Why now is the time to reinvent HR from the ground up

Reinventing HR is no easy feat, yet the conditions created by the pandemic are forcing companies to re-evaluate their HR services, programmes and solutions.

Between employees clamouring for new digital tools, new mobile requirements for flexible and remote workers, and the need to leverage people and payroll data for board-level strategy, HR is being rebuilt from the ground up. 

To plan out the changes that need to take place in your business, it’s important to first take a step back to think about HR’s impact on core elements of the employee experience. Areas such as reward, training, payroll and performance management all need to be carefully considered and joined up to create a new, cohesive strategy.

With this in mind, I have pulled together a step-by-step guide on how to go about reinventing HR to benefit your business and employees and build the foundation for a more resilient company in the future.


Understand your HR pain points

To make reinventing HR strategy a success, a strong programme of digitalisation will be necessary. At present, many industries are lagging behind standards for digital HR.

Only between 19-25% can confidently state that they are able to find answers to their HR questions instantly through digital solutions, according to our research. As a result, reinventing HR with digital tools front-of-mind will be key in fine-tuning the employee experience.

Yet before making changes, whether these are for HR management reconfiguration or investment in new resources, you need to do a stock check of the systems already being used. If you don’t know the ‘before’ picture, how can you be confident that the ‘after’ picture is any better?

Many businesses invest in new technology before accurately baselining where they are today – without this vital step, it will be nigh impossible to make the most of the hard work it takes to build a new, cohesive HR strategy.

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Let go of the legacy systems

Companies dependent on traditional modes of working will have the most work ahead of them. Overhauling old legacy systems requires an investment of time and effort, so having a clear roadmap for how to go about this is key.

The two main problems with legacy systems are that they are time-consuming and inaccessible. Users might find it tricky to input their own data, find information about annual leave, make absence requests or get an overview of payslips. This is because legacy systems often sit in silos, leading to a poor employee experience as employees need to manage several separate systems and log-ins.

Look at where time is being lost and work from that point – are employees able to find the data they need quickly and simply? Our research shows that around a third of employees still have to call their HR colleagues to get their questions answered. Making this information easier to access would increase efficiency and save everybody time.


Explore the power of holistic tools in HR

An all-in-one, holistic application that acts as a central repository can help connect employees to the data they need quickly, while also providing comprehensive data and metrics for decision-makers at all levels. Employees are then able to find all their personal information in a single system, and this centralised data feeds back into the business.

Our survey findings show that 61.7% of UK employers highlighted employee experience as a priority and are either planning or carrying out improvements to the day-to-day working life of their employees. In addition, the average rating for employee engagement within the UK is just over the halfway mark with a rating of 6.

One way to boost employee satisfaction is by providing easy-to-use, scalable HR and payroll tools, removing administrative headaches for employees and HR teams alike.


Think about what HR automation can do for a business

Automation is a boost to productivity, but it also brings other benefits to employee wellbeing and data management. A professional in your HR team who doesn’t have to spend an afternoon manually inputting data can spend their time on more interesting work and bring greater value to your organisation.

Having been brought into the spotlight largely by the pandemic, which led to frequent and rapid adjustments to payroll as well as quick access to data for key business decisions, the notion of the siloed, back-office payroll team has become outdated. Payroll extends way beyond salaries and taxes, providing every business area with rich financial and people-based data insights.

Automating payroll tasks, to avoid professionals crunching numbers and managing spreadsheets, is key to digital transformation and creating a positive experience for your people. And when integrated with the full HR suite, such as talent, workforce management and expenses, businesses can obtain one version of the truth to guide strategic decisions.

Yet we found in our research that only 9.4% of UK businesses have implemented a fully automated, digitalised and/or integrated HR and payroll process or system.


What’s in store for HR in 2021 and beyond

In the coming months and years, much remains uncertain – but more change is guaranteed.

For business and workforces managing the intricacies of people management as our working lives become ever more fluid and flexible, a strong foundation of HR and payroll management will be crucial.

New digital systems that reduce the need for mundane administrative tasks while providing access to rich and up-to-date data can prove to be vital tools, leaving HR and payroll professionals to focus what is most important – ensuring employees are happy, healthy and engaged despite all of our current challenges.


Cathy Geerts is chief HR officer at SD Worx