HR tech offers UK retailers stability through stormy seas

While headlines now give much more positive readings of global economic output compared with predictions made amid 2018’s worrying slow down, there are some areas of business that look set for a rocky ride through the remainder of 2019.

But, even with major obstacles to overcome, implementing the best HR technology, payroll software, workforce management and analytics tools and rota (rostering) software now can help make things much easier going forward.

We shouldn’t need to point out the retail sector has long been vulnerable to the variables of modern life. Not least in the UK. Delays, procrastination and indecision aside, the coming months should see Great Britain and Northern Ireland finally bid farewell to the EU, enacting Brexit, and this is almost guaranteed to bite shopping hard.

Retailers are looking at the potential need to close stores and make deep cuts to ensure they save their bottom line – a trend that started at the beginning of last year. Concerns over job security in light of leaving the European bloc have already proved well-founded in some sectors, and it hasn’t even happened yet.

As uncertainty continues to rule the national mood, domestic purse strings will be pulled tighter. Less high value and non-essential purchasing decisions a likely outcome, potentially throwing more jobs into jeopardy. So what can businesses do?

HR technology can help drive efficiency and cut back unnecessary administrative costs, strengthening the company position in order to survive the immediate future as painlessly as possible. This is particularly true of tasks like rostering and time and attendance recording. Bringing excellent workforce analytics on board can improve not just how much time is spent on each of these jobs – a major expense – but also help pinpoint inefficiencies and low performance.

The more data you have regarding budgets and labour efficiencies (of inefficiencies), the more ammunition there is to target problems when they are identified. And the greater likelihood there is of overcoming those issues and strengthening the company position.

But HR technology investment is not just a matter of streamlining to increase cash reserves – it can prevent non-compliance, which is a huge risk to any company. The rules, laws and regulations surrounding employment and employees are constantly changing, developing and – more often than not – tightening. The punishments for not adhering to these requirements get harsher by the tax year. Investing in workforce management, workforce analytics and rota software is a great way to ensure compliance without causing significant disruption thanks to in-app safety nets.

“Being compliant and staying up to date regarding the latest laws is a lot easier than people think. Getting the right payroll and HR software is the most important step,” says Andrew Northcott, of Roubler.

“Good providers, like Roubler, have in-built compliance controls to ensure you are abiding by immigration, employment conditions and minimum wage laws each time you onboard someone or run a payroll.

“Online employment law resources designed for employers are a great way to keep abreast of laws (they usually offer subscriptions), as are resource centres and courses run by professional accounting and HR associations like CIPD.”

It’s also important to consider the benefits of future-proofing, not least when times are tough. Traditionally in marketing circles, it’s the companies that maintain or increase their spend during economic downturns that emerge healthiest when clouds clear. This is no different in HR and payroll software – hence why these costs should be in your latest budget. Not only will you be able to hit the ground running when consumer spend returns to ‘normal’ levels, your HR technology, workforce management applications, and rota software will be fit-for-purpose for longer than competitors that don’t act now.

It boils down to the simple rule of not allowing technology to become outmoded or outdated, but instead updating in advance for the best results. After all, the UK Government has shown in recent months what happens when you leave things to the 11th hour.

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