This article was published in the January-February 2023 issue of Dialogue Magazine, authored by UKG. 

Everything is different now. The events of the last three years have impacted every possible area of our businesses, cultures and communities. Organizations across the country and the globe are considering their vulnerabilities and embracing the need to adapt in the face of new threats and unexpected opportunities.

Any employer’s mode of business dramatically impacts hiring, scheduling, retention, training, benefits, payroll, succession and more. But no matter the specifics of any individual organization, unexpected realities shine a spotlight on the importance of people — the human element required to flourish in moments of opportunity or weather the storm in times of downturn. More than ever, people determine success when tackling strategic goals such as driving growth, increasing revenues and improving profitability.

Meanwhile, employees have closely watched how their employers have reacted to these unprecedented events and have looked inward to consider their values and loyalties, often asking themselves if it might be time for a change. They know they deserve to feel rewarded, valued and empowered, and they are emphasizing more than ever the psychological contract of mutual trust and understanding that must exist with their employers.

From Work-Life Balance to Life-work Journey

Do we “live to work” or “work to live”? This question is outdated in our new world of work. Achieving the idealized state implied by the term work-life balance is largely impossible. Often the best possible arrangement for workers is much more complex. The actual situation for any given employee at any given time can vary wildly, and the needs employers meet for their people can never be “one size fits all.”

Rather than implementing a blanket initiative such as job-sharing to provide work-life balance, employers must be flexible and adaptable enough to understand and support employees based on the specific conditions of their individual lives. Organizations that fail to prioritize the needs of their people in this manner will struggle to keep their top performers now and attract the talent they need in the future.

UKG has developed a framework for understanding the reality employees and organizations face throughout the modern, global workforce. They call this the “Life-work Journey.” It represents six distinct phases of the employee lifecycle and five phases of business operations, each bringing a unique set of challenges, desires and needs for employers to address.

The Intersection of People and Work Systems

The biggest obstacle to effectively guiding and supporting people throughout their Life-work Journey is outdated software and related technologies for HR, payroll, time tracking, recruiting, reporting and other common-yet-critical workplace processes.

The problems can stem from siloed systems that don’t talk to one another or efficiently share information, too many manual transactions, operating only reactively rather than proactively, treating people as a resource rather than as individuals, or any combination of the above.

Consider unified solutions that help your organization develop resilience, fluidity and adaptability in the wake of new workforce expectations around the globe. The best of these solutions represent an entirely new era in human capital management.

Defining People Systems and Work Systems

People systems inspire your workforce and ensure that your organization continuously understands and supports your people. These are the systems that underscore the importance of life in “life-work.” Effective people systems can help your business:

  1. Connect people to purpose: Employees need to know the purpose and value of their contributions to derive meaning and satisfaction.

  2. Amplify human contribution: Employees at every level can feel that their individual efforts make a difference and impact the strategic goals of the organization.

  3. Understand human signals: Get a true understanding of employee needs and wants no matter where they are on the Life-work Journey.

  4. Ethically promote belonging and wellbeing: Your people management software can play an active role in making sure employees feel that they can bring their whole selves to work while supporting their physical and mental health at every step.

Work systems help your business thrive. However, they must be designed purposefully and include intelligence to reduce friction at work and scale human impact. Effective work systems can:

  1. Increase effectiveness and productivity: Take advantage of artificial intelligence (AI) for better reporting and decision support while streamlining processes and removing manual ones wherever possible.

  2. Augment capability and security: Give your people the right tools for the job no matter where they are on the Life-work Journey, and enable your entire workforce to do more with less.

  3. Automate bias interruption: Draw upon rich workforce data to eliminate instances of unconscious bias before they can negatively impact operations and reputations.

  4. Team optimization: Optimize for collaboration, longevity and happiness rather than only cost-cutting.

The Crucial Role of Payroll

In recognition of its role in effectively managing people and costs, payroll was the first human capital management (HCM) function to be automated. As a result, most organizations invest in a payroll solution first: a recent study from states that 79% of organizations have implemented a payroll solution.

However, many existing payroll solutions are not designed to support today’s realities. After all, a pay cheque is about more than money for your people. It’s about their livelihoods and their well-being. Modern payroll solutions help build trust with transparent processes that make it easy for everyone to access and understand their pay while ensuring employees are paid quickly, consistently and accurately.

This is possible when leveraging a solution that provides advanced features and capabilities that improve payroll efficiency, accuracy, compliance and transparency, including:

  1. Seamless integration with other applications such as HR, time and attendance, and finance.

  2. Automated regulatory updates that make it easy to stay up to date with federal, provincial and local jurisdiction requirements.

  3. Mobile and self-service tools that engage employees, delivering convenient and transparent access to their payroll information — and reducing the burden on payroll staff.

  4. A real-time view of payroll status at any point in a pay cycle.

  5. On-demand reporting that supports data-driven business decisions.

  6. Automated workflows that drive efficiencies while providing complete control over your entire payroll process.

  7. Powerful tools such as AI-driven interfaces, Natural Language Processing–enabled virtual assistants, predictive error detection, contextual insights and analytic reporting.

  8. Expert and available support from your provider.

A Win for Your Payroll Team

Many organizations face a “do more with less” mandate, which extends to their staffing. Tight budgets are getting tighter, and staffing and resources are being impacted, which can affect the retention of payroll personnel. However, the expectation is that payroll teams can still produce the same quality (or better) and the same volume of work with fewer resources.

Under these circumstances, payroll leaders are feeling pressure to streamline processes, eliminate manual systems and reduce data entry — changes needed to accomplish routine tasks and free payroll professionals to contribute to company goals and objectives.

Best-in-class HR and payroll technology will reduce the total processing time required, especially if the automated solution combines timekeeping and payroll in an integrated platform. Reducing processing time delivers hard-cost savings through reduced overtime.

Organizations can also achieve valuable soft-cost savings that allow staff to focus less on administrative tasks and more on the strategic aspects of payroll — which is not only of higher value to the organization but also more rewarding for your payroll staff.

The time saved can be reallocated to other payroll projects and company initiatives, such as direct deposit campaigns, pay card programs, on-demand pay, training and development, and key performance indicators (KPIs) for payroll.

A Win for All Employees

A payroll solution aligned to the Life-work Journey goes beyond the pay cheque. It helps foster a workplace culture that engages, motivates and retains employees by prioritizing their financial well-being, so they are confident to look after what matters most at home, at work and in their communities.

A personalized pay cheque that explains itself, for example, details any variances in items such as bonus, vacation pay, overtime, RRSP contribution and more. Employees understand their compensation and are confident that it is being managed accurately and transparently.

When payroll is integrated with an effective timekeeping solution, accurate leave and time worked data is captured and fed into payroll to ensure that pay cheques are error-free — every time.

Finally, organizations can improve financial wellness and build a purpose-driven culture with workplace giving campaigns and pay equity reporting built into a modern people management solution.

Download the complete White Paper by UKG here.

Do you agree that the future of payroll should go hand in hand with this kind of advanced technology? Share your comments below.


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