“Three Minutes With” is ProService’s employee spotlight series that provides personal and professional insight into our rockstar “PROhana”. Today we’re chatting with Seina Rahim.
A 12-year employee with the company, Seina Rahim, CCP, is Payroll Quality Assurance Manager for ProService Hawaii, and is president of the American Payroll Association’s Hawaii Chapter. She was recently a featured speaker at the Hawaii Business Leadership Conference.
We took a few minutes to learn who she is, what she does, and what she’s learned about payroll in her years on the job.
Happy Payroll Week! Why did you choose payroll as a career?
I think most people fall into the payroll profession. It’s not something I sought out to do. I discovered payroll when I was an HR Generalist prior to ProService where I was responsible for a little bit of everything—from recruiting new hires to converting staff to phone system time & attendance, and of course compiling payroll files every other week and commission payments every month.
It wasn't until I was at ProService that I dove into payroll. That’s when I started to take the profession seriously and became a Certified Payroll Professional (CPP). I liked numbers and solving problems.
Also, HR and payroll ties into a lot of life skills, like learning about taxes and what things are taxed (and not taxed) and why—and going through typical life changes (like getting married, having a child etc.) where these kinds of decisions make a difference—that’s what got me interested.
You’ve been at ProService for more than 12 years. What keeps you here?
It’s a very progressive and fun company for Hawaii. I believe in the core values of our company and our employee promises. I really do believe I've been able to make my mark here, and I also have the privilege of working with the most amazing, smart people.
It’s hard work, and I love the challenges. When I started, there were 70-something employees, and now there are more than 300! I’ve loved being part of that growing journey. I’m super excited to continue learning and the future growth of ProService too.
Tell us about your role as the President of the American Payroll Association’s Hawaii Chapter.
My role is actually relatively new. I got involved with the APA Hawaii Chapter as a means to build the support network of payroll professionals on island. We are autonomous from the APA national organization, and our focus is primarily supporting each other as well as promoting education.
Having people that are schooled in the profession is kind of rare, so we have to grow our own. In the past we offered study groups for FPC and CPP certification every other year, but since I’ve been president we’ve tried to do it on a more consistent basis and have them every year, and we've even increased the number of certified professionals in Hawaii.
It can be hard for us here on the islands because flying to the mainland for training is not cost effective for a lot of people. So every year we try to bring in someone from APA national to teach a course. We also have a new website to drive membership and register for events. It’s still relatively new, so we’re learning along the way.
Do you have any personal mottos that you live by?
It’s not really a motto, but I really like the serenity prayer right now. (Laughing) It’s just being able to let go of the things you don’t have control over, and the courage to embrace the things you can, and knowing the difference. It just seems lately that every aspect of my life is full speed ahead!
Where can we find you on a typical weekend?
My son is 10 years old, and soccer season just started; and we’re also just wrapping up our study group session, which meets on Saturdays—that’s actually been quite a time commitment. Other than that I enjoy gardening! I’ve gotten into aquaponics. I like growing things, whether it’s people or plants.
Do you see any common misconceptions about payroll?
When you see what’s on our local news, there are still employers who are not treating employees fairly; or not calculating or paying over-time at all to those who qualify. I think there are misconceptions around the law—if something is an owner’s decision vs. what the law says what an employer can and cannot do.
Also, I think in Hawaii, we’re so unique in so many ways, starting with our islands being physically separated by the ocean. We rely on the postal service a lot. So for example, we can produce a check, but to have your taxes recorded and everything done on a timely basis gets way more complicated. People may not realize that. The best thing an employer can do is offer direct deposit for their employees. That would greatly improve the timeliness and accuracy of getting payment to employees.
What advice do you have for employers about payroll or HR?
Obviously it’s great to work with an HR partner that has experts on staff to handle your questions, including just keeping up with the laws as our world is changing. People today can easily work from multiple states, so it’s all about taxation, and having the proper reporting is critical.
Also, unemployment is low in Hawaii, so employers need to be thinking about creative ways to attract and retain employees, including having the right benefit programs. It takes a lot to keep competitive, especially in Hawaii. An employer might have worked in California or another state and moved their business to Hawaii, and not have realized how different our laws are—e.g. like prepaid health care.
Those are the things some employers are not really aware of. So as our workforce is changing, our managers and supervisors also need to be growing along with it.