The Dallas Cowboys make a smart play with Dayforce
The NFL team partners with Ceridian to streamline operations and stay ahead of the competition both on and off the field.
The Dallas Cowboys are one of the top teams in NFL history. The five-time Super Bowl champions started the 2023 season with the highest all-time winning percentage. And their fans are there for it all. America’s Team, as they’re known, regularly pulls in more than 90,000 fans per home game.
The Dallas Cowboys organization plays big both on and off the field. It’s considered the most valuable sports franchise in the world. The team’s parent company, Jones Entities, also operates in several other business verticals, including real estate, oil and gas, retail stores, and imaging technology. It’s also the only team in the NFL to distribute its own licensed apparel.
This complex operation is powered by a workforce of 650 full-time, part-time, temporary, and seasonal employees who are located mostly in Texas, the notable exception being its California-based training camp. The workforce is served by a central HR department that oversees everything from recruiting to payroll, staff engagement, and learning and development.
“Our overall business is far bigger and more complex than you would think and involves a much broader touch relative to the human resources and payroll systems,” describes CFO Tom Walker.
Managing that organizational complexity requires a fast-paced two-step for the HR team, a dance that became more complex during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. Changing workforce expectations, the increasing cost of living, and the widening age range of the workforce have shifted the goal posts, requiring the Dallas Cowboys to be more agile than ever.
“The biggest HR challenges we face are making sure that we have the right tools to communicate with our team, stay in compliance, and to make sure that we are constantly reinventing ourselves to be the biggest and the best, because we want to be the best in the NFL and entertainment,” says Jeanne Pierce, HR Director.
Kickoff: Focusing on alignment and integration
While winning is the name of the game for the Dallas Cowboys, the scale and complexity of the organization can create challenges when the systems that power its workforce are out of sync. The company knew it had to deploy smart plays to engage and retain staff, but its disconnected systems blocked the field, hindered progress, and negatively impacted both its workforce and business efficiency.
“We used to have multiple platforms that did multiple different functions, and it was miserable. It was very painful for our employees, and people were confused,” remembers Pierce. “We had a solution that was really payroll focused. It didn't really have an HRIS function, so we could do certain things in it, like keep data, but we couldn't do things like performance management effectively. We couldn't do learning and development, we couldn't do engagement and retention. We couldn't do recognition. We had to do those things outside the system, and it was just a mess.”
Disconnected systems meant that employee information was stored in many locations, which made it difficult for the HR team to respond to staff requests and generate workforce insights. Requesting a new hire and kickstarting recruiting was a time-consuming process for managers. And things weren’t much better on the staff side: Employees had to access several different systems, none of which were intuitive or easy to view on the go.
The Dallas Cowboys identified the absence of an integrated HCM solution as a key barrier to achieving operational excellence. The organization began a search for a solution that could address its most pressing time, pay, compliance, and staff engagement issues. In 2022, the Dallas Cowboys adopted Dayforce as its integrated HCM solution for HR, Payroll, Benefits, Time and Attendance, Analytics, Recruiting, Onboarding, Learning, Performance, Compensation, Dayforce Wallet, and Experience Hub.
“When we were looking for a partner on the human resources and payroll side, we were looking for someone who understood our industry, but also could grow and expand beyond just the football space,” says Walker. “When we decided to go with the Ceridian team and the Dayforce product, it was because we knew they had experience in the industry. We knew that they had the breadth and the scope to help us in all the locations and in all the different verticals that we operate in.”
The organization felt a momentum shift almost immediately. Staff loved the Dayforce mobile app, which empowered them to clock in and out, access their information, and submit requests with just a few clicks. “Our employees are on their phones all day, so having something that has a great mobile app like Dayforce does really help us stay connected with our employees and get them the information they need to do their day-to-day jobs,” says Pierce.
The Dallas Cowboys have set up a branded Experience Hub that acts as a central starting point for access to everything employees need – from time-off balances, to submitting time-off requests, to tips on how to get the most out of their use of Dayforce.
The benefits of having an integrated system are numerous. Dayforce has helped streamline the recruiting and onboarding process, creating a better experience for candidates. And the HR team has integrated background checks and other screenings into the system, which has reduced time spent on manual document management. Managers now have better access to employee information, which empowers better conversations and reduces support requests to the HR team. And having workforce data centralized in one system has increased access to real-time insights, which has helped the team drive smarter, faster business decisions.
“I can tell you that my mental health is great,” says Pierce, reflecting on the amount of time she and her team save now that employees can update their own information in the system. “Dayforce has provided hours of time back into our days.”
Offensive play: Improving payroll compliance
Pierce knows that, while increasing employees’ access to information and self-service options is important, “if you don’t pay people accurately and on time, you won’t be competitive in retaining talent – bottom line.”
Pay and time at the Dallas Cowboys organization are quite complex. The HR team manages work centers for the company’s various lines of business. In the previous system, staff couldn’t allocate their time to different work centers or pay codes. That created a time-consuming manual coding process for the HR team. Due to the manual nature of this process, errors and inaccuracies sometimes affected payroll reporting and KPIs.
Then there’s the fact that every time the Dallas Cowboys travel to other states for away games, the team must comply with that state’s payroll tax legislation. The prior system was limited in its support for those calculations, which meant that the HR team spent an inordinate amount of time on calculations and compliance checks.
“It was critical that we find a system that was capable of managing states in a way that allowed our payroll team to function as efficiently as possible while still serving the tax requirements in those various jurisdictions, and also the needs of our employees,” says Walker.
Dayforce has reduced those manual processes and helped the Dallas Cowboys manage compliance risk. Employees can now clock into their correct work center right from the Dayforce mobile app on their phone, which has cut down on manual record-keeping, increased the accuracy of payroll reporting on labor spend, and made it easier to track hourly workers’ payroll totals.
“There's no more, ‘A week ago I worked this, but I just wrote it down on a piece of paper,’” says Pierce. “They can do it right in Dayforce. It's great because not only does it help protect us from liability, but it also makes our jobs a lot easier because we get to pay people on time for exactly what they worked.”
The system also calculates payroll taxes wherever the team is playing. All the HR team has to do is audit the calculations for accuracy.
“It’s a great feeling to know that Dayforce is set up in a way where we don't have to do all the work, that we can trust the product that's coming out. We know that people are being paid properly, and the company is meeting its obligations,” says Pierce.
With access to accurate real-time data, the team is now able to make smarter workforce planning decisions, optimize scheduling, reduce overspending on labor, and ensure that staff are getting the hours they need to be able to stay with the organization.
Touchdown: Implementing Dayforce Wallet to support recruiting and retention
Even an organization as well-known as the Dallas Cowboys must deal with recruiting challenges. To stay competitive, the organization strives to offer as many employee advantages as possible. Enter Dayforce Wallet.
Dayforce Wallet is an easy-to-set-up, on-demand pay solution that gives employees access to the wages they’ve earned as soon as they’ve earned them. Instead of relying on credit or high-interest cash loans, staff can use the Dayforce Wallet Mastercard to pay bills and day-to-day expenses with available wages.
Within a year of implementing Dayforce Wallet, the Dallas Cowboys had funded more than $1 million in on-demand payroll requests.
“This is something that has been a game changer for us, both for retention and employee engagement. My team gets the money they need when they need it with no extra work on our side,” says Pierce. “We couldn't be as competitive in the market with all of these sports teams without having Dayforce Wallet for on-demand pay.”
On the back end, all Pierce and team had to do to set up the system was set the parameters for how much employees can withdraw and when it can be paid. In fact, not only did Dayforce not create additional work for the payroll team, but it also allowed the Dallas Cowboys to move from weekly to bi-weekly payroll, which has cut down the amount of time the team spends on payroll processing by 50%.
Maintaining a high win percentage with partnership
As the Dallas Cowboys leave it all out on the field every week, the company now knows it has the unified HCM system it needs behind the scenes to support its workforce and ensure continued business success.
“What I love about Dayforce is the fact that my employees love Dayforce. My employees love the ease of access. My employees love Dayforce Wallet. It's about making the employee experience better, making our employees happier, making us a better place to work and to perform,” says Walker.
What Pierce and her team value most is knowing they have a partner that can evolve with the ambitious and agile organization.
“I see Ceridian as a partner that we can rely on to give us a cutting-edge product and listen to our needs,” says Pierce. “I think the most compelling argument I have in favor of Dayforce is not only is it a single solution, but it's constantly evolving, and it's something where you get the support that you need to really make sure it makes an impact on your team.”
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