Technology for Your People
Technology for Your People

By Dwayne Russell, General Manager, MC Systems

The workforce is changing. Businesses are changing the way they work. The tech that’s in the business has to change or the business will die. But this is not news to us. You already know that. You have had to install and uninstall and download and upload, de-bug, screenshot, all types of things in your work and in your life. So you have not only seen and heard the changes, you have been living them. And in living the changes, you have been conditioned to expect things to change, especially when it comes to digital technology.

The world we live in now is about instant messages, daily updates and upgrades all amounting to one thing… change and the constancy of change.

And that is what we are talking about today…change.¬† More specifically changes in technology and what that’s doing to people’s lives.

We are going to look briefly at trends in people management in business, leading us into exploring payroll technologies.

One of the major changes that have taken place in the practice of HR in recent years is a greater focus on employee engagement. This is because for many years employee engagement was not a priority; companies were more focused on the external customer than the internal one.

For your line of work, employee engagement and employee relations is more forefront and business critical than ever before, with good reasons. The people who work and help to build businesses and make brands go global are important cogs in the wheels of productivity and they should be made to feel like they matter every day, because they do.

According to a 2016 Gallup poll, employee engagement has been pretty stagnant. Only 32% of U.S. workers were engaged in their jobs in 2015, compared to 31.5% the previous year. Commenting on this report, at that time, one writer predicted a trend like this: “… the fact that engagement has risen from 29% in 2011 we can expect to see the needle move in 2016 with the next engagement survey. But probably not more than a point or two.”

So this change has been slow and steady. But slow and steady has its advantages and is surely better than no change at all. But this report suggests that things are trending in the right direction and those organisations that have taken the step are seeing the rewards.

Another major prediction in 2016 was that “technology would focus on the employee.” Now, while that prediction explored much of the employee appraisals, feedback and other HR-based needs, we at MC Systems sought to specialise some tech to focus on Payroll.

After all, we are the leaders in breakthrough tech and we know Payroll.

As far back as 1973 we released PowerPay, which has remained the most widely used, locally developed payroll processing application. So we have the experience, the expertise and the track record of innovation and quality when it comes to payroll. Over the years as the demands changed we have continued to deliver technology that responds to the business needs in a way that ensures they never miss a beat.

Payroll, on the face of it, might seem less exciting than the launch of a new product, yet it is equally important to the business. But what we have now and the future of payroll is another fascinating story.

Payroll software already makes process of paying workers easy. Yet it seems like things could be even easier. Well, experts are predicting that the payroll service of the future will come stacked with three main things:

  • Robotic Process Automation (RPA),
  • Analytics and
  • Mobility

All giving organisations greater value for the service.

The American Payroll Association (APA) points to significant savings that will come from introducing RPA, for example, suggesting “that automation reduces payroll processing costs by as much as 80%, much of that from reducing errors in invoices and pay cheques.”

To be clear, RPA is more about software automation than it is about bringing robots into our lives. I know that many people panic once the “R” word is used while talking about jobs and the future. People imagine nightmarish situations where robots have taken over all the jobs and life is just dismal. And if you are to be honest, some aspects of payroll will become fully automated in the future, but that is a positive.

You see, we imagine a future where the systems are working with the people to make a better world. Where humans can set machines to work on areas we have already conquered, but are still necessary. While humans will focus on being more creative, solving bigger organisational challenges, introducing more innovation that are based on greater human collaboration.

That’s because RPA in payroll is all about making all the normal, already efficient payroll systems work so much better.

And speaking of better, here’s the next thing, Analytics, which the payroll software of the future will use. It will pull from the data generated by the system and show company executives what else they can do to improve processes and make the life better for their employees.

Most big businesses are better positioned to use this for decision making but small businesses need to embrace this as well in order to move to the next level.

Let’s look at some examples from Jeffrey Joyner a business writer with the Houston Chronicle (USA).

When you look at things such as attendance: you could find that ‘sick-days’ are accruing closer to the end of the year or at special holiday times?

Analysing or looking at the budgeted versus the actual spend on labour costs, for example, could reveal that low productivity that resulted in higher expenses were due to low employee morale, outdated equipment or ineffective production methods.

The data could reveal that turnover is highest in a particular department and on investigation you could find that you have a poor manager in that position. It could lead to a training opportunity for that manager or a shift to an area which is more suited.

That’s the power of analytics in your payroll service.

But perhaps the most exciting aspect of the future of Payroll is mobility.

Mobile apps in payroll can go a far way in literally putting some activities in the hands of the employees, thus freeing HR colleagues to focus on core critical functions.

For example, team members in the field who need to log time or claim reimbursements could do so from an app at their convenience given that the service is available 24/7.

Employees can access payslips and important tax information for transactions such as major loans and mortgages, etc.  They can also update personal information as is required by relevant organisational policies.

Apps in payroll are also responsive to the employee of the future, as, according to Cisco Mobile Traffic Forecast, “incorporating mobile technology has become more important for the employers from the perspective of the millennial workers. Use of smartphones has become an integral part of millennial workers lifestyle and thus millennial influence on mobile payroll adoption cannot be ignored.”

Employers will see lots of benefit too, as activities such as overtime payments can be processed and approved on the go. It removes the constraints of needing to be in the office to execute payroll services within the business.

There is one futurist, named Dawson who cautioned that, because most of what we predict will not happen in the way that we expect the better question to ask is, “if it does, what are we going to do?”

Have you thought about what will happen if all this technology comes to your organisation? What are you going to do?

At MC Systems we are big on designing for the future so we have thought about it and we are ready for the change.

None of the technology matters if the people do not matter.

More and more businesses are ensuring that they take care of their people. We are ensuring that they have the technology to do a better job at that.

Robotics, Analytics and Mobility we are ready for the change!

MC Systems is creating technology for your people!

This is the full transcript of a presentation made by Dwayne Russell, General Manager of MC Systems at the inaugural MC Systems Payroll Conference held at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in Kingston, Jamaica on March 6, 2018.The wide ranging presentation looked at the most recent innovations in Payroll technology and more.