With growth often comes growing pains. Business owners can become so involved in the day-to-day operations of their company that they lose sight of the bigger picture.
But there should come a time when they decide to stop thinking about Excel spreadsheets and start automating processes to free the HR team from duplicate work and wasted steps. Whether the move is prompted by a need to eliminate manual processes or because the business has outgrown existing technology, it’s important to evaluate and plan for long-term business success while taking into account reliability, accuracy and compliance.
Technology is the great enabler. In Canada, as well as other places in the developed world, there is a strong shift towards reliance on digital technologies to streamline business practices. However, Canadian small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are lagging in adopting these technologies, according to a 2014 report from the Conference Board of Canada.
SMEs with fewer than 500 employees account for 99.8 per cent of registered Canadian businesses. However, only 38 percent of small businesses (with one to 99 employees) and 56 per cent of medium-sized businesses (100 to 499 employees) reported recent innovations in their product, organization or marketing processes.
Here are some of SMEs’ barriers in technology adoption:
Time: The time required to implement new technologies can be daunting, yet must be seen as an investment into future productivity.
Money: It is easier to hire another employee than implement new technology to increase productivity.
Fear and resistance: New technology can be scary; there is resistance to changing established business practices.
Confusion and distraction: In the face of day-to-day operations, it can be difficult for business owners to focus on more strategic solutions.
Trigger for change
Knowing these biases, what is the trigger point for an SME to adopt human capital management (HCM) technology or upgrade to more efficient solutions such as a human resource information system (HRIS)?
Unfortunately, there’s no exact number of employees or annual revenue that suggests a company is ready for HCM because circumstances differ from one organization to the next.
But having multiple satellite offices or the need to combine large employee groups after mergers or acquisitions are common triggers for considering a new solution.
The fact of the matter is small HR departments become overwhelmed with piles of paperwork, which leads to data errors, delays in onboarding and training of new employees, and inefficient use of the HR team’s time. They get to the point where they cannot function effectively. So, how can HCM technology help SMEs thrive?
Payroll management: Payroll is generally the first and most universally adopted HCM application. Payroll solutions, especially those delivered in cloud-based environments, are intrinsically designed to help HR manage compliance.
For example, the director of a Toronto-area daycare centre recognized the appeal of an HCM solution for payroll management at her small organization. Dealing with HR paperwork was detracting her from her main role of providing a comfortable and safe learning environment for the children. “There’s a lot involved with payroll, and I’m not willing to risk making a mistake on someone’s livelihood,” she says.
Maintaining employee records: At the core of an HR solution is the employee record. The ability to manage employees’ personnel data is often supported through self-service functionality. Robust self-service payroll applications allow for mobile and online viewing of pay statements, on-boarding or off-boarding through digital forms, viewing schedules and more.
Reporting: The opportunity to have a single system of truth (one employee record) that allows for real-time access to data across multiple applications is invaluable. HR professionals can arm the business with this insight without having to wait and compile data, and hope it is accurate. This allows HR to take on the role of strategic partner.
For Susan Babiuk, human resources manager at law firm Duncan Craig in Edmonton, one of the many challenges that prompted her organization to look for a new solution was the increased number of “one-off” scenarios to manage employee entitlements. There was a need for more consistent tracking and followup.
Attracting and retaining top talent: Companies are looking to re-invent the job candidate experience so they can proactively reach out to talent via recruitment marketing solutions and create an interactive candidate experience.
It’s more than just the ability to attract the right talent that is fuelling the growth of HCM solutions. SMEs are adopting tools for performance management that allow for the measurement of goals and objectives, coaching and peer-to-peer interactions. Providing employees with career paths and rewards and recognition tools within an overall HCM platform plays a part in the retention strategy of many SMEs.
Diving into analytics
Corporate decision-making is based on more than just anecdotal knowledge and gut instinct. The smartest companies today are using comprehensive data to help them make key choices about their future, especially when it comes to human capital.
At the end of the day, every business leader’s goal is to stay competitive in a busy marketplace. Whether investing in new HCM technologies to replace manual processes or upgrading technology to support growth, an all-in-one human capital management solution should be considered — especially one built from a single application where all employment and pay information is shared across HR, payroll, and time and attendance-tracking platforms.
Greg Trok is vice-president of consulting services at Ceridian in Minneapolis, Minn. For more information, visit www.ceridian.ca.
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