Today's HR: how many hula hoops can you keep in the air?

22 October 2020 - Reading time: 5 Minutes

Through on online survey conducted in June 2020, European payroll & HR services provider SD Worx tested how well UK companies are dealing with 6 crucial HR challenges. Each of those challenges consists of a subtle balancing act. Drop one or more hula hoops and you risk finding yourself a long way behind your competitors. Gracefully swirl all of them around and you’re bound to be successful.  

Hula hoop 1: Payroll


Combining smooth operational processes on a day-to-day basis, including payroll, with more strategic, long-term HR projects.

UK companies give more weight to operational tasks. From a list of 19 possible HR duties, the correct and on-time payment of talent is ranked as the top priority. Answering and processing HR questions from employees came in third place. Most policy-related topics with long-term impact, however, are considered less urgent/important by entrepreneurs and HR professionals. For example, HR policy (16), digital transformation (17), reward policy (18) and building a more flexible workforce (19) make up the bottom 4 HR priorities.

Hula hoop 2: Outsourcing


Acquiring long-term in-house expertise while at the same time benefitting from borrowed expertise to get smarter yourself..

An outsourcing partner can assist in various ways, from the implementation of high-tech tools to personalised consulting. But only a limited number of UK companies turn to outsourcing as a way to ease the burden on their HR teams. Compared to other European countries, the UK has one of the highest levels of full in-house management for most HR tasks. Even more, most British entrepreneurs and HR professionals indicate that they’d rather outsource less instead of more in light of COVID-19.

Hula hoop 3: Reward policy


Matching a cost-efficient overall reward policy with a remuneration system that reflects the life stages and preferences of employees.

Some forward-thinking workplaces are already customising their reward offerings and moving away from one-size-fits-all packages, but the reality is that the majority still compensate their workforces the same way they did two decades ago. Over half the British companies (51.2%) polled only offer fixed salaries to their employees. On the other hand, 48.8% of them admit that a more flexible remuneration system is an important topic moving forward, so change might be on the horizon.

Hula hoop 4: Digital HR


Implementing stable, frictionless tools as well as tailor-made digital solutions to finetune your own way of working.

Well over half of the surveyed UK companies are satisfied with the automation level of their HR and payroll processes and systems, their HR reporting and analytics, and their digital HR tools. In this area, the UK is one of the top performing countries in Europe. And the future looks bright: in terms of digitisation or automation projects planned within the next 12 months or already in progress, about half of UK companies have something up their sleeves to further enhance their digital HR. Like elsewhere, SMEs in particular can still take big leaps.

Hula hoop 5: Employee experience


Finding the right balance between peace of mind for all in times of uncertainty and the need for individualised experiences.

The global pandemic has directly impacted employees and their working environments. A lot of UK companies are well aware of that, with 61.7% of them (European average: 57%) actively trying to improve the employee experience, either with running projects or with projects to be carried out within the next 12 months. Another 15.7% have mid- or long-term plans to tackle this issue. How well those projects cater to the general and specific needs of an ever so diverse workforce remains yet to be seen. One thing’s for sure: topics like well-being, motivation and work-life balance are all high on the agenda.

Hula hoop 6: Workforce management


Staying legally compliant, but still having adequate flexible talent at hand to strengthen your permanent workforce.

Freelancers, temp staff and other flex workers can all add value to your business. In short, they offer you the possibility to acquire the right talent at the right time (at the right price). But things are moving slowly. Although a fair number of UK companies already employ (31%) or consider hiring (30.8%) flex workers, flexibility in workforce management remains rather limited. Moreover, out of 19 HR tasks, ‘building a contingent workforce’ is considered to be the least important today. The benefits of flex workers have yet to be valued by many entrepreneurs and HR professionals.

Conclusion: keeping the right balance is hard work!

You’re probably trying to swirl one or more hula hoops yourself. Need some help?

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