Human Capital Management, Time + Attendance

The Human Element in Payroll and Time & Attendance: Striking the Right Balance

September 05, 2023

While HR technology and automation have revolutionized payroll and time tracking, maintaining a human touch is essential for maximizing the benefits of these processes. Integrating personalized interactions, effective communication, and employee empowerment can significantly enhance employee engagement, morale, and overall company performance. Striking the right balance between automation and human interaction is the key to creating a harmonious and efficient payroll and HR system that fosters a motivated and loyal workforce.

In this article, we’ll explore the potential downsides of an overreliance on automation and AI, and offer advice on how to implement best practices to sustain or improve employee engagement and satisfaction through personalized HR management.

Personalized Interactions: Why the “Human” in Human Resources is More Important than Ever

Although advances in automation and AI tools have benefitted payroll and time & attendance processes, the COVID-19 pandemic revealed how crucial human communication (and participation) is in sustaining organizational morale, employee retention, and employee satisfaction. During the pandemic, HR professionals played a critical role within organizations: keeping employees engaged with their employer, their fellow team members, and spearheading efforts to provide workforces with increased benefits, perks, and wellness offerings. 

Many of the acute challenges of the pandemic are no longer present, but human HR staff continue to play a critical role, especially as many organizations have adopted remote or hybrid-at-will work arrangements for employees. This change is appealing for many employees and current job seekers on an individual level, but presents significant workforce management challenges for employers. Human HR staff continue to play an integral role in keeping workforces connected, synergistic and productive. HR professionals play a leading role in helping employees feel valued, supported, and meaningfully connected despite operating within varying schedules and in varying locations. These efforts are particularly important as recent Gallup surveys reveal that just 33% of current full- and part-time employees “feel engaged” at work, while 16% report that they feel “actively disengaged.”

On a concrete level, human HR staff can comfortably and confidently address any issue or request that arises from an employee concerning payroll or timekeeping. In the event of a question, misunderstanding, or dispute regarding overtime, PTO, direct deposit information, or another concern, an employee’s direct and helpful interaction with a professional HR staff member can mean the difference between improved employee satisfaction/productivity and an employee’s resignation due to the lack of genuine, attentive, empathetic concern from someone within the organization. The fact that 94% of employees are more productive when they feel connected to their coworkers extends to HR-related interactions, where access to and familiarity with HR staff can create a greater sense of trust, transparency, and support across the organization.

Effective Communication: The Upsides (and Downsides) of Automation & How to Use it as a Complementary Tool

Automation and AI tools can make routine, redundant, or tedious HR tasks much simpler, significantly reducing the need for manual data entry while creating greater efficiency, accuracy, and speed in processing large volumes of data and employee information related to payroll and time & attendance. Compliance monitoring is improved as well, with built-in notifications and jurisdiction-specific parameters set for identifying inaccuracies or informational discrepancies within HR management platforms.

All of these benefits reduce the need for human participation in select (mostly rote) aspects of HR management, but actually amplify the value of human involvement in other higher-demand aspects of HR management. HR professionals are capable of responding to the nuances of each situation, project, or individual with emotional intelligence, exercising dynamic problem-solving skills and the ability to weigh a wide number of short- and long-term considerations.

For instance, an automated platform may be able to consolidate data to informationally generate a report on time & attendance trends, but an HR professional is capable of analyzing the report to modify scheduling to improve employee productivity or to conduct workforce outreach to gain insights about employee morale or scheduling preferences, responding to individual concerns as needed.

Similarly, an employee who voices concern about a particular HR process or with a question about navigating a self-service platform is far less likely to feel frustration or alienation when the “troubleshooting” is completed with an emotionally invested and dynamic HR employee as opposed to an HR chatbot with a slate of programmed responses. 

Managing the more nuanced dimensions of payroll and time & attendance requires interpersonal, mediation, and problem-solving skills that are indispensable to organizations across industries and jurisdictions. Automation, AI, and machine learning tools can be applied selectively within your organization to improve certain data-heavy processes and to free up time for HR staff to focus on higher-priority tasks. Even so, the essential skills that boost employee satisfaction, heighten productivity and foster connection throughout your workforce, remain in the hands of the HR professionals that manage these tools & processes, connect with employees, and serve as a valuable point-of-contact throughout the entire employee lifecycle.

Emphasizing Employee Empowerment and Well-Being

Using intuitive, easy-to-use and mobile HR technology represents an investment in employee satisfaction and retention, helping you and your workforce easily complete time & attendance, scheduling, or payroll tasks from anywhere, including through the use of a self-service portal. Even with these clear benefits in mind, these tools are only as useful as the HR professionals who manage them and offer professional guidance, maintenance, and support along the way. 

Additionally, the use of these digital tools should open up greater opportunities for HR professionals to support employee well-being, whether it’s by assisting with benefits strategy, encouraging career development, emphasizing personalized attention during the onboarding process, or organizing in-person or virtual events to encourage employee engagement. When your employees can enjoy easy and consistent access to HR professionals who can answer their questions, address their concerns, support work-life balance, and direct them to useful company resources, they are more likely to remain productive, satisfied, and inclined to stay with the organization regardless of their work configuration (on-site, hybrid, remote, or otherwise).

Payroll, Time & Attendance, and HR Management Tailored for Your Business

Leveraging HR technology, automation and AI to streamline HR processes can bring major and immediate benefits to most businesses. Even so, these tools should not (and cannot) replace the human element in HR: human professionals connecting and supporting employees across the workforce to improve employee satisfaction, work-life balance, productivity, and employee retention. With the right balance of technology and personalized support, it’s possible to provide all of the tools, resources, problem-solving abilities and social support necessary to ensure your employees feel valued and free to focus on their highest-priority tasks.

Ready to enjoy the benefits of a comprehensive payroll and HR service that combines automation with personalized attention and support? Contact us today to start the process.


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