Customer Stories

The Hillman Group unlocks the employee experience

The hardware distributor uses Dayforce to streamline compensation and engage its dispersed workforce.

You may not know it, but if you’ve walked through the hardware section of your local big box store, you’ve come into contact with the Hillman Group.

Based in Cincinnati, Ohio, the Hillman Group is one of the largest hardware distributors in North America. The company stocks nails, screws, fasteners, and other hardware items in hundreds of stores across the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. It also manufactures and operates key-cutting machines.

Business at the Hillman Group is growing – the company has seen its sales double over the last nine years. While the company’s core focus is hardware, it also works to develop extended technologies such as car key duplication and other modern access system duplications, to bring new and adaptive solutions into a digital world.

To do this work, the company employs 3,800 people across the U.S. and Canada. Of this total employee population, 1,500 are hourly warehouse associates, 800 are field service and sales reps, and the remaining 1,500 are office employees.

In a competitive labor market, ensuring employees feel connected – and understand how they’re contributing – to the company’s success is a necessity. Despite their efforts, recruiting, engaging, and retaining a dispersed workforce is an ongoing challenge for the Hillman Group. The company’s service reps and salesforce spend most of their time in stores, and their schedules vary based on customer needs. Its distribution center staff, meanwhile, do scheduled shift work on the floor. Many employees in these two groups don’t have regular access to a computer.

The Hillman Group wants to be as innovative on employee engagement and compensation as it strives to be on the supply chain side. To succeed, it needs a unified HCM solution that can centralize workforce data, streamline performance and compensation processes, and provide a unique employee experience.

Discovering the nuts and bolts of a successful implementation

The Hillman Group has been a Ceridian customer for several years. In 2014, the company chose to migrate from a legacy Ceridian product to Dayforce for payroll and time and attendance. This migration allowed the Hillman Group to consolidate its workforce data through a single platform and to discontinue use of a separate solution for timekeeping.

“We have employees that use traditional clocking methods like a time clock with a badge. We also have employees that use the Dayforce app to clock in remotely. Some enter time in bulk on a weekly basis. Dayforce presents us with a variety of tools to manage that employee experience and to collect employee time. It has made payroll a much simpler process,” says Colin Kunath, Senior Manager of Payroll, HRIS, and Benefits.

Having workforce data in one system has been a game-changer for the company, increasing the HR team’s access to – and trust in – employee information, and their ability to generate real time reporting.

“I’m in Dayforce all day, every day. It’s my one source of truth when it comes to our employee data,” says Michelle Wagner, Senior Compensation Analyst. “I use the data to do quick analysis on wages that are paid for a certain job, or to review a specific employee who a manager may be looking to promote. I also use it to look at an employee’s history with the company.”

The Dayforce mobile app has put data at the fingertips of the Hillman Group’s dispersed and diverse workforce wherever they are, connecting people across borders, time zones, languages, and job categories. Dayforce has also helped ensure that the HR team has secure access to their data anytime, anywhere.

“Dayforce has been invaluable to us,” says Amanda Kitzberger, Vice President of Human Resources and Administration. “As we've grown through acquisitions, we’ve been able to let the acquisitions have access to Dayforce much more quickly than if it wasn't a cloud-based system.”

Nailing recruitment and retention

Recruiting and retaining top talent can be a challenge at the best of times. The tight North American labor market and the ways COVID has reshaped workforce expectations have posed new challenges for many businesses, including the Hillman Group.

“Coming out of the pandemic, there are ample job opportunities, and employees have discovered things that are valuable to them like flexibility and work-life balance. Hillman, along with other employers, is starting to realize that's table stakes if you want to engage and retain employees now,” says Kitzberger.

In 2020, the company rolled out the recruiting capability in Dayforce, which has helped to provide more consistent branding across job postings while streamlining recruiting processes. Instead of having to manually post positions to various job boards, the company can now post a job through Dayforce and have it pushed out to third party vendors such as LinkedIn and Indeed.

“I use it to review job requisitions. If we're looking to post a position, I review offer letters,” says Wagner.

Once employees are on board, they can access self-service tools through Dayforce that empower them to shape their own experience. Managers are also able to provide a customized performance and career pathing experience that communicates and recognizes each individual’s contributions and challenges. The combination of access and customization are key to creating a top-notch employee experience that supports retention.

Connecting performance and compensation

The Hillman Group’s focus on creating a high-quality employee experience led the company to review its performance management and compensation processes, and search for a tool to streamline and improve both. After the successful implementation of Dayforce for recruiting, the Hillman Group chose to leverage its partnership with Ceridian to improve performance and compensation.

Previously, the company’s HR processes were spreadsheet-based, and subject to errors and version control issues. With Dayforce, the company has been able to streamline the information going between performance, compensation, and payroll, saving significant time. “I’d estimate that the compensation module has saved me 40 hours a month [during merit season] in manual manipulation of data, reviewing spreadsheets, emailing leaders, getting the information back, and then processing the increases,” says Wagner.

In 2020, the Hillman Group rolled out annual performance reviews for hourly employees and biannual reviews for salaried employees using Dayforce. Previously, reviews were separate from merit increases. The HR team had to use spreadsheets to bridge the gap, and they couldn’t easily provide detail to managers. Dayforce allowed the company to combine its merit and promotion cycles into one compensation cycle and pull employee ratings directly from Performance into Compensation for merit increases. It has also allowed the company to customize different types of reviews for different parts of its workforce.

“Prior to using Dayforce, the performance and compensation process would take us several months,” says Kunath. “With Dayforce, compensation connects seamlessly to payroll. When we complete a cycle, it's just a push of a button and it rolls over directly into the payroll engine. Since we've moved into Dayforce for performance and compensation, we can accomplish either cycle in less than a month.”

Dayforce has also allowed the HR team to put in budget guard rails for managers and ensure everyone is staying on time and on budget during the performance and compensation cycle. “Compensation has really helped us a lot with managing our budgets when it comes to merit increases,” says Wagner. “When we used spreadsheets, managers were able to override and overspend and we would have to then have difficult conversations. Dayforce has allowed us to prevent them from submitting if they are overspending.”

Managers value the guidance and the ability to see their employees’ performance ratings, position, range, and recent increases on one screen. Having all employee information at a glance gives managers better visibility into the holistic team picture, allowing them to identify high potential employees, to address potential flight risks, and to ensure that gender pay equity is never overlooked.

“We've gotten amazing feedback from our managers,” says Kunath. “When we rolled out Dayforce for compensation, we expected a lot of pushback. But we were really blown away by how positive the reaction was across our organization, from managers all the way down to employees.”

Cutting a key for future success

The team at the Hillman Group is looking forward to unlocking more efficiencies this year when they roll out annual bonuses in Dayforce, the last step in streamlining their compensation process.

For Wagner, having Dayforce has not only meant better data and saved time, but it also means that she and her team can play a more strategic role in the organization. “Using Dayforce for compensation has really improved my view of the job and the work that I do,” she says. “I feel less stressed about the merit cycle because I know that I can rely on this technology to help us make decisions and process everything on time and accurately. I have more bandwidth to contribute from a strategic standpoint and help managers make decisions about our high-potential employees and where we are in the marketplace today.”

As the company continues to grow and reach for new heights, Kitzberger, Vice President of Human Resources and Administration, is glad to have Ceridian as a partner. “One of the things that we really like about Dayforce is that it can scale and grow with us in the future.”

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