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Payroll Transparency & Employee Experience: An AI-cooked Recipe

A friend of mine who is also a payroll manager once told me that in his organization, of 30,000+ employees, the payroll helpdesk would experience a hectic 2-week after every pay run, with about 1000-1500 queries to answer. Two factors would further increase the volume:

  • Seasonal trends such as year-end taxes, incentive payouts, etc.
  • Significant variable components in the employees’ pay, such as overtime

The problem with payroll queries is not that they are difficult to answer, but that they need to be personalized at scale.

Most of these queries fall into 5-6 categories, which may lead you to believe that it becomes easier to answer them. But the need to personalize the response to every employee makes this part of payroll process still laborious and daunting.

The payroll manager’s case clearly illustrates the volume and the process efficiency part of the payroll query management problem. You can also say that it is fairly easy to calculate the cost of running a payroll helpdesk. What is still missing in this equation is the Employee Experience (EX).

Lack of clarity about one’s salary and doubts about the computation of salary components can be a source of anxiety and dissatisfaction for employees.

HR and Payroll teams have the responsibility to provide a transparent payslip and educate their employees on how their salary is calculated. When this is poorly managed, problems creep in, with employees either assuming that their salary is not correctly computed or there has been a deliberate mistake.

When payroll services are outsourced, this responsibility of educating employees about their salary invariably shifts to an outsourced helpdesk or a shared services center. However, this could be a double-edged sword for there is still a chance that this will further deteriorate Employee Experience because of:

  1. Turnaround time: Though the response time of a helpdesk is subject to SLAs, as far as the employee is concerned, s/he spends a considerable time in getting their queries answered.  
  2. Standardized response: The helpdesk responses are largely standardized and hence might come across as impersonal. Employees expect a response, crafted with a full understanding of their context/ background. A helpdesk might often not have either the access or the insight into the employee’s context.

That the most used mode of communication with helpdesks is an email or a ticketing system, further exacerbates the problem.

A modern, digital payroll system, on the other hand, can help overcome these experience barriers.

According to Gartner, in 2019, companies spent an average of $2,420 per person on efforts to enhance employee experience. But then, when it comes to Employee Engagement and Employee Experience, compensation and payroll are rarely talked about. It is time that we focus on the elements that make up for a significant portion of employee’s experience and also satisfaction at an organization.

Smart applications can help organizations elevate their Employee Experience and at the same time free up their payroll teams from answering redundant questions. To put it shortly, here is a better ROI proposition!

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