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Choosing the right HR consulting firm is crucial, as it can significantly impact your company's culture, compliance, and overall growth trajectory. This guide is crafted to help you select an HR consulting firm that aligns perfectly with your startup's unique needs and aspirations. Let's embark on this journey with clarity and confidence.

Assess Your HR Needs

Start by assessing your startup's specific HR needs. Are you seeking assistance with recruitment, compliance, employee training, or a comprehensive HR strategy? Understanding the areas where you need the most support will help you pinpoint the type of HR consulting firms for small businesses most relevant to your startup.

Research Potential Firms

Dive into research to compile a list of potential HR consulting firms. Look for firms with experience in working with startups or in your specific industry. Online reviews, recommendations, and case studies can be invaluable in gauging their expertise and success in addressing HR challenges similar to yours.

Evaluate Their Expertise and Experience

Once you have a shortlist, evaluate each firm's expertise and experience. How long have they been in the business? What qualifications do their consultants hold? Experience in the startup ecosystem is a huge plus, as it indicates understanding your unique challenges and dynamics.

Consider Their Approach and Methodology

Each HR consulting firm has its own approach and methodology. Some may offer standardized solutions, while others provide more customized services. Consider what approach aligns best with your startup's culture and goals. A firm that listens to your needs and tailors their services accordingly is often a good choice.

Check References and Reviews

Ask for references and check online reviews. Hearing directly from other startups or businesses that have used their services offers valuable insights into their reliability, effectiveness, and the quality of their client relationships.

Discuss Communication and Availability

Effective communication is vital in any partnership. Discuss with potential firms how they plan to communicate with you. How often will they provide updates? Are they available for consultations as needed? Choose a firm that values open communication and is readily available to address your concerns.

Review Their Pricing Structure

Pricing is a critical factor, especially for startups with limited budgets. Understand each firm's pricing structure and what services are included. Be wary of hidden costs. The goal is to find a firm that delivers high value for your investment.

Analyze Their Success Stories and Case Studies

Before making your final decision, analyze the HR consulting firms' success stories and case studies. This step gives you a clearer picture of their capabilities and the types of challenges they've successfully navigated in the past. Look for stories or examples that resonate with your startup's situation. A firm with a proven record of solving problems similar to yours can be a more reliable choice.

Assess Their Flexibility and Scalability

Consider the flexibility and scalability of the HR consulting firm's services. As your startup grows, your HR needs will evolve. It's essential to select a firm that can adapt and scale their services accordingly. Discuss with them how they have managed growing startups in the past and how they plan to accommodate your changing needs. A firm that can grow with you is an invaluable asset for your long-term success.

Trust Your Instincts

Finally, trusting your instincts plays a crucial role in the selection process. After meticulously evaluating all factors, pause and reflect on which firm is the right fit for your startup. This decision goes beyond just the tangible metrics and data. It's about gauging the cultural alignment and the level of trust you can place in the firm.

Cultural fit is paramount. The HR consulting firm you choose will be deeply involved in aspects of your business that shape your workplace environment. Their values, communication style, and approach to handling challenges should resonate with your startup's ethos. A firm that understands and aligns with your culture will implement HR strategies that reflect and enhance your core values and mission more effectively.

Remember, a successful partnership with an HR consulting firm is built on more than just expertise and experience. It's also about finding a partner who understands the unique pulse of your startup and is committed to nurturing and growing it alongside you. Trusting your instincts after a thorough evaluation can lead you to a partnership that addresses your current HR needs and contributes positively to your startup's future trajectory.

Partner for Success with the Right HR Firm

Choosing the right HR consulting firm is a significant step towards ensuring your startup's success. It's about finding a partner who understands your vision, aligns with your culture, and brings expertise to transform your HR challenges into opportunities for growth. With this step-by-step guide, you're well-equipped to make an informed decision, set the stage for a fruitful partnership, and support your startup's journey every step.


Disorder and turbulence may result from this kind of susceptibility. Your duty as an administrator is to guide your team through these difficult circumstances and withstand the storm. 

Nevertheless, the strain might become intolerable if you don't have precautions and contingency plans for potential catastrophes. We'll consider 5 strategies you may use to deal with unfavourable workplace circumstances to help you overcome these obstacles while keeping your employees on track.

#1 - Communicate transparently

During emergencies, it is critical to communicate clearly and promptly. To keep everyone up to date, create numerous communication avenues both inside and outside routes. Ensure the information supplied is reliable, consistent, and accessible with frequent updates.

Your supervisors should have the final word on any ideas you propose. This will be very beneficial for analyzing and enhancing answers with each circumstance. Keeping everyone in the loop about incidents can help the team gain insight into the bad ones. To communicate efficiently and transparently, consider affording an emergency management degree, which will help provide the best resolution. 

#2 - Put employee safety first

During an emergency, you should put the security of your staff first. Ensure the employee's safety, take responsibility for all of them, and give them the required help. The instances of a physical crisis, like a fire, and a psychological emergency, like exhaustion or an emotional breakdown, can qualify as such. Observe the correct procedures for reacting to uphold the company's fundamental principles.

#3 - Set up an emergency response plan

Create a thorough strategy outlining positions, duties, and protocols for various situations. Ensure everyone on staff is aware of this strategy, and regularly run drills and exercises to evaluate its efficacy.

Have several meetings with different groups to start this process and discuss potential issues that might occur. Evaluate the most practical and effective methods to address these problems with these groups. Create thorough procedures that will be advantageous to all stakeholders.

#4 - Evaluate the situation diligently

To properly comprehend a crisis or disaster's effects, get the correct data. Analyze the hazards, the resources at hand, and possible outcomes. This knowledge will guide your decision-making, and it will assist you in creating an adequate response. Finding ways to figure this out can help you deal with such complex scenarios most successfully.

#5 - Gather learnings from the experience

After the emergency has been addressed, take time to reflect on it and draw lessons. Perform a post-incident assessment to find out what worked well and what needed improvement. Use this information to improve and modify your emergency management strategy.

Managing emergencies and catastrophes calls for an amalgam of leadership, planning, and adaptation. These 5 strategies can help managers steer their people through challenging situations, mitigate the implications of emergencies, and emerge victorious. Your management choices have an immediate influence on the mental and physical health of your employees as well as the overall viability of your business.


A vital line of defence for businesses, CFOs are charged with optimising a company’s financial performance by directing and continually adapting its budgets, goals, and objectives. 

However, their responsibilities range far beyond the scope of just managing finances. The CFO’s expertise is not just confined to numbers: they take a key seat at the strategy planning table, helping to shape overall direction by aligning business and finance strategy to drive growth. As such, today’s CFOs now require broader business and commercial knowledge and operational experience as they lead C-suite collaboration on long-term, interdependent work.  

In a rapidly evolving landscape, any discussion of today’s CFO must address:

Evolving expectations of finance professionals

Traditionally, finance leaders may have operated in silo, seeing their role as being purely about managing cost and not considering the interplay with other areas of the business. Similarly, this is likely to be how others in the business also perceived their role, creating a sense of self-fulling prophecy for those in the finance team. This has led to essential skills, such as technical expertise and talent management, being underdeveloped and underrated as CFOs are pigeonholed as financial gatekeepers. 

However, in today’s digitised, interconnected world, the CFO is expected to inhabit a more dynamic and outward-facing role. The scope and influence of their responsibilities in areas such as strategic execution and performance insight are more prominent than before, meaning they must balance their traditional duties with their new role as agents of change. To succeed in this demanding climate, the CFO should be cross-functional, motivational, and willing to lead by example.     

To support business objectives thoroughly and drive the talent agenda, finance leaders have a responsibility to understand and develop HR intelligence. Therefore, a strategic alliance between the CFO and the CHRO must be nurtured. Building a more collaborative relationship between the two can elevate both functions to a more strategic position within the company. It will also enable CFOs to look beyond costs when considering employees, taking a deeper look into how profitability can be enhanced through human capital. They should be able to estimate the impact of salary increments and bonuses on the business’s profitability, thereby assisting HR teams in shaping policy.  

Finance leaders must also be technically savvy, having at least a moderate understanding of IT. They should be able to provide guidance and advice on issues pertaining to the systems and applications in use for finance, whether that’s understanding the underlying data and its context or how systems integration can support a more relevant digital process. These technical skills provide today’s CFOs with the information and confidence to challenge what is possible, manage risks, and play a key role in strategic decision-making around IT investments. 

Consequently, to gain a more well-rounded understanding of the HR and IT aspects of their role, and to set their business up for success, today’s finance leader should be working towards bridging silos and partnering with the CHRO and CTO. 

When the sum is greater than its parts

By joining forces and being able to rely on the expertise offered by the CHRO and CTO, it is not just finance leaders that stand to benefit. Improved communication, understanding and collaboration enable issues to be avoided, and where they do occur, novel solutions to be implemented.

It is not uncommon for HR or payroll projects to be led by the CFO in isolation from HR. But without collaboration between the CFO and HR, key messages and data insights can fail to be communicated effectively. It can also lead to a primarily functional use of HR and payroll systems which is a missed opportunity to take advantage of qualitative elements of contemporary solutions.  As CFOs work towards boosting their company’s competitive advantage, they can leverage data analytics to deliver a well-rounded financial picture that guides the wider organisation. If these valuable insights fail to reach the right teams, they will not resonate in the boardroom.  

This disjointed approach can lead to wasted time and resources. Instead, what is needed is a formidable triumvirate of success. Within this robust alliance, the CFO, CTO and CHRO should be able to feed off each other to constantly reinvent the workplace. It is only through this collaboration that they will be able to redefine themselves as collective digital stewards, driving value, improving efficiency, and setting the future direction of the business.  

Collaboration is the key to future success

The last few years have seen a fundamental shift in how people and businesses get work done. This highlights how quickly circumstances can change and the need for organisations to be agile enough to keep pace. As a result, finance leaders have rapidly moved to the fore as key players in determining how businesses adapt to these changes – particularly in those places where digital, HR, and finance intersect. 

The old silos are no longer fit for purpose and will simply put companies unwilling to change at a severe disadvantage. Creating a strategic alliance between the CFO, CTO and CHRO will allow these key individuals to work together to future-proof the organisation and set it up for continued success.  

About the author: Mark Jenkins is Chief Finance Officer at MHR. 

CBZ Holdings is a financial services conglomerate that is listed on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange. It owns subsidiaries whose activities are banking, short- and long-term insurance, risk advisory, asset management, agro-yield, property investments and mortgage finance.

It’s been an extraordinarily difficult year for many. How have you navigated the COVID-19 pandemic and the challenges it’s presented CBZ with?

The COVID-19 pandemic has compelled CBZ Holding to renegotiate its business view and its way of doing business. In this regard, the Group is working towards becoming “an Intelligent Enterprise” as it shifts from top-down decision-making by:

Bank Operations

Staff Welfare

Stake Holders Engagement

Has the pandemic sped up digitalisation in the banking sector in Zimbabwe?

The banking sector in Zimbabwe had already embraced digitalisation. The challenge faced was mainly on the part of customers that were not keen to adapt to digital banking as they preferred visiting the bank for their transactions. The pandemic sped up customers’ adaptation whilst the banks took advantage to improve processes and systems for complete digitalisation. Some of the innovations that we introduced were:

Digitalisation is expected to result in bank closure branches in Zimbabwe in 2021. How is CBZ dealing with this?

With the uptake of digitalisation and most staff working from home, it made business sense for CBZ to close a number of its branches. We converted 2 branches to Money Transfer Agents for diaspora remittances collections and some branches were converted to Agencies. We are set to open virtual branches as we drive to reduce the approximately 42 brick and mortar branches we have countrywide. The first virtual branch is expected to be operational by the last quarter of 2021.

The pandemic sped up customers’ adaptation whilst the banks took advantage to improve processes and systems for complete digitalisation.

What do you expect for the rest of 2021? Do you think we can put the current crisis behind us?

When the pandemic crisis presented itself in the first quarter of 2020, it never occurred to us that we would still be here a year and a half later. Therefore, as a business, we continue to build resilience amid the COVID-19 pandemic through:

    • Managing risk, capital and liquidity.
    • Employee health and wellness.
    • Implementing client relief plans.
    • Preserving and creating value to maintain a strong balance sheet.
    • Effective communication across stakeholders and staff.
    • Supporting communities.

What pops into your mind when you think about payroll services? Probably making some complicated calculations in the massive number of worksheets. However nowadays, as the technology evolves day by day, like every other business domain, personnel management, workforce planning as well as alignment with the accounting process are being enhanced and re-designed with new generation software as a service (SaaS) platforms.

Payroll is more than a calculation of paycheck. Rather, it is a secure form of the income statement that is both critical for the employer and the employee. It is a simple yet highly technical field of expertise and may have resulted in legal penalties and burdens on the employer if the payroll process is not managed correctly. Because payroll calculation includes income tax, other tax calculations, and withholdings, as well as considering benefits like premiums, expense reimbursement, health insurance, and so on.

If you are a small business owner or an HR or Administration responsible working in a small business, to avoid wasting too much time each month for a specific task, and to find a solution with an affordable budget, the best payroll services may be the software solutions for your case.

Software as Service (SaaS) payroll solutions will benefit you in terms of time and save your money that might otherwise be wasted in outsource payroll companies or hiring personnel dedicated to this, which indeed cost more than a subscription to payroll software.

Automatic Payroll Calculation and Tax Features

For a small business with a limited number of full-time employees, payroll service software may be seen as the best payroll service option to choose from.

Payroll is more than a calculation of paycheck. Rather, it is a secure form of the income statement that is both critical for the employer and the employee.

They offer automated payroll calculation along with the necessary legal tax calculations such as income tax as well as manage financial reflection of benefits like health insurance and overtime payments.

You can calculate the payroll of your employees quickly and do not have to deal with complicated menu bars.

Adjusted to company size

Most of the payroll services online offer you several plans which can be adjusted and customised based on your employee number and needs. When choosing the one among the best payroll services that fit your company, please bear in mind to control their policies, whether they ask fee per person or a certain limit or they demand an extra fee for part-time employee payments which occur irregularly. If they have payroll limits per month and you have too many variables changing at each monthly period, then you should search for the best payroll service that provides more flexible options.

Workforce Management

If your company operates based on shifts, managing schedules and employee working hours is a big deal, especially considering that the best payroll services come with built-in HR tools such as workforce planning, automated shift planning, and platforms for personal agendas which would be a beneficial asset.

Through this feature, if you need it, you can see your daily schedule, which will reduce the rate of errors. Special reports as per company unit, date range, and type of employee, and monthly shift reports for employees may also be produced.

Integration to Company Software

Whether you have a digital service company or a business that has brick and mortar stores, you will have several other pieces of software to execute your business ranging from CRM tools and financial dashboards to procurement and shipping platforms. Particularly, the integration of payroll tools to accounting software or existing workforce management or HR tools such as SAP will be a crucial factor when deciding for the best payroll service for your company.


Why is SaaS the best payroll service solution?

  They are affordable and a smart decision for a small business compared to a full-time expert or outsourcing.

  On a single screen, you can do all your calculations.

  In real-time, you can monitor the payrolls and share them with the accounting department or legal party.

  You will not get lost in complicated menus.

  They complete payroll calculations quicker because of these properties.

  Simplify with one click the entire shift schedule.

  Online recording of all payroll payments, expenditures, promotions, incentives, and bonuses.

  An online framework to control leaves and shifts

  Each worker can have his or her account, demand leave, and oversee their shifts or overtime hours.

  Manage  I-9s, part-time W-2 workers, 1099 contractors, and freelancers.

To Sum Up

Payrolls must consist entirely of accurate statistics. The payrolls must be properly maintained and preserved in the case of court proceedings concerning the employee and the employer since they are valuable evidence. For this purpose, efficient and smart payroll software, instead of the effort, money, time, and manual labor spent on complex files, is a very practical solution among the best payroll services on the market, particularly for small companies.

Robert Douglas, Europe Planning Director at Workday Adaptive Planning, explains how effective digitalisaiton has been a lifeline for finance teams in the wake of the pandemic.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, chief financial officers (CFOs) around the world were thrust into uncharted territory. All previous plans went off the table, and businesses’ ability to make rapid and data-driven decisions in the face of uncertainty have been put to the test ever since. Agility took on a new meaning in the age of COVID.

In a recent survey, hundreds of CFOs around the world were asked to share what their priorities have been in the immediate response to the pandemic and how they will change over the next year. Predictably, cost containment and workforce planning has been front of mind for many in the short term. However, looking a year ahead, the implementation of digital transformation will be a growing priority.

As finance looks at how it can improve the way in which it can assist executives throughout the organisation with quick and confident decision-making, the implementation and use of sophisticated digital technologies will indeed play a key role. While finance has been slower than others at embracing digitalisation, COVID-19 has made the importance of it abundantly clear and is acting as a catalyst for much needed change.

The case for digital transformation

More than half (54%) of CFOs currently report that their organisation has implemented some aspect of digital transformation. This includes moving IT infrastructure to the cloud, automating nonstrategic tasks, establishing a ‘single source of truth’ through data optimisation, and using predictive analytics powered by artificial intelligence.

The benefits of making these changes are clear, with around three quarters of CFOs overseeing a digitally transformed finance team being confident in both their teams’ capacity to carry out all critical finance functions (79%) and the accuracy of their two-year P&L forecast (73%). Only around 40% of CFOs from less digitalised organisations say the same.

While finance has been slower than others at embracing digitalisation, COVID-19 has made the importance of it abundantly clear and is acting as a catalyst for much needed change.

Digital transformation also gives finance teams the agility needed to operate in the current climate. The strengthening of data accuracy and automation of much of the analysis means that teams can more easily lay out multiple future scenarios for the business and help executives devise strategies for how to adapt to them as early as possible. While not everything can be predicted or planned for, the time it takes to readjust to surprises is shortened. As important, it underscores the great divide between organisations that have embraced digital transformation and those that have not.

Why the lag?

In terms of what has slowed down digital transformation for many CFOs, the prioritisation of crisis management in the face of COVID-19 is just one piece of the puzzle—many would have been stalling anyway.

When asked what is hindering digital transformation in their businesses, the two leading roadblocks are lack of skills and internal resistance to change. While overcoming both of those obstacles might be challenging, the good news is that CFOs have it in their power to do so.

CFOs need to work closely with HR to determine how to acquire the necessary skills to use modern financial planning software and strike the optimal balance between recruiting new staff and reskilling current employees. At the same time, it is crucial for finance leaders to set a positive example, by experimenting with new technologies and empowering employees to proactively highlight areas of inefficiency or untapped value that can be improved by establishing news ways of working or investing in new solutions.


The time is now

Transforming the finance function is not an easy task, but now more than ever it is necessary to both bolster productivity within finance and prepare the organisation for unforeseen challenges. Thankfully, almost all finance teams that have not digitally transformed their ways of working over the past year plan on doing so over the next. This will benefit their businesses and make the economy overall more robust in its response to crises.

Steve Watmore, Payroll and HR Product Manager at Sage, outlines how firms will need to prepare for the end of the government's support scheme.

The Job Retention Scheme, introduced in April, has been a lifeline for many employers and employees facing the harsh reality of lockdown halting business and operations; total figures from HMRC on claims for the furlough scheme top out at an incredible £31.7 billion as of 26 July.

However, the scheme is not an endless pot; its expiration date has been set for 31 October, and this month marks the beginning of increased costs for employers who now must cover National Insurance and pension contributions. In addition, there will be tapering on the government wage contributions for the scheme from September onwards. In this step-by-step guide we will take a look at what your business can do to effectively respond to the upcoming changes to the scheme that has helped businesses across sectors survive and revive through these difficult times.

1. Find out more about the latest changes and how they affect you

The latest HMRC release details the changes for August through to October that will affect businesses across the UK.

Employers need to plan for cost increases of around £300 per employee from 1 August onwards, since the government will no longer cover national insurance and minimum auto-enrolment pension scheme contributions. In September and October, the employer will have to increase their contributions as the government gradually removes support.

Hypothetically, with cumulative costs shown in brackets, an employer with a furloughed employee on maximum contributions of £2,500 will need to first start paying the employee National Insurance costs in August (c. £300), then account for 10% reduction on government wage contributions in September (c. £600), as well as a further 10% reduction in October (c. £900). The employer will then need to take a view after the scheme dissipates to see whether keeping employees on the payroll is sustainable.

Employers need to plan for cost increases of around £300 per employee from 1 August onwards, since the government will no longer cover national insurance and minimum auto-enrolment pension scheme contributions.

With these changes in mind, we advise that your first step should be to reassess financial and internal communication plans, using government insight as a springboard. Direction can first be taken from HMRC which will help delineate the differences between August, September and October payroll.

2. Involve your employees in plans for recovery

The ONS create a weekly report pulling out stats on Coronavirus and its social impacts. Data from 22 to 26 July shows that 54% of working adults reported they have travelled to work in the previous week. So, as businesses look to open their doors returning to some sort of “normal”, and welcome employees back to the office, this is a chance for employees to play a role in reimagining the business going forward.

In order to get employees to participate in recovery, leaders can initiate new business drives or restrategising sessions and shepherd departmental involvement. Sage has researched into the advisory value that different skills and roles can offer – the fourth annual ‘Practice of Now’ report published in 2020 found that 79% of survey respondents are confident about providing business management and advisory services like cash flow management. In addition, 75% are confident about providing industry-specific advice for clients, such as standard profit margins. 73% are confident about providing technology implementation recommendations like AI and automation. While this demonstrates accountancy can add value to services provided to clients, it also shows that it’s important to use some of that keen insight for internal processes.

Employees who have close knowledge of cash flow can help restructure businesses in the coming months and years; encouraging the involvement of employees to advisory roles outside their normal work will help businesses mould themselves to fit the changed contours of the business landscape.

3. Prepare for future uncertainty by investing in technology

Accounting software from a good partner or software supplier helps avoid costly and damaging errors. Awareness of the HMRC guides and rules will be key, coupled with salient use of technology to find the right figures from your payroll and help initiate processes like payment in lieu.

Accounting software from a good partner or software supplier helps avoid costly and damaging errors.

In order to make the right calculations and adjust payments and payroll accordingly, technology can help provide precise accounting. Payroll software can automatically adjust to the changing reclaim values, compensating for the government removing NIC contributions in August, then the reduction of the September government contribution to wages to 70% of normal gross, then finally with October government wage contributions going down to 60%.

Our third piece of advice would be to invest in the right technology for your organisation; it can help improve the efficiency and productivity – especially important in today’s society. Great tech can help to reduce errors within your business and understand your data more to enable you to respond and react better to demands.

Preparation is key and with these growing costs, businesses need to also assess whether they’ll be generating revenue to accommodate shortfall or have enough work for the employees. Payroll and accounting technology can help provide data and estimations on when companies will be back in the black.

4. Organise the HR side of the change

The key to a successful transition involves mastering the behind the scenes of payroll, knowing the letter of the law and ensuring there is a clear channel of communication between employees, managers, and the accounting department.

Employees need to be aware of the JRS claim periods, alterations to employment contracts, where they stand if they are a freelancer following the end of the scheme, how things like holiday pay is calculated and how the tapering of the scheme will affect them.

For many businesses, fixed costs have not gone away. Rent, rates utilities will all have been accrued costs through this time. For some, supply chain issues or increased costs after full lockdown can also have significant impact on operating margins. It is likely that new contingency plans around maintaining the workforce need to be considered, which unfortunately does include redundancy.


Employees will need clear communication and guidance during this time in order to help them understand how their payroll and payslips may change, and what steps they may need to take. With the weighty impact of the furlough scheme, companies need to be more cognisant of changes to shift patterns, salaries and probation periods; business leaders need to keep a tight control on finances and internal communication now more than ever.

Last, but not certainly least, supporting your employees through these tough and uncertain times is critical. Offer guidance and care to those that have been affected negatively – establishing wellbeing and support systems that will help deal with difficult transition that are to come as the furlough scheme ends.

Looking ahead

The government introduced the Job Retention Scheme to help mitigate the negative effects of lockdown and let businesses freeze operations to play a waiting game.

Now businesses need to get back into gear and plan for the future. The four key steps we recommend taking to ensure your business remains efficient, effective and prepared for the next phase of the furlough scheme are:

Michelle Shelton, Product Planning Director at MHR, explores how crisis management can be improved through automated solutions.

In any business, people are your biggest asset and your biggest cost.

It is why amid the turmoil of the coronavirus lockdown, business continuity has rightly focused on providing full support to millions of employees working from home.

The danger is that functions such as payroll and HR find themselves overlooked or overburdened. There’s often an assumption that these departments run on rails no matter what happens.

When almost everyone works from home, however, payroll and HR can be overwhelmed by the volume of queries about pay, expenses, bonuses, commissions, and the limitless range of concerns employees have about sickness pay, curtailment of earnings, family matters, and so on. This is compounded by changes in government legislation or rules about furlough or holidays that need to be considered. What is the right response from a technology perspective?

Cloud-Based Applications Are Proving Their Worth

It is imperative, therefore, that payroll and HR staff have access to the applications they use daily, so basic functions remain operational and they continue communicating across the business. But many organisations have found, to their cost, that remote working is not just a matter of lifting and shifting from the office to the home. A survey of companies with more than 1,000 employees last year found 52% were still using spreadsheets for payroll admin and more than a third were using paper timesheets. This is almost impossible to run effectively with a remote workforce. Businesses that have bespoke payroll systems operating from on-premises servers are suffering almost as badly, because these vital applications are now inaccessible.

The plain fact is that for many company payroll and HR departments there will be no alternative to the adoption of new, cloud-based applications that boost collaboration and streamline efficiency.

Implementation is swift. A major software and outsourcing provider with 650 employees has been able to shift to full remote working in three days, transacting more than 50 payroll functions quickly and seamlessly.


Saving Thousands of Hours

A good example, from more normal times, is Swinton Insurance, which has 4,000 employees across the UK. It saved 132 working days through automation of absence authorisation and the introduction of digital payslips, having previously depended on spreadsheets. All the difficulties of employee queries and the confusion about the combination of pay and benefits were resolved through adoption of a cloud platform. The company’s HR department made the transition from a highly transactional unit to one helping drive up performance across the business.

Chatbots and Voicebots Offer Employees Instant Answers

Payroll and HR should also consider deploying chatbots and virtual assistant-type voicebots to help relieve them of the time-consuming burden of repetitive queries about pay and employment matters when employees are stuck at home. Within 24 hours it is possible to have a chatbot capable of answering 50 common queries. A more advanced cloud-based platform will offer these technologies. Employees can even upload receipts with a quick smartphone photograph, automating the administration of expenses claims and making the whole process much easier.

As the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic continues to spread there has been a worrying rise in harassment, bullying, and discrimination in the workplace. Initially, this was seen to be race-related - targeting people of Asian origin - but has since spread to include people who expressed symptoms of the virus. Now as large swathes of the global workforce move to a working from home model, employers are faced with a new challenge - that the vector for workplace discrimination will shift in parallel with the main mode of communication. Neta Meidav, co-founder & CEO of Vault Platform, explores this phenomenon below.

Tasked not only with rapidly implementing a company-wide working from home strategy to keep businesses that are still operational up and running, many HR functions are also operationally responsible for mass layoffs all while building a crisis information and communication plan out. Bluntly, HR teams are maxed out and will struggle to field a rising number of queries about the new workplace etiquette.

Law firm Lewis Silkin LLP estimates that around 59% of large multinational enterprises have already put into place a plan to respond to pandemic diseases such as Coronavirus. Typical measures include social distancing and remote working arrangements. The majority (88%) of are managing self-isolation by asking employees to work from home.

It’s difficult to actually get a handle on the number of people whose jobs allow them to work fully remotely, especially with such an unprecedented situation. But cloud security services firm Netskope, which routes corporate traffic for hundreds of thousands of office workers said it estimates that the number of American knowledge workers (white collar desk workers) logging in from home hit a high of 58% on March 19. This is up from an average of 27% over the last six months.

While there may be some anecdotal evidence that the untested shift to an emergency working form model is in fact working, it is early days and there is plenty of research that points to warnings we should all be heeding.

Bluntly, HR teams are maxed out and will struggle to field a rising number of queries about the new workplace etiquette.

A 2017 study by David Maxfield and Joseph Grenny for leadership training consultancy VitalSmarts found that just over half of people who work mostly remotely feel they don’t get treated equally by their colleagues. Now the obvious retort is that ‘we’re all remote workers now,’ so the playing field is levelled. But research suggests the problem is more with the medium than whether workers fall into the ‘in office’ or ‘WFH’ camps.

Some 30% of UK respondents to a survey by Totaljobs in 2018 said they had been victims of workplace discrimination on official corporate messaging platforms, such as Slack, Microsoft Teams, or Google Chat. In the US, a 2019 survey by revealed that 39% of respondents had received aggressive messages from colleagues on similar tools.

Cyber-bullying has been well documented for some time and remains as persistent in the corporate workplace as it does in schools and colleges. A recent high-profile case focuses on the departure of the CEO of leading consumer brand Away after an exposé of bullying culture over Slack.

The revelations of Away are an anomaly - most incidents go unreported. The same studies show that 30% of workers in the UK (according to Totaljobs) and 34% in the US (according to who do experience cyberbullying suffer in silence because they are not confident they will be supported by their employer. Lloyds of London was exposed in December last year after their complaint hotlines were proved to be inoperative for 16 months due to unpaid phone bills, and in 2018 the Financial Conduct Authority put senior managers on notice that their futures in the City were at risk if they did not take diversity seriously, while companies faced fines after a 220% increase in interpersonal whistleblowing complaints over the previous 12 months. According to Totaljobs, around 8% find it easier to leave their jobs than to complain and request an investigation into the situation.


Digital workers are disincentivised from reporting workplace misconduct in the same way as employees that spend all their time in the physical presence of their colleagues. Firstly, the available channels for reporting misconduct are intimidating; and secondly, they don’t feel confident their employer will act on the report.

But the fact remains that employers are legally obliged to protect their workers and that responsibility doesn’t change because they are now out of sight. While ethically, employers should take more care during these uncertain times.

To hear about Employee Benefits in the US, Finance Monthly reached out to Tiffany Kapp, Managing Partner at Custom Business Solutions (CBS) - Professional Employer Organisation (PEO) located in Southern West Virginia.

Tell us about the services that CBS and other PEOs offer.

Professional Employer Organisations typically provide services that help streamline essential administrative business functions, so our clients can focus on being successful and profitable.

As a PEO, CBS can pool all our clients’ employees into one large group and in return, we can then offer large group rates. We administer the employee benefits and relieve the employer of the burden of open enrolment, reconciliation and termination of benefits.

CBS enables clients to cost-effectively outsource the management of human resources, employee benefits, payroll, workers’ compensation, risk management, safety management, training and development.

What are the minimum legal requirements regarding employee benefit plans in West Virginia?

A small group can be as little as two employees. However, the small group rates are based on age and tobacco use. Joining a PEO allows a small group to be pulled into a large group with blended rates.

Could you talk us through recent legislative changes in the Professional Employer Organisation landscape?

The Small Business Efficiency Act of 2014 required the IRS to establish a certification program for PEOs. This act affects the employment tax liabilities of both the PEO and its customers and is something that gives structure to the PEO industry. CBS is currently in the process of becoming certified through the IRS.

What is some statistical evidence that you can provide on the benefits of using a PEO?

The PEO Industry has grown significantly over the past 30 years. According to a recent study noted by economists Laurie Bassi and Dan McMurrer, a business that uses a PEO has 10 to 14% lower employee turnover, grows 7 to 9% faster and is 50% less likely to go out of business.


Contact details:


Telephone: 681-238-5732

Oracle and the MIT Technology Review recently released a new study that highlights the importance of collaboration between finance and human resources (HR) teams with a unified cloud. The study, Finance and HR: The Cloud’s New Power Partnership, outlines how a holistic view into finance and HR information, delivered via cloud technology, empowers organizations to better manage continuous change.

Based on a global survey of 700 C-level executives and finance, HR, and IT managers, the study found that a shared finance and HR cloud system is a critical component of successful cloud transformation initiatives. Among the benefits of integrating enterprise resource planning (ERP) and human capital management (HCM) systems is easier tracking and forecasting of employee costs for budgeting purposes. Additionally, integrated HCM and ERP cloud systems improve collaboration between departments, with 37 percent of respondents noting that they use the cloud to improve the way data is shared.

The report also reveals the human factors behind a successful cloud implementation, with employees’ ability to adapt to change standing out as critical. Among organizations that have fully deployed the cloud, almost half (46 percent) say they have seen their ability to reshape or resize the organization improve significantly – as do 47 percent of C-level respondents.

The productivity benefits have also been significant. Nearly one-third of respondents (31 percent) say they spend less time doing manual work within their department as a result of moving to the cloud and that the automation of processes has freed up time to work toward larger strategic priorities.

“As finance and HR increasingly lead strategic organizational transformation, ROI comes not only with financial savings for the organization, but also from the new insights and visibility into the business HR and finance gain with the cloud. People are at the heart of any company’s success and this is why we are seeing finance and HR executives lead cloud transformation initiatives,” said Dee Houchen, Senior Director of ERP Solutions at Oracle. “In addition, improved collaboration between departments enables organizations to manage the changes ahead and sets the blueprint for the rest of the organization’s cloud shift.”

The survey also reveals there is a blurring of lines between functions and individual roles as the cloud increasingly ties back office systems together:

Andy Campbell, HCM Strategy Director at Oracle added: “As organizations navigate technological changes, it’s critical for the C-suite to empower its employees to evolve their individual business acumen. Many businesses understand this and it’s encouraging to see 42 percent planning to provide their teams with management skills training to help them break out of their traditional back-office roles. The learnings from the move of finance and HR to the cloud will ultimately spread across the organization as, together, they conceptualize the shape of the next disruption.”

(Source: Oracle)

It’s true to say that the role of HR in the modern business landscape is shifting, as modern workplace culture continues to be re-defined.

Millennials have challenged the status quo of the conventional workplace, and HR has responded by implementing a ‘customer-centric’ approach, aiming to consistently provide a great employee experience.

This has led to a more relaxed approach, and traditional HR functions being combined such as recruitment, retention and development with the creation of a unique office culture and communications, marketing, branding and social responsibility.

But while it’s down to HR professionals to help drive this ethos, it cannot be at the cost of legal HR obligations. The common pitfalls, particularly for start-ups or SME’s with little knowledge or experience of HR is actually the most basic administration. Such as providing a water tight, comprehensive employee contract and statement of particulars, which at their most basic should include details of salary, hours of work, holiday entitlement and notice periods. If you are dealing with your HR in-house, it is best practice to have a professional over-see these legal documents as a preventative approach to disputes.

Thanks to a political and media spotlight on a global level, migrants and working rights has come under scrutiny. This is an area that businesses need to make a priority because ultimately, they take the full brunt of consequences for employing individuals that didn’t have a right to work, their leave had expired, they were employed for work they were not allowed to carry out or if their documents were false.

The result is hefty fines and damage to your brand – and the latter can prove to be just as costly. In 2015 the fines issued by the Home Office equated to £21.6 million, and it wasn’t just small companies that have been found guilty of employing illegal workers; Tesco’s has previously been fined for employing foreign students who were breaking the conditions of their visas.

Millennial’s and modern culture has also seen a shift in the way that many businesses recruit, and the entire recruitment process. Out are the questions with a very specific ‘right or wrong’ style of answer; while experience and qualifications are not completely dismissed, progressive employers want to find a culture fit and an alignment of values and vision to ensure the arrangement is mutually beneficial. Aspects such as technology and social media are driving the change (while also throwing up some tricky situations of their own!) ,but recruiters need to remain vigilant in their processes in order to guarantee that they are not acting in a discriminatory manner – whether they are aware of it or not.

To shed some light on the most common areas that businesses fail, we have created an interactive quiz that aims to shed some light on where your business could be falling short in its HR practices.

Powered by Bradfield HR

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