HR automation leads to greater focus on employee wellbeing

Community Counseling Services swaps spreadsheets and time-consuming paperwork for automated HR with Sage People

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Right to be forgotten


Community Counseling Services (CCS)



Not for profit




As a not for profit organization, finding ways to better serve the community, reduce unnecessary expenditure and support 370 employees has been vital for Community Counseling Services (CCS) in the US State of Mississippi.

Over the last 45 years, the not for profit organization has proudly offered a wide range of mental health services such as psychosocial rehabilitation, crisis response, in-home respite and outpatient therapy, across seven counties in North East Mississippi serving close to 6,000 citizens each year.

Karen Frye is the Chief Personnel Officer at CCS having been with the organization for 25 years in different roles. In that time she has witnessed significant changes in the provision of health and care, as well as support for employees and volunteers. As a not for profit organization, she’s always been conscious of how money–and time–is spent in her team.

Diagnosing the problem

Frye explains: “We constantly have to challenge ourselves about the time we spend on things, and ask ourselves–could that time and money be better used providing services and helping our community?”

Frye says the organization acknowledged, though, that it’s now more important than ever to offer employees more than just a pay packet. Attracting and retaining top talent, as well as being a progressive forward-thinking organization, is vital.

“I’ll be honest,” Frye continues, “The way we were working had to change. Everything was manual. Although we did have a computer-based HR tool we used for very basic things like reporting and payroll, it was clear it was no longer meeting our growing demands.”

On top of this, the team was faced with paper-based systems for recruitment, on-boarding and managing employees. They were spending considerable time on data entry. Tasks that should be simple, such as recording employee information, checking whether an employee had a current driver’s license, or preparing performance reviews, were all labor-intensive and prone to error.

“Sage People reduced the performance review process by 96% as well as ensuring 100% accuracy.”
Karen Frye, Chief Personnel Officer, CCS

In preparing for performance reviews, the HR team would have to come into the office over a weekend, copying and sorting review paperwork, labeling documents and preparing them for distribution, resulting in an additional 30 hours of extra work that could not be done in the week.

Taking steps to improve the health of HR

With the previous system no longer fit for purpose, and unable to support growth, it was time for a rethink. CCS needed a HR strategy that would help, not hinder, it’s HR team.

To start with, CCS drew up a list of the most important elements they needed from a new system. As well as tackling manual tasks and reducing the reliance on paper, the organization also wanted to gain a competitive advantage with an online self-service recruiting tool, streamline organizational communication, and have a single source of truth for all employee data.

When Frye recommended Sage People to the executive team, they immediately rallied to support the decision, trusting Frye’s endorsement, knowing the selection would have been made in the best interests of the organization.

Key to the decision, according to Frye, was the modular approach that Sage People offered, allowing the organization time to build the system at their own pace, as well as the option to add currently unused modules in the future. Frye was keen to ensure that they weren’t trying to do too much, too soon.

Immediate benefits of the Sage People system

The benefits of Sage People were overwhelming from day one. For example, “Sage People reduced the performance review process by 96% as well as ensuring 100% accuracy,” says a happy Frye. “What used to take 30 hours, now just takes one,” she explains.

It hasn’t stopped there. Other processes, such as recruitment, that used to take hours, have also been significantly reduced through automation, meaning that CCS is able to start focusing on the retention and development of their people.

“Sage People has been one of the biggest and most valuable HR accomplishments at CCS.”
Karen Frye, Chief Personnel Officer, CCS

HR Manager, Trophanda Phinizee, recounts how Sage People has taken away the strain of manual processes: “During December, we would be on the hook to ensure bonus payments were made on time. And that would be a mammoth undertaking – we would need to review all completed forms and check they had been completed correctly, signatures were present and if not, follow up with managers and that would take literally days, sometimes weeks.”

“When we did this the first time with Sage People, we were amazed. We were able to validate that all items were received and complete by running reports in Sage People. What used to take days to accumulate accurate data to provide payroll for bonuses, took just 10 minutes.”

Enhancing the employee experience

The organization is now able to focus more time and attention towards employees, and offer an enhanced onboarding and retention program that emphasizes wellbeing, something which is particularly important to CCS as a provider of mental health support services. Frye suggests this is an important step to becoming a truly People-focused organization.

“I’m now spending time on employee wellbeing strategies and delivering the best outcomes for our people, and not chasing paperwork thanks to Sage People,” she explains.

“What used to take days to accumulate accurate data to provide payroll for bonuses, took just 10 minutes.”
Trophanda Phinizee, HR Manager, CCS

Frye smiles as she says: “The downside of Sage People is my curiosity to keep playing with the other amazing features I can utilize. I can safely testify that Sage People has been one of the biggest and most valuable HR accomplishments at CCS,” she concludes.

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