Zuken Staff

Meet Our People: Veronica, HR Coordinator, Payroll and Benefits

Meet Veronica, HR Coordinator: Payroll and Benefits, Zuken
Meet Veronica, HR Coordinator: Payroll and Benefits, Zuken

Meet Veronica Lane, the HR Coordinator responsible for payroll and benefits for Zuken USA. She joined the company as a full-time employee three years ago after working part-time as an HR Assistant. Veronica is a valued contributor to the Zuken team, especially in the HR department, supporting the Zuken employees and working closely with Christine Soderstrom, HR Director of Zuken USA. Since the start of the Meet Our People series, we’ve had the privilege of sharing stories of our employees from different departments, including marketing, engineering, and customer support. Today, I’ll add HR to our list and share Veronica’s story.

A Humble Beginning

The start of my career was not so traditional. Growing up in an unstable home, my mom struggled to keep the heat on. I left high school at 15, got my GED, and started working full time. I knew I wanted a career to help people, so I started working in a nursing home and saving money for college. I loved the residents at the nursing home as if they were my family. But working in hospice was incredibly difficult and emotionally exhausting. This experience made me want to find a career to help people while maintaining a better work-life balance. I wanted to be able to hang up my hat at the end of the day.

When I was 20, I decided to go back to school. I started my career in HR while attending the University of Massachusetts Lowell, studying to get my Bachelor’s in Business Administration. I took a career preparation course and an HR co-op with Putnam Investments. Working in HR satisfied my desire to help people without the heartache I experienced while working in hospice. After completing my co-op, I had the credentials to get my first professional HR role as an HR recruiter for a local pest control company. While I only worked there for a brief period, I gained the knowledge and experience I needed for my next opportunity, which was the perfect fit for me.

I was fortunate to be at the right place at the right time; during my last semester at UMass, my guidance counselor told me her neighbor was looking to hire an HR assistant. That neighbor was Christine Soderstrom, HR Director of Zuken USA. In March 2019, I started working part-time, training under the former paymaster. A few months later, I graduated from college, came on as a full-time employee, and the rest is history!

The Many Hats of an HR Professional

In my role as a payroll and benefits coordinator, it’s my responsibility to make sure Zuken USA employees get paid on time and have access to benefits that add value to their lives. I run payroll twice a month, a few days before each payday. “Running payroll” involves recording and entering paid time for employees. Part-time employees fill out timesheets, and full-time employees are set up to be automatically paid a certain amount for each period. I have to manually adjust that information for any time taken outside of regular working hours (vacation, sick, jury duty, bereavement, and holiday hours). I am also responsible for entering bonuses and commissions manually. A large part of my role is information management. I spend a lot of time double-checking data to make sure what is entered is correct.

Having a good benefits package is essential for attracting and retaining employees. When I received my offer letter from Zuken, I used the company’s benefits to help me determine whether or not I should accept the position. And now that I work for Zuken, I try to keep that in mind. It’s part of my job to ensure our benefits stay competitive within the industry. Zuken employees are my customers, and I want to make sure the benefits we curate meet their needs. This includes the obvious benefits, like health insurance and retirement planning, and supplemental benefits such as pet insurance and the employee assistance program (EAP). Some employees might never use the EAP, but it’s a great place to navigate resources during times of crisis.

Payroll, the Only Consistent Part of My Schedule

Usually, there’s no typical day for me. My tasks include gathering information for audits (internal and external), meeting with benefit providers, onboarding new employees, assessing benefits, negotiating benefits, researching new benefits, paying bills and taxes, and helping employees navigate their benefits and access resources. The only consistent part of my schedule is payroll, which encompasses about three days twice a month. For payroll, day one is for collecting data, day two is for entering, proofreading, and submitting data. Day three is for processing reports and entering 401(k) contributions.

Paperless Payroll

My first big project at Zuken is my most memorable. That project was paperless payroll. The payroll process used to require using anywhere from 200 to 600 pages of paper per pay cycle. That’s a lot of wasted paper if you ask me! Now, we store these documents and reports securely within our online payroll platform. This project was more important than I could’ve predicted. When the pandemic started, I didn’t have to worry about accessing the paper files I used to store at the Westford office because it was now all electronic. This critical change gave me everything I needed to work from home with ease.

The Best Team

I enjoy working with Christine; she’s a great teacher who genuinely cares about my career

Veronica is enjoying the view in Peterborough, New Hampshire.
Veronica enjoys exploring state parks. Here she is in Peterborough, New Hampshire.

development. She makes sure I have the opportunity to experience all that HR encompasses. She welcomes questions and discussions and values my thoughts and input. As a team of two, it’s easy to stay informed on what we’re doing. The information doesn’t get lost as it might in large departments. While we both work independently, I know Christine will always be there if I need assistance with anything. Having autonomy while also having the ability to collaborate is such a great position to be in, especially early on in my career.

Music, Photography, Fostering Kittens, and More

Veronica, HR Coordinator: Payroll and Benefits, Zuken USA, hugging her foster kitten, Wilbur.
Veronica loves animals. Here she is with one of her foster fails, Wilbur.

I love music. I used to be a live music photographer, and I have photographed bands in almost every genre. It was such a fantastic side gig, but my hearing is permanently damaged from all the time spent in the front row of concerts, standing in front of speakers the size of a city bus. I enjoy the outdoors and spend a lot of my spare time exploring state parks in New Hampshire and Maine with my sister and two dogs. I also foster kittens and have anywhere from 3 to 14 cats and kittens in my home at any given time. My guest room is now the designated kitten room, filled with cat treats, toys, and litter boxes. I also enjoy gardening, fixing up my old house, visiting art galleries and museums, and spending quality time with my family.

Sabina Perkis
Sabina Perkis
Marketing Assistant
Sabina Perkis is a Marketing Assistant at the SOZO Center and Zuken USA. Her work focuses on social media, tradeshow and event coordination, interfacing with external vendors, writing blogs, and more. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her family, traveling, and cooking.