Resilience in payroll: Maximizing flexibility, strategy, and business continuity

Person putting toy boat in water at sunset payroll resilience concept

Resilience is defined as “the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties.” And payroll teams have had no choice other than to be resilient this past year. Whether it's handling multiple rounds of COVID-19 legislation or constantly adapting to changing work locations, safety policies, and even core processes, payroll's critical role in organizations has been on display in a big way. Let's take a look at what we've learned and how we keep this momentum around payroll going.



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Highlighting payroll's essentialness through flexibility

Payroll has always been essential to employees, businesses, and the economy. But just over a year ago, payroll professionals accustomed to working in company offices had to shut down their laptops and take them home or work out of offices suddenly emptied of many other staff members, some of them wondering how they were going to process payroll virtually.

Like other business functions, payroll teams were forced to pivot quickly to ensure employees continued to get paid accurately and on time. Over the last year, they responded to new legislation including FFCRA, CARES, CAA, and now the American Rescue Plan. They regrettably laid off employees due to business closures, and in Canada issued millions of Records of Employment so that terminated employees could receive government benefits in a timely manner. On a daily basis, they continued to support employees by responding to questions, correcting payroll errors, and managing benefits. All while managing their workload and families in the face of uncertainty.

As the year progressed, organizations may have adjusted their business models and grew their non-traditional workforce. They brought together traditional employees, contractors, ‘gig’ workers and remote employees. These changes increased taxation complexity and compliance. Payroll teams continued to adjust at every turn.

What this has shown is that payroll teams can be far more flexible than many organizations gave them credit for before the pandemic. The trick as we all move forward will be keeping that flexible mentality intact and investing in the right HR technology areas to support adaptability in payroll based on what we've learned.

Now, resilience means thinking ahead

Pandemic fatigue has undoubtedly set in at this point. And while the home stretch appears within reach thanks to vaccines becoming available, it will still be a long road back to anything that looks like normal and will continue taking a toll. To find mental strength for the last mile requires a new kind of resilience on the part of payroll teams.

This is the time to find new energy, to fight the exhaustion and prepare for next steps. To think about how your payroll team emerges from the crisis stronger and better. What can you be doing now to realize long-term advantages? Ask yourself a few key questions like this one now so you're prepared to take action later:

  • How are you and your team building your strategic value to the organization?
  • What kinds of permanent impacts is remote work likely to have on your processes?
  • What new ways have you discovered to help employees manage financial stress?
  • If your organization has downsized, what options do you have to continue operating effectively with leaner teams?
  • How is payroll increasing collaboration with HR and aligning goals across both teams?

These are just a few of the many areas payroll teams can think about when evaluating their processes to ensure they move toward the next normal in a way that recognizes all they've done during these difficult times and capitalizes on those lessons.

Keeping an eye on business continuity and strategy

Many organizations had business continuity plans in place to prevent malicious attacks and respond to natural disasters. These plans allowed organizations to manage emergent situations by ensuring networks, data, and business processes were safeguarded. But the pandemic forced companies rethink those plans. Payroll was recognized, more than ever before, as being integral to business continuity.

Payroll professionals have begun to take on an even more strategic role. Beyond traditional payroll activities, they’re leading the charge on business continuity strategy like taking advantage of advances in payroll technology. The push for payroll automation has been an ongoing battle, but the pandemic accelerated modernization initiatives like never before. And organizations without automation have struggled to maintain business continuity this past year. Benefits of modern payroll tech include:

  • Cloud-based payroll solutions that enable anytime, anywhere access relevant to different roles while providing privacy and data security
  • Automation of paper‐based processes minimizing the need for in-person, manual interactions and streamlining administrative tasks
  • Self-service that empowers employees to find the right information at the right time without having to contact payroll or HR for assistance

Advanced digital solutions are a crucial strategy in increasing productivity and cost savings as well as maintaining business continuity. Additionally, they allow for the extension of payroll’s strategic influence by promoting improving employee engagement and making data‐driven business recommendations.

Conclusion: Payroll can use resilience to create momentum

Payroll is now and has always been foundational to business success. Now more than ever, leaders understand the payroll professional's contributions and strategic potential. And somehow, payroll professionals have always managed to find the strength to adapt and work through challenges. The home stretch is near and the future of payroll is exciting, so make sure you get your team off on the right foot using the many skills you've developed. If you need help making your case, we've got you covered.

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