Ragland believes 'you need to have fun along the way'

ragland inside 2Jennifer Ragland, director of Payroll ServicesJennifer Ragland began working at UAB in February 1998, about two months after she graduated from here in December 1997. She’s spent nearly 19 of those 20 years in Payroll Services, which she now directs.

“When you enjoy the work you do and have such amazing leadership, staff and co-workers, it makes you want to stay where you are,” Ragland said.

It’s evident that Ragland’s colleagues feel the same way about her, calling her compassionate, kind and helpful, yet never impatient or dismissive. For this and other reasons, she was nominated and selected UAB’s Employee of the Month for March. Her work ethic is especially praised; Brandon Doty, manager in Payroll Services, noted that while most of UAB’s employees enjoyed an extra day off Dec. 26, 2017, Ragland was at the office.

“Managing a payroll is like orchestrating a storm center 76 times per year.”

“Jennifer was here at work running reports and verifying totals to ensure that the payroll ran correctly so biweekly employees would be paid,” he said.

That’s not the only time Ragland has put getting UAB employees paid over her own convenience; she said one of her favorite memories from working at UAB is the time she and several other Payroll Services employees “deliberately stranded themselves at work during the 2014 snowpocalypse.” The result? Two payrolls were processed and more than 20,000 employees were paid on time.

“Of course, none of us were prepared to stay, so we all walked to the VA store to buy clothes and snacks,” Ragland said. “We still talk about that today, and we also keep a bag packed just in case!”

In addition to overseeing payroll, Ragland also coordinates the distribution of W-2 forms each year, and always on a tight deadline; 2017 forms totaled more than 27,000. She also coordinates 1042-S forms, the international version of W-2s, as well approving all taxpaying to the federal government and state and local agencies, said Tim McMinn, assistant vice president for financial affairs.

“Managing a payroll is like orchestrating a storm center 76 times per year,” McMinn said. “Jennifer hugely contributes to the success of UAB, Financial Affairs and UAB Payroll.”

“When you enjoy the work you do and have such amazing leadership, staff and co-workers, it makes you want to stay where you are.”

Even though about half the members of the Budget and Payroll Services staff moved from the Administration Building to the 801 Building about six months ago, Ragland has continued to manage effectively, despite the inconvenience, said Ryan Kirby, Payroll Services accountant.

“Jennifer is undaunted and fulfills her role for both halves without fail,” he said.

For 15 of Ragland’s 20 years at UAB, she has worked alongside Amy Evans, executive director of administrative operations for the College of Arts and Sciences, who says Ragland never fails to exemplify professionalism in her job and handle anything that’s asked of her.

“She always handles situations, which oftentimes can be quite volatile when dealing with someone’s pay, with a calm demeanor and a smile on her face,” Evans said.

Each month, UAB recognizes an outstanding employee for their dedication, hard work and contributions to the university’s success. If you know of a great employee, you can learn how to nominate them for this recognition at uab.edu/humanresources.

Shameria Littleton, financial associate for the Department of Clinical and Diagnostic Sciences, said Ragland not is only an amazing manager but also a good friend.

“She is the person to turn to if you are having personal as well as workplace issues,” Littleton said.

“She consistently goes above and beyond to ensure that not only are all functions completed properly, but that our department functions like a true team,” echoed Jennifer Jones, payroll systems coordinator. “We often refer to ourselves as a ‘Payroll Family,’ which would make Jennifer our matriarch."

Ragland said getting in the mindset of being present for your colleagues in any situation boils down to a simple idea: “Work isn’t just about work,” she said. “It’s also about the people. Yes, getting the job done always comes first, but you also need to have fun along the way. You build friendships and relationships with others that will last a lifetime.”