Several months have passed since the Coronavirus Covid-19 pandemic began. As people start to settle again, the conversation is turning to impact made on companies and their employees. The world of work “before and after Covid-19.”
A number of operational HR and payroll limitations have emerged as the result of the pandemic. As a result, many companies recognize that their payroll and HR processes need improving.
Thoroughly tested in recent weeks, many lessons have been learned. We can move forward with the knowledge that the old, heterogeneous IT systems, that use manual and inefficient HR processes, are no longer fit for purpose.
Besides all else, they’re proven to be fraught with data inconsistencies. They lack the visibility and analytics capabilities needed to make strategic corporate decisions in the 21st century.
In a short period of time, entire workforces are now working from home. For many, this has been a huge challenge both operationally (hard) and in terms of people management (soft).
It became evident, very quickly that companies that already had their Human Resources Information Systems (HRIS) “in the Cloud” were able to adapt quickly and easily to remote working. Business continuity happened like clockwork.
However, organizations with more traditional payroll infrastructures had not insurmountable challenges and lags to the effectiveness of their Business Continuity Plans (BCP).
The majority if not all employees are still working from fixed workstation fixed stations (desktop) and/or the payroll systems are hosted in their own data-centers.
Many were in serious trouble. They were exposed by not being able to operate and access systems safely from employees’ homes. This is as the result of having neither laptops or adequate internet access.
There were even potential risks associated with having on-premise systems. These are tied to a physical infrastructure and may lack the security, scalability and redundancy standards provided by an external Data-Center service.
Beyond IT issues, processes directly linked to HR and crucial to management, were revealed as wholly inefficient putting the whole payroll process at risk.
Companies that still carry out payroll processes internally have been significantly affected compared to those that have outsourced their payroll.
Some of them, unable to operate the payroll remotely, found it difficult to comply with their payment calendars. Or were unable to react in time to the frequent regulatory changes most governments were releasing because of the crisis.
It was also seen that key people, with vast knowledge of the processes, were unable to work due to illness, family/personal conflict. This knowledge was not thoroughly documented and/or the corresponding replacement was not clearly defined.
Companies able to demonstrate a degree of resilience are those that have outsourced payroll processes. This not only frees up HR teams from a transactional task, but ensures the payroll processes run, regardless. SLAs are met. Reporting is completed. Regulatory changes implemented, the list goes on.
Furthermore, because the payroll system is cloud-based, it is extremely agile. It can scale up or down as the business needs change. And for repetitive tasks, these can be automated, leaving resources to focus on the challenges presented by the external changes.
For further process security, these also store digital documents and run analytics to detect and potential data flaws.
Never before has HR been so unanimously tested. Above and beyond the day to day running of a workforce, they were now involved in what as almost an evacuation of an often multi-country workforce to the safety of working from home.
This involved a lot of change management, process changes, but also mental and social well-being. Not all home are suitable for home working under normal circumstances and so temporary fixes needed to be made.
It continues also to be important to keep the motivation and productivity of people up at a time that is so unprecedented.
What this hellish pandemic has done is force change. It has also taught us to trust people, to really know that we can rely on each other to get through. It has also proven that people can work well from home.
Even under the toughest of circumstances, your loyal workforce continues to perform. Many business leaders will be looking to repay this loyalty by reviewing flexible working policies and looking at how more people can work from home.
There are also obvious capital and operational cost savings to be had here, something all business are going to have to manage moving forward.
To move to a model that was predicted to start to become the norm come 2025, will, for many organizations, be now be relatively straight forward.
A review of the operational model of the business and the technology gaps is required, but largely, these have been identified as the course of this greatest disruption we have ever seen to the world of work.
And, as we start to move towards the new normal, HR will be highly involved in the elaboration and management of the future of work that arrived rather quicker than most of us had predicted!
The HR2025: How will you work? report on the future of work, which was completed literally a month before the Coronavirus Covid-19 wreaked its havoc, interestingly preempt many of the challenge companies have faced during this period and pretty much set out where, how and when people think or would like to work in the future. From a truly horrendous situation, there are some glimmers of hope.
There are more Coronavirus Covid-19 resources available here to help support your business.