‘Both disciplines contribute to the employee experience in different ways’
Payroll and HR should no longer function separately, as both are equally important to ensuring the most optimal employee experience, especially during the outbreak and lockdown of COVID-19, says Peter Tzanetakis, president of the Canadian Payroll Association in Toronto, which recently released a report on the topic.
“Payroll and HR play really key roles in managing the overall employee experience; pay and benefits are key touchpoints between every employer and every employee when it comes to employee satisfaction, affinity and employee engagement,” he says.
“Both disciplines contribute to the employee experience in different ways so understanding how payroll and benefits impact the relationship of employees and employers is really important. HR can play a more effective role in managing and influencing and enhancing the value of its people.”
The integration is even more crucial during the coronavirus outbreak, especially in light of the numerous regulatory changes made over the past few months, says Tzanetakis.
“We’ve tracked nearly 200 different announcements that were made since the beginning of COVID-19, and really understanding the intricacies of those programs and being able to provide a more comprehensive understanding to both management and to the employees, as well as laid-off employees, is really going to be important in terms of supporting employees.”
For HR managers and directors to maximize the impact and contributions of their payroll teams, they need to really understand more of what payroll does and can do, he says. For example, there have been a significant number of changes to employment standards that relate to COVID-19 and a number of other programs that were announced between the federal and the provincial governments.
Mental health concerns
During the lockdown, financial stress is top of mind for workers, some of whom have been laid off or had salaries reduced. Support for them is warranted from both payroll and HR departments, especially since this can have a direct impact the bottom line, says Tzanetakis.
“We’ve calculated that financial stress results in about $16 billion of lost productivity a year here in Canada and the reason for that is that about a quarter of working Canadians spend almost 40 minutes a day distracted by personal financial matters at work. That is a real impact on productivity.”
To help alleviate some of the pressure, employers and HR need to become creative, says Tzanetakis.
“Right now, about 55 per cent of companies actually have pay-yourself-first programs. That means there’s 45 per cent that don’t. HR has been really focused for a number of years on supporting mental wellness of employees; for example, through implementing employee assistance programs. But, similarly, payroll can really play an important role in supporting employee financial wellness by providing resources to reduce financial pressures and stress.”
Integrating two disciplines
For many employers, dual professionals (with certifications in both HR and payroll) are becoming more valuable to organizations, according to Tzanetakis.
“For a lot of smaller businesses, payroll and HR might be typically done by one individual but it’s also becoming more common to have individuals in larger organizations who have dual responsibilities in both payroll and HR.”
A CPA survey earlier this year, for example, found that just over 60 per cent of organizations have payroll and human resources software integrated in one platform, he says.
“This integrated human capital management platform of technology has meant that HR and payroll have to be much more tied together, because things like compensation and talent management, time and attendance, employee engagement are all bundled together. It’s really important that there’s an understanding of what payroll can contribute to the overall employee experience.”