Training Top 125 Best Practices: Paychex’s Year-End (YE) Readiness Training

YE Readiness includes six instructor-led trainings delivered in approximately 100 sessions, along with 10 e-learning modules.

In Paychex’s business, the year-end season is critical, as the firm helps clients prepare tax forms to meet filing deadlines. In 2018, Paychex prepared approximately 10 percent of the 119.5 million W-2 forms in the United States.

Year-end is also when many clients reconsider their payroll outsourcing vendor, so it’s crucial that Paychex employees are prepared to meet its clients’ needs during this high volume make-or-break season. Each year, Paychex significantly invests in training front-line service providers on the latest regulations and common topics, including fringe benefits, W-2 and 1099 forms, and year-end adjustments. Year-End (YE) Readiness training applies to Paychex’s entire Service division, more than half of its employee base.

Program Details

Starting in March, the Year-End (YE) Readiness Learning team meets with the business stakeholders, who select Leader Champions, and the Service YE Task Team to review feedback regarding the previous year’s event. In addition, focus groups with learners, supervisors, and governance team members use “Start, Stop, and Continue” to examine data, looking for proof of behavior change regarding critical topics. Using this information, the Learning team builds the three-month curriculum, including experiential learning, practical application, and relevant scenarios. Altogether, YE Readiness includes six instructor-led trainings delivered in approximately 100 sessions, along with 10 e-learning modules.

The training sessions are grouped into learning paths that are tenure based, offering practical experience refreshers using e-learning and optional live Webinars for employees with more than two years of experience, and required in-depth live sessions with experiential learning for employees with less than two years. Supervisors also assign remedial training to employees they observe struggling with YE concepts. Senior Service team leaders drive participation through regular reminders and expectation setting. In addition to flexibility, the sessions are geared toward multiple customer service models and system platforms.

Each year, this event drives the Learning team to ensure the learner experience is relevant and engaging. A few ways the team has upped the stakes regarding the program include:

  • Year-end Wiki: A one-stop site with YE-specific resources such as brief videos and screenshots on how to do tasks.
  • Recipe cards: A quick at-a-glance look at the list of ingredients and directions for entering pay codes (e.g., the Fringe Benefit pay code recipe ingredients: pay code name, pay code description, tax coding, tax form coding).
  • Knowledge Portal: Paychex’s performance support application where all employees can add, update, and quickly access knowledge articles that provide answers to common client questions.
  • “Call-a-Friend” group chat: This enables employees to ask YE questions of learning instructors; subject matter experts (SMEs); and super mentors, who mentor new employees in regional service centers.
  • Paychex Flex Assistant: Front-line employees are trained to remind clients about this chatbot feature that provides immediate answers to simple questions, reducing phone volume. As the chatbot becomes able to answer more questions, Paychex has begun to direct new employees to the bot before using live resources.

For short-term reinforcement, during the YE timeframe (December-April), learning instructors hold impromptu workshops to practice tasks and side-by-side individual or small group coaching. By monitoring employee calls and asking supervisors regularly for feedback on key skills, instructors can identify trends or topics that are causing employees concern. Instructors then evaluate the content to ensure relevancy and impact.

Long-term reinforcement comes in the form of quarter-end training events. After the critical YE timeframe, Paychex directs employees to the YE Wiki using e-mail boosts on topics that are quarter-based as part of the regular training offered three times a year in March, June, and September. In addition to e-mail boosts, Paychex also provides customized, quarter-end training available to all employees and specifically targeting new employees through live sessions and self-study to reinforce main tax topics. They can focus on the YE topics and regulations that change often, year-over-year in the fourth and final quarter.

Senior leadership is involved in the success of the YE training event and ongoing reinforcement, design, development, marketing, and facilitation. The YE Task Team is a cross-functional governance team comprising the VP of Enterprise and Multi-Product Services, VP of Service, VP of Operations, regional managers, front-line leaders, Service strategy teams, HR, and the L&D team. The VP of Enterprise and Multi-Product Services and VP of Service do a brief and engaging video each year to kick off the event, set the tone, and share goals and expectations of accountability. This is followed by an e-mail campaign sent by the VP of Enterprise and Multi-Product Services and VP of Service for the duration of the YE season. Regional managers participate in determining critical topics and driving accountability to training completion.


Focus groups held each year include Leader Champions, who are asked to reflect on the YE training event and look forward to next year. Results from the focus groups for FY’19 include:

  • 90 percent of supervisors reported they observed their employees asking fewer questions.
  • 80 percent said they observed employees making fewer errors in year-end adjustments.

By feeling knowledgeable and confident, employees exhibited signs that showed a lower likelihood to leave during this intense and busy time. Validation is done by comparing turnover data YOY and aligning to Level 3 manager feedback.

  • In FY’19, Paychex hit its lowest senior payroll specialist turnover rate in the company’s history, an 8 percent reduction over the previous year.
  • Paychex surpassed its Net Promoter Scores (NPS) goal of 40, reaching a 48 for FY’19, exceeding the industry baseline NPS of 46.

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