Online pay system best practice for Best Buy

Canada Post’s online delivery system saves time, labour and paper for Best Buy Canada’s payroll staff

Getting pay stubs to employees can be a time-consuming, labour-intensive process. Just ask Best Buy Canada Ltd.

Every two weeks, the Burnaby, B.C.-based retailer would print a paper pay statement and stuff it in an envelope, a process it repeated thousands of times for its more than 18,000 permanent employees. Then it would box up the statements and ship them to its 197 stores across the country.

The system was working fine, according to Janice Antaya-Finlayson, Best Buy Canada’s vice-president of HR. But the process was time consuming for payroll staff, and the company made a decision that it needed to become more efficient in how it was paying employees.

It decided to look into online delivery of pay statements, something that was not only more efficient but was also in line with the company’s commitment to reducing its carbon footprint.
With that in mind, Best Buy Canada approached ePost – Canada Post’s electronic delivery service – to have it provide electronic delivery of pay statements to employees.

How it works

Employees who opt-in to receive electronic pay statements are set up with a password-protected ePost account.
The payroll staff at Best Buy Canada then prepares the payroll with its regular payroll system, Peoplesoft v.8.8, and sends encrypted files of the pay statements to ePost. Those statements are then delivered to employees via e-mail, and they can look at them online at any time. Antaya-Finlayson says ePost accommodated Best Buy Canada’s payroll system and none of the other components of payroll processing changed as a result of introducing electronic pay documents. The only change was the creation of new processes in Peoplesoft to record employees' selection of the delivery method and to allow the creation of a pay documents file that provides details of the method of delivery to ePost.

Tech-savvy employees

Given the nature of what Best Buy Canada sells – largely electronics – most of its staff are technologically savvy and are online a lot already, said Antaya-Finlayson. As a result, the shift to online payroll didn’t encounter much resistance.

When the change was rolled out in late summer, about 45 per cent of employees signed up immediately. A detailed communication plan was developed and a strategy was created to challenge employees to "Help Best Buy Canada Ltd. reduce its use of paper."

Best Buy Canada informed employees of the new system through written communications, pay inserts, Intranet postings, newsletters and reminders from HR managers across the country. Stores and regions across Canada were challenged to see who could recruit the highest number of participants, with the winners choosing an environmental charity to send a company donation.

Best Buy Canada staff are happy with the change, said Antaya-Finlayson. With the number of paper statements going out across the country, there were sometimes issues with them arriving late or getting lost on the way to the stores. And it’s made things easier for the 8,000 or so seasonal employees the retailer hires each December. A lot of the pay statements and T4s the company mailed to those workers would be returned because they had moved after they left the company.

And since a good chunk of employees are paid an hourly rate, with some on commission, speedier electronic delivery means they get their statements a few days before they are paid. This gives them certainty on the amount of their pay and allows them to plan ahead or let payroll know if there are any discrepancies on the statement that need to be fixed.

More time for payroll staff

Since they no longer have to stuff so many envelopes and box up as many statements, payroll staff are able to focus more on helping employees and other administrative duties to make payroll run smoother, said Antaya-Finlayson. As a result, payroll staff are enjoying the new system.

“Payroll is such a time-sensitive area with short windows to produce pay and if something goes wrong, you don’t have a lot of time to spare,” she said.  “Freeing up payroll employees from the manual labour of sorting envelopes and courier boxes allows them to do their jobs better.”

Before the ePost delivery system was implemented, it took four days of work before payday to ensure employees were paid on time and they received their statements by payday. With the nearly half of employees using the ePost system, preparation time has been cut to about two days, said Antaya-Finlayson.

Environmental benefits

Best Buy Canada used to use more than one million pieces of paper to produce pay statements and envelopes, a number that will be reduced by more than 200,000 over a year by sending electronic statements to the nearly 8,000 employees that had signed up as of December.

Employees have a choice

Best Buy Canada wants as many employees as possible to use the ePost system, but so far employees still have a choice if they’re more comfortable with getting paper statements. Employees who have opted into the electronic method can opt out and return to paper by unsubscribing to their ePost account, which will automatically inform payroll of their choice, said Antaya-Finlayson. New employees also can choose which method they prefer.

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