Dan Maddux is Executive Director of the American Payroll Association (APA), the leading payroll authority in the United States. His APA career began in 1982 as the first employee hired by the fledgling association. Over the next ten years, he would hold every job in the association, ultimately becoming Executive Director in 1992.
Through classroom and online education, print and electronic publications, certification programs, a network of over 100 local affiliated chapters, and advocacy with government agencies, the American Payroll Association serves a community of over 48,000. APA membership also includes representatives of large, medium, and small payroll service providers who are responsible for processing payroll for an additional 2 million U.S. employers. APA has represented these constituents on Capitol Hill and with federal, state, and local government agencies for more than 30 years.
In 2015, APA launched the Global Payroll Management Institute (GPMI), with the mission of forging a community by providing th education, skills, and resources necessary for global payroll professionals to become successful leaders and strategic partners within their organizations. As GPMI’s President, Dan has led the organization’s growth to a worldwide community of global payroll professionals with over 12,000 subscribers in 117 countries. Each year, more than 9,700 global payroll professionals attend GPMI education. Currently, GPMI has established four chapters in three countries. GPMI is headquartered in Washington, D.C.
The APA is headquartered in San Antonio, TX, with additional facilities in Las Vegas, NV and Washington, D.C. APA owns all its properties, which house the association’s operations, including a host of commercial tenants, and an acclaimed Event and Training.
Connect with Dan on LinkedIn.
What You’ll Learn In This Episode
- About the American Payroll Association
- Products and services they offer
- Payroll industry looks like in the future
- Projects or initiatives they’re looking forward to in 2023
- Some advice for other leaders doing work in Associations
This transcript is machine transcribed by Sonix.
Intro: [00:00:00] We’re broadcasting live from the Business RadioX studios in Atlanta, Georgia. It’s time for Association Leadership Radio. Now, here’s your host.
Lee Kantor: [00:00:20] Lee Kantor here another episode of Association Leadership Radio and this is going to be a good one. Today on the show, we have Dan Maddux with the American Payroll Association. Welcome, Dan.
Dan Maddux: [00:00:32] Hi, Lee.
Lee Kantor: [00:00:33] Hey, So excited to learn what you’re up to. Tell us a little bit about American Payroll Association. How are you serving, folks?
Dan Maddux: [00:00:39] Thank you, Lee. The American Payroll Association was founded in 1982. We’re a professional organization that is comprised of individuals that are responsible for payroll management. We also attract professionals from HR and other payroll related corporate financial responsibilities. The APA represents payroll professionals across the US and increasingly from across the globe that have US payroll responsibilities. Annually, we conduct training programs, conferences, seminars and an annual convention and expo through a myriad of in-person and virtual deliveries. We reach about 75,000 individuals with some type of education experience annually.
Lee Kantor: [00:01:24] How has the payroll industry kind of evolved over the years in that I’m sure at one point it was all kind of corporations doing payroll for their employees, and now we’re living in a world where there are so many subcontractors, there are so many, you know, kind of software as a service solutions for payroll. How have you seen the industry evolve?
Dan Maddux: [00:01:47] The industry has evolved in many ways, I guess to a great extent, because we’re a professional organization and we serve the individuals and their professional journey. We’ve seen the industry involved and the fact that products and services are constantly evolving and changing. So that is something that that professionals in the industry need to keep up with. Often those products are for payroll and HR, so they’re working with their partners in HR. Whenever a company is going through any kind of change. I would say more and more payroll are brought to the table and helping to make that decision. Historically, before that, you know, decades ago. Payroll often found out about the changes and it wasn’t necessarily something that they were part of, but certainly they were part of the implementation. These days, I would say that they definitely have a seat at the table and helping to make those decisions. And they’re, of course, part of the implementation. And that’s where I’d say that the industry has grown considerably in the fact that they do have a leadership seat at the table and more and more, which we always try to expose to our members, is that you have payroll professionals or people that have even risen to being at the C-suite level.
Dan Maddux: [00:03:02] And often when you will meet, let’s say, payroll vice presidents or officers in a corporation, they begin to think that they’re the only ones. And in some cases, that’s why, let’s say over the years they have become less engaged with our association, because they really do truly think that they’re the only one that exists in the industry. And you bring them to the table and you ask them to share their story and then they come to realize that there are actually a lot more people in their position in the industry, which shows you that the industry is evolving and it’s changing and their positions have become more strategic. They still are going to have the regulatory and compliance aspects that payroll is responsible for, but they have become more strategic players. And I think that the great thing about that, not only for those people that are in the C-suite positions and payroll, but for the general people in the industry, is that for them they thought that there was this ceiling and that for them to move further in their career, they had to lead payroll. And now it allows them to redefine their career objectives. And the fact that they really can truly go further in their profession.
Lee Kantor: [00:04:16] Now, how do you kind of share the information with your folks? Do you do it through chapters? Do you have national conferences? Do you have online learning? Like how do people interact with the knowledge that you are willing to share?
Dan Maddux: [00:04:30] We do have 125 affiliated chapters, but I would say the way we communicate more with our members, though, certainly through the host of publications that we have, we have eight attorneys on staff that research and write, but we also have what we consider a customer or membership publications. We have several of those, predominantly as an organization beyond the work that we do in D.C. with government agencies. Most of what we do is communicate it through education, so we have education to take them throughout their entire journey. So through what would be foundations, which of course companies utilize us for to train people as they’re coming into the profession, but also through. Their career all the way up to management. So we we train over 75,000 people a year through the myriad of education that we provide. That historically, of course, there was a lot of in-person learning as what we did we. Years ago, prior to the pandemic, we began to move quite a bit of what we did virtually. And I would say that in the years of the pandemic, you know, two years plus, we moved so much of what we did for the myriad of training programs that we provide know 1 to 3, up to five day learning programs. We moved to virtual formats. We even moved our annual convention for a couple of years to a virtual format. And when we were now, while we had a virtual delivery for over ten years for our annual convention, it did challenge us to pivot, to move everything that we did to a virtual format for those two years, even the delivery of our certification exams. And while I’m not saying I’m looking forward to another pandemic, I would tell you that we made the pandemic a really great learning experience and we had to do a lot of soft and hard pivots.
Dan Maddux: [00:06:32] But we figured if we’re going to have to move everything that we do to virtual deliveries, which we are very skilled at doing, but also a annual convention and an expo, we’re going to be the best because I saw so many organizations that were deciding not to do much in 20 and deescalated what they would normally do in 21 as well. And now today they’re still catching up. And we had really no downtime. While we may have had some slight delays because we had to pivot to new deliveries, I would tell you that our virtual convention in 2018 was it was very exciting. And then when we knew we had to do it for 21, we could even make it more exciting. And what I loved coming back to an in-person convention in 22 was that I met people that were members or customers for years. They knew about our convention called Peril Congress, but they had never really considered attending. But they decided to attend it because it was offered virtually. And they said if they can make it this exciting, virtually, I’ve got to attend in person. So what I thought was great about that is that we knew that what we were providing during the pandemic was substantial. But when you are speaking to customers face to face that are telling you that what you delivered during the pandemic was so inviting and exciting that it that it was essentially the marketing tool that made them come to their first in-person convention. To me, that was very powerful.
Lee Kantor: [00:08:04] Now, did that trickle down to the chapter level as well? Did the folks locally, were they able to kind of make the best of a bad situation in their local markets?
Dan Maddux: [00:08:17] Every chapter is different, of course, than their affiliated chapters. But what we did do is we offered them Zoom licenses and having their national organization be so apt at at providing we embraced virtual many years ago. So even by the fact that we had more than one office, we were originally located in New York City, moved the headquarters to San Antonio. We’ve always had multiple offices, Washington, DC, so we would use video conferencing from the Donna video conferencing. So we always embraced technology. So we’ve been utilizing Zoom for a number of years. What we did is we worked out a Zoom license for our chapters so that they could facilitate their chapter meetings through Zoom, and that was very well received by our chapters because there was really no other way for them to conduct their meetings in a professional way. And I would tell you that quite a few of our chapters have maintained their zoom license. And now, even though some are back to some in-person delivery, some of their meetings, just like just like everything else in life is a hybrid, some some of their meetings are still conducted virtually.
Lee Kantor: [00:09:37] And did you find that as the pandemic waned, people were hungry for this kind of face to face and getting back to interacting in person?
Dan Maddux: [00:09:48] I think what people are hungry for and what their employers will support or what they have the bearing to do are two different things. So what? So people may want to go back to in-person and certainly we want to get back to in-person. But what we’re finding and I think that that other groups will will share this with you as well, is that what we’re finding is that virtual is still a more popular option. Now that is probably more popular because there are so many people working remotely or in a hybrid situation. Also, employers had the cost savings of virtual deliveries. So now when you’re looking at in-person deliveries, particularly when there is travel, hotel and incidentals and they’re comparing those costs, certainly some employers are going to look at saying, yes, an in-person delivery of a convention people are going to get more out of. But when it comes to a training program, do you necessarily need to have those additional costs? So we are we have less than person deliveries because we try to gear them towards the market need. And what we’ve found is that we have an increased need for virtual deliveries. So coming out of the pandemic, we are seeing we’ve amped up more virtual deliveries, but we we still do have the in-person component and we’ll continue to adjust those by market need. But I would tell you that in introducing one new class that we have that’s foundation of payroll analytics that was introduced in 22, while there is a need for people to attend it in person and there’s a value to that. We have three times as many people that would like to attend it virtually.
Lee Kantor: [00:11:35] Now, since you kind of had the head start of embracing virtual, you know, pre-pandemic, that obviously had a running start when the pandemic happened and you were that much more adept at and skilled at executing that. Or is there any tips you can share on how to create engagement virtually? Is it just is education and training kind of the easiest path to create the education, or were you able to do it also in these kind of just maybe informal, you know, monthly meetings or things like that?
Dan Maddux: [00:12:08] I think there’s many different ways to communicate. But in in in education, I think that sometimes sometimes in a learning experience when when it’s being delivered, which we have, of course, acknowledged and embraced many years ago, I would say well over 15 years ago. Is that education? Well, I actually say even longer than that because of our learning centers, that education has to be more participatory, that people get more out of the educational experiences if it’s not just a one way delivery. You can have plenty of one way deliveries when it comes to an instructor providing or a speaker providing information that that is webinars or a more rigorous delivery. But when you’re looking at 6 hours or 12 hours or 18 hours of education, if it doesn’t have some level of participation and it’s not more participatory and you don’t have ways for them not only to to interact with the instructor but also interact with each other, that it is difficult to keep that engagement of people. Now, by today’s standards, of course, everybody is experiencing this. You will have people that want the online education and however it’s being delivered, but they have a difficult time fully engaging.
Dan Maddux: [00:13:32] They won’t necessarily turn on their camera. They still want to chat their questions rather than to ask their questions. But what we find, because we have been nurturing this more participatory way of educating for decades, is that we do have a it’s it’s how you’ve seasoned your audience. So more than half of the people that attend our virtual experiences when it is 6 hours, 12 hours, 18 hours, that a good portion of the class, more than half, they are on camera and they are raising their hand and they are asking questions in the virtual environment, which does make it a much more inviting experience for them or a more well-rounded experience. But you still are going to have those people that I believe have gotten into a rut by what their companies have allowed or in any other type of educational experience that they’ve had because of the other type of education that they may be required to achieve through their employer that have turned it into a one way communication and don’t necessarily see that it is to their benefit for it to be more participatory and for them to fully engage.
Lee Kantor: [00:14:49] Now, when it comes to payroll, in the macro sense, are there any trends or anything in the industry that we should be on the lookout for coming forward that.
Dan Maddux: [00:15:03] So I’d say that from that framework that employers and this is really worldwide, but particularly in first world countries that during the. Pandemic. We had this aspect of allowing people to work remotely, and in some aspects we didn’t always know where they were working from. In places like the UK, what was a predominant factor was people going to Spain to work. And in the US we were very lenient as well. But in the US of course we have, we have federal laws, but we also have various state laws and local jurisdictions. And during the pandemic there was a certain leniency. But you will have, let’s say, some well-known companies, and I’m not going to say who they are, but that will have been on the news and saying we don’t care where our employees work. But it’s like, do you really not care where they work? Because wherever they’re working from that you as an employer are going to have have a responsibility And you probably have seen it in the news. It was reported well over six months ago that we know that there are over 1.6 million Americans working in Mexico, predominantly in Mexico City. And there that’s a big issue because it’s not only do employers need to be aware of the fact that where their employees are working, but also at some juncture, those jurisdictions, you know, Mexico is going to say we’re going to need a piece of that taxation pie, and that’s going to happen. That’s going to be a global issue and an issue for employers in the US because they’re going to need to take hold of and take responsibility for where their employees are working. And that’s something that’s been a bit laxed throughout the pandemic, but is going to be a significant issue moving forward. So there are employers that do embrace allowing people to work from wherever, but they’re also doing all of the backend things that are necessary in order to make that possible.
Lee Kantor: [00:17:18] So they have to kind of ramp up some infrastructure for themselves to handle that complexity of their employees being in different states, different countries because of the taxation rules wherever that employee individually is located.
Dan Maddux: [00:17:35] They do because when when these companies are inevitably audited, their their employee cell phone records, these employees will have probably signed leases. Let’s say there’s going to be an audit. Even the technology for the employer, they’re going to know whether people have logged in from and all of this is going to factor into audits. So employers are going to need to get in front of that and either have stricter rules about what states, let’s say in the US you can work in or can’t. And if you can work outside the US, they’re going to need to be aware of that and then provide for that because it’s not as simple as saying that somebody can work in Mexico. There are certain corporate structures that have to change and filings that have to change. So I believe there are employers that that have already they they rose to the occasion and will continue to rise to the occasion. But I think the majority of employers, when they understand the complexities of that type of global reporting and even domestic reporting in order to provide for that will retract from allowing their employees to have the leniency of working anywhere they want.
Dan Maddux: [00:18:59] So I do think that that the pandemic certainly changed the way we work. And the fact that there is this well, there is more remote work. There is an expectation that you can be a hybrid worker or a remote worker. And it is how we attract talent now is that we have to think about the fact that talent isn’t necessarily going to be in our back door. We need to to set our sights a bit further and where we we look and attract talent. But we have to take these other considerations into the equation. We just happen to represent the payroll industry, which is highly has has a slew of regulatory and legislative issues that companies have to adhere to. So it is it’s the space that we’re in. So we’re more cognizant of it. But I do think that that’s going to be an issue for any small to medium to large size employer that is going to have to reel in what they allowed for during the pandemic.
Lee Kantor: [00:20:02] Right. So the pandemic kind of forced their hand. It seemed like they were being generous and accommodating. But, you know, once you flip that domino, there’s other ramifications that are occurring that maybe you didn’t realize. Time or didn’t understand kind of how how many things that that affected down the road.
Dan Maddux: [00:20:21] Yes.
Lee Kantor: [00:20:22] So now, is there anything through your organization that you’re most looking forward to in 2023 and beyond? Any projects or things you’re working on?
Dan Maddux: [00:20:31] We’re looking forward to that. We I mentioned to you earlier that in 22 we came out with our first. It was called Foundations of Payroll Analytics. It’s 18 hours and we provide in-person delivery and also virtual delivery. And what was great about providing that is that the attendees could naturally see by the the 18 hours of education that there had to be a part two, which we already had in development. But it’s great when the attendees can say I need more. So we have part two in development and we plan on having it in the marketplace before the the end of 23. So that’s exciting. And I believe that even past part two, it’s going to continue. So it’s substantial content. I believe that by the time we finish the series, we’ll have over 50 hours of content just on this one subject matter, which to me is really exciting to procure or create new content. And another exciting project that we’re working on is that we will soon launch our online community and we like to think of the fact that yes, we have members, but we also have subscribers. We have customers. I think any association has to begin to look at what are your total engagements, because people that may hold your certifications aren’t necessarily your members, but they do think of themselves as part of your community. So when we look at our total engagements, we in 22 had over 191,000 engagements. So if somebody has your certification and they’re in another country, they still think of being in inside your circle. They still think of being part of your community.
Dan Maddux: [00:22:20] So when we launch this community, it is available to anybody worldwide. And it does. It is for our members, for our customers, for our engagements, for those that have our certifications worldwide. So I think that it’s very exciting because not only does it does it connect people from around the world because you could have somebody in Ohio that has an issue with German payrolls and can connect with somebody and ask a question. So it really does meet the need of the fact that many years ago people would think of a multinational company as being a really large company, but now it can really be a company of any size and they can be located anywhere. So it does create a knowledge share within the industry because within this industry, yes, every payroll practice or regulatory and legislative issue around the world is different. But payroll as it is, is is pretty much processed the same way no matter where you are. It’s just pay cycles are different and the laws are different, but there’s a lot of commonality. And we’re looking forward to launching this community because that, yes, there are people within our community in the US that just think US centric, but their world is changing and they may not be in a multinational company today, but you don’t know where their company is going tomorrow or what employer they might be working for next year. And by having this worldwide community, not only will it meet the needs that people have today, but people today don’t realize that it will meet needs that they’ll have in future years.
Lee Kantor: [00:24:12] Right. And it could open up other opportunities. When you have this knowledge, it may not be something that you’re fearful of or you embrace and you lean into and say, hey, oh, there is somebody there I can chat with and just ask them some questions.
Dan Maddux: [00:24:24] Absolutely.
Lee Kantor: [00:24:25] I mean, building relationships worldwide, I mean, there’s no negative to that.
Dan Maddux: [00:24:31] There is. There isn’t. And I that has organically happened over the years. You know, you provide the forum for it, but then it organically happens among people. But I believe that with an online community that that it will happen much faster. And then years from now, in a few short years from now, there are people that would not have seen the value that will see it as being a very valuable tool.
Lee Kantor: [00:25:00] So what do you need more of? How can we help you? Do you need more members? You need more subject matter experts, you need more chapter leads. How can we.
Dan Maddux: [00:25:09] Help? We we are always we have been great over the years of. Cultivating SMS or subject matter experts. I would tell you that and I would recommend to any organization to do this. We certainly put subject matter experts through the test and cultivating their natural well. We improve their their their knowledge base, but we have always had professional speech coaching for decades so that our subject matter experts become the best speakers they can be because they’re really the voice piece for the for all of the hundreds of courses that we teach a year. So we always want more customers, we always want more members, we always want more people to go through our certification programs. So in in the various ways that we serve the community, whether it’s through the American Payroll Association, the Global Payroll Management Institute, we always want more people to come into the fold.
Lee Kantor: [00:26:17] Well, I really appreciate you coming on and sharing your wisdom and congratulations on all the success to be able to handle the pandemic as well as you did and to really use it as a launching point for even more robust services and education for your members. Congratulations. That is just amazing achievement and I hope you’re proud and I hope your members appreciate what it took to do that, because that’s a big deal and you did a great job. Thank you for sharing your story. You’re doing important work and we appreciate you.
Dan Maddux: [00:26:49] Thank you so much, Lee.
Lee Kantor: [00:26:51] All right. This is Lee Kantor. We’ll see you all next time on Association Leadership Radio