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How can next-generation work benefits impact payroll?

Find out how flexible work trends and next-generation benefits can affect your payroll process and why you need a powerful payroll software to manage this.
Published 16 Jun 2023
Updated 23 Aug 2023
8min read
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In recent years, the way we work has undergone a significant transformation, driven by the rapid advancements in technology, shifting societal values, and the desire for a better work-life balance.

Traditional nine-to-five jobs confined to office spaces are slowly becoming a thing of the past, making way for a more flexible and dynamic work environment. This evolution in the way we work has not only revolutionised our professional lives, but has also begun to reshape how businesses manage their payroll systems.

Flexibility in work arrangements has become a pivotal component of the modern workforce. Employees are seeking greater control over their schedules, the freedom to work from anywhere, and the ability to strike a harmonious balance between their personal and professional lives. Employers, too, are embracing flexible work arrangements as they recognise the potential benefits they can bring in terms of increased employee satisfaction, productivity, and retention.

Alongside flexible work, the rise of next-generation benefits has emerged as a key factor in attracting and retaining top talent. Forward-thinking organisations are shifting their focus beyond traditional benefits like health care to a more comprehensive and holistic approach. This includes offerings like wellness programs, mental health support, family-friendly policies, and innovative perks that cater to the diverse needs and preferences of their workforce.

As the landscape of work undergoes this profound transformation, what are the implications of these changes on payroll management? From ensuring accurate and timely compensation for remote workers scattered across different time zones, to adapting payroll systems to accommodate flexible scheduling and gig economy workers, HR and finance professionals are facing new challenges and opportunities.

Here’s everything you need to know about how these affect your payroll processes, and how you can leverage powerful payroll software to manage this.

Why are companies offering creative compensation packages to attract talent?

Companies are increasingly recognising the need to offer creative compensation packages as a strategic approach to attract and retain top talent in today’s competitive job market.

Traditional approaches to compensation, such as salary and standard benefits, are no longer sufficient to stand out from the crowd and appeal to highly skilled individuals who have numerous options available to them.

1. Differentiation in a competitive market

In a highly competitive talent landscape, companies need to differentiate themselves to attract the best candidates. Creative compensation packages allow organisations to stand out and showcase their commitment to providing a comprehensive and holistic employee experience. By going beyond the standard offerings, companies can create a unique value proposition that sets them apart from competitors.

Creative compensation packages can also serve as a powerful tool to entice top talent away from competitors, and create a sense of loyalty and engagement among existing employees. Companies that are willing to go the extra mile in terms of compensation often have a higher chance of attracting and retaining top performers.

2. Meeting the evolving needs of the workforce

The modern workforce has diverse needs and expectations. Offering creative compensation packages allows companies to align with the changing priorities of employees. For example, employees may prioritise flexible work arrangements, professional development opportunities, wellness programs, or other non-traditional benefits. By tailoring compensation packages to address these specific needs, companies demonstrate their commitment to supporting individual well-being and growth.

Compensation packages that go beyond monetary rewards can contribute significantly to employee satisfaction and engagement. When employees feel that their employers are invested in their overall well-being, development, and work-life balance, they are more likely to be motivated, productive, and loyal.

3. Reflecting company values and culture

Creative compensation packages offer an opportunity for companies to showcase their values and culture. By aligning benefits with the organisation’s mission and vision, companies can attract individuals who resonate with those values. This alignment helps create a cohesive and purpose-driven workforce that is invested in the company’s success.

What are the next-generation work benefits that are emerging in recent years?

Next-generation work benefits go beyond traditional offerings like healthcare and retirement plans, and instead focus on holistic well-being, flexibility, and personal development. Here are some of the emerging next-generation work benefits:

1. Flexible work arrangements

Flexibility in work schedules and locations has become a highly sought-after benefit. Companies are embracing remote work options, flexible hours, and compressed work weeks to allow employees to have more control over their work-life balance. This flexibility promotes productivity, reduces commuting time and costs, and supports employees in managing personal commitments.

2. Wellness programs

Next-generation benefits often include comprehensive wellness programs that address physical, mental, and emotional well-being. These programs may include gym memberships, yoga or meditation classes, wellness challenges, mental health resources, stress management initiatives, and access to counselling services.

It could also include additional leave days such as mental wellbeing days, which encourages employees to spend some precious me-time doing the things they love to avoid burnout. Promoting employee well-being leads to increased productivity, reduced absenteeism, and improved overall satisfaction.

3. Parental and family-friendly policies

Companies are recognising the importance of supporting employees in their roles as parents and caregivers. Parental leave policies that go beyond legal requirements, flexible work arrangements for new parents, on-site childcare facilities, or partnerships with childcare providers are some examples of next-generation benefits that foster work-life balance and support employees in managing their family responsibilities.

4. Professional development and learning opportunities

Companies are investing in the growth and development of their employees by offering robust professional development and learning programs. This may include access to online courses, tuition reimbursement, mentorship programs, leadership development initiatives, and opportunities for skill enhancement. Next-generation benefits emphasise lifelong learning and help employees build their careers within the organisation.

5. Financial wellness

Recognising that financial stress can impact employee well-being and productivity, companies are introducing financial wellness programs. These programs offer resources and guidance on budgeting, financial planning, retirement savings, and debt management. Additionally, companies may provide access to financial advisors or tools that help employees track their financial goals and make informed decisions.

6. Volunteer and community engagement programs

Many employees are seeking meaningful work experiences that go beyond their daily job tasks. Next-generation benefits include opportunities for employees to engage in volunteer work, corporate social responsibility initiatives, or community involvement. Companies may provide paid time off for volunteering, organise team-based charity events, or establish partnerships with nonprofit organisations.

7. Customisable benefits packages

Next-generation benefits often allow employees to customise their benefits packages to suit their individual needs. This may involve allocating a specific budget towards benefits, giving employees the freedom to choose from a range of options that best align with their preferences and priorities. Examples of such would be work from home allowances, birthday allowances, and more.

Potential payroll issues faced by companies offering these work benefits

While offering next-generation work benefits can be highly beneficial for both employees and companies, they can also present certain payroll challenges. Here are some potential payroll issues faced by companies offering these work benefits:

1. Complex benefit structures

Next-generation work benefits often involve a variety of options and customisation choices for employees. Managing and administering these complex benefit structures can be challenging for payroll departments. Ensuring accurate tracking and calculations of various benefit components, such as flexible work hours, wellness program incentives, or customised benefit packages requires robust payroll systems and meticulous record-keeping.

2. Remote work and geographical challenges

With the rise of remote work, companies may have employees located in different states or even countries. This can introduce additional complexities in payroll management, such as compliance with various tax regulations, different minimum wage laws, and reporting requirements. Accurately calculating and distributing payroll for remote workers across different jurisdictions requires thorough understanding of local laws and the use of specialised payroll software or services.

3. Compliance and regulatory changes

Offering next-generation work benefits often involves compliance with a myriad of regulations and legal requirements. Payroll departments must stay updated with changing laws related to benefits, such as parental leave, flexible work arrangements, and tax regulations for specific benefits. Failure to comply with these regulations can lead to penalties and legal issues. It’s essential for companies to be regularly reviewing and updating payroll policies and procedures, to ensure compliance.

4. Benefit cost management

Next-generation work benefits may involve additional costs beyond traditional compensation. For example, wellness programs, professional development opportunities, or flexible work arrangements may have associated expenses that need to be managed and accounted for in the payroll budget. Balancing the cost of these benefits with the overall compensation structure and the company’s financial sustainability requires careful planning and monitoring.

5. Data security and privacy

With the introduction of next-generation benefits, companies handle an increasing amount of sensitive employee data related to health, personal development, or financial information. Ensuring the security and privacy of this data becomes crucial, and as such, companies need robust data protection measures, compliance with privacy regulations, and secure systems for handling and storing employee information.

Can traditional payroll systems keep up with these changes?

Traditional payroll systems may struggle to keep up with the changes and complexities introduced by next-generation work benefits. While they may still be able to handle basic payroll calculations and standard benefits, they often lack the flexibility and functionality required to effectively administer and manage the intricacies of these emerging benefits. Some limitations include:

1. Lack of customisation

Payroll systems are often designed to handle standard compensation components such as salary, hourly rates, and basic benefits like healthcare. They may not have the flexibility to accommodate the diverse options and customisable features associated with next-generation work benefits. This can lead to difficulties in accurately calculating and administering complex benefit structures.

2. Inadequate reporting capabilities

Next-generation work benefits may require specialised reporting to track and monitor various benefit components, such as wellness program participation rates, flexible work arrangements, or professional development expenses. Traditional payroll systems may not have robust reporting features tailored to these specific benefits, making it challenging to generate comprehensive reports for compliance, auditing, or decision-making purposes.

3. Limited integration with HR and benefits systems

Next-generation work benefits often require integration between payroll systems and other HR and benefits management platforms. This integration enables a seamless exchange of data related to benefits enrollment, eligibility, and changes. Traditional payroll systems may lack the necessary integration capabilities, leading to manual data entry, data discrepancies, and increased administrative burden.

4. Compliance challenges

With the introduction of new benefits and evolving regulations, traditional payroll systems may struggle to keep up with compliance requirements. Staying up to date with changing laws related to remote work, flexible scheduling, or specialised benefits can be a significant challenge for these systems, especially if they aren’t cloud-based. Non-compliance can then result in errors, penalties, and legal complications.

5. Limited self-service options

Next-generation work benefits often prioritise employee empowerment and self-service capabilities. Employees may want to make benefit selections, access information, or make changes to their preferences independently. Traditional payroll systems may not offer user-friendly self-service portals or mobile applications that cater to these needs, resulting in increased administrative tasks for HR and payroll staff.

How can Employment Hero Payroll solve these issues?

To effectively manage next-generation work benefits, consider implementing Employment Hero. Our all-in-one HR and payroll platform allows you to leverage automation and streamline processes, so you can free up precious time and focus on your people instead of administrative work.

When you use a HRIS to automate your payroll obligations, you can have confidence that you’re doing the right thing. With built-in features that allow you to customise your payruns and reporting, you can easily accommodate next-generation work benefits and pay your people correctly.

What’s more, our Employer of Record (EOR) services enables you to access highly skilled remote employees across different industries in multiple countries — but without all the administrative hassle.

Alternatively, if you’re an outsourced payroll provider, consider joining the Employment Hero Partner Network. Discover the benefits of cloud payroll and support your clients in streamlining their payroll processes, whilst also growing your business and expanding your suite of services to advisory work.

All important client information will be stored digitally, and the platform is constantly enhanced with legislation updates and value-add features. Compliance reporting is an absolute breeze because you can generate reports in a few clicks. Plus, it’s completely scalable — there’s no limit on employees or business size.

Oh and did we mention we’re available in Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Malaysia and the UK too? You can run payroll for clients across multiple countries, and even use the branded payroll feature to harness our software as your own.

Carissa Ng
Content Marketing Manager - Employment Hero
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