The software provider found nearly half (44%) were not confident about their organisation’s ability to run its payroll function if staff members were directly affected by the virus.
The majority (85%) said their organisation employs fewer than ten payroll staff, with 15% reporting that these employees do not have access to the resources and infrastructure needed to work at full capacity from home.
Decision-makers also pointed to the challenges of managing short-term change, with 40% saying they were concerned about the complexity of adopting emergency government measures such as the UK’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) and changes to sick pay.
Dean Forbes, president of HR tech company Access People told HR magazine: “My advice to payroll leaders would be to keep sight of the basics. The wellness of people is paramount at this time, and a regular rhythm of communication will be central to your success as a payroll team.
“These times are trying, and resilience is required to ensure objectives are met consistently.
The survey also revealed that a third (32%) of decision-makers believe the coronavirus outbreak will have a long-term impact on how their organisation runs its payroll and HR operations.
Almost four in ten (39%) said their organisation will develop stronger business continuity plans to prepare for future incidents, while more than a quarter (27%) will aim to speed up the adoption of automation to reduce their dependence on manual work.
Vickie Graham, business development director at the Chartered Institute of Payroll Professionals (CIPP), said: “It’s positive to see that 32% of respondents believe the coronavirus outbreak will have some form of long-term impact on their payroll and HR operations.
“It’s likely that this impact will include more flexible working arrangements, moving payroll to the cloud, and enabling a greater work-life balance.
“The CIPP would also like to see an increase in succession planning and business continuity plans for payroll, so that those working within payroll departments are not as impacted should something like this happen again in the future.”
Graham deemed payroll professionals the “unsung heroes of the hour” during the coronavirus and said that the CIPP will be lobbying the government to recognise their efforts.
Forbes at Access People added: “We should emerge from this period with a clear view on how our systems enabled our teams to perform, and be ready to implement any changes to ensure critical business processes are safe into the future.”
Zellis surveyed payroll and HR decision-makers from over 150 organisations across the UK, Isle of Man, Channel Islands, and the Republic of Ireland between 18 March and 14 April.