Unicorn Streamlines Payroll Processing for Residential Property Management Group Operating in Eight States 2022-05-09T14:58:38+00:00

Unicorn Streamlines Payroll Processing for Residential Property Management Group Operating in Eight States


Established in 1954, Garden Communities builds and manages residential apartments and housing communities throughout the country including New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Arizona, California, Florida, Maryland, and Minnesota. The company offers an array of units, including studios, townhouses, duplexes, and luxury apartments, as well as affordable housing and active adult communities.


With 12 West Coast properties supported by 300-plus employees, managing payroll is challenging, especially when dealing with state-specific labor laws and regulations related to time off, meal penalties, and overtime. In addition, the majority of the company’s bi-monthly payroll is comprised of hourly workers.

Years ago, the payroll department utilized paper-based processes and punch cards to track hours. It then tried to streamline processes by implementing Easy Clocking, an attendance system that allows employees to clock in (and out) via biometrics scanners. While this solution helped track the time performed by hourly workers, the data still needed to be manually entered into the payroll system, requiring days to process. A better system was needed to save time and reduce errors.

Furthermore, each state has their own labor laws and regulations. For example, California requires a 30-minute meal break within five hours of starting a shift. There are also specific rules for calculating overtime. Operating in multiple locations, managing payroll, and ensuring accuracy and compliance is paramount.

“California’s wage payment laws can be difficult to navigate, especially when it came to processing overtime and meal breaks.” said Cathy Carlson, Payroll Manager at Garden Communities. “It was important that our payroll provider offered the flexibility to handle our complex payroll, and more importantly, was apprised of the constantly changing laws to maintain compliance.”


In 2017, after evaluating several solutions, Garden Communities selected Unicorn’s cloud-based human resources and benefits administration platform, iCON. Utilizing iCON, Garden Communities now has the capability to automate its payroll.

iCON allows Garden Communities to reduce the time associated with manual tasks, such as viewing payroll calendars and pay dates, selecting the appropriate pay group, department, or legal entity for payroll processing, and ensuring compliance with labor laws.

“When it comes to payroll, every company has their own unique requirements and nuances,” added Carlson. “From day one, Unicorn’s customer support team took the time to understand our processes and configure iCON accordingly. They are always available when I have questions about new corporate or government regulations.”


Utilizing the iCON platform, Garden Communities has been able to automate workflows and reduce the time required to process payroll from days to minutes. Staff now have access to payroll data at any time, from anywhere, which streamlines check, voucher, and W-2 processing and distribution for salaried, and hourly employees.

“It used to take my team four days to process payroll for 150+ employees,” added Carlson. “Today, the payroll of 300+ employees can now be performed in minutes with iCON.”

With the ability to calculate complex payroll wages such as shift premiums, overtime, and garnishments, iCON has eliminated errors, improved productivity, and increased employee satisfaction.

“Unicorn has been a true lifesaver for us,” said Carlson. “The iCON platform ensures that paychecks are accurate, and employees are paid on time.”