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Caring for employees in challenging times – Why flexible payroll holds the key

By Chris Brooks, Managing Director

Traditionally employees receive their salary at the end of the month – but for some this lack of access to money throughout the period leads them to seek out the services of payday lenders. Adding to the pressure they feel, many employees have experienced greater financial difficulties through the pandemic than ever before, due to wage freezes, job uncertainty and losses; salary cuts and being placed on furlough.  

Responsible employers are conscious of the need to look after and care for employees through challenging times and support them both from a mental health and financial well-being perspective. Many are offering flexible salary cycle payments throughout the month to help support employees’ financial wellbeing. Providing this level of flexibility may, however, be challenging for businesses to achieve.  

First, they need a robust payroll system. That means documenting payroll processes and ensuring technology is configured correctly to enable operational excellence. They must also ensure HR and payroll data is managed in a single application, that systems are singular, and data is available to users based on their job role and security profile. That is fundamental. If the HR process is working well, it is the foundation of the flexible payroll service needed to support employee well-being.  

The problem is delivering this kind of payroll service is placing demands on payroll teams. To accommodate this, organisations are looking to embrace their underlying HR and payroll technology and applications. Often, businesses have functionally-capable applications at their disposal but they have invariably not been implemented in an operationally-efficient way.  

That makes it difficult to report on data or to run payroll in a pre-payroll process either mid-term or in the course of any payment cycle. In short, businesses need to obtain better and more immediate access to the payroll data at their disposal. To do that, they should first objectively assess whether they are getting optimum value from the application they currently use for HR and payroll.  

If, for example, they have two separate systems, one for HR and one for payroll, running in two different environments, they will by default never get the same access and immediacy of results as if they were running one HR/payroll solution. Payroll depends on great HR data. By running payroll and HR system in one system, businesses remove much of the need for manual intervention and they raise their chance of obtaining high-quality results from the process.  

Managed services can also have a key role to play. By outsourcing HR and payroll to an expert partner, organisations can move beyond just delivering a payroll service, and instead help ensure their whole HR data flow works properly. If the third party has the capability to deliver HR payroll outsourcing all-in-one on a single platform, they can make their applications work even harder. Perhaps most important, by delivering services that support their customers’ employees’ lifecycle and lifestyle, managed service providers can help enable those customers to exercise their duty of care to their staff. Offering these kinds of capabilities is key in the current pandemic and will become ever more important to businesses over time.  

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