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The skills all payroll and HR professionals need to succeed in a post-pandemic world

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Payroll and HR professionals are in a confidence rut. Combine a global pandemic with major workplace transformations and constant changes to laws and regulations, and it’s plain to see why they might be struggling to keep up – especially when you consider that so many of the challenges that they face are things they’ve never dealt with before.

In August 2021, Sage interviewed 600 small businesses (under 99 employees) and 400 medium-sized companies (100 to 1,999 employees) to discover how they’re navigating increased complexity in HR and payroll. According to the survey, 73% of respondents agree that COVID-19 has added to payroll and HR complexity.

Let’s take the move to remote working as an example. While the ability to work remotely and an increase in workplace flexibility may be great for employees, it increases the risk of error, data loss, and non-compliance for businesses. Not only does this fear of slipping up shake payroll professionals’ confidence, but it also fuels job security concerns.

All of this is worrying when you consider that around 41% of the entire global workforce is considering resigning in the next six months, according to Microsoft research. This makes the role of payroll and HR in retaining and hiring new talent so much more important. And our research confirms this. According to the Sage survey, 85% of respondents believe that payroll and HR professionals need a seat at the decision-making table.

So, how do we help payroll and HR pros get their confidence back? We give them a helping hand.

How cloud-based payroll and HR software can help?

As our survey results show, payroll and HR professionals have a lot on their plates, and it’s affecting their ability to work confidently.

Take the enactment of the Protection of Personal Information Act (POPIA) as an example. For payroll and HR professionals, this new legislation means that they now have to think quite carefully about security risks like cyber-attacks and data theft. While it’s likely they thought about this kind of thing before, the legislation makes it mandatory, and non-compliance can result in imprisonment and/or a fine.

Our research also shows that 62% of payroll and HR professionals believe that embracing technology and analytics should be a top priority for leaders, and 70% of payroll and HR professionals intend to switch from manual and offline systems to cloud-based software in the next year.

For 70% of SMEs, data security, time management, and a shift to remote and hybrid working models are the main reasons behind their switch from manual processes to cloud-based systems. Other common reasons include greater productivity, reduced costs, increased document security, integration with existing software, and the ability to access data anywhere and at any time. But that’s not all.

Below, we outline five of the more important things that payroll and HR professionals can focus on when they have more time on their hands because they are using specialist cloud software.

Managing and motivating remote or hybrid teams

With some employees working remotely and others in the office, it can be challenging for payroll and HR to be consistent. Implementing digital communication and productivity tools that can be used by all employees no matter where they are working from is critical. When manual tasks are automated, payroll and HR  professionals have more time to engage in regular, two-way communication with employees to ask for feedback and ensure that all employees feel that their needs are addressed. 

Paying more attention to attracting the best talent

Data shows that Generation Z workers will make up 27% of the workforce by 2025. Understanding this puts the payroll and HR functions in the position to adapt business cultures and ways of working to attract the best young talent. Payroll and HR professionals sit on a goldmine of organisational and employee data, so it makes sense to use this information to better meet candidate and employee demands. And because technology enables businesses to hire talent from anywhere, HR has the freedom and ability to interview and recruit people from across the globe.

Meeting the needs of Gen Z

Our research shows that 79% of businesses are effectively responding to changes in workforce populations and are making a concerted effort to understand the needs and expectations of workers from different generations. With specialist software taking care of the mundane tasks, payroll and HR professionals can shift their focus to the things that make a company a great place to work, like increasing employee satisfaction and better managing staff so that the business is in the best position to retain top talent.

Focusing on social issues

More than half of our survey respondents (56%) agree that digitising payroll and HR data and employee information saves time and effort. When this happens, payroll and HR professionals have more capacity to focus their attention on social issues. In fact, our research reveals that 31% of SMEs are starting to place a more strategic focus on the concerns of the LGBTQ+ community. They’re also paying more attention to, and making a concerted effort to understand, social movements and the impact these have on society and the world of work.

Prioritising mental health

By switching from manual and offline processes to cloud software, payroll and HR teams can develop strategies that keep mental health front of mind. Offering employees more flexible work schedules or making sure that the business embraces a culture of self-care are simple things that payroll and HR teams can do to showcase that mental health is a top priority.

When your payroll and HR teams are bogged down with complexity, compliance, and time-consuming manual processes, they don’t have time to make an impact today and into the future.

[White paper] Payroll and HR in SA: Rising to the challenges of change

The global shift to remote and hybrid working and regular legislative changes have resulted in payroll challenges of considerable complexity for many businesses. Learn how payroll and HR professionals and small businesses are adjusting to the new challenges.

Download the white paper

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