Today’s technology developments can improve the ease and efficiency of payroll and rewards processes.
By Simon Kent
It’s a cliché but it’s true: There really is an app for everything. For employers, the 24/7 always-on, always-available level of service expected by customers is now also expected by employees. Just as banking hours have been replaced by a constantly accessible online portal, the idea that employees should wait until office hours to check their pay, rewards, benefits, and other work-related entitlements is becoming outdated.
“In today’s digital workforce, people expect to be able to access their personal and professional information instantly from anywhere,” explains Melanie Robinson, senior director HR sales and marketing at ADP. “Payroll is just another reflection of this as businesses work to accommodate human beings’ insatiable need for instant information.”
As a result, technology can now deliver relevant information about an employee’s gross pay, take-home pay, and pension pot wherever and whenever they want. “This is all without ever needing to contact HR,” she says, “a big advance from the monthly payslip which is easily misplaced and, with it, all of the information employees may need.”
Financial technology can now be delivered in diverse ways to suit the workforce. Employer-specific apps can be created to boost employees’ own sense of belonging to a business whilst mobile-based platforms enable them to access information from any device with an internet connection. Solutions are produced in-house or by third parties—and can be branded to match the organization’s culture.
These solutions can be worth more than information alone for employees. “With instant access to payroll information, employees can access this information at any time throughout the month and at the click of a finger,” says Robinson. “It may come in handy later in the month when employees are sitting down to work out their bills, budgets, or other financial plans. In this way, pay awareness amongst employees is much higher than it was previously.” Not only that, but according to Robinson, these kinds of solutions can build trust between businesses and their employees—something that ultimately boosts employee engagement and even productivity.
Nicola Wells is Unilever’s global reward director and more recently became the COO of uFlexReward, a discrete business which has emerged from Unilever itself. Wells says that technology has played an important part in highlighting the fact that pay is simply one element in the reward equation for employees. “Although there have been numerous developments in HR reward technology, there is still a tendency for the relevant information to be held in discrete data silos—pension, bonus, salary, holiday,” she explains. “Until the data is collated and a true total reward platform is available in real-time, employees can’t see the complete picture.”
Over the past seven years, Unilever developed, built, and tested a total rewards statement platform that was recently rolled out to 68,000 Unilever employees and has now been launched as an independent product called uFlexReward. The platform naturally gives around-the-clock access to employees’ reward information as well as the ability to tailor to their own requirements where possible, giving them greater control over their own financial well-being.
“Depending on their situation and life stage, it may be more important to allocate more of their package to pension, salary, or holiday,” says Wells. uFlexReward provides “election” periods where employees can propose their choice of reward allocation. The system reflects the company’s intention to put talent at the centre of its strategy and empower staff. The system also provides HR with crucial information concerning the popularity of certain benefit options and has even tapped into the business’ management of the gender pay gap issue.
“The platform has automated standard reporting across the nine metrics companies have to submit to the government website on gender pay reporting,” explains Wells. “By having this information available in real-time, replacing what is typically a time-consuming, manual process that is only done once a year, companies can review it regularly, hold people accountable for gaps, and look back to see if it has improved—as well as using the data to correct anomalies and improve working practices going forward.”
Design and delivery company Stantec, operating across EMEA and beyond, implemented a company-branded benefits solution provided by supplier Broadstone across its UK operation. Offering access to everyone who receives some kind of benefit from the company, the platform effectively provides access to an online Stantec community. In fact, adoption has been widespread—there are currently just over 900 employee accounts on the site, plus almost 2,000 accounts for members of the company pension scheme. During the last annual benefit selection opportunity, 81.5 per cent of benefit receivers accessed the platform.
And the interaction with the platform is not only focused on the employee side—the business can respond according to how rewards are received. “If we spot that a particular benefit is not being viewed, we can send email communications through the site which can contain tailored content and be sent to a tailored audience,” explains Sam Kitteringham, UK employee benefits manager.
Whilst it may now be expected to deliver this kind of service, it is clear that payroll and reward technology can maximise return on value for employers and employees alike. Heightening awareness not only means employees can get better value from their total remuneration package, but employers can ensure their workforce rewards always gain maximum appreciation.