Over the past 20 years, we have witnessed a tidal wave of globalisation, together with a massive increase in the flow of goods, services, people and technology. Yet, with every opportunity comes an element of risk: just when you think you have a solid plan for international growth, the very simple task of paying overseas employees creates more headaches than you ever thought possible.
If people feel heard and understood, it makes it much easier to solve problems together and come up with new and innovative ways of doing things
If there’s one way to inadvertently drive your business into the ground, it’s by making mistakes with how you pay your staff – or by failing to pay them at all. That’s why the most mission-critical component for any business’ back end is arguably its payroll operation.
Poor HR data, time and attendance systems, and incorrect classification of employment contracts are just a few issues that cause miscalculations for payroll. Managing an international payroll process can prove exceptionally difficult when cultural, language and time zone differences exist. This layer adds complexity to ever-changing employment and tax legislation.
Having only been spun out and rebranded from its parent company, The Taxback Group, in 2016, global payroll provider Immedis has seen explosive growth over the past few years. With a recent expansion into American and European markets, its global footprint now spans 150 countries worldwide. This exponential business growth has not been by accident. World Finance spoke with Patricia Butler, Global Marketing Director at Immedis, about the philosophy that goes to the heart of both its internal culture and the operations themselves – putting people first.
Why do you value a people-first culture?
Most of our day is spent at work with our colleagues, partners and clients. Nurturing those relationships and investing in their health makes sense not just from a personal perspective, but also from a commercial one. The time and cost spent on hiring new employees, finding new delivery partners and managing customer churn due to poor service is a direct result of broken relationships and communication.
Delivering payroll across 150 countries worldwide involves multiple stakeholders, partners, employees and suppliers. Technology is key to linking everyone together and ensuring an efficient process and secure handling of data.
However, at the end of the day, having good working relationships will ensure everything runs smoothly. If something goes wrong, you need to have that solid relationship and trust to be able to work through difficulties.
Working as a unit and being open about the goals you are trying to achieve ensures that all employees are aware of what others are doing, even when they are not directly involved. This in turn lets everyone know where they fit in to the bigger picture of the business.
How do you foster trust within all of Immedis’ business relationships?
Transparency in communication is the key to fostering trust. Being frank and honest with people as you work together to create win-win situations helps give people ownership of the outcome, whatever it is. If people feel heard and understood, it makes it much easier to solve problems together and come up with new and innovative ways of doing things.
It’s inevitable that sometimes things will go wrong, and when they do, bad news should be delivered quickly and dealt with head-on. Leaving things to fester only creates more problems further down the line and damages relationships irrevocably. Often by working through difficult situations, a relationship becomes stronger than ever. Long-term relationships are our goal. We want to grow with our clients’ businesses and help develop our employees to fulfil their career aspirations.
What kind of business culture do you look to create at Immedis?
Culture is hugely important at our company. We seek to create an environment built on passion, autonomy, honesty and fun. If you enjoy challenges, the opportunity to shape things from the ground up and the chance to grow in a rapidly changing environment, then Immedis is the place for you.
A successful brand is not built from the top down, but from the inside out. For any business to be a successful, its employees must be happy in order to thrive and deliver the best products and services in its market. The famous Richard Branson quote is more true now than ever before: “Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients.”
At Immedis, we believe that employee success leads to customer success. Our aim is to create an environment where employees can deliver the best for the business and for themselves.
How does this help with staff retention?
A successful culture has a double positive effect. Not only does it improve the quality of the business itself, but it also attracts new talent and retains the talent that is already at the company. This is increasingly important in an ever more competitive global talent pool.
Having a singular focus on these goals also allows us to navigate challenges between employees, clients and suppliers. Putting emphasis on the larger goal that the team is collectively working towards removes the emotional side of conflict.
Further, placing a higher importance on resolving issues rather than shifting blame is crucial in a situation that would otherwise prevent progress. It is likewise important to understand that the safeguarding of a relationship must be given priority over questions of who is at fault in any given situation.
Who is responsible for driving the people-based approach at Immedis?
Our CEO, Ruairi Kelleher, is passionate about ensuring Immedis is a great place to work. His vision of creating a company that people love to work for helps ensure our clients are happy as a result. However, driving this people-based approach is down to everyone in the business, not just the leadership team.
As such, our internal communications strategy enables everyone at all levels of the business to share information and post shout-outs to their team members, managers or colleagues in other offices around the world. This helps to foster an inclusive, friendly and supportive environment, where everyone’s voice is heard.
What kind of benefits have you seen for your business by fostering people-first, rather than technology-driven, relationships?
In order for a global payroll provider to offer a good service, we need to develop an intimate understanding of a client’s business, their requirements and the idiosyncrasies that make them unique. That can only be done by interacting with them face to face.
Every business is different and there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Understanding this has led Immedis to create a software solution that is used widely across a diverse range of sectors in industry, retail, NGOs and more. Today, the likes of Airbus, Canon, FatFace, the Clinton Foundation and the University of Glasgow work with Immedis services to manage their payroll needs.
With clients all over the globe, it is our ability to carry out market research and have one-on-one conversations with customers that enables us to understand the requirements of global payroll teams. Without this, we would not be able to operate the way we do, transcending cultures and currencies, as well as regulatory and tax jurisdictions. The logistical challenges of maintaining a high standard across geographies that are each continually evolving are substantial. Therefore, the fact that our clients can get in touch with us quickly and efficiently to sort out a problem is invaluable.
What are the benefits of operating on a single platform?
Our iConnect system is an enterprise-level, cloud-based global payroll platform that centralises payroll management and consolidates reporting into a single dashboard, giving real-time oversight of your payroll around the world.
A single platform integrated with your HR and finance system enables data accuracy and integrity improvements. It also leads to a reduction in errors and miscalculations, particularly as automation minimises the element of human error that is an inherent risk in manual inputting.
The process of integrating iConnect into a company’s business is also made frictionless through Immedis’ onboarding process. We have devised a five-step process through which our implementation specialists and senior payroll and tax experts work together with the client to deliver a roadmap tailored specifically for their business.
How do you harness the power of technology to deliver an optimal service to your clients?
Technology alone cannot establish relationships, but our platform gives us an edge over the competition. For our customers, we have consolidated all their payroll management needs into one easy-to-use interface – iConnect. This global, cloud-based platform allows managers to have a bird’s-eye view over all their payroll operations in real time.
Essentially, iConnect distils the information needed to handle the payroll for workforces numbering in the thousands – or even hundreds of thousands – into a single dashboard that managers can navigate with ease. Through it, management teams have an insight into their operations wherever in the world they have an office.
The software uses process automation and data validation technologies to make operations seamless, while also ensuring accuracy. Coupled with this, advanced data visualisation gives managers a clear picture of the business and more time for strategic decision-making and value-added risk management. This time would otherwise be spent undertaking repetitive work that can now be left to iConnect.
Technology, together with exceptional client service and a strict code of compliance, has propelled the company to new heights. At Immedis, we intend to keep excelling in everything we do.