How the Pandemic Reshaped Payroll Priorities
Having just passed the two-year mark of the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Abacus Payroll is reflecting on how payroll operations and priorities differ in 2022 compared to early 2020. Like so many business industries, payroll has faced pandemic-driven disruption that has led to both opportunities and challenges for small business owners.
Here are 6 areas where recent events have made a lasting impact on payroll, and may be causing small business owners to reprioritize what is most important to them.
Large payroll providers are facing staffing shortages.
If quality customer service is a high priority in your outsourced payroll experience, you will not be thrilled with the subpar customer service that has been reported lately with the national payroll brands. These companies rely on 1-800 phone numbers, extensive ticket systems, and random representatives who try to answer your payroll questions and issues. Like many businesses facing a talent shortage the past year, these large-scale companies are also short on employees. Now customers are placed in a long waiting line while there are fewer representatives to answer calls and provide assistance to their customers. Real-time, immediate support is no longer the norm.
An alternative is to work with a smaller boutique or regional payroll provider. A fellow small business just like yourself, you are treated like you are more than just a number in a system. You can get to know your dedicated payroll specialists so that you can quickly connect whenever an issue arises and you can work more efficiently knowing your payroll representative is already familiar with you and your business.
Low discounts are turning into a bigger monthly bill.
Back in 2020 and 2021, the large payroll companies offered steep discounts when they knew small businesses were hurting during the midst of the pandemic. Now some of those introductory period offers are coming to an end — and for some businesses, that means a pricier payroll bill. With inflation and rising labor costs, small businesses don’t need yet another increased cost. Get a quote from a payroll service that provides a balanced fee structure, not one that is free or very low upfront only to skyrocket in price and nickel-and-dime their customers later on.
The advantage of a responsive team that knows your business.
During the pandemic, the federal government and Small Business Administration (SBA) provided low-interest loans, free assistance, and tax credits to help small businesses weather the storm and keep their workers employed. This resulted in a rush of business owners filling out extensive applications to meet tight deadlines. Your payroll team needed to react quickly to get you the requested forms and reports, or help file amended quarterly returns for the Employee Retention Tax Credit. Being as responsive as possible was critical to receive these much-needed funds. If you didn’t have a positive experience with your payroll provider during this time, perhaps it’s time to make a switch.
Bonus points if your payroll professionals could seamlessly be in touch to collaborate with your accounting and tax advisors throughout this process!
Transition to direct deposit and paperless payroll.
The pandemic put into question any business operating on outdated IT infrastructures and systems. Suddenly your employees went remote and may have spread out all over the country — but they still wanted to get paid on-time each pay day. Many companies that were used to paper paychecks were triggered by the pandemic to transition to digital payment methods. If your business still hasn’t made the move to direct deposit or electronic pay cards, consider that going digital in 2022 could offset the increase in shipping rates and a higher cost of paper, due to a paper shortage. Your employees will not be happy if you run out of paycheck paper!
While this transition can be seen as a wide-spread benefit to all employees on payroll, it’s also beneficial to your small business’s in-house accounting and HR team members. Once the business moved to a cloud-based payroll system, data could now be accessed any time, any where. These employees could now also work remotely and keep your business running smoothly. Having Employee Self-Service and electronic timekeeping capabilities within your payroll process was more helpful to remote employees than ever before.
Importance of supplemental HR expertise.
Another business challenge brought on abruptly by the pandemic? All of a sudden, small businesses had a need to find quick answers to constantly changing (and unprecedented) human resources issues. Business owners, office managers, and in-house payroll employees suddenly had to address a multitude of concerns ranging from managing remote workers, understanding new paid leave laws, instituting virtual onboarding, handling a vaccine mandate, and more. Not quite enough of a need to hire a full-time HR professional for a small-scale business, but enough changes, confusion, and uncertainty to see value in paying for an affordable monthly subscription or service to obtain reliable and up-to-date advice.
Another repercussion of the pandemic to affect HR is the Great Resignation. A swift wave of employees quitting caused businesses to have to spend time and money to recruit new candidates, properly onboard new hires, and offer more raises and bonuses to retain existing employees. Other than the HR Help Center and labor library, Abacus Payroll clients also have access to HR tools that help streamline the hiring process, such as applicant tracking, onboarding, and more.
A strong and convincing case to outsource payroll.
Small businesses that continued to process payroll in-house likely had more obstacles and headaches compares to small businesses who outsourced their payroll operations.
- If your business wasn’t readily remote during the early stay-at-home days, business continuity probably wasn’t as smooth as it could have been, and it may have been a challenge to meet payroll and tax deadlines.
- If key personnel in the payroll process were frequently out sick, off to take care of family, or quarantined with COVID-19, the payroll process was probably stressful and threatened with disruption.
- If the Great Resignation led key payroll employees to resign, business owners had the struggle of trying to quickly recruit qualified and trustworthy replacements, and have to go through new employee training, all while making sure employees were still getting paid accurately and timely.
On the other hand, companies who outsourced their payroll did not have to worry about key employees being out sick or not able to work successfully from home. The payroll specialist team makes sure your payroll is processed, reports are produced, and taxes are filed on-time, no matter what.
Business owners have been through a lot in the past 24 months. Responsive service, business continuity, HR expertise, and affordable costs are likely factors that are more important when choosing a payroll processer in 2022 than in past years.
Despite everything going on in the world, employees need to get paid, reports need to be processed, returns need to be filed. You might as well have a trusted payroll company that makes the process efficient and enjoyable thanks to reliable, one-on-one customer service. If you would like to convert to outsourced payroll, upgrade to paperless payroll, or make the switch to a regional provider that prioritizes client service excellence, contact Abacus Payroll today at 856-667-6225.
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