Business leaders face many challenges, even more so in light of the pandemic and all of the changes it has prompted. One particular challenge which leaders face is making HR more efficient by revamping it through digitalisation. The conditions created by the pandemic have forced action. Between employees clamouring for digital solutions, new mobile requirements for remote workers and the need to leverage people and payroll data for board level strategy, HR is being rewritten from the ground up. Cathy Geerts, Chief Human Resources Officer, SD Worx, explains how businesses need to adapt to the digitised, remote working world with customised HR solutions.
The pandemic has placed HR at the forefront of business strategy for companies across the world. While many found that their hands were forced into doing so by major health concerns last year, we now have an opportunity to think beyond reactive responses to external risks.
By thinking proactively about new HR standards, processes and tools, forward-thinking companies can empower their workforces and deliver long-lasting benefits to their employees and business. The biggest rewards will go to those who act earliest. But before we can make the most of these new opportunities, it’s first necessary to understand where things stand at present.
Bringing together HR and IT
Over the last year, businesses all over the world have had to innovate to deliver what were once simple processes. In the past, organisations barely had to think about how they would on-board new employees, distribute hardware or software or communicate and collaborate with each other – it almost exclusively took place face to face in the office. Now, these simple tasks call for greater and more complex collaboration between HR and IT functions.
To solve these challenges in a more effective and scalable way – and to get ready for the future of work – a strong programme of digitalisation will be necessary, with HR and IT working hand in hand to create new processes and tools together.
Unfortunately, at present, many industries are lagging behind standards for digital HR. For instance, only between 19-25% can confidently state that they are able to find answers to their employees’ HR questions instantly through digital solutions, according to our research. As a result, reinventing HR with digital tools front of mind will be key in finetuning the employee experience and solving the challenges thrown up by the long-term changes underway.
Yet before putting in place new tools, whether these are for HR management reconfiguration or investment in new resources, you need to do a stock check of the systems already being used; if you don’t know the ‘before’ picture, how can you be confident that the ‘after’ picture is any better?
Many businesses invest in new technology before accurately baselining where they are today – without this vital step, it will be nigh impossible to make the most of the hard work it takes to build a new, cohesive HR strategy.
Retire outmoded systems
Companies dependent on traditional modes of working will have the most work ahead of them. Overhauling old legacy systems requires an investment of time and effort, so having a clear roadmap for how to go about this is key.
The two main problems with legacy systems are that they are time-consuming and inaccessible. Users might find it tricky to input their own data, find information about annual leave, make absence requests or get an overview of payslips. This is because legacy systems often sit in silos, leading to a poor employee experience as employees need to manage several separate systems and log-ins.
Look at where time is being lost and work from that point – are employees able to find the data they need quickly and simply? Our research shows that around a third of employees still have to call their HR colleagues to get their questions answered. Making this information easier to access would increase efficiency and save everybody time.
Integrate a new, holistic application into HR processes
An all-in-one, holistic application that acts as a central repository can help connect employees to the data they need quickly, while also providing comprehensive data and metrics for decision makers at all levels. Employees are then able to find all their personal information in a single system, and this centralised data feeds back into the business.
Our survey findings show that 61.7% of UK employers highlighted employee experience as a priority and are either planning or carrying out improvements to the day-to-day working life of their employees. In addition, the average rating for employee engagement within the UK is just over the halfway mark with a rating of six.
One way to boost employee satisfaction is by providing easy-to-use, scalable HR and payroll tools, removing administrative headaches for employees and HR teams alike.
Automate mundane HR processes to boost efficiency
Automation is a boost to productivity, but it also brings other benefits to employee wellbeing and data management. A professional in your HR team who doesn’t have to spend an afternoon manually inputting data can spend their time on more interesting work and bring greater value to your organisation.
Having been brought into the spotlight largely by the pandemic, which led to frequent and rapid adjustments to payroll as well as quick access to data for key business decisions, the notion of the siloed, back office payroll team has become outdated. Payroll extends way beyond salaries and taxes, providing every business area with rich financial and people-based data insights.
Automating payroll tasks, to avoid professionals crunching numbers and managing spreadsheets, is key to Digital Transformation and creating a positive experience for your people. And when integrated with the full HR suite, such as talent, workforce management and expenses, businesses can obtain one version of the truth to guide strategic decisions. Yet we found in our research that only 9.4% of UK businesses have implemented a fully automated, digitalised and/or integrated HR and payroll process or system.
New tools to cope with modern challenges – and those yet to come
For the next few months, most organisations will be navigating the tricky challenge of bringing employees back to the office while COVID-19 remains in circulation. While some will relish the opportunity to spend time back in the workplace re-connecting with colleagues, many will enjoy some of their newfound flexibility and look forward to a life with less time spent commuting.
To offer flexible options, companies need to first accommodate the return to the office in the right way – so that options are there for the workforce who want to return to central physical spaces. Our research found that health is a top concern and well over half (57.7%) of employers have started or are planning to start new welfare and health initiatives.
Transformation in the office is also key. Over half (55.5%) of employers are on the road towards the digitalisation of human resource management, recognising the benefits of improved efficiency and productivity and having improved insights into people data to ensure employee wellbeing.
To contact trace effectively, you must ensure you have a clear view of all employees present at any given time, either through a physical register or a desk-booking system.
Again, this points to the usefulness of a single, integrated and digital HR application that your employees can use to manage their daily requirements – and that management can use to respond to risks and emergencies. Should someone fall ill, all the information is immediately available to automatically create a list of possible contacts who were also in the office during the period in question.
Such a tool can help with more physical requirements, too. As soon as it is possible to return to the office, controlling maximum occupancy will be important to reduce the risk of a spread in infection and ensure employees feel safe.
Understanding how your employees use your spaces – by gathering data automatically using your integrated digital tool – will help you deliver the best experience.
What does the future hold for HR?
In the coming months and years, much remains uncertain – but more change is guaranteed.
For businesses and workforces managing the intricacies of people management as our working lives become ever more fluid and flexible, a strong foundation of HR and payroll management will be crucial.
New digital systems that reduce the need for mundane administrative tasks while providing access to rich and up-to-date data can prove to be vital tools, meeting unforeseeable challenges while also making the company more efficient. This leaves HR and payroll professionals with time to focus on what is most important – ensuring employees are happy, healthy and engaged as we meet the challenges and make the most of new opportunities in our changing world of work.
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