'People First' culture nabs Ultimate Software accolades

Forbes lists Ultimate as one of America's Best Employers for Diversity

'People First' culture nabs Ultimate Software accolades

Put people first, care for employees like family and always do the right thing by your workforce.

Ultimate Software's Chief Human Resources Officer, Annmarie Neal, believes her company’s “People First” approach was key to landing on Forbes magazine’s America’s Best Employers for Diversity 2020 list.

“This is an endorsement we do not take lightly — we work every day to make work life better for our people, and if we can inspire others in the process and even show them how to do the same for their people, then that’s one of the highest honours we can receive,” says Neal. “It’s an unbiased testament that shows what we stand for is the right way to run a successful business.”

While the recognition inspires Ultimate’s people and plays a part in fueling its culture’s success, Neal says it’s not about the awards — although they are a welcomed result of their dedication. Cultivating an amazing culture empowers Ultimate to recruit and retain amazing people, who in turn believe in the company’s mission and support it through daily hard work developing strong human capital management solutions and services.

“In many ways, it’s a cyclical relationship — culture drives our people and our people drive our culture, and our success,” Neal says. “We take care of our people and our people take care of our customers. We work together to put people first and help other businesses do the same.”

Ultimate ranked #6 of 500 companies representing a variety of industries — from technology, healthcare and retail to hospitality, construction and finance — with thousands of employees working across the United States. Forbes added the diversity vertical to its reporting coverage in response to the fact the topic of diversity and inclusion has gained greater importance in the business world. This year marks its third annual list.

Ultimate is one of the few companies in the United States to offer 100% employer-paid healthcare premiums for employees and their families, and extended medical coverage in Canada. Employees have access to a range of comprehensive benefits and programs, “each deliberately designed to best serve our employees at every stage of their lives and careers,” Neal explains.

Some highlights that really make an impact on employees include coverage for IVF treatments, $10,000 in adoption assistance, coverage for gender reassignment surgery and a 45% dollar-for-dollar company match on all retirement contributions, with no cap, up to federal limits. Salaried employees receive unlimited PTO and hourly employees get at least 15 days a year.

“We encourage our people to take the time they need throughout the year to relax, recharge and enjoy personal interests,” Neal says. We’re extremely proud, excited and moved when we hear from our employees about how these benefits have been life-changing for them, and just as often their families.”

Last year, Ultimate launched its companywide “U Belong” program that builds upon the foundations and principles of Ultimate’s longstanding diversity and inclusion practices to develop a comprehensive, supportive program dedicated to ensuring all employees are comfortable bringing their whole, authentic selves to work.

Ultimate includes diversity and inclusion training — such as workshops on creating environments of safety and trust, recognizing and avoiding unconscious biases in the workplace and embracing creative differences for better collaboration and innovation — as part of its LeadUS development program for current and future leaders.

It’s also a priority at Ultimate to support its peoples’ work in the community, and employees are able to use three paid service days per year to help out at nonprofit organizations or with charitable causes important to them.

“We want our benefits to personally serve all our employees,” Neal says. “We continuously ask our people what more they’d like to see and how we can continue to improve upon on to provide the most extensive, supportive range of benefits of all companies — not just in technology, but across industries.”

Neal says when you’re part of a culture and living it daily, it’s easy to believe you’re operating using the best methods. Being ranked highly by Forbes validates the path Ultimate is on — “Think about how much people trust and value Yelp reviews over company ad campaigns,” she adds — and reflects the fact they are a role model for other companies.

Neal, who has been with Ultimate since 2019, says she followed the company long before joining, attracted by its approach to its employees.

What really stands out to me is the way Ultimate’s core values and mission hasn’t changed from day one,” she explains. Founder Scott Scherr started the company with a commitment to his people, and that commitment has continued, through good and bad times. Ultimate’s people and the company as a whole have prospered.”

What Ultimate has been doing all along — treating its people as the most important asset to a successful business and caring for them like family — is now more mainstream, with company leaders coming alive to the value of putting their employees’ interest at the top of the priority list. Its award-winning “People First” culture has made it one of the most admired companies across industries and Neal, now as part of the team, aims to “take Ultimate into the future and bring this award-winning culture to even greater levels.”

“We’re always looking at ways to make our benefits offerings even better for our people and to serve their evolving needs and expectations,” she says, adding while she can’t get into specifics there are currently great new benefit offerings being discussed.

Ultimate is also expanding its Communities of Interest employee-resource groups, which currently include PRIDEUS for the company’s LGBT+ community, Women in Leadership and Women in Technology, UltiVETS for veterans and active service members and UltiHOPE for cancer patients, survivors and caregivers.

“Our approach going forward will be the same as it’s always been — putting people first and always doing the right thing for our people,” Neal says. “We’re excited for what the future holds, and we think our employees — both current and future — will be excited too.”

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