Looking back at 2013, what was the biggest HR challenge your organization faced and how did you address it? Last month, HR professionals reflected on this question and submitted their answers to our CeridianVoice short essay contest.  

Contest Winners: Readers Share their HR Challenges & Successes

Looking back at 2013, what was the biggest HR challenge your organization faced and how did you address it? Last month, HR professionals reflected on this question and submitted their answers to our CeridianVoice short essay contest.

The CeridianVoice team received a number of quality entries and chose the top three essays that provide insight into the impact HR can have on employees and the organization. We hope these essays inspire and guide you in overcoming your HR dilemmas in 2014 and beyond!

First Place Essay

Tammy Howze
HR Specialist
Sodalis Elder Living, New Braufels, Texas

Challenge: Finding & Retaining Quality Employees

In the first quarter of 2013, we were faced with the challenge of finding and retaining good employees. While we had already invested a lot of time in the hiring process and employee training, we missed hiring opportunities and the impact on the company’s morale was becoming very costly to the company. These impacts made us slow down and take the time to understand what truly contributes to our employee engagement and retention. We decided that our organization needed to make some drastic changes to keep up with the ever-changing economy.


To overcome our challenge of finding the right employees, we adopted the hiring practices outlined in the book How to Hire an A Player. Implementing this technique not only helped us redefine our interview process but gave us the needed information to make fewer mistakes in hiring. The new process helped us work toward our goal of creating a workforce that was able to improve productivity and made the organization more profitable.

Once we had fixed the challenge of finding the right employee, our next step was making sure we retained them. Employee retention is a key challenge for every company. We sent surveys to our current employees to gather information about how they felt about their job position, salary, benefits and the company as a whole. Once we compiled the outcomes of these surveys, we were able to concentrate on the needs of our employees by developing several more benefit opportunities and adjusting pay scales by demographics. Some of the benefit opportunities we created included: Employee Service Recognition, Attendance and Punctuality Recognition, Birthday Acknowledgement, and Holiday Recognition.

Due to the new hiring and retention practices and tactics we implemented, our turnover rate has dropped by 10 percent. We will continue to monitor these practices and programs in order to continue decreasing turnover and increasing retention.

Second Place Essay

Marge Rzeszut
Human Resources Director
Leader’s Casual Furniture, Largo, Fla.

Challenge: Offering Affordable Health Insurance

Affordable health insurance is and continues to be a benefit that our company wants to offer its employees. In 2013, we knew our insurance premiums would rise significantly and that it would be vital for us to deal with the impact this would have on our bottom line.


Our company and HR leaders met numerous times with our insurance broker to discover the best way to address this important issue. Additionally, I attended several seminars regarding the Affordable Care Act. Prior to the employer mandate being delayed, we evaluated the pros and cons of paying the penalty for failing to provide employees health insurance. Even though it made more financial sense to pay the penalty, the company leadership could not do this to their loyal employees and any future employees. The majority of our employees are full time and they will always remain full time unless they choose to reduce their hours. We decided that the rising cost of premiums was not going to change our philosophy of offering good health insurance to our employees.

Once we made our decision, the next step was to communicate it to employees. I personally spoke to our employees and held meetings to explain what was coming ahead in 2014. In our corporate office, we employ approximately 100 full-time employees and there is an “open door” policy for everyone, from the leadership down to entry level workers. During this time of transition, answering questions about ACA and what insurance we planned to offer was a common occurrence.

In early December 2013, we held a medical insurance meeting for our employees and made sure everyone had enough time to make their insurance choices for the next year. We have 18 store locations and the same information and written explanations were given to each store to make sure all employees understood their options. We offered an HMO and PPO, along with another HMO with lower premiums. Each employee was given a summary of benefits on each plan and encouraged to look over everything before making decisions about changing their coverage. The company still continued to pay a higher percentage of the increased premiums than required by ACA because they cared about their employees.

In the end, even though our employees’ biweekly premiums increased significantly, we had very few employees drop their insurance. We were certainly glad to see there wasn’t much of a change in our enrollment – even though employees could have gone to the marketplace.

Third Place Essay

Evan Stroum
Payroll Supervisor
Wieden+Kennedy, Portland Ore.

Challenge: Using a disjointed HR system

Our biggest challenge is having a system that is not dependent on the mainframe and does not interface with the other software programs we use. Additionally, we need a system that is global in nature with the flexibility to accommodate the unique needs of each office. Without a global HCM, we are forced to treat each transfer from one of our foreign offices as a new hire since none of the information transfers with them. Therefore, the likelihood of all data associated with this employee crossing over to the new office is highly unlikely.

In regards to being on a mainframe software product, we are constantly at the mercy of the decisions the mainframe makes regarding the information we enter. Consequently, we have spent a lot of time resolving issues that occur when our data appears to process in the payroll trial but is ultimately rejected by the mainframe for one reason or another. Some of these cases were completely beyond our control and required that additional time be spent on the phone with customer support representatives. A few of these cases/calls resulted with no explanation as to the cause of the issue. Additionally, our data scrub always seems to be loaded with records that are out of sync, regardless of how careful all system users are.

Lastly, auditing is a huge part of our success in HR and Payroll. However, half of our audits are reactions to the integrity of our current system. We have numerous audits to safeguard the limitations of the system.


My company is seeking to resolve these issues with a different, more robust human capital management system that operates in the cloud. We are in the process of selecting an all-inclusive HCM solution to help alleviate these issues and have all of our offices connected to the same platform, regardless of their location. Since our team and the company have grown, we have revisited all of our workflow processes as well.

Honorable Mentions

In addition to the top three essay contest winners, we’d also like to recognize the following people who received honorable mention:

  • Nancy Taylor, Manager, Human Resources
    Certified Power, Inc., Mundelein, Ill.
  • Jennifer Travis, Human Resources/Payroll Coordinator
    Christian Life School, Kenosha, Wis.

Challenges Today, Opportunities Tomorrow

To keep up with the constantly evolving nature of the business world, HR professionals must constantly adapt and modify their employee, compliance and benefits strategies. As these winning essays show, those that embrace this challenge distinguish themselves as leaders both in the HR field and within their broader industry.

For more information:

  • Learn about employee retention tactics from Ceridian LifeWorks
  • Access ACA resources and tools in Ceridian’s Compliance Center
  • Investigate human capital management solutions offered through Dayforce HCM