Funny payroll cartoonRunning payroll is one of the oldest business processes there is. From the days of someone manually tracking hours, physically writing a check and handing that to each employee on the way out the door on Friday, the actual process has changed little over time. Yet today there are tools and technologies that can help make the process more employee-friendly, creating additional value for both parties in the employment relationship. There are two key drivers that help non-strategic components of HR such as payroll and benefits administration to become more positive influences on the employee experience from the administrative angle: effectiveness and efficiency.

The Administrative Experience is Defined by Efficiency and Effectiveness

When using physical timesheets or other manual methods to track time, there is little room for efficiency on the administrative side. In fact, many payroll teams spend the majority of their time entering data every pay period, limiting their ability to take a more strategic perspective. By leveraging a system that offers employee self-service for tracking hours worked, the payroll team now has the flexibility to review inputs directly in the system instead of having to manually input the time sheets for thousands of employees. This can also reduce instances of out-of-cycle payroll runs, delays in payment and other issues due to inaccurate information recorded on paper timecards.

For companies that employ workers with billable hours, another value-added activity is examining trends in billable time to help managers understand how to maximize the hours their employees can work. Switching the focus from merely entering data to evaluating data in the system for reporting and analytics purposes allows the payroll admins to have a greater organizational impact.

Adding Strategic Value to Transactional Processes Like Payroll

Besides minimizing errors, leveraging technology can help HR and finance leaders direct their teams to more valuable areas, such as ensuring data integrity or self-auditing the system to ensure compliance. The end goal should be to focus more time and energy on strategic outcomes and delivering greater organizational value.

In a recent article on the value of technology for HR, I explained it this way:

HR has and can be done without technology, but having the right system in place enables HR to deliver exponentially higher organizational value. Getting to the point of being a strategic player with the proverbial “seat at the table” takes effort, but it allows HR to demonstrate incredible value that a transactional function simply cannot.

This is my strategic vision for payroll as well, because the value goes beyond the simple transactional process of running payroll. For instance, one recent Forbes article notes how Susan Peters, senior vice president of HR at GE, defines employee experience as seeing the world through the eyes of employees and staying connected through the tools and technologies that enable their productivity. While that might not have a hard ROI attached, those kinds of reactions are a net positive for the employer.

At the end of the day, it’s about creating a more positive employee experience for each stakeholder, whether employee, executive, or administrator.

Written by: Ben Eubanks, Principal Analyst, Lighthouse Research & Advisory