Pet Partners Transforms Its HR Function With a Unified HR Solution – a Q&A with Tom Hammond of Paychex

Tom Hammond assumed the role of vice president of corporate strategy and product management in January 2017 with more than 25 years of experience at Paychex. He leads an organization that develops strong, intuitive, and relevant HCM solutions for small and mid-size businesses, embracing the challenge of remaining cutting-edge in an increasingly competitive market. He also shapes and directs the execution of the company’s strategic vision. Earlier in his Paychex career, Hammond spent six years as the senior director of product and program management, putting his stamp on Paychex software development initiatives. He oversaw the creation of Paychex’s first payroll application, CORE Advanced, and has since played an integral role in its evolution into what is now Paychex Flex, the company’s full suite of HCM solutions. A graduate of St. John Fisher College in Rochester, N.Y., Hammond earned his Bachelor of Science degree in marketing in 1990.


Pet Partners Transforms Its HR Function With a Unified HR Solution

Like any HR leader charged with managing a rapidly growing and multi-state workforce, Janice Brown and her team of six payroll and HR professionals faced significant challenges when it came to operational efficiency at Pet Partners, a veterinary hospitals management company. Outdated processes and a lack of streamlined data meant the team was spending the majority of its time on administrative tasks rather than on strategic HR activities that contribute to the bottom line. With the help of a single HR solution that brings together HR, time and attendance, payroll, and benefits data, it found the efficiency needed to effectively manage its 2,000 employees across 83 clinics and 27 states. The result has been more time for Pet Partners to continue growing its veterinary network and providing its clinics with the time, tools and resources to best serve America’s pets.


As an HR Technology Conference Insiders blogger, I conducted a Q & A with Tom Hammond to learn more about how Pet Partners is transforming its HR function with Paychex.

Tom, your session with Janice Brown of Pet Partners will explore why they selected Paychex as their HR tech vendor. What advice can you share with HR professionals for sourcing an HR technology vendor? What questions should they be asking?

First thing’s first: you’re not choosing an HR tech vendor; you’re choosing a partner. Technology has added so much to our personal and work lives, but it doesn’t completely replace the value of a human. Some questions to keep in mind when choosing a partner to fulfill your HR tech need are:

  1. What if there’s an issue? Will you be dialing into a call center? Chatting online? Or, perhaps the most efficient path to resolution, will you be contacting a dedicated service representative that knows your business and account inside and out?
  2. Is the platform cloud-based and versionless? Or, will it require you to update at every turn?
  3. Regardless of the complexity and size of your business, will you be able to remain on the same platform as you grow or will you need to undergo a potentially challenging platform change?
  4. Is the partner a financially strong and stable company that isn’t going anywhere?
  5. Is the partner forward-thinking with an eye on the future of work?

Pet Partners enjoys using Paychex Flex because of the user experience — it’s easy and intuitive. What other factors should HR be thinking about as they select new HR technology?

The Pet Partners business model includes the presence of a parent company, which dictates some aspects of its HR function to include health and benefits. For Pet Partners, we’ve been able to create a unified HR ecosystem that lives in Paychex Flex thanks to our integration capabilities and open nature of our platform. This is key because while the more Paychex products and services a client leverages increases the richness of their experience, we fully understand that some customers may need to keep certain vendor partnerships for any number of reasons. When those instances occur, like with Pet Partners, Paychex works hand-in-hand with the client to provide seamless integration wherever possible.

According to the Paychex 2018 Pulse of HR Survey, analytics and reporting still represent a top challenge for HR professionals.  How has Paychex helped Pet Partners get its arms around all of its data for more efficient reporting?  

The ability to create and manage custom reports is one of the biggest benefits Paychex Flex provides Pet Partners. With all HR data flowing into the Flex system either organically or via API, Pet Partners is able to seamlessly and efficiently make better and more informed business decisions. Additionally, with the parent company model, the HR team is often asked to run reports analyzing everything from turnover to compensation to pay equity at the drop of a hat. They’re able to quickly and easily do that in Paychex Flex.

How do you think blockchain and the decentralization of networks will affect the future of HR in areas such as talent acquisition, payroll or data security?

Technology allows concepts we never thought possible to become realities. Fifteen years ago, the idea of completing an entire online purchase or wiring money to friends via a smartphone or tablet were ideas at best. Fast-forward to today and we’re doing both of those things and much more from the palm of our hands. That’s the power of technology – and it’s how I look at blockchain. I think we’re just scratching the surface of the what it will deliver and, in time, its impact on HR could be seismic. Take health and benefits, for example. Imagine a world where data from your smart watch feeds directly to your insurance carrier in real-time. Everything from your chosen route to work to your sleep and exercise patterns will determine your rates. This “pay-as-you-live” concept could have an enormous impact on employers, carriers, and those they’re insuring. This is just one example of how I think blockchain could change our lives over the next 15-20 years.

What do you see as the biggest challenges for HR as disruptive trends such as the gig economy continue to change the workplace and workforce?

As I talk to clients today, one of the biggest challenges they’re facing is hiring and retaining skilled workers in light of today’s tight labor market. There simply are too many open jobs and not enough qualified candidates to fill those positions. That’s putting tremendous pressure on employers and, on the flip side, offering employees greater flexibility in where they want to work. As an employer, if you’re not constantly developing and re-recruiting your best people, you risk them seeking work elsewhere. A competitive compensation and benefits package can help you get the right candidates in the door, but once there, ongoing engagement and real-time skill development are key to retention.

Thank you, Tom and we look forward to learn more during your session at the 2018 HR Technology Conference:  Pet Partners Transforms Its HR Function With a Unified HR SolutionFriday, September 14, 2018: 9:30 AM – 10:30 AM