPA-trained customer service representative for each of my three pays at 7:00 p.m. at night. And everything turned out fine,” says Watts.
With her auditor background, it’s no surprise that compliance is a top priority for Watts. With a small team and many demands to meet, she needs a system she can trust day to day, and for her annual, government-required audit.
“Powerpay is a great way of putting a set of controls in place,” says Watts. “Businesses get caught up thinking they have to have a certain number of employees to make it beneficial to go on an automated payroll system. I’m like, ‘why wait?’ With Powerpay, I input my data into the system, and I get pay stubs, reports, and T4s I can be confident in. Everything is done, and I’ve got clean controls.”
Watts values the home screen notifications in Powerpay, which alert her to changes and new guidance from the Canada Revenue Agency. And having year-end steps listed right in the system, and reporting set up to reduce errors and save time on validation and checking makes it easier for less experienced members of her team to complete year-end successfully. “The preparation of T4s, you can’t put a cost saving on that,” she says.
Best of all, Watts knows that if things go a bit sideways, which they sometimes do, the Powerpay support team has her covered. She recalls an incident a few years ago when someone on her team accidentally terminated an employee who was going on maternity leave, instead of putting her on a leave of absence. The system retired the employee’s number, causing problems when the employee returned. “I called Ceridian and they took the employee’s records and transferred them all over to a new employee number. Within two days, we had all her history, and had her back on payroll.”
That easy access to unlimited support always sets Watt’s mind at ease. “I’ve been using the program hands-on for 21 years. If I waited an hour to get an answer back, that would be unusual. I would never think about changing programs or leaving Ceridian,” says Watts. “There has not been an issue in all of the years that we have not been able to find a way around.”
When Watts thinks about the future, she feels confident. As she prepares for her retirement, she knows her team has the system and partnership required to support the organization’s needs. And, just as Tremploy strives to be there for its clients as they grow and change, she knows Ceridian will be there to support Tremploy, in whatever direction it takes.
“There are so many parts of Powerpay that we’re not even using yet on the HR side. With Ceridian, it’s wide-open, ‘What do you want to do? Where do you want to go?’”