The right HR solution will drive down costs, ensure compliance and give you control of your HR and payroll processes
As we emerge from almost two years of lockdowns, travel bans, and working from home, the new normal looks a lot like the old one – only more so. In the HR arena, Covid has accelerated existing trends, putting growing pressure on HR leaders to support their companies’ business objectives.
In practice, that means the pre-pandemic focus on people has become even stronger, and that HR leaders are looking for new ways of engaging and retaining the talent needed to return their companies to growth.
“The war for talent was in the background during Covid but it never went away,” says Mieke Guns, Solution Marketeer at SD Worx, which provides people solutions to over 70,000 companies worldwide.
“And now we see that attracting and retaining people, staff welfare and resilience, employee engagement, talent development, internal mobility are all very high on the list of priorities of HR leaders.”
The latest research from SD Worx confirms that performance management, recruitment, work-life balance and HR service to employees are among the top four HR challenges. But this doesn’t mean that operational efficiency no longer matters - far from it. Insights from almost 3000 HR leaders across Europe show that operational efficiency is seen as critical to meeting people challenges, with businesses looking to drive both time and cost efficiencies through digital transformation and HR automation.
Mieke describes this dual focus on strategic people issues and operational efficiency as two sides of the same coin. “HR leaders learned during this crisis that digitalization and operational efficiency are still key to enabling them to take up all those strategic people projects,” she says.
“If you didn’t have the operational basics in place before Covid, you were in trouble during Covid, because if your people could not ask for leave, if they could not contact your HR department digitally, if everything still had to be done through little notes, then you would have struggled to survive this crisis.”
The costs of failing to get the basics right are enormous. If companies do not pay their people the right amount on time, engagement suffers, while compliance problems can spell trouble for the whole business.
Navigating the New Normal
What, then, can HR leaders do to avoid these problems when the next crisis comes along or as they try to navigate the new normal?
The first step, according to Mieke, is to put in place resilient systems, integrated information streams and the analytics reporting needed to support the business in rapid decision making.
All too often, however, existing HR solutions are fragmented, with a lack of consolidated reporting leading to decisions that are not data driven. These problems are most visible in mid-sized companies entering new markets where they have little knowledge of local employment rules.
“Either they have no system at all because it’s very difficult for them to choose the right one or they have disparate systems because they have been taking over a company here and a company there,” explains Mieke.
“So, they have several HR systems, which are not integrated and do not talk to each other, all running at the same time.”
These systems usually come from different providers under different service level agreements. “So, you have this patchwork of contact persons everywhere across time zones, across different cultures. That’s what takes up your time and you lose control over your HR and payroll processes,” says Mieke.
Some companies, she adds, invest in new central HR systems but find that their core HR information is not detailed enough to support payroll processes that rely on very specific local data. Payroll teams then end up using their local payroll systems.
Taking Control over HR processes
To take control of HR and payroll processes, comply with local legislation, and manage costs, companies need a fully harmonized, global HR ecosystem, integrating Core HR data with payroll data and workforce management data. “That’s what SD Worx can give you if you’re a mid-sized organization,” says Mieke.
“We can offer you one contract, one service level agreement and one set of KPIs. We give you a global HR system backed by managed payroll services, so you will have local experts calculating your payroll on our local payroll engines, but to talk to those experts you will have one overall system.”
That doesn’t just drive down costs. You also get a clearer view of employee costs if you have accurate data on how many people work in each department, in each country, and on social security and other contributions.
Just as important is the impact that a streamlined HR solution can have on employees themselves. Having a pay slip delivered instantly on their smartphones or giving them the tools to ask for leave digitally are big advantages for employees - especially those who became used to managing their own working lives during the dark days of the pandemic.
As for HR itself, a solution such as SD Worx People can be transformational, freeing up senior team members to become real business partners, while giving HR managers time to find out if employees are engaged in their work or ready to head out of the door. As Mieke says: “You can have all the engagement studies in the world but there’s no better engagement study than just sitting among your people and listening to their coffee talk.”
That’s perhaps even more true today than it was before Covid.