Switching payroll for 2021 and beyond: What does a great provider offer?

12 May 2021 - Reading time: 10 Minutes

Outsourcing

Payroll is responsible for far more than the administration of salaries, time & attendance and tax. Modern payroll looks after your greatest asset - your people - and provides critical real-time data to the business for evidence-based decision-making.

According to our findings, most companies realise that they will need to radically change the way they work in 2021 and beyond. In a recent survey of 3,000 companies across 11 European countries, payroll tops a list of 19 HR priorities in all countries except three.

By far, the number one priority among European companies is to ensure smooth, efficient payroll calculation and payment. Intuitive digital Payroll & HR tools are essential to engage the emerging workforce and stay competitive and sustainable.  A robust payroll provider ensures exactly this, and more.

Inadequate payroll, on the other hand, holds back your organisation’s digital growth, resulting in a negative employer brand, reactive decision-making (or guesswork) and human error. Payroll mistakes can be costly in terms of PR, employee stress and fines. It’s simply not worth it! 

 

Review - Compare - Switch

Even if your payroll provider seems to be doing a good job, is it good enough? Are they primed to look after and optimise your payroll in 2021 and beyond? Are they prepared for unprecedented disruption and disparate ways of working?

This article explores why it’s important to review payroll providers as we head into the ‘new normal’. It provides top five features that a capable, trusted payroll partner offers so that you and your stakeholders can review your current payroll, compare the market, and switch, for a bright future. 

We've also created a helpful guide that explains the process if you switched to SD Worx's outsourced payroll or SaaS payroll solutions and services. You can download this guide by filling in the form at the end of this article. 

Why it’s so important to review payroll providers right now

Cruising into automatic renewal means you could be missing out on extra value or opportunities from a better payroll provider. Reviewing your current service is even more pressing since the COVID-19 outbreak. It has highlighted urgent drivers for change and accelerated the need for automated, accurate, data-rich payroll.

Key payroll and people challenges faced by organisations today are outlined below:

Operational challenges

It’s becoming more complex to run payroll in-house, with teams often working remotely or furloughed. The pandemic has highlighted the need to make decisions based on circumstances that change daily. From scheduling the workforce cost-effectively to managing health and safety, 74% of HR leaders said trusted people data was the key to enabling strategic decision-making during COVID-19.

A digital payroll solution is therefore no longer a ‘nice to have’ - it’s essential. There’s a critical need for contactless processes such as self-service platforms, mobile apps and smart workforce management, as well as integrated real-time data.

Fluctuating workforce

Current payroll challenges for in-house teams include administering pay in line with furlough schemes, zero hours contracts, redundancies and a more fluid contingent workforce. Without extensive knowledge of ever-changing compliance and legislation, payroll is susceptible to serious errors.

Organisational restructure post-COVID means that tasks like managing and inspiring the remote workforce, retaining and nurturing talent, and developing leaders will be prioritised, and payroll plays an important role in facilitating these. From salaries, to performance-related pay, to benefits, personalised payroll is in demand.

Technology

Historically, workplace technology has been advanced compared to what is available in people’s personal lives, but now organisations can struggle to keep up with workers’ demands and expectations.

Outdated technology and archaic processes create the biggest challenges for in-house payroll and HR teams. Falling behind in digital transformation is a concern. Without cloud-based payroll software, businesses are shelling out for hardware which needs continual maintenance, upgrades and security. Outdated legacy technology also poses risks to data integrity and integration. Younger generations in particular have low tolerance for slow or poorly connected digital devices and processes.

Workers throughout the employee lifecycle expect intuitive, responsive and real-time technology to communicate and perform their role, and the best organisations will retain top talent by providing this digital-first experience.

Cost efficiencies

Organisations are redefining budgets and spend post-pandemic. Teams are being asked to do more for less and are looking at cost savings, efficiency drivers and ways to make payroll more sustainable. This includes freeing up Payroll & HR teams from time-consuming, repetitive tasks to focus on people solutions with higher strategic value.

Cost efficiencies are driven by integrated data revealing the true cost and value of your people to create the most productive mix of people (whether building, borrowing or buying talent). Demonstrating ROI of payroll systems and reduced TCO is therefore a key requirement for stakeholders.

Top five benefits a great payroll provider offers

When you choose the right payroll partner, your organisation doesn’t need in-house expertise or a fixed budget to achieve payroll performance. When reviewing and comparing features and services, these are the top five we recommend investigating.

Payroll skills and expertise

With a diverse and disparate (potentially global) workforce, pay calculations are subject to ever-changing legislation and can be incredibly complex. For example, even though the furlough scheme was rolled out quickly and has been a minefield for many Payroll & HR teams, HMRC is already investigating claims of fraud or mis-compliance.

Organisations lacking specialist knowledge or expertise may encounter penalties even as a result of genuine error. Consider the vast benefits of a dedicated payroll partner who takes care of emerging legislation, like furlough, ensuring you meet all HMRC conditions.

Payroll worries can hold you back from creating and nurturing the best teams, but not when your trusted provider takes the complexity and stress away. With best-of-breed providers achieving over 99.9% accuracy, peace of mind is assured, along with a great employee experience.

Putting payroll in the hands of a competent provider means that in-house staff absence or knowledge gaps have minimal, or zero, impact on payroll efficiency and compliance.

Innovative technology

A top provider will be continually investing in technology so you benefit from payroll innovation without the development costs. This includes robust cloud technology, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning. These make processes more data-driven, efficient and enable predictive analytics for informed decision-making.

Using automation instead of legacy systems frees up HR & Payroll teams from repetitive administrative tasks so they can focus on real people solutions (including well-being), helping employees be the best version of themselves. Integrating data from shared services provides a single source of truth relating to people costs (and ROI), whilst facilitating tailored L&D and performance rewards.

The latest payroll technology provides your people with the digital experience they now expect, from interactive payslips to intuitive self-serving platforms (apps) and digital assistants to transparent audit trails. Ultimately, payroll providers should be future-proofing your business with repeatable and scalable solutions.

Data security

With the huge amount of sensitive people data stored and processed for payroll, maintaining robust security and compliance standards is critical. Your provider needs current and comprehensive infosec credentials to help you be audit-ready and GDPR-compliant, particularly with the added data security risks associated with the increase in remote/mobile working. Look for internationally recognised ISO 27001 certification that assures confidentiality, integrity and availability of information.

Creating the equivalent protection in-house is an expensive challenge for smaller organisations without a global IT infrastructure, yet the security and compliance obligations are non-negotiable! Preventing outages and ensuring disaster recovery also underpins business continuity and timely payroll.

Outsourcing and in-house options

Business leaders now recognise that operational resiliency and agility rely on fully functioning payroll, whether you outsource or empower your in-house team with professional tools and support. Your provider should help you decide what’s best for your needs whilst keeping you in the driving seat. Check what they offer in terms of tailored or specialist payroll such as in-depth multi-country knowledge and how elastic the service is, so you can scale up and down as the workforce fluctuates.

Change is the only constant so unless you have a very predictable business model, outsourcing is likely to provide greater cost control, reducing your total cost of ownership (TCO) by at least 20%. This offers variable costs instead of fixed, as you flex up or down.

Support package

It’s important not to overlook support provision. If you need assistance, is expert knowledge (technical as well as payroll expertise) always available to negate costly consultancy fees or delays? What are the SLAs for troubleshooting or queries?

A reputable provider will offer a named contact or account manager, supporting employers as well as the payroll team to avoid disruption or stress. When comprehensive payroll support is assured, this filters through the entire organisation contributing to the employee experience. Short list those with a high NPS (Net Promoter Score) and glowing customer testimonials.

Understandably, the thought of upheaval could put you off switching. However, a best-of-breed supplier will offer a clear roadmap and implementation schedule for a smooth transition, safeguarding pay runs. Training, support and demonstrations will help onboard and engage staff, although a credible system should be intuitive for all users.

Is it time to switch?

Payroll was already moving centre stage, but the COVID-19 outbreak has accelerated the need for automated, accurate people solutions. Payroll is now recognised as a key contributor to organisational efficiency, resiliency and culture.

When your payroll strategy is sound, your people strategy follows. A digitally mature payroll function provides rich insight demanded at board level, driving forward projects with strategic value.

A great payroll provider will partner with you to offer control and agility to pandemic-proof level, scalable as your workforce inevitably changes. Key areas to scrutinise are payroll expertise, technology, security, flexibility and support. Cross-checking these enable you to review, compare and switch with confidence.

Review - Compare - Switch

 

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