Five payroll weaknesses exposed by Covid-19

25th Aug 2021
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When the Covid-19 pandemic first started and lockdowns began to hit, this was a business threat that very few payroll providers had truly planned for. Only 12% of organisations were highly prepared for the pandemic, according to research by Gartner – and the severity of the disruption caught many payroll bureaus and accounting firms on the hop.

Without a modern payroll software at the heart of the practice, and faced with large periods of time where none of your staff could work from the office, the pandemic became a significant obstacle to keeping the wheels turning in your bureau or practice.

But why was the need to work remotely such an obstacle? And how could switching to BrightPay have made lockdown a whole lot easier for the average outsourced payroll provider?

1. No ability to work remotely

The most pressing obstacle for most payroll providers was lockdown itself. Once the first lockdown was in place, the majority of office-based workers were forced to work from home. Teams that were used to operating from one central office had to instantly switch to a ‘working from home’ model, presenting both a logistical and an operational challenge.

When your payroll software is located on a desktop machine in your office HQ, with no remote access, that makes managing your client’s payroll impossible to achieve.

To overcome this, you need:

  • Each employee to work independently from their own laptop

  • The ability to access client’s payroll information remotely from any location

  • Payroll software that regularly syncs with a master payroll file.

2. No way to back-up your payroll data

If you were used to backing up your main payroll files to an in-house server or back-up device, being stuck in lockdown was problematic. Even with clients emailing payroll information directly to your laptop or mobile device, there was no way to automatically upload all this information to the central payroll file, or to then back up this information safely and securely.

To remedy this, you need:

  • Cloud-based back-ups that take place automatically in the background

  • Centralised storage of all data off-site, and accessible in the cloud

  • Simple and straightforward ways to sync each team member’s work with the main files.

3. No means of communicating face-to-face with staff and clients

There have been many advantages and disadvantages of remote working, but one key negative impact has been our inability to socialise, meet and talk with other people. When a busy, sociable office team is forced to work in isolation, this has a marked impact on our mental health, our concentration levels and our ability to communicate well.

To limit the disruptive impact:

  • Make use of video meetings and catch-ups with clients to promote good communication

  • Use online messaging like Slack or WhatsApp to help the team stay in touch

  • Provide access to cloud-based payroll reporting, so team members and clients can both view the same numbers in real time.

4. No means of offering clients a cloud portal

For your practice to run a client’s payroll, the client must provide the timesheet information, pay rates and holiday requests that need to be entered into the system. If your process for doing this was to key the information in yourself, at the office, then the constrictions of lockdown and closed offices will have made this task extremely difficult.

To provide a workable solution:

  • Choose a payroll platform that offers a cloud-based client service portal

  • Allow the clients to key in and upload their own payroll information

  • Offer an employee self-service hub for downloading payslips and booking holidays

  • Sync the client’s data with your main payroll file to instantly update your information.

5. Furlough work impacting on workload and budgets

A major impact of the Covid pandemic, for payroll, has been the administration of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (or the ‘furlough scheme’ as we now call it). Processing your clients’ furlough claims has created an administrative workload that was almost certainly not included in your 2020 planning. And with many providers undervaluing the pricing of their payroll service, furlough has had a significant impact on resourcing and margins.

The practices that were ready for furlough:

  • Used a payroll platform that could push out furlough-specific software updates 

  • Had furlough templates available and guidance on how to calculate furlough claims

  • Had integrations with clients’ accounting software to simplify the recordkeeping

  • Spent less time getting furlough claims completed and more time with their clients.

BrightPay: The perfect payroll platform for remote working

We don’t have a crystal ball to predict these world-changing events and pandemics, but we do offer a modern payroll platform that makes remote payroll a reality.

BrightPay offers:

  1. Remote working for your staff – team members can work from home on their own laptops and sync their payroll files with the main master file in the cloud. So, you can easily manage and run client payrolls remotely, without being in the office.

  2. Cloud-based employer and employee hubsBrightPay Connect offers an Employer Dashboard that lets clients upload and view their own payroll information, and an Employee Self Service app so employees can view and download their payslips.

  3. Software that’s regularly updated – BrightPay sends out regular software updates, a feature that allows us to respond to new events and include new features, templates and processes – keeping your practice flexible in unpredictable times.

If you want to be ready for all circumstances, BrightPay is the ideal payroll platform to rely on.

Try a 60-day FREE trial of BrightPay and see what you were missing during the pandemic