New research shows that less than half of businesses surveyed in the UK are only “moderately satisfied” with their current digital HR and payroll processes. 

According to new research by SD Worx, a HR and payroll services provider, only 43 per cent of HR departments in the UK are “moderately satisfied” with their current system for HR and payroll processes.

Businesses have also failed to adopt digital technology within their systems as less than 10 per cent (9.4 per cent) have implemented a fully automated, digitised and/or integrated HR and payroll system.

Despite a significant number of HR teams reporting they are unsatisfied by their current HR and payroll processes, this was not seen as a main priority for many businesses in the UK. When surveyed, SD Worx found that, out of 19 possible priorities, ‘HR process automation’ and ‘digital transformation’ were listed as 14th and 17th respectively. Conversely, wellbeing was listed as a main priority for HR teams.

However, many HR teams have reported that they plan to tackle HR process automation over the next 12 months, with half (50 per cent) stating that they are creating projects to work on this. A similar number, 47.1 per cent, have stated that digital transformation is going to be worked on over the next year in their organisation.  Although many companies see automation and digital technology as something that needs to be improved, only just over a fifth (22.5 per cent) listed this as a “very important” project.

Ferdi Claes, Managing Director HR Europe at Computer Task Group, an information and technology solutions provider, explains how this lack of priority towards digital HR may stem from budgetary limitations:

Because of budgetary constraints, the automation and digitisation of HR aren’t priorities for most companies during COVID-19. But from an HR perspective, they are. Advanced digital maturity allows you to focus on strategic tasks and to raise the value of your HR team as a business partner.

Furthermore, it is clear that SMEs (small and medium enterprises) are still lagging behind when it comes to digital HR in comparison to their larger counterparts. Whilst almost half of all companies with over 250 employees stated that their automation level for HR and payroll was high or very high, only a third (30 per cent) of companies with fewer than 100 employees said the same.

This ultimately shows that smaller companies, who reported being moderately to largely unsatisfied with their digital maturity in HR, still have a lot of ground to cover in order to catch up to bigger businesses.

Investing in digital HR is a crucial way for SMEs to gain a competitive edge when it comes to attracting and retaining the best talent in addition to generating long-term savings for their organisation.

Cathy Geerts, Chief HR Officer at SD Worx, said:

Technology is freeing up HR teams to take on big-picture matters, armed with predictive data analytics, making the field more exciting, more rewarding and perhaps more competitive as well. We can’t ignore the importance of digitisation, as it affects us in so many ways. Productivity soars, and HR professionals and able to show the real value they bring to the business. That makes the HR function even more strategic and puts talent managers at the heart of value creation.

If you are interested in hearing how your company can create a resilient HR strategy for 2021 in the face of COVID-19, register for our webinar here which will go live on the 19th November at 11am.

*These results were taken from SD Worx’s online survey “The Future of Work and People in Europe – Fluid as Hoola Hoop Shaking 2020” which was conducted in June 2020 and surveyed 3,000 companies in 11 European countries (Belgium, the Netherlands, France, Italy, Spain, Ireland, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Poland and the UK).





Monica Sharma is an English Literature graduate from the University of Warwick. As Editor for HRreview, her particular interests in HR include issues concerning diversity, employment law and wellbeing in the workplace. Alongside this, she has written for student publications in both England and Canada. Monica has also presented her academic work concerning the relationship between legal systems, sexual harassment and racism at a university conference at the University of Western Ontario, Canada.