Digital HRHR TechnologyHow technology has transformed payroll automation

How technology has transformed payroll automation

Completely automated payroll is possible. No more errors and perfect accuracy every time. David Crewe, Head of Managed Service, MHR provides his thoughts on payroll in this exciting age of technology and automation.

Amazon and Google have been leading the market in smart tech, allowing users to make voice commands to control their music, their heating and even turn the kettle on. It’s bound to be an area of continuing expansion as market competition increases due to the popularity of automation. Who wants to actually get off the sofa, or out of bed, just to turn the kettle on when it’s going to take a few minutes to boil anyway…


Automation makes our lives easier, and in most cases, machines have proved to be more accurate and precise when carrying out tasks. However, despite the benefits, the use of automation in the business world seems to be a lot slower than the progress being made in our home lives. Why aren’t we simply yelling out, “Alexa, run my payroll” and letting machines take over our boring admin tasks?

Automation within payroll processes isn’t exactly new. For years, users have been able to automatically calculate the formulas required to pay salaries each payroll cycle, such as deducting pension and national insurance contributions. Payroll services have found a variety of ways to offer software that makes running payroll a little bit quicker, and a little bit easier. We’ve thrown away the paper timesheets, and moved on to digital system, right?

Perhaps not… current digital systems require payroll teams to log in to their system, input data (often using spreadsheets), and manually make changes or alter batches to run reports. A variety of ad-hoc tasks would also need to be manually processed such as running earnings per share (EPS) for each tax office. With an average of two mistakes every 100 entries, these digital systems are failing to offer the accuracy automation is supposed to bring, especially when you’re dealing with hundreds and thousands of employees who all need to be paid accurately – with a strict deadline to meet!

But what’s the alternative, you can’t actually get technology like Alexa to help run your transactional business processes… or can you?

At MHR, we’ve taken payroll automation to the next level. We’re first to market to develop a solution that completely automates our payroll processes, removing the need for any human involvement whatsoever – our analysts don’t even have to log in. Our system automatically calculates and performs payroll runs for hundreds of outsourced customers simultaneously. This technology has improved the speed and accuracy of payroll cycles, saving time and money for both our organisation and our customers. Our analysts are now free to run bespoke checks to flag any errors, before they occur, and keep up with compliance changes, as well as offering advice to our customers about novel ways to use their people data. As a result, our customer service is much better as our employees have time to address our customers’ individual needs and queries, rather than being too busy at the end of every week or month when the payroll needs running.

Businesses may not realise the benefits this level of automation can provide. It may seem like a gimmick or something that is nice to have but far from essential, especially when you consider the costs of moving your current processes to an external supplier (although this is often cheaper than maintaining internal infrastructure). You may even be against the idea, for fear it could lead to redundancies within payroll teams. Look how controversial self-service check-outs were when they first appeared.

However, recent research conducted by MHR found that 50% of large, private organisations are still using spreadsheets leading to mistakes in at least 1 in every 4 payroll runs. It turns out that despite investing in digital systems, the processes within organisations are still archaic, relying on manual data input via spreadsheets… and some were still using paper! Not only does this manual, transactional way of working take up a huge amount of your employees’ time, but the money wasted from these human and administrative errors is huge – affecting employee morale and reducing productivity.

This isn’t good enough anymore. With so many innovations and new technology available on the market, businesses need to get better and finding ways to use technology to better enable their employees. With more efficient, easier to use systems, employee productivity can skyrocket, which has been proved to increase profits and growth.

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