Mount Hermon, a Christian Camp and Conference Center which operates several facilities in northern California, is best known for hosting group events, summer camps, retreats, and more. Their Conference Center, nestled in the redwoods of the Santa Cruz mountains, is well-suited for ministry to all ages. But with multiple events year-round, and each season calling for a different set of staff, administering payroll and other benefits has always been a bit complicated.
Mount Hermon’s primary challenge in administering payroll had been managing the abundance of seasonal staff, which reaches over 200 employees during peak summer season as they run camps and retreats. Most of these temporary employees make a salary or weekly rate for just a short period, requiring frequent onboarding and terminations on a routine basis. While most of these seasonal employees are not tax exempt, there are some exceptions.
They also have several year-round ministers on staff who, in addition to being tax exempt, receive certain benefits, further complicating their payroll process. Figuring out how to stay compliant with the law, efficiently set up W2s, administer benefits, and manage tax withholding for a complex employee base has been difficult to say the least.
Previously, the folks at Mount Hermon were using payroll software with limited customization capability. Their previous platform didn’t allow them to easily adjust things like taxes, one-off deductions, income codes, etc. What’s more, most of their payroll system was manually operated and disconnected from other platforms necessary for their operation. This made accounting and record keeping messy and inconvenient.
Mount Hermon needed a customizable HCM solution that could help them manage the complexities of administering payroll and benefits for seasonal employees, tax exempt clergy, and permanent staff.
In 2020, Mount Hermon started using Criterion’s Payroll and HR modules to overcome these challenges. Since Criterion has a native integration with Acumatica (Mount Hermon’s chosen ERP platform), it was a natural fit. By using our HCM, the team at Mount Hermon hoped to better connect their HR and accounting data — and they are still discovering the capabilities of the integration today.
Then in 2022, Mount Hermon’s payroll process changed hands. Just a year after successfully implementing the software, they hired Emily Kraft, a new payroll specialist. While Emily had no prior experience with Criterion, she was able to learn the program quickly, thanks to the help of Criterion’s intuitive user interface, on-demand training videos, and expert support team.
“I would recommend Criterion to other companies in our industry because their customer service is easy to talk to, very responsive, and super helpful — which I think is the biggest part of any company that you do your payroll or HR through. Customer service is the biggest thing. If it’s not working or if you have trouble, then everything kind of falls apart from there.”
Today, Mount Hermon’s payroll department is more agile than ever because of their partnership with Criterion. They have been able to easily streamline payroll processes for temporary employees and adapt to new challenges with each season.
Since using Criterion, Mount Hermon has noted several positive experiences that other HCM providers simply could not offer.
Effective Onboarding of a New Payroll Specialist
When Emily Kraft was first hired to run payroll, she wasn’t familiar with Criterion. With no internal training on the software, she struggled to catch on to the new system at first. But after reaching out to Criterion’s support team, all of her questions were answered in detail.
Through chat, video calls, webinars, and screen share recordings, she noted that Criterion has been kind, quick to respond, and incredibly descriptive, showing exactly how to use the software. Today, Mount Hermon employees don't think twice about how many tickets they submit — everyone knows Criterion will be there to help them with whatever they need.
“They’re always very responsive, super descriptive, and if something can’t be discussed over chat, they always schedule a video call. I am such a visual learner, so having a Zoom call where they share screens and show me MY payroll module and MY employees and guide me step-by-step how to do something — that’s been the most helpful thing ever.”
Easy, Self-Service Customization
Mount Hermon noted the ease of customization was a huge benefit as well. With Criterion, users are able to adjust and change a lot of the interface on their own. Our platform is built for customization and making ad-hoc changes as needed. For payroll departments, adjusting taxes, benefits, deductions, and even creating custom fields for income codes and other unique needs is easy, even if you aren’t a tech expert.
In practice, the payroll and HR modules have been very helpful for managing the various employee types at Mount Hermon. For instance, some of the ministers they employ have unique payroll requirements. Many have tax exempt wages, but some also have retirement benefits or additional income that may not be subject to tax exemption. This requires a lot of different income codes, but Criterion makes it easy to view and adjust everything.
“You’re able to see everything on the backend of the payroll module, and even everything on the backend of an employee profile. It’s tedious in the best way because you’re able to see everything. Nothing is hidden from you.
Everything has a place where it’s set up and put out. You’re able to adjust things to your liking or how you need it to be. It’s not something you always have to go through Criterion to do. It’s something you’re able to do on your own, so if you need it in a pinch, you’re able to adjust it right then and there.”
Discover A Flexible Payroll Solution From Criterion
Criterion’s HCM is designed with HR professionals in mind. With Criterion, you can manage new payroll challenges with ease. Customize the software to meet your unique business needs, generate custom reports, and automate much of your payroll and HR processes.
Take the first step towards a more efficient and flexible HR department. Book a demo today to learn how a powerful HCM can transform your business.