Covid-19 and what will HR and Payroll be like in the future and How Will it Evolve?

It has been over 5 weeks since the Nation has practically shut down in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. People have begun to wonder what the after-effects of the Lockdown & Coronavirus Pandemic will be on the Indian economy. The world of work will have gone through a big transformation before and after this pandemic. Especially on the remote working front.

During this lockdown, all organisations have to keep in touch with, assign work to and pay their employees. A number of HR and payroll gaps have emerged while going remote. Many organisations are now understanding that their HR and payroll processes need to be revamped.

The industry has tried and tested the old worlds HR and payroll processes during the lockdown and found them wanting

Many lessons have been learned on this front during the last few weeks. We can move forward with the knowledge that the old, more inefficient processes that have run HR over the last few decades will need a quick and major redesign to survive after the lockdown is lifted.

Ensuring data consistency in spreadsheets has always been a challenge. Creating, maintaining data on spreadsheets remotely has proven to be significantly more challenging and fraught with data inconsistencies. Aside from this, the processes don’t deliver the visibility and analytics capabilities needed to make strategic corporate decisions in the 21st century.

With almost no notice for most of the Indian states and 2 days’ notice for the luckier states, entire workforces are now working from home. This has been a monumental challenge both operationally and in terms of HR management.

The Success of Work from Home had a clear divide

It became evident that organisations that already had web-based or cloud-based Human Resource Management Systems were able to adapt extremely easily to remote working. Business continuity was seamless.

On the other side were organisations that had little or no investment in HR. Many using desktop applications, server applications to handle payroll and attendance. This led to hiccups in Business Continuity.

Not having instant access to employee, payroll data has created a challenge for these organisations,

More importantly not being able to capture and analyse attendance of these remote employees has become a major hurdle.

Payroll continuity and Statutory compliance risks

Many were in serious trouble since they were unable to access their payroll and attendance data due to poor connectivity, outdated desktop systems, and on-premise application with no internet access due to poor infrastructure and security.

Many paid salaries based on previous pay sheets creating challenges with new employees, resigned employees, bonuses, incentives, arrears, etc. Others have been unable to pay due to a lack of accurate data. No one will know what the fallout of these decisions and gaps until the end of the lockdown.

The need for Outsourced Payroll

Payroll is something that has to work no matter what. Many companies with outdated or no software were unable to generate payroll accurately.

In some cases, organisations with cloud-based payroll software were unable to prepare accurate pay sheets since the employee in charge had poor or no internet access or didn’t have a laptop to perform the critical task.

Unable to generate the payroll remotely, many found it difficult to comply with their payroll calendars. And they were unable to react in time to the frequent regulatory changes most governments were releasing because of the crisis.

Payroll knowledge usually resides with a very small set of people in the organisation. If even one of them is unable to access the tools used to run payroll it can lead to highly inaccurate payroll and poor employee morale.

The advantages of outsourcing payroll are notable

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.

The Outsourced Payroll Provider has Business Continuity Plans in place to handle such situations.

Since the Payroll Outsourcing vendor will have a cloud-based payroll system, it is extremely agile and will work from anywhere. Having multiple payroll experts whose only job is handling payroll and statutory running your payroll increases peace of mind during these trying times.

A good Payroll Outsourcing Vendor ensures that there is no break in the payroll cycle using cloud services and a great business continuity plan in place.

A good Payroll Outsourcing vendor will have a Quality Assurance team who will then compare the pay sheet against a baseline to detect anomalies and correct them.

Companies that have Human Resource Management Systems, in conjunction with Payroll Outsourcing had a seamless experience since attendance was handled automatically as well.


The Acid Test

Never before have HR teams and processes have been put through what many consider is the acid test for business continuity. Going beyond the day to day running of a workforce, they now have to handle a remote team based out of a myriad of remote locations and get all of them to work seamlessly and with coordination as if they were at the office.

The stress and the pressure that HR teams had gone through during the initial days of the lockdown was immense. They had to work constantly to ensure that their people were safely at home but also in a position to work. On top of that, they had to read understand and implement a constant stream of new government regulations to ensure that they stayed legal.

It also continues to be important to keep the motivation and productivity of people up at a time that is so unprecedented. HR teams are the glue holding these organisations together and need all the support that they can get in terms of automation, outsourcing and workforce.


The future of work is happening now

Vladimir Lenin once said, “There are decades where nothing happens and weeks where decades happen”. We are at the beginning of those weeks. The change we will see in these weeks will be more than we will see during our lifetimes. We have learned that trusting people empowers them. The efficiencies of employees have increased at least 20% compared to when they were at the office.

Even under these circumstances, your employees continue to perform and in some cases outperform. Many business leaders will be looking to repay them with flexible working policies and creating a better work from home environment.

To move to a model that people thought would become the norm in 2025 will be a straight forward change for most organisations in 2020.

A review of the work from home model and the tech required will need to be done, but largely, these have been identified during the course of this disruption.

In the new normal, HR will be highly involved in the elaboration and management of the future of work and it has happened at least 5 years earlier than expected.


How will you and your organisation evolve during the next few weeks?

Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below. 

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