Payroll – businesses’ secret weapon

20 August 2018

This article was featured in the September 2018 issue of the magazine.

Jean-Luc Barbier, vice president global solutions at SD Worx, makes the argument for data usage and conveys findings of recent research

Payroll is not a dirty word. Historically it has been seen as little more than admin, a necessary business function and nothing else, but this perception is changing. The way that the public, and more importantly, businesses, view data has significantly changed. 

In a post-GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) world consumers are well aware of the application and use of their data. The same is happening to businesses and data is now being seen as the key to unlocking value. 

In an age where artificial intelligence (AI) and blockchain are becoming workplace realities, being data-driven is the new normal for businesses. 

Data holds businesses to account. It can provide a real-time quantitative view of the financial health of an organisation, help forecast sales or report on customer conversions. However, the more human, qualitative benefits that data can bring are often overlooked. Payroll and human resources (HR) is a treasure trove of useful and insightful data and businesses are starting to capitalise on the ways they can turn this into action. 


...tuning into how payroll analytics can help them draw meaningful conclusions from what used to be static data


Keeping engaged

Teams across Europe are increasingly using data to inform business decisions on a human level, helping their organisations get an accurate insight on employee performance and informing appraisals. For example, management can easily identify how long an employee has been in their role, when they were last promoted and figure out whether they may be at risk of wanting to leave the business. 

Additionally, this data can help show an employee’s absenteeism and engagement levels, so managers can quickly spot the signals of an employee becoming disengaged, allowing them to plan a check-in meeting to address the issue and get them back on track and motivated. In this way, HR and payroll data is an ace-up-the-sleeve for any business. It gives them a real-time view of their operations and the strategic workforce management tools they need to attract and retain the best talent.

At SD Worx we have recently conducted research into how firms across Europe are now embracing the power of payroll. It showed that the majority (87%) of payroll and HR teams internationally are asked for data to support business decisions, showing that the insight it can provide are becoming clearer to business leaders. 

However, almost 40% of European payroll and HR teams find it difficult to provide data to support business decisions. Though on the one hand it’s positive news that powerful data is now elevating the HR and payroll function within businesses, it’s clear that teams face fundamental challenges sharing the insight. 


Payroll interlinked with future tech

Technology is a great enabler and can help teams get the most from this insight. So much so, many are already looking to the applications of future tech. 

Blockchain and AI are both de jour tech topics, but it’s not just blue-sky thinking for businesses. We found that across Europe a majority (61%) of organisations believed that blockchain will be important or critical to the evolution of HR and payroll. Additionally, nearly two thirds (63%) predicted that AI and automation will also play a significant role in the future of the industry. This clearly indicates that HR and payroll departments are forward thinking and fundamentally understand how data is not only empowering them, but their businesses, with tangible and strategic insights. 

In the modern workforce employee engagement is at the top of the agenda. HR managers are tuning into how payroll analytics can help them draw meaningful conclusions from what used to be static data. 

The old belief that HR and payroll departments are purely administrative is changing, for the better. As such, data plays a significant and strategic role for the business, from the HR department to the boardroom.