Managing people

(Super)human resources: How HR is transforming into a strategic advisor for C-suite leaders

What comes to mind when you think about the role of HR and payroll professionals? To some, they are the first point of contact for leave applications. Others see them as the people handling office conflict.

Perhaps it’s time we rethink their roles and view them as not just administrators but strategic advisors to the C-suite, helping business leaders make more informed people, culture, and strategic decisions.

Ancel Draai, Sales Manager of HR and Payroll at Sage, and Nicolene Koster, Field Sales Manager at Sage, hosted a thought-provoking session at the 2022 HR Indaba, revealing how HR and payroll professionals are becoming strategic and advisory superheroes helping C-suite executives to drive business growth and enhance the employee experience.

However, just like fictional superheroes, HR and payroll leaders need sidekicks to help them tackle the complexities involved with human resources.

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Strategic, visionary, transformational: The superpowers of HR

Our recent survey revealed that only 40% of C-suite leaders say their organisations use HR data to make business decisions. But how can leaders improve the employee experience or implement effective diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) policies without the relevant data to back them up?

After all, data plays a critical role in detecting, predicting, and mitigating risks before they become problems.

The metrics are there; all HR and business leaders need to do is use them.

But it’s not that simple…

Overcoming the challenges

Many people underestimate HR’s role, especially during adversity and change.

In fact, our research revealed the many challenges facing HR and payroll leaders daily, making it difficult for them to keep up with their workloads:

  • Up to 60% of HR and payroll professionals have experienced an increase in both admin and strategic tasks
  • 57% of C-suite leaders still see HR as purely an admin function
  • 76% of business leaders don’t think HR’s workload is unmanageable
  • 96% of companies have access to HR analytics, but 68% aren’t reliant on it to drive business decisions

What’s more, with the rising complexity of changing legislation, burnout, and increased workloads due to hybrid or remote working models, many feel like HR is still too admin-focused.

Resilient superheroes

Despite these challenges, HR is evolving and taking on a new, people-focused, and responsive direction.

For instance:

  • 65% of HR leaders say their teams played a vital role in the pandemic
  • 87% of C-suite executives say the pandemic accelerated changes in HR
  • 60% of employees say that HR has become more people-focused
  • 81% of business leaders feel HR priorities are aligned with that of the overall business

Superheroes need sidekicks

Although HR and payroll leaders have “superpowers” in the form of resilience, adaptability, and insight, many don’t have the sidekicks they need to really make a difference.

But who—or what—are these “sidekicks”?

Why, cloud HR and payroll technology, of course.

With the right tools, HR and payroll departments can turn the mountains of data they have into valuable information and automate mundane administrative tasks that usually overpopulate their schedules.

The result? More time and resources to gain valuable insights, advise C-suite leaders, and—most importantly—enhance employee engagement and performance management for business continuity.

So, what’s stopping them? Well, many executives and managers haven’t bought into digitisation, which means HR and payroll professionals need to play the convincing game to initiate the transition.

Choosing the right sidekick

Before pitching a new system to hesitant leaders, you need to identify the problems, do some research, and find a solution that matches your business’s goals accordingly.

Here’s how to invest in the right HR and Payroll tech:

  • Identify and understand the HR and business strategy
  • Speak to several vendors about your tech budget and need
  • Build your knowledge of the software and what it can do for other departments and teams
  • Engage with C-suite executives and explain the short-, medium-, and long-term benefits
  • Circle back to your preferred vendor, get answers to any pressing questions from the C-suite and let them help you integrate the new solution

Starting the conversation: How to convince C-suite leaders to invest in HR and Payroll tech

Here’s how to start the conversation with C-suite executives who are not (yet) sold on the benefits of cloud HR and Payroll solutions.

Step 1: Align HR goals with business goals

Explain to management that your HR objectives will ultimately increase the business’s bottom line by improving strategic and daily efficiencies. For example, shifting to the cloud will help to mitigate risk while empowering your people to handle simple processes and tasks through self-service solutions.

Ultimately, HR and payroll departments can focus on the people while the C-suite leaders can make instant insightful decisions.

Step 2: Highlight company-wide benefits

Cloud HR and Payroll technology have custom dashboards, automated reports, and company-wide access from a single system. This means everyone has access to a single version of the truth.

Step 3: Speak the data language

Study the importance of data-driven insights on business decision-making and how people analytics can highlight employee satisfaction levels and improve the employee lifecycle and experience.

Step 4: Do the research

Find the best HR and Payroll cloud technology vendors and options that match your business’s budget, needs, and plans. Then, compare them to identify the best option.

Step 5: Present the options

Once you’ve identified the problem, need, and strategy, have done internal and external research and found a vendor, it’s time to pitch. Lay all of your findings on the table to show C-suite executives how much effort and thought you’re putting into finding the right solution.

Top tips for using data to drive business decision-making

  • Create HR KPIs aligned with business goals
  • Empower C-suite peers to take advantage of the metrics
  • Automate reporting
  • Regularly discuss the “why”
  • Focus on predictive, or “leading”, metrics
  • Tap into your brand-new tech to cruise through the analytics

Just like Batman needs Robin, Sherlock needs Watson, and Buzz Lightyear needs Woody, HR and Payroll professionals need sidekicks in the form of cloud technology and People Analytics to kick butt and take names.

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