The sheer scale of Spirit AeroSystems’ corporate headquarters in Wichita, Kansas is staggering. Walk into the facility and you’ll see the shells of airplanes similar to those that many of us have travelled in before – being put together by a highly skilled workforce and towering machinery.
The fuselages are laid out across the production floor in rows and massive mechanical arms are used to move and assemble these structures. It is an interesting glimpse into the creation of something that we see in the sky every day, but perhaps take for granted.
Spirit AeroSystems is the world’s largest designer and manufacturer of aerostructures for commercial and defense aircraft. With operations in the U.S., France, Scotland, and Malaysia, Spirit supplies fuselages, wing components, and propulsion components to companies like Boeing and Airbus. Spirit also works with defense programs and, most recently, was named a supplier for Aerion to make components for a large supersonic jet.
Spirit’s workforce consists of 18,000 employees across seven facilities worldwide, ranging from engineers to line workers to accountants and office staff. “Spirit's values are centered around transparency, inspiration, and collaboration. Add those values to on-time delivery, safety, and quality, and you get a top-tier product that's produced by a skilled workforce,” says Lane Lindt, Spirit’s Global Talent Acquisition Lead.
Having a dedicated, skilled workforce to engineer and produce components is crucial in the aerospace industry. “We have one of the world's largest fabrication operations. We're producing hundreds of thousands of highly complex parts a year,” explains Sam Sackett, Senior Manager of Government Relations and Corporate Communications at Spirit. “In the aerospace industry, there's no room for error. It's critical that all of our operations – from payroll to the people that put together the aircraft structures – work seamlessly.”
The range and breadth of talent that is needed to successfully design, build, and assemble large aerostructures every day is staggering. Spirit highly values its workforce and wants to ensure they are taken care of properly.
“Payroll is about more than just paying your people,” says Jeana Scott, Spirit’s Global Payroll Lead. “You're creating a relationship with your employees and helping them with their day-to-day lives. Paying our employees accurately and on time is very important and lets them know they are valued.”
With such a large, diverse workforce however, Spirit had challenges with managing payroll on a global scale.
“Our workforce is very complex as far as payroll goes. We have union contracts that we have to follow for each individual employee, and we have over 380 wage types,” says Scott. “Spirit’s corporate team didn't have visibility into the payroll output for the global sites, and it put us at risk.”
James Brenneis, Spirit’s HR Shared Services Senior Manager, joined the company in 2016 and immediately noticed the need for a new solution. “At that time, we had three disparate solutions for our international payroll. We were an $8 billion company and realized that there was just too much risk to have these separate solutions. If we're not in compliance, which includes payroll, it can actually inhibit our ability to win new work, and customers can pull existing work from our factories.”
Spirit needed a payroll solution that could handle its global operations seamlessly and give peace-of-mind that employees were being paid accurately and on time.
Spirit partnered with Dayforce in 2017 and has brought the company’s international payroll onto a single system with Dayforce Managed.
“International implementations were completed in 2017, and the domestic implementations were completed in 2018,” says Brenneis. “Our core competency is not payroll, but Ceridian’s is.”
Dayforce Managed has eased the burden of committing payroll for the Spirit team, allowing them to focus on the strategic growth of the company.
“Compliance for Spirit AeroSystems is critical. Our government stakeholders need to know that we are compliant with the regulations and requirements across the board, whether it be from a state level to a federal level to an international level. Dayforce helps us do that,” says Sackett.
WATCH NOW: Going global with payroll
Spirit’s employees have also had better access to their information through Dayforce.
“Dayforce is a very powerful tool. It's easy to learn and easy to use. Our employees love the mobile app. They're able to view their pay statements the day before they actually get paid,” says Scott.
“The ability to have real-time access is vital to our employees,” adds Lindt. “I had an employee just yesterday call me to tell me that when he needed paycheck stubs to apply for a home loan, the fact that he was able to go into Dayforce and print off those paycheck stubs and hand them directly to his loan officer made all the difference in the world.”
Spirit has seen many benefits from Dayforce over the past few years. Along with helping manage compliance, the platform has also allowed them to access reporting that simply didn’t exist before.
“Prior to Dayforce, I didn't have visibility into our international locations. There were several times where leaders would come to me and ask questions about one of our international locations’ payroll, and I couldn't answer them immediately. It would sometimes take me weeks to provide an answer. With Dayforce, I'm able to give them an answer the same day,” says Brenneis.
Technology is woven into every aspect of our lives, and Spirit’s primary focus is on innovation through technology.
“Technology is the future of Spirit. It's why we are in business today. We come up with new ideas and concepts for how to design materials and manufacturing processes that no one else in the world can do,” says Sackett.
Spirit plans to continue to grow its partnership with Ceridian, so it “can focus on designing and building aircraft,” says Sackett.
“We can focus on designing and building aircraft, and we can let [other professionals] take care of everything else,” says Sackett. “Dayforce helps us do that.”