Redefining priorities in a changing business environment

Speaking with HRM Asia, ADP's Peter Hadley explains how organisations should approach people leadership, payroll and technology in order to be successful beyond the pandemic.
By: | October 28, 2020

If there was ever a time where organisations should bring people leadership to the fore, it is now, suggested Peter Hadley, President, Asia Pacific, ADP.

Speaking with HRM Asia, he explained, “People leadership has never been more important than it is now, particularly the skills and empathy in understanding and caring for your employees as a leader.”

“In an environment impacted by the pandemic, employees need to know first and foremost that, on their manager’s or employer’s mind, is their personal welfare and safety.”

Decision-making in these circumstances, Hadley believes, also needs to adopt a more localised model. This is particularly pertinent in a remote work environment, where circumstances are vastly different and dictated location by location, and country-by-country.

He added, “Never has it been more important for empowered, local, strong decision-making to be made and supported, versus driven, by central structures.”

“Centralised and top management are responsible for supporting local leadership in their decisions on the ground, and for providing governance and resource allocation. The fundamental requirement to navigate through the situation successfully, is strong devolved local leadership, with respect to the situation people are in in that location.”

The changing face of payroll

Like many industries, payroll has changed dramatically because of the pandemic. For starters, the vast majority of people working in payroll are no longer working from their offices, Hadley noted. “They are working remotely, and they need tools, be that VPN connections and laptops, but also access to the materials that are needed to do their work.”

In a bid to maintain employment levels, governments around the world have introduced a number of subsidies and programmes to keep people in jobs. While this should be welcomed, it also adds complexity to the payroll process, which can be further exacerbated when there are changes to legislation.

Hadley said, “As an example, in China, in Q1 2020, there were over 200 regulatory changes, compared to 85 in the same quarter the previous year, a period during which the Chinese government had enacted wholesale individual income tax reform.”

With the sheer increase in the volume of change and complexity, the payroll industry is facing more challenges, whether logistics-wise, the process of payroll, or the types of employees being employed.

The value of payroll, however, will only grow, Hadley suggested, as the security people feel by knowing that their salaries will be delivered to them on time and accurately in such difficult economic circumstances, will be critical.

Technology, the great enabler

Traditionally, payroll has involved a lot of paperwork, and salary payment in some countries continue to be delivered via cheque. Because of the pandemic, mail delivery systems, as well as transport and courier systems, have been heavily overwhelmed. Delivery through traditional means, thus, has become complex and disruptive to a continuous business process.

To mitigate this, technology has emerged as a “great enabler” to a seamless experience for payroll, said Hadley. “With things like electronic payslips, electronic reporting, transfer of funds instantaneously bank to bank without any need for paper instruction or paper checks or cash for that matter – we are moving towards a cashless society, and certainly, payroll is one of many industries that is benefitting significantly with respect to employees and workers enjoying an on-time, accurate and enjoyable experience of getting their salary.”

Looking beyond the pandemic

Understandably perhaps, more organisations are looking at the here and now, as they battle for survival or focus on the short-term in terms of making payroll or fulfilling debt repayments.

However, it is vital that organisations do not lose sight of the medium and long-term plans they had put in place before the pandemic struck, which will become critical once the situation normalises, Hadley highlighted.

He elaborated, “Talent planning, getting the skills, training and learning into your organisation, and D&I objectives, are all things that can easily slip by the wayside, particularly in a changing employment environment where perhaps downsizing is happening, whether that’s temporary or more structured in nature.”

All HR and business leaders need to keep an eye on the medium and long term, as Hadley reiterated. “Don’t throw those old plans and strategies out because they are going to be very critical to the success of the company in the medium and long term. Keep them at the front and centre of your mind, continue to execute on them and make sure they don’t slip, intentionally or unintentionally, by the wayside as a result of the disruptive period we are in right now.”

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