When the Covid-19 lockdown began, The Economist claimed this pandemic would thrust HR and its leaders into the spotlight. It suggested chief people officers would need to play a role similar to that of the CFO following the financial crisis of 2007-2009. “Never before have more firms needed a hard-headed HR boss,” it stated.

Given the upheaval we’ve seen since, it would be hard not to agree with that assessment. HR leaders have been working tirelessly to keep workforces going – through what has been, for many, the toughest working climate in their living memory.

They have had to manage the concerns of unsettled employees and answer endless questions about working conditions and safety. This has all been done while official guidance, be that scientific or governmental, was constantly changing – as lockdown conditions evolved and the economy was tentatively reopened.

When it has come to the subject of furloughs and possible redundancies, they have been the spokespeople on the frontline. Where the impact of the crisis has forced hard decisions affecting the workforce, they have needed to enable this to happen at speed.

With so many moving parts, and the consequences of inaction having such devasting potential, it’s been essential for HR to feel confident they are basing decisions on accurate workforce information, which could be analysed and acted upon in an instance.

Requests for people data from senior decision makers has increased by 74% during the pandemic

Our new research, in partnership with Circal, has found that 82% of HR leaders use people data to inform their strategic decision making – and requests for this data, from senior decision makers, has increased by 74% throughout the crisis. So, this information has needed to be both available and reliable.

Where this has been the case, HR teams have also been able to engage with anxious employees and answer a cacophony of questions around how decisions taken higher up in the business will impact work, pay, benefits, hours, etc.

This data allows organisations to act quickly and with clarity – and successfully maintain the confidence of the workforce. A Gallup poll found that where businesses have been able to communicate a clear plan during the crisis trust remains high, at 57%. But where they haven’t, it has slipped to 28% during 2020.

The ability to communicate clearly can be compromised, however, when organisations have deployed numerous systems to serve multiple HR and payroll functions – especially if these systems are producing conflicting data.

There’s nothing wrong with deploying best of breed tools for each task, but it is essential that those systems integrate seamlessly, and are producing one version of the data.

5 major benefits

Having a ‘single source of truth’ provides significant benefits that will assist HR, payroll and transformation leaders and their teams, as organisations seek to emerge from this global pandemic.

These benefits include

1. Automatic compliance – When systems are integrated it allows for the deployment of self-serve portals that enable employees to see their personal information and update their own details – ensuring automatic compliance with data regulations.

2. Resources are freed – When HR and payroll teams no longer need to update different systems with similar information, you eliminate the duplication of manually keying tasks and free up resources for other activities.

3. Greater accuracy – If data only needs to be keyed in once this also reduces the potential for conflicting information between different HR and payroll systems – and also eradicates the time teams waste trying to resolve the problems this creates.

4. Quality reports – When you can trust the data, and it is readily available, the quality of the reports produced is greatly enhanced. If you’re not waiting to collate or verify information, you can also act faster and have greater faith in the actions taken.

  1. 5. Enhanced employee engagement – When HR and payroll have all the data to hand, they can communicate with greater certainty – which is vital at a time when you need to maintain the confidence of the workforce.

With a single version of the truth, it’s easier to gain an overall picture of what’s happening and this allows organisations to be decisive. And, at a time when we are trying to steer businesses out of one of the most difficult situations we have ever encountered, an ability to act with conviction is vital.

We’re offering a free Operational Efficiency Review, which will provide you with a complete overview of how your HR, payroll and workforce management solutions and processes are working together. This will help you to spot areas of risk and identify opportunities to become more resilient. Learn more about the Operational Efficiency Review here.

This post was originally posted on the SD Worx website here. They are an exhibitor on the HRTech247 Payroll and HCM floors. You can visit their HRTech247 exhibition stand here.