Paymaster Magazine

5 Hidden payroll and HR productivity killers

According to Dr. John Sullivan, one of the most respected voices in Human Resources research, there are five levels of contribution that HR departments can make to a business. If you’re eyeing a spot in the boardroom, it’s critical to position your team in that top tier, where HR transcends an administrative, functional role and becomes what Sullivan calls a strategic “business unit”—using HR skills and tools to forward the company’s big picture objectives, like acquiring a larger market share.


Other leaders in the field agree with Dr. Sullivan, including Len Jillard, Chief People Officer at McDonald’s. “I firmly believe in being an HR business partner,” he says. “If you’re just going to be a transactional HR leader, you are not providing the full value you can to the business.” Here, “transactional” corresponds to the first and second tiers in Sullivan’s model—the time an HR professional spends on relatively routine tasks, like answering employee questions or explaining a benefits package.

Transactional HR isn’t a dirty word—it’s a necessary and important part of the role. But as Jillard says, you can’t “just” be that. An enterprising CHRO may no longer be content with tiers one and two.

When we say the HR role is changing, we really mean that it is expanding. Sure, it’s possible to climb ever higher, but you need solid footing at the top—which means that you can’t bypass levels one through four on your quest to reach the top tier of Sullivan’s contribution model.

Let’s recap: there’s nothing getting crossed off of your job description and science still hasn’t figured out a way to add an extra hour (or ten!) to the day. Clearly, your only option is to figure out where you can save time on tasks you do routinely. That’s easier said than done—and takes time in and of itself—so we’ve done the legwork for you. After consulting the most recent research, we’ve uncovered the top five payroll and HR productivity killers. Take a look to see if they’re plaguing your department—and then start climbing those tiers.

1. Employee management

HR professionals report that employee management—answering questions, mediating disputes, or handling discipline and recognition—takes around 71 percent of their time. If you follow Sullivan’s model, that means the vast majority of every working day is spent operating in and around tiers one and two, quite a long way from the top.

Investing time in your hiring process can pay off tenfold down the line, if you approach it with the right mindset. Instead of hiring based on competency alone, consider the other important question of cultural fit. You’ll find you spend far less time resolving disputes or meting out disciplinary measures.

2.  Recruiting

Of course, you can only hire the best if they apply to your organization. Modern methods have revolutionized recruitment—it’s far more common for a candidate to see a job posting on Facebook than in a newspaper, for example—and made it less time-consuming: how long does it take to craft a Tweet compared to a classified ad? Still, HR professionals report spending 42 percent of their time on recruiting alone.

If you want to expand your staff roster, look to the existing one. Ask employees to recommend potential candidates—referred hires have a higher retention and satisfaction rates. Bonus: it takes less time for referred candidates to be hired and onboarded.

3.  Manual or double data entry

No one values strong communication like the HR department—and not just for the reasons you’d expect. Human Resources makes use of cutting edge technology, but when all of that software doesn’t ‘talk’ to each other, users are forced to fall back on manual or double data entry—work that we here at Paysavvy consider a special kind of Hell. Even though HR has gone high tech, professionals still find themselves manually transferring data from a payroll journal entry to their accounting software, or moving updated employee information from their Human Capital Management system to their payroll module.

Fortunately, the answer is simple. When you’re shopping around for software, make sure to keep your options open. Look for flexible systems that offer numerous, varied integrations, and say so long to the painstaking, headache-inducing, mind-numbing work of manual data entry.

4.  Tracking hours, vacation time, and holiday requests

Tracking hours can be a fraught business. How often does it happen that an employee believes he or she  has worked longer than you’ve recorded? Likewise, holiday requests can make for one hectic HR department. Come summer and the end of year, you’re inevitably inundated with queries from employees wanting to check how much time they have available and see whether or not they can leave the office for an extended period.

The solution? Go high tech. Biometric clocks scan an employee’s fingerprint and register when he or she starts and leaves work. That information is directly relayed to cloud-based payroll servers, eliminating the need for manual data entry. In the same vein, some software allows employees to submit vacation requests digitally or check how many days off they have remaining—which means you’ll spend far less time answering routine questions.

5.  Staying compliant

Between overtime regulations and employment legisaltion—both of which seem to be ever changing—staying compliant with payroll legislation can seem like a full-time job. When the alternative is waiting on hold with a government department, Googling answers seems like a solid alternative—until the department of labour comes knocking and you realize that pRiNcEsS_PaYrOlL23 really shouldn’t have been the foremost authority in that forum.

Most HR and Payroll professionals make compliance a priority, but searching for answers and then verifying them is a time-intensive productivity killer. Look for software that comes with personalized 24/7 support—you won’t waste time on hold and you can be confident in the advice you receive.

In conclusion

These days, CEOs and CFOs are asking more of their HR departments. It’s possible to rise to the occasion, but only if existing work is expedited. After all, even superstar employees have a limited number of hours in the day. With this list of productivity killers, you can make the most of your daily eight and position yourself as a strategic business leader, worthy of a seat at the table.

August 14, 2015 | Chelsea Pratt –

Adrian Baillie-Stewart

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