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By Sandra Crous (Swanepoel), Managing Director at PaySpace

By now, regardless of what industry we work in, most of us have witnessed the rapid entry of technology into our daily work lives. With many fundamental business tasks already being taken over by automation and artificial intelligence, and most other roles becoming more tech-centric with every passing year, many in the Payroll and HR industry are wondering what this growing digitisation means for their work.

Often seen as a threat to job security, the encroachment of technology into our sector is raising the alarm among payroll and HR professionals. Will our roles grow redundant? How much will the company really need me in a few years, when the level of automation is already so impressive?

We not only believe that Payroll and HR professionals’ jobs are safe; we know through our own experience that technology can augment their roles in the company to levels never experienced before. A Payroll and HR professional who makes better use of the technology available can fulfil their role with better accuracy, improved speed and greater efficiency, lowering operating costs and delivering real and measurable ROI for their employers.

Being able to automate as much as possible is a sure way to get to the value that Payroll and HR departments can add. I recently spoke with a customer who was able to automate to such an extent that the Payroll and HR departments had enough free time to do detailed analyses of their most successful Sales Consultants’ turnover and the reasons behind their success. By looking at the data of the work done, the targets achieved, and the commissions earned, new insights into the team’s effort and output were gained, saving the company thousands and adding to their revenue – something that would never have been possible with the legacy systems to which everyone had become accustomed.

Avoiding Penalties by Reducing Risk and Ensuring Compliance

Personal income tax accounts for 37% of South Africa’s overall tax revenue, and SARS is more determined than ever to ensure that every cent owed is paid promptly. Remaining compliant is an increasingly difficult task – involving registering all employees for tax, declaring accurate earnings, and including the complex calculations of contributions like PAYE and UIF in business payroll. Annual returns also need to be filed on time every year. The risks of getting it wrong can include censure, fines by authorities (SARS, the Department of Labour, and other), or even prosecution in the case of fraud or extreme negligence.

Having an experienced partner on your side can take much of the guess-work (and therefore, much of the risk) out of these functions. The associated software is quickly updated whenever regulatory requirements change, so your business is always compliant and covering your bases when it comes to your business’s regulatory responsibilities.

Attracting and Retaining Top Talent by Enhancing the Employee Experience

The South African skills shortage means that businesses are under pressure to attract the best – and since these candidates are in such high demand, employers need to up their game in terms of providing the best employee experience to encourage them to stay. Payroll and HR functions are the ideal starting-block for a fruitful and long-lasting employer-employee relationship.

Staff turnover represents a considerable loss to a business. When an employee leaves, there’s the processing of the termination to get done, the exit interview to be conducted, and a replacement to be advertised for, interviewed, trained, and paid a salary. In addition, operating teams are disrupted and will have their efficiency affected at the same time.

The best way to avoid these costs is to retain employees in the long run, and in today’s millennial workforce, this means a bigger push toward the human-centric aspects of HR – improving employees’ quality of life and setting them up for personal success, rather than wasting precious company time going though payslips, capturing data and preparing month-end reports. With large portions of work digitised through software, Payroll and HR practitioners are free to spend their time doing what matters most: ensuring their employees are happy, motivated, productive and profitable.

Running a Lean Department with the Help of Your Partner

The early days of digitisation used to mean bringing on board a trained professional to keep IT systems running – not much of a saving if you consider the salary of an IT professional as well as the monthly costs of using the software. Today, however, improved internet connections and the rise of cloud computing mean that enlisting the help of a third-party vendor is as effective as having your own team on-site. From training to troubleshooting, vendors go the extra mile to ensure clients have access to easy-to-use dashboards that enable them to easily fulfil their duties. Our goal is not for our software to replace Payroll and HR practitioners, but to fully integrate our software into Payroll, IT, and business strategy simultaneously, with no additional staff or pricey hardware purchases necessary.

The powerful data analytics built into these products allows Payroll and HR costs to be viewed conveniently, and Payroll professionals to make sure that running costs never exceed what they should be. At a moment’s notice, departments can view total salary as a percentage of turnover, profit per employee, the rand-values of leave taken, and much more.

In addition, most are built specifically with seamless integration in mind, and work well with common accounting software like Xero, as well as existing on-premise solutions that may already be in use.

The Bottom Line

Technology isn’t coming for your job – it’s there to make you better at your work than you ever thought possible. Payroll specialists need to keep their skills current and expand their knowledge beyond the basics. The ones that make positive changes to their organisations are those that manage to balance their people-skills with their tech-skills, becoming effective at managing data and processes as and when their departments embrace the digital age.