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, the European Payroll & HR services provider SD Worx tested how well 3,000 European 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.

European 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 second place. Most policy-related topics with long-term impact, however, are considered less urgent/important by entrepreneurs and HR professionals. For example, HR process automation (15), digital transformation (16), HR policy (17), reward policy (18) and building a more flexible workforce (19) make up the bottom 5 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 companies turn to outsourcing as a way to ease the burden on their HR teams. Even more, most entrepreneurs and HR professionals indicate that they’d rather outsource less instead of more in light of COVID-19. Only tech-based tasks like HR process automation, digital transformation and payroll, score high among the tasks that companies wish to mostly or entirely outsource.

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. Half of the companies (49.4%) polled only offer fixed salaries to their employees. On the other hand, 48.6% of polled organisations 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.

While companies in some countries, like the Netherlands and the UK, are performing slightly better, less than half of the 3,000 polled companies are satisfied with the automation level of their HR and payroll processes and systems and use of digital HR tools. Mainly SMEs with less than 100 employees can still take big leaps. For example, just 1 in 3 of them rate their automation level for HR to be high or very high. Luckily, here as well, we notice a possible shift: in terms of digitisation or automation projects planned within the next 12 months, about half of companies have something up their sleeves.

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. Companies are well aware of that, with 57% of them actively trying to improve the employee experience, either with running projects or with projects to be carried out within the next 12 months. Another 20% 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 European companies already employ or consider hiring 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?

Let us know

Eager to dive deeper into our findings on today’s HR and its future challenges first?

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