It’s 2022. We’ve all been through crazy turmoil these past couple of years. It’s proof that you never know what’s around the corner and it’s taught most of us that in this modern world, it pays to be prepared. And of course - things come to those who take action (not to those who wait). Payroll is one of the most critical functions in your organisation, yet payroll departments feel that they lack love, attention and access to the latest technology. Because payroll departments hum along so quietly in the background doing such a good job of paying people on time, senior management have no real clue of the hustle that goes on behind closed doors to get the job done. PwC did some research and found that most payroll operations are still doing things today the way they did them decades ago - and because the world has changed so much recently, cracks are starting to show. If you’re one of the organisations who’s found themselves in a payroll pickle, or if you want to avoid that happening very soon, here’s 7 reasons why 2022 is the year to bring your payroll alive and kicking into the present.
1. Life’s too short for manual work-arounds - they make your people want to scream
Many payroll teams find themselves doing lots of manual workarounds. Why? Because their payroll systems don’t actually reflect the way business is done today. Manual work-arounds take time, make brains hurt and are a serious opportunity for manual errors to creep into your payroll. A lack of date-effectiveness is one of the causes - people join in between pay periods so pro-rata pay has to be calculated manually. Then there’s the times when back-pay needs to be retrospectively calculated and applied. And don’t even get us started on trying to interpret and make payroll calculations for one of Australia’s 120+ different pay awards. If you’re running on-premises payroll software that hasn’t been updated in a long time, it’s unlikely to be taking into account critical legislation - which can lead to businesses routinely breaking laws and regulations without even realising it. Manual work-arounds eat up your people’s time and leave them with less scope to work on the things that actually add-value, such as performance reporting and analysis of payroll performance. That brings us on to our next point…A shortage of skilled payroll people
2. Payroll people are in short supply - oops….
A post-covid boom means that skilled people are in short supply. New Zealand and Australia isn’t exactly teeming with payroll talent. Payroll is a specialist skill and isn’t something that can be learned overnight. The concept of payroll is easy - but when you dig deeper there’s all the different nuances that need to be taken into account. There’s all the legislation. There’s the need to learn how to use a specialist payroll system. There’s all the complexity of tax, awards and things like KiwiSaver. Then you’ve got the challenges of modern companies - think multiple legal entities, different pay-dates, people on different contracts and different pay frequencies. If people are moving into payroll, they want to up-skill and be taught to use the latest technology so they are being upskilled and developed. There’s not many people out there that want to be spending their days using dinosaur technology. As your payroll experts eventually retire or move on to pastures new, you need online payroll software that is easy to learn and easy to adopt. Plus, in our hybrid working world, you need to ensure that payroll teams can work anytime, anywhere to get the job done. So an on-premises payroll system just isn’t going to cut it, right?
3. Back to the office? What’s an office?
If we go by what the world’s leading analysts and technology businesses predict, the hybrid workforce is here to stay. The uncertainty in the world right now means we can’t put all our eggs in the office-based basket. We can’t say with certainty that everything will go back to how it was before. It’s more likely that hybrid working is here for the long term - and it equally applies to payroll as it does other departments in your business. You need to be prepared for the best and the very worst. On-premises payroll systems left people locked out during the COVID pandemic. Businesses struggled to access their offices amongst heavy lockdowns and risked breaking the law to pay their own people. With a cloud based payroll software, you can run payroll from anywhere. Managers can even login to review data and make the necessary authorisations. If the worst happens, the show must go on. A cloud based payroll system will ensure you can still keep the wheels of business turning, no matter what the world throws at you.
4. Self-service is where it’s at
Do your people deserve anything less than self-service these days? Come on, everything in the world is practically self-service. If I can order a pizza on an app, check my bank balance and even find love, then surely I should be able to see my pay slip and check how much leave I have left? Access to self-service is now a hygiene factor in the workplace. If you’re still distributing paper pay-slips every month, then someone needs a serious wakeup call. The latest cloud-based payroll platforms allow people to get all the information they need in a jiffy - safely and securely. Physically printing sensitive and confidential payroll information in your office (or anywhere else) gives real scope for data leakage and the weight of the law when it comes to data confidentiality. Payroll managers love self-service. It means they can say goodbye to all those emails that come in, you know, the ones that ask “how many days do I have left?”, “ooh - can I get a copy of my payslip? The other one was chewed by the dog.” Empower your payroll people to focus on the things that add value and delight your entire workforce at the same time. A beautiful self-service portal is one of the things that comes as standard with cloud-based payroll systems like Jemini.
5.Payroll isn’t exactly the easiest thing to understand - so who’s going to pick up the reigns?
Some payroll systems are like operating a 1960s space rocket. It might be running on a green-screen and require a degree in gobbledegook to understand the terminology. So, if your one and only payroll specialist is ill or takes a break in Hawaii, who’s going to pick up the reigns and tell this creaking payroll system who’s boss? The answer is nobody. The problem with older payroll software is that it’s near impossible for someone to pick up where another left off. Modern payroll systems are different. Because they are workflow driven, someone else can login (even from another location) and literally just carry on with the payroll. These systems are easy to learn, easy to implement and enable you to upskill others in the business rapidly, should the need arise for them to take on the payroll responsibility. It also means that Teresa from payroll can focus on sipping her Margarita in Hawaii, instead of spending an hour on the phone trying to teach someone to use an out-of-date space rocket.
6.Can’t get your head around the NZ holidays act and Australia’s complicated awards system? You’re not the only one…
The awards system in Australia and the Holidays act in New Zealand are that difficult to interpret, that payroll people deserve a national holiday of their own to celebrate the amazing work that they do. That same report we mentioned from PwC estimates that Australia’s top employers make mistakes to the tune of $4.4 million EACH. Wow! Mistakes are taken seriously, no matter the size of the business.
In 2018, cosmetics brand LUSH reported itself to the Fair Work Ombudsman after realising that it had underpaid 3,130 employees from 2010 to 2018, breaching three different pay awards in the process. This resulted in them having to pay back $4.4m in pay and make a $60,000 contribution award. Whilst this probably hasn’t removed Australian enthusiasm for LUSH’s products, it did bring the company hefty legal bills and a dose of negative publicity.
If your payroll software isn’t automatically updated to reflect the latest legislation, then you’re potentially asking for trouble. It’s another reason why this is the year to think seriously about upping your payroll game.
7. Pulling off a report is like a bad 80’s tribute act
Does your payroll software have a hissy-fit when you try and produce a report? Does it sound terrible like a really awful 1980s tribute band (don’t you want me baby?). Older legacy payroll systems don’t like reporting - they have a habit of crashing, or taking hours to trawl through the data. It means that by the time you get the report, your coffee has gone cold and you’ve just had enough. If payroll reports are giving you a headache, then it’s a surefire sign then it’s time to treat you and your team to something new, fit-for-purpose and shiny.
So as you remember your favourite 1980s tribute band, think about your payroll pains - and whether they are enough to tip you over the productivity edge. You’ll be pleasantly surprised how pleasant payroll can be when you’ve got the right technology in place.