Across the U.S., farmers, ranchers, and food producers are working tirelessly to ensure food is making it from their fields to America’s tables. And Minnesota-based Farm Credit Foundations is there to make sure employers who support the farmers have the HR services they need to do that work.
Farm Credit Foundations was created in 2012 to support 37 Farm Credit associations across the U.S. that keep the country’s agriculture sector ticking. The co-operative provides services managing HR, payroll, and benefits for the organisations, each of which is its own separate legal entity. Together, those associations employ 9,400 people who help farmers finance and grow their businesses. Essentially, says Jeni Bormann, Senior HRIS Analyst at Farm Credit Foundations, “we pay rural America.”
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Farm Credit Foundations has been working hard behind the scenes to parse new legislation, roll out new benefits, and give local associations the support they need to help their members.
Farm Credit Foundations adopted Dayforce in 2016 to provide a flexible, centralised system that would allow them to manage the varied needs of local Farm Credit associations. Bormann and the HRIS team manage 37 different configurations, 250 different security roles, more than 400 vacation and sick leave entitlement plans, a complex structure of retirement plans, and countless pay codes.
“The benefits are the same across all of the associations. Other than benefits, everything else is completely separate or configurable by association, which means their entitlement plans and pay codes are all different,” explains Bormann.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, Bormann has had to implement new emergency paid leave, and changes mandated by the expanded Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Since local associations differ in size, eligibility, and staff capacity, Bormann works directly with each association to understand their specific needs and configure the system to meet their requirements. The flexibility of Dayforce makes it easy and quick for Bormann to implement changes and new configurations.
“We started setting things up with the assumption that each pay code needs to be very clearly defined, and that we need to be able to report off the information,” says Bormann. “But as much as we’d like to simply provide three standard pay codes, every association has differing needs in supporting their employees. Some want it to say, ‘emergency paid sick leave,’ some want it to say ‘admin leave’ or ‘pandemic leave.’ It's a very interesting process because we have to sit down with all 37 associations separately and ask them what they want.”
Using Dayforce, Bormann was able to set up four different ways to log emergency paid sick leave in Dayforce, each of which meets different needs while ensuring overall compliance with current regulations. “There's nothing you can't do within Dayforce,” says Bormann. “Honestly, the flexibility within the system is so huge.”
Trying to stay on top of rapidly changing legislation while also servicing the needs of associations is more than a full-time job. Bormann says Dayforce alerts and Ceridian’s resources help her manage through change and give her important information and tools she can share with member associations.
“The one thing that I really truly appreciate from Ceridian through this whole process is the number of articles that the company has put out. The different avenues to be able to get information are really great,” says Bormann. Resources about new legislation, changes to Dayforce functionality, and best practices for working from home provide helpful and timely information, and also make her feel connected to an extended community of Dayforce users who are experiencing similar challenges.
Members of the Farm Credit Foundations team already had the flexibility to work from home prior to COVID-19. When work-from-home orders were put in place, the entire team of 35 people shifted to remote work within a day. While there have been many changes to grapple with over the past few months, shifting to working remotely has been smooth.
One thing that has helped, says Bormann, is the dependability of the Dayforce platform. “I started in the payroll world prior to any web-based products, so we previously didn’t have the opportunity to work remotely. The fact that we can now is great. From a general business standpoint, it's not like anything has slowed down or changed. Dayforce is up and running, and it's like we're in the office anyway.”
The team at Farm Credit Foundations feels like a big, collective family. That closeness and mutual support has been important to individual team members during the pandemic, and it has helped them continue to provide an important service to the 9,400 local Farm Credit employees and their families.
Bormann is also finding lots of support through the Dayforce community, and is sharing her knowledge and experience with others. When she sees questions or requests for support posted on the XOXO hub, Dayforce’s customer advocacy community, she’s able to share her expertise. She’s even jumped on conference calls with other Dayforce customers to help them work through setting up new pay codes and entitlement balances. She says she loves being able to share her tips and tricks on how to customise the system with clients who are newer to Dayforce, and are trying to keep up with implementing changes required by new legislation.
“I'm super passionate about what I do. I love my job. And more than anything I like to help other people,” Bormann says. “I spend a lot of time networking in the XOXO community. It's just a huge passion for me. The community, especially during this time, has been a huge help for a lot of people.”