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How Sarah Solved 'Paralyzing' Payroll Tax Compliance

We interviewed Sarah Castle, Head of People at NoCodeOps, who can handle the toughest HR scenarios but felt paralyzed by state payroll and entity compliance.

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State Payroll Tax Compliance Background

Tell us about NoCodeOps

We’re like a single pane of glass for no-code text stacks.

Thousands of ops professionals use no-code tools to automate their work and create value for their companies. But those tools don’t always work with each other. They require constant monitoring. They break.

‍NoCodeOps is a community-led tech company that fixes all that. We offer no-code professionals a complete operating system for their tech stack which lets them integrate and automate those workflows successfully, avoid the usual risks, and help solve critical business issues.

Sarah Castle, Head of People at NoCodeOpsSarah Castle, Head of People at NoCodeOps

Describe why you love your role

I'm the Head of People, which encompasses pretty much all of our business operations: finance, accounting, investor relations, payroll, and all of our people operations strategy.

What I love about my role is the ability to get creative and think of ways to help employees thrive. 

A lot of where I specialize is in performance management, learning and development, you know, like a lot of growth strategy as it pertains to people within an organization. 

It's been really cool to be at a growing company because there's a lot more opportunity to start planting seeds of the way I want to build. 

I think a lot of times HR is very reactive because it's brought in later in a company. 

So, to be able to create some more proactive approaches to things, to get ahead of certain issues that I've seen over the course of my career is exciting. 

I think in terms of people operations, you've got two types of people.

First, you have people who love process. They love operations, love thinking about how to streamline things, how to make processes automated, how to really make things more efficient on the back end. 

And then you've got people who are a little bit less tactical and more kind of big picture, pie in the sky, and both are so important and they have to operate together. 

There is a balance, of course, with everything, but I'm definitely more on that visionary creative side when it comes to this work. 

So, it's been super helpful in terms of using AbstractOps to help me with some of the more operational compliance-related elements of my job, mostly because I'm like, "Okay, I can sleep knowing that AbstractOps has got this." 

And also, it just, you know, because I don't enjoy doing it, it takes up like 9x the energy that the programming and the people's strategy take.”

What words would you use to describe managing state payroll tax compliance manually?

This one's interesting because, by nature, I don't like dwelling on negative feelings. 

But if I had to pick one word, I'd say "hesitant." 

Hesitant probably sums up a lot of my feelings about anything related to state compliance; it's just not an area of comfort for me. 

What might take an expert 10 seconds to figure out takes me like 15 minutes. 

And then on top of that, for one step filling out a state form, you've got like 13 substeps, right?

So it's like, first I need to figure out which direction I'm going in. Who do I need to call? Where can I find their contact information? Is anyone going to pick up the phone? What do I need to have on hand to give them all of these things? And then I have to figure out from there what the steps are to get to where I need to get to that step. 

I think what's also very stressful for me with this in particular is local and federal government always seem behind. 

So you get bombarded with all this mail and it feels really stressful, and you're like, “but wait, didn't I do this like two weeks ago?” or “isn't this already processed, what's going on?” 

And because it's not my zone of genius, it becomes really overwhelming, and then I become hesitant in terms of figuring out what to do next. 

So it's kind of a paralysis by analysis situation, if you will, but the hesitancy feels very front-facing because that's how it shows up in my actions. 

So there's just, you know, it just, yeah, it's paralyzing. 

You can give me the hardest people situation, like between employees or a team or a manager, and I will dive right in and know exactly what to do. 

But this stuff is just like, I've just become a little bit paralyzed.

Where do you turn when you need advice or tools to solve problems like this?

I am a part of a Slack community called POPS United.

Usually when I need help, I either ping other HR business partners I've worked with in the past, or someone in the POPS United community who can point me in the right direction.

It’s an amazing network.

What’s been the impact of using AbstractOps to eliminate those feelings?

When I think about that question, there are two parts. 

First, the relationship piece. The AbstractOps team has been amazing. 

I would say the relationship has been so helpful for several reasons. 

We're entering into this new phase of work where everyone wants to use AI or chat to be customer support, and it's just not. That is not specific to a certain industry; it's literally everywhere. 

You can't get in touch with a human, and it's the most frustrating experience, especially when you don't know what you don't know, or for companies that don't have an internal team that knows exactly what to do. 

In fact, we do have vendors that don't really have a great customer support or customer success experience, and that's tainted my perception of the platform even if the platform is fine.

So that relationship piece with AbstractOps has been so important to me and a differentiator. 

The second piece is the technology itself - just being able to log in and know exactly what I need to do next to achieve or maintain compliance. 

For example, if  we just made an offer to a person in Wyoming. We would have no prior presence in Wyoming. 

The AbstractOps tool tells me “these are the things I need to do before I reach out to anybody. These are the things I need to do right after they sign or offer. These are the things and this is the timeline.” 

Having that all in one place and just being able to go in and look at the status of things or know exactly what I need to do, to be able to be proactive, has been really helpful.

AbstractOps allows users to proactively address risks and take action.AbstractOps allows users to proactively address risks and take action.

Additional notes from the AbstractOps team

Sarah mentioned it a few times, but there's a critical adjective that defines the top 1% of HR operators: proactive.

At a growing company, these folks are hunting for opportunities and weeding out risks.

From a compliance perspective, they’re the type of people for whom “sitting back, waiting for the penalty, and then addressing the issue” is not an option. 

Sarah uses AbstractOps to take action, protecting NoCodeOps from potential penalties before they become issues and eliminating both financial risk and that dreaded feeling of paralysis.   

If you’re feeling a bit paralyzed yourself, start the AbstractOps product demo here.

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Kristin Bass

Kristin Bass has helped over 100 companies navigate the confusing world of state compliance. Prior to her role as the CEO of AbstractOps, she worked as an Operations Analyst at FIS Global. She holds an MBA from East Carolina University and has a deep love for animals, especially her two labrador retrievers.

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