Workday payroll system covers Minnesota healthcare network

A big physicians group affiliated with the University of Minnesota Medical School opted for a Workday cloud payroll system to handle the complexity of doctors' employment status.

University of Minnesota Physicians chose the Workday payroll system for the unusually complex process of paying the 1,000 doctors, nearly 3,000 nurses and other staff associated with the multispecialty group practice.

Many of the group's physicians derive their income from a patchwork of sources, including caring for UMP patients, teaching at the University of Minnesota Medical School and practicing at other health systems.

Disparate income sources, one payroll

Nickolas NyhusNickolas Nyhus

Yet, the doctors and their support staff -- including employees of an affiliated community hospital -- all are paid by one entity, UMP. That's where the cloud-based Workday payroll system came into play, said Nickolas Nyhus, vice president of HR at UMP.

One of UMP's top considerations during the request for proposal process that led to picking Workday's software was to not only get payroll functions capable of handling multiple sources of income and pension calculations, but also to integrate payroll with people management and business analytics systems.

"It's a very complicated matrix," Nyhus said. "We needed to make payroll easier."

Workday HCM phase-in

After UMP went live with the Workday payroll system in January 2016, replacing an on-premises Kronos system, the practice executed a planned phase-in of other Workday modules.

Core HR went online in early 2017. A few months later, UMP replaced its existing Taleo talent acquisition and management system with Workday talent management and then came Workday compensation. In fall 2017, UMP went to the mobile-friendly Workday learning module, and the practice is now in the midst of installing expense management from the cloud human capital management (HCM) vendor.

In the meantime, UMP moved from old-fashioned time clocks to mobile time-keeping so employees other than doctors -- who have their own scheduling system -- could enter their hours and self-schedule shifts at their convenience.

"We needed something where people could punch in online, look at their checks online and get their learning online and not be tied to a particular workstation," Nyhus said.

Payroll plus analytics

Part of UMP's strategy was to use the Workday payroll system in concert with analytics dashboards UMP's IT staff built within Workday and Workday's other HCM functions, Nyhus said.

We needed to get HR out of a mindset where they said, 'We're not here just to transact. We need to provide valuable people information, and yes, we need to pay them.'
Nickolas NyhusUMP

In other words, UMP wanted to move away from the old paradigm of a stand-alone payroll system and instead locate payroll within the larger HCM ecosystem, he said. "We needed to get HR out of a mindset where they said, 'We're not here just to transact. We need to provide valuable people information, and yes, we need to pay them.'"

As for Workday, the company said it has a concerted strategy toward the healthcare industry and health systems with payrolls just as complicated as UMP's.

Keith LohkampKeith Lohkamp

An economic factor specific to healthcare providers is the intense competition for skilled caregivers, such as registered nurses and nurse practitioners, noted Keith Lohkamp, director of industry strategy at Workday.

So, providers are trying to become the health system of choice for both patients and employees in an era that is seeing rapid consolidation in the healthcare space.

"Health systems are thinking about what better experience they can provide for their employees to ultimately create engaged employees, and that leads to better patient care," Lohkamp said.

Workday's pitch to these kinds of customers is that unifying disparate HR and IT systems under a single cloud platform is a step up from the patchwork of legacy systems many healthcare providers have been using on the HR and business sides.

For many new health system employees, Lohkamp argued, "from the beginning, it's a very disjointed experience."

Employee engagement HR tech for healthcare

"A new clinician is maybe joining a healthcare provider because they have the best technology and they're really excited to be working on cutting-edge things," he said. "But the first day they arrive, the employee experience is set back 20 years. It's not like the consumer experience or the medical technology they're used to."

Then, after employees have been onboarded, they're most interested in their career development, schedule and time, and pay.

What Workday tries to do, Lohkamp said, is provide visibility into all those things in one system that is mobile-friendly and consumer-oriented.

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