We live in a time of disorder. We all feel the rumblings: an earthquake of societal and economic upheaval challenging institutions, governments, business, the environment. Longstanding conventions—laws, currencies, borders—meant to smooth over conflict and rise above cultural differences are being doubted and tested. And it’s not all at the abstract level of pandemics, economics and war. Even incivility in a grocery store can leave us shaken.

This is how chaos feels.

It’s difficult to wrap our heads around an exponential rate of change, to determine how we handle a long period of chaos. According to WEF Global Risk Report Data 41.8% of global leaders surveyed expect constant volatility with multiple surprises with a top 10 list of risks spanning social cohesion, deteriorating mental health and cybersecurity. Korn Ferry’s Briefings magazine cover headline, “Chaos Control” highlights the need for leaders to identify the issues and signals so they can take control of and act on the need to be highly agile and improvise solutions.

Ingenuity is the way to counter chaos.

When real earthquakes devastated Tokyo, people rebounded with new technology: seismic isolation systems for buildings, which decouple the foundations of skyscrapers from their upper stories. When the rumbling ends, the swaying buildings are still intact.

As business leaders, we need to decouple the shaky ground our workers feel from their ability to think, execute, and achieve. Chaos is immensely stressful. In the United States, anxiety is up 41%, stress is up 39%, feelings of social isolation and loneliness are up 28%. All of this, of course, carries into a person’s work life. According to Gallup’s 2021 Global Emotions Study, 41% of employees report experiencing constant worry throughout the day and 74% of employees say they’re extremely burned out.

For humans, the seismic isolation systems are psychological: skills and practices that help us think flexibly, separate real and unlikely risks, and stay calm in the face of challenge.

But here, too, technology can help us achieve change at scale. We can apply our immense AI capabilities to predict downward spirals from the individual level to entire populations. We can deploy highly personalized training at scale, not just for those people with mental illness but for everyone who has to react to the chaos—which is, in fact, all of us.

Wellbeing is a critical issue facing the workforce. 79% of Risk Managers are advising their organizations that workforce exhaustion and mental health challenges from sustained disruption are now serious business risks. The overwhelming sense of stress brought on by uncertainty and change, if left unmanaged, leads to work-life balance issues, change fatigue, higher turnover rates, and reduced productivity.

Here’s how to apply human ingenuity to the challenge:

Predict with Data

Prioritize Mental Well-being

Provide Flexibility

Chaos is exhausting. There are actions we must take now to turn risk into opportunity and chaos into resilience. It’s the moment for ingenuity.

There is a disconnect between leaders’ and employee perceptions about the hybrid workplace and it could be hurting your people—and your business. A lack of clear guidelines about hybrid work is resulting in greater uncertainty and anxiety among employees. Not only does this put your hybrid and return to site plans at risk, but it’s costly and disruptive.

Here are some questions organizations should be asking themselves: Do you have clear guidelines? How can you do this with resilience, transparency and trust? Are you doing enough to ensure all employees feel equally supported?

The expectations between employers and employees around hybrid work are telling.

In our recent survey conducted in partnership with Executive Networks, at organizations that lack a clear roadmap for hybrid work, employees are more likely to struggle with engagement. And while 66% of Leaders say their organization has clearly defined and communicated hybrid work guidelines, only 47% of employees agree. This communication mismatch must be addressed for organizations to move forward with a successful transition to hybrid.

Organizations that fail to provide adequate support for all work environments risk damaging employee morale and retention. But what does adequate support look like? Overall, survey participants ranked positivity as the most important attribute for adapting to change in the workplace, followed by stress management, focus, empathy, and emotional intelligence.

Remote/hybrid workers who perceive they’re receiving less support than on-site employees struggle more with burnout and lower morale. Dissatisfaction leads to a higher likelihood of resignation, with 23% saying they’re likely to look for another job in the next 12 months compared to 12% of other respondents.



While the study found that a mismatch between employees’ actual and desired work environments threatens their wellbeing, it also found that clear hybrid guidelines have a big impact on employee perceptions of support and the ability to adapt to change. The study identifies steps that organizations can take to create a more resilient workforce, one that is able to embrace the realities of the new hybrid workplace.

There are actions you can take to move forward.

Address the disconnect head-on.
Understanding the conflicting perceptions of optimal work environments and promoting advancement in all settings is critical. Engaging in deep listening with all employee segments to understand preferences for their optimal work environment can create more understanding and help to reach a consensus on which job roles are ripe for remote, hybrid, and fully on-site work.

Set guardrails for hybrid work.
To enable greater resilience among employees in hybrid work environments, leaders need to create a clear roadmap defining expectations, tailored to their organization’s particular culture. For optimal success, leaders should go further by modelling desired behavior for their employees such as empathy, a focal point of workforce resilience.

Employer support means the world.
Employees assigned to their preferred work situation have a more positive employee experience. They are more likely to feel connected to their company’s mission and vision (80%) vs. those not working in their preferred environment (68%) and to feel positive emotions at work (77% vs. 64%).

Actions leaders can take to mitigate this include elevating wellbeing as a core component of employee experience, and being creative in exploring tech-enabled wellbeing tools for all employees, regardless of where they work.

Dealing with ambiguity and uncertainty in different work environments requires leaders to lead with empathy, gratitude, and kindness, while building both their own resilience and the resilience of their teams. For more tips on establishing clear expectations for the hybrid workplace, as well as how to lead employees who work fully in-person, remote, or in a hybrid environment, download The New Hybrid Workplace Build on Resilience, Transparency & Trust ebook.

meQuilibrium is here to help. Reach out to a Workforce Resilience specialist today.

We’re all at a point where our emotional reservoirs are running low. Amid global destabilization, social uprising, emerging health threats, and the ongoing fallout of COVID-19, 41% of Americans are struggling with mental health and 39% are struggling with stress.

On an emotional level, the pandemic created a perfect storm that drained our empathy and drastically reduced social interactions. It’s become easier to respond to day-to-day situations with apathy or indifference, where we would have previously shown greater compassion.

Healthcare workers in particular have felt the pressure. Since COVID began, the healthcare industry has lost an estimated 20% of its workforce. The worst may be yet to come, as 47% of U.S. healthcare workers plan to leave their current role within the next 2-3 years. In today’s workplace, over 65% of employees have expressed significant increases in stress, and 55% of employees are strongly considering resigning and changing jobs.

Although healthcare workers are under constant stress, they are also being called upon to demonstrate compassion throughout their workday. Together, these two factors work to drain the emotional battery, leading to an empathy deficit. The problem is, the more people experience stress, the less likely they are to be empathetic to others. It’s not that they no longer have compassion; it’s just that their ability to express it becomes exhausted.

The emotional toll employees have faced across healthcare and a variety of other industries actually has a name: Compassion Fatigue. The concept of Compassion Fatigue was first introduced by Joinson to characterize a state of reduced capacity for compassion as a consequence of exhaustion caused by contact with the suffering of others. This is seen by clinicians as secondary trauma and has far-reaching repercussions. A person experiencing Compassion Fatigue may find it difficult to love, nurture, care for, or empathize with the suffering of another.

What I’m seeing in my setting as a doctor is that while the signs and symptoms are the same as before the pandemic, they’re now amplified because we’re experiencing more trauma. Healthcare workers are often inundated with patients who are very ill. If our ability to be resilient is like a rubber band, no matter how strong we are, the more pressure we’re under, the more the rubber band is stretched. There are three ways to help your workforce get ahead of Compassion Fatigue with resilience, and create a culture of informed care.


Understand how Compassion Fatigue relates to burnout.

It’s critical to know how Compassion Fatigue relates to burnout. Burnout occurs when the demands being placed on an employee exceed the resources available to deal with them. Signs of burnout include sleep problems, physical complaints, lack of work-life balance, and life satisfaction, poor stress management, low work engagement and poor emotional control. Burnout can be triggered by increased workplace demands, lack of resources, interpersonal stressors, and organizational policy leading to emotional exhaustion, cynicism, and ineffectiveness.

Symptoms of burnout and Compassion Fatigue are similar, in that they are manifestations of emotional exhaustion. Compassion Fatigue includes symptoms such as isolation, physical ailments, bottled-up emotions, substance abuse, recurring nightmares, and flashbacks. Compassion Fatigue will amplify and accelerate burnout.

Understanding how Compassion Fatigue and burnout intersect can hold the key to understanding what needs to change.

Address social support and connection in your organization by making time to listen and understand.

Among the contributing factors for healthcare and frontline workers experiencing Compassion Fatigue are reduced physical contact in order to observe social distancing, and the increased use of protective gear. The reality is, humans need each other during challenging times—especially those in the role of caretaker, with the responsibility of caring for everyone else first.

As noted by David Rodriguez, Ph.D., Executive Vice President and former CHRO of Marriott International, “Building resilience is not just about the business. We’re firm believers that the first foundation to a healthy business is healthy human beings and having the right orientation to change.”

If listening to your people, hearing their stories, and understanding how they feel as a part of the effort to transform your workplace isn’t a standard practice, it should be, because it works. During COVID, Christy Ewing, Former Enterprise Wellness Program Lead at Centura Health visited all Centura hospitals to do rounds with an internal EAP, along with their spiritual team. After rolling out meQuilibrium, “People would come up to me and tell me their stories and how it has impacted the way they handle stress in their lives and the way they show up in their days. It was very inspiring to hear…we took those stories and shared them across our system in our entity newsletters.” Centura benefitted by recognizing the importance of meeting people where they are, and making an effort to have important conversations, building relationships, and connecting with people.



Create an action plan to address Compassion Fatigue and burnout for 100% of your population.

Addressing workforce resilience is a critical strategy to help address the root cause of Compassion Fatigue symptoms. A critical step is to help provide your people with access to the right tools, including an EAP, telehealth, and skill training. Here’s the question organizations should be asking: How can resilience skills complement company goals to create a culture of caring?

A well executed action plan can have a positive impact with people and also with organizations. For example, one hospital system with more than 15,000 employees was struggling with a high stress work environment, which was impacting front line worker behavior and ultimately patient satisfaction. The company adopted meQuilibrium’s digital coaching platform with the goals of increasing their employees’ abilities to cope with stress and adapt to change, improve productivity, increase employee engagement, and lower absenteeism. Arming leaders with detailed workplace insights to unveil population risks, the company saw a 20% improvement in burnout, emotional control, and productivity. They also saw significant improvements in absenteeism.

Many problems of today’s world are unavoidable, but Compassion Fatigue and related risks such as burnout and stress can be addressed through resilience training for the betterment of your workforce.

Ready to build a culture of caring in your workplace? Reach out to a meQ Workforce Resilience specialist today.

No doubt you’ve seen a sign in your or another workplace that touts the number of days since the last lost-time accident. This is because there is no shortage of laws and regulations protecting employee physical health and safety in the workplace.  Employee mental wellbeing is more of a free-for-all, at least as far as formal guidelines or regulations go.

Many human capital leaders are asking themselves questions, like:

Good questions, indeed. Enter the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), which offers some detailed guidance on these and other related questions.  If you are a leader in the manufacturing sector, you’re probably familiar with ISO. Across a wide variety of issues, adhering to ISO standards demonstrates that a company is committed to quality, regulatory compliance and has customers’ needs as a top goal.


What’s a Psychosocial Risk?

When it comes to mental wellbeing, ISO 45003 is the relevant standard.  The guideline lays out principles and practices for identifying and managing psychosocial risks in the workplace.

For the very first time, it provides a clear framework for how to manage and protect mental wellbeing at work. How? By plugging the gap in current workplace safety guidance, via the concept of ‘psychosocial risks’.  Psychosocial risks are simply aspects of the structure and organization of work including:


What are the benefits of addressing psychosocial risks?

Implementing a program to identify and take action against psychosocial risks in the workplace has numerous benefits for your workforce, and across your business:

The returns to investing in a program to identify and address psychosocial risks are substantial and measurable.  A Lancet study shows that for every $1 invested in mental health evidence-based programs, employers can save $2-4 on other expenses.

In addition to the well-documented financial outcomes, adopting ISO 45003 in whole or in part also will produce intangible improvements and reflect positively on your employer brand.


Where do I start?

The ISO 45003 standard provides guidance on the identification and management of psychosocial risks, as part of a comprehensive occupational health and safety management system. It includes:

Commitment to many ISO standards involves an annual audit where compliance is confirmed by an independent third party.


Can meQ help?

Sure can. Data from meQ’s clinically-validated assessment can help identify the psychosocial risks across your workforce, take action to reduce those risks through cognitive behavioral (CBT)-driven interventions, and then measure improvements through reductions in stress, depression, anxiety, and burnout. If you want a deep dive into employee perceptions about the structure and organization of work, that’s an area where our experience also runs deep.

No matter your industry, meQ can help you identify and reduce risks. Our data assets can help you document compliance with ISO 45003.  Not only will you gain compliance, but you will reap the many benefits of improved mental wellbeing across your workforce:

Read more about how meQ can support ISO 45003 in your organization.

The remote/hybrid/onsite discussion is heating up. After the newness of no commute and improved work-life balance has worn off, a set of strong contrarian views seems to be emerging. Malcolm Gladwell is on the record lamenting that people need to come into the office in order to feel like they are part of something larger than themselves, even going so far as to say that “Working at home is not in your best interest.” A new slice of Gallup data has added fuel to the fire — with the Wall Street Journal noting that remote work has been detrimental to work friendships, heightening concern about employee engagement and flight risk.

The risks and rewards of remote/hybrid work have been central to the work our research team has done here at meQ. Back in March, the implications of remote/hybrid figured prominently in our research report The New Hybrid Workplace. We’ve also been tracking wellbeing outcomes for remote, hybrid and onsite workers since not long after the pandemic started, noting differences in the value of employer support in our January 2022 Self-Check report.

In stark contrast to the recent negative turn of opinion on remote work, our latest Self-Check delivered some fascinating findings that suggest that the remote workforce might be different in some very important ways.


Let’s talk about psychological safety and remote work

Conducted among more than 3,900 employed meQ members in July 2022, this fifth iteration of our Self-Check series asked our standard questions about wellbeing and employer support. In addition to the core items, we also introduced a set of questions designed to dig deep into psychological safety at work.

If you’re not familiar with the concept of psychological safety, it was developed by Harvard professor Amy Edmondson and is defined as a shared belief that “the team is safe for interpersonal risk-taking.“  To get at this concept, we employed six questions from Edmondson’s survey:

Allowing space for people to speak up and share their ideas is foundational to innovation and successfully transitioning through change. Without a sense of psychological safety, team members may choose not to: weigh in with new ideas, offer suggestions for changing suboptimal processes, or raise potential concerns about a critical project.


The average employee enjoys a fairly solid sense of psychological safety

The good news is that, by and large, most employees enjoy a pretty high degree of psychological safety. Across more than 3,900 responses, substantially fewer than 20% of members reported negative perceptions about their teams — feeling like mistakes are held against them or being afraid to ask colleagues for help. On the positive side, about three-quarters of respondents reported feeling safe taking risks on their team, and felt like their contributions are valued and respected.


But, psychological safety is at risk among exclusively onsite employees

Onsite employees are much more likely than remote/hybrid employees to report negatively about experiences with their team. They are 66% more likely to feel like mistakes are held against them, 56% more likely to say that people are rejected for being different and 36% more likely to find it difficult to ask teammates for help (Figure 1).

We saw a similar but slightly less dramatic pattern on the items that focus on positive characteristics (Figure 2). Those working onsite are less likely to feel at ease discussing difficult topics, less likely to feel safe taking risks and less likely to feel that the team respects and values each other.

In short, remote and hybrid employees perceive their team environments as having a much higher degree of psychological safety.


It’s not just a different mix of people on site vs remote

We poked and prodded at these findings — inquiring whether it was age, gender, race/ethnicity or other factors that might explain the differences seen between onsite and remote/hybrid employees. No matter how we cut the data, remote/hybrid employees consistently report higher psychological safety than onsite employees. While the evidence is strong that there is a real difference across work settings, it could be the case that employees in remote settings feel a higher level of psychological safety just because they don’t know what they don’t know. By virtue of being remote, these employees are out of earshot of office common area conversations, and/or less able to read facial expressions on video calls — either of which may lead to a misperception about psychological safety.


It might be about manager support for mental wellbeing

While a root cause analysis awaits a more in-depth study, data on manager support for team wellbeing across these two settings suggests a possible partial explanation for the enhanced psychological safety experienced by hybrid/remote employees.  Compared to onsite employees, remote/hybrid employees in our sample were substantially more likely (+10%) to say that their manager is looking out for their wellbeing.   Combined with the stress and strain of a global pandemic, the move of many workers to hybrid and remote settings has made it harder for managers to walk by and see how people are doing.   As a result, managers have had to become more intentional as they check in with team members, providing the kind of emotional support that is favorable to psychological safety.


Reluctance to return is more than just the commute

Data from this self check show that almost half (46%) of employees who are currently remote/hybrid would quit their job before they would go back to their normal work site full time. Commuting and work-life balance issues certainly have a role to play. However, there also appear to be real things happening in the onsite setting that impact mental wellbeing and psychological safety. Collaboration tools may afford just enough physical distance to make people more comfortable weighing in. For what it’s worth, as a career-long remote employee, it’s been my own experience in meQuilibrium’s remote-for-the-first-time environment that when everybody is the same size square on the video call, it’s easier to speak up and be heard.

As employers continue to consider how best to structure the workplace, leaders will need to address this very real gap in psychological safety across work settings in order to ensure that innovation, creativity and change-readiness is not compromised in the return to onsite work.

Download Psychological Safety + Employee Wellbeing: A 2022 meQ Member Research Report

With uncertainty in the marketplace and the ongoing disruptions of COVID, social unrest, global conflict, and fears of recession mounting, HR issues are getting increased attention at most organizations. The role of the CHRO, already a complex balance between employee needs and business objectives, has become even more complicated with the rise of remote and hybrid work, DEI and ESG adherence, and an increased demand for wellbeing support from a global workforce. Now more than ever, the role of HR has become business critical. CHROs are tasked with leading the way on how we work, where we work, and how we stay connected.

To learn more, Executive Networks interviewed and surveyed 112 Chief Human Resource Officers from Global 1000 organizations, to get their take on how their roles have evolved, and what the future holds. meQ was honored to support this important research initiative. The results are available in the new research report, Global CHRO of the Future. This report uncovers 7 trends that can help HR leaders create a new vision and purpose for today’s challenges. Below are some highlights from the full report.


An increased focus on HR

Future of work issues have become a business imperative, as more and more boards of directors are placing HR issues on their agendas to anticipate expanding expectations of employers. According to the 2022 Edelman Trust Barometer, employees are expecting businesses to tackle issues such as climate change, income inequality, and worker re-skilling.

More than half of the CHRO respondents said engagements with their fiduciary boards have “substantially increased” since the beginning of 2020, and nearly 3 in 4 said their boards are “more involved in HR matters than they were 24 months ago.”

This trend makes it more important than ever to enter such conversations armed with the data and analytics you need to prove the efficacy of your programs – and your spend.


The struggle to retain not just talent, but the right talent

With virtually every sector of the economy facing higher-than-normal inflation, some employers are facing pressure to raise salaries, while others are starting to lay off employees amid concerns of a recession. As organizations tighten their belts, retaining top talent becomes even more important. 83% of CHROs report facing a significant talent retention problem for in-demand skills. The top factors leading to increased voluntary turnover include stress and employee burnout, lack of visibility into career development, work life balance issues, and compensation.

Building resilience in individual employees and developing managers to lead their teams with empathy will reduce burnout, improve retention, and increase productivity across your organization.

In the full report, you’ll learn:

The workplace, and the role of the CHRO, are forever changed. Leading companies to a successful future means creating the right guiding principles for successful work models, and staying ahead of unique challenges. The role of the CHRO remains pivotal in helping organizations and their people rise with resilience in the face of uncertainty.

Download the Global CHRO of the Future Research Report

Onboarding is the journey an employee takes to connect to the culture, processes, and expectations of the organization. This journey involves multiple transitions throughout their time at the company. It begins from the moment a candidate accepts a job offer, to an employee's first day, and through the movements and promotions during their career, to the time they leave.

The goal of modern onboarding is to create an individualized, consistent experience that enables employees to be supported in preparation for and throughout the transition. This is the time in an employee’s experience to affirm their decision to make the change - whether it be to join the organization, assume a new role, or move to a different company. 

We have found there to be 6 core areas in modern onboarding programs that should be addressed to support a positive outcome during each of an employee’s transitions: Compliance, Day 1 Ready, Culturalization, Training, Socialization, and Retention.

1. Administrative and Compliance

Compliance is the non-negotiable of any onboarding program.  It exists to protect both the worker and the business. The “must-do” of all onboarding programs includes new hire forms and processes such as tax forms, I-9, payroll set-up, notifications, policies, and regulatory training. While these check-the-box items are required, that doesn’t mean they have to be tedious.  Companies who do this well utilize technology to ensure the candidate experience is maintained in all aspects of the program.  

Compliance considerations as part of the onboarding process: 

2. Day 1 Ready

Day 1 Ready is making sure the company, department, and leader is ready for the new hire on “day 1”.  Many companies use some combination of emails, checklists, and excel spreadsheets, combined with an employee self-service case,  to get this completed.  When you create a strategic process around all of the things that have to be planned and executed prior to a new hire starting - laptop, security logins, software access, business cards - even a desk to sit at  - not to mention the swag, t-shirts, branded coffee mugs or other personal touches to make them feel welcomed - you reduce the costs, time and risk of it not being completed.  You also make it easier on your internal teams and provide analytics and insights about where bottlenecks or issues are occurring to help improve processes. 

3. Culturalization

This is where onboarding really becomes more about the new hire in that role.  It is connecting them to the business - who you are, how you do things different and why what you do matters.  It is helping them understand the story of your company, mission, vision, goals, and what it is really like to be a part of the team. There may be some shared language, history or even brand colors you all wear certain days. Culturalization is letting them “in” to things they may not have known as a consumer or just researching your company and makes them feel part of something bigger. Companies are doing this step in one on one online sessions as well as in group sessions both in person or through co-hort training programs that feel very personalized to the participant and create a real sense of connection. 

4. Training

In nearly every role there will be some level of training needed - a CEO will need to better understand the details of the customers they service, a sales person will need to understand the product, a waitress has to learn the menu and flow to the kitchen.  Training during onboarding is about getting that person up to speed and productive as quickly as possible, while continuing to support the employee experience and confirm their decision to come work for you.  The training we are seeing today as part of the onboarding process includes some of the core “hard” skills to do the job right, but has had a much bigger focus on the soft skills.  A particular focus for many companies has been around inclusion, customer success and team dynamics.  This is different than the sharing of the companies inclusion or customer focus - and really helps the individual test and develop their skills individually. 

5. Socialization

Socialization is how well the individual feels they fit at a personal level.  Employees need to feel personally connected with people at work, and comfortable with their day-to-day - who is on my team, where is the closest grocery store, where do we go for lunch near work, etc.  This includes that informal level of details and connection to their team as well as more formal programs like mentors or a pre-scheduled series of meetings with co-workers both in and outside of your team over your first few months.  More recently, we are seeing hybrid approaches emerging - especially at organizations with a high number of remote workers - that creates cohort and group-guided conversations covering culturalization, some training, and this socialization process all in one over a series of months.  

6. Retention

The final step in onboarding is retention.  This is really ensuring you have a strategic approach to each of the other components and they all tie into your employee experience strategies.    Modern onboarding programs today run 4-12 months, with many organizations wrapping up around month 6..   As part of this stage, there is ongoing feedback and conversations with the new hire ensuring their needs are being met, questions are being addressed and they feel individually valued.  A generic onboarding survey isn’t ideal as a touchpoint for their day 3, 7, or even 14 check in when someone they know should be who reaches out (coordinator, recruiter, etc) - but may be fine at day 60, 90, and 120 for a soft check-in.   

The past two years have been a wake up call for many businesses. The challenges of the pandemic have shown that older ways of handling payroll and HCM are no longer sufficient to pay employees. Global payroll needs to transition into the 21st century, and businesses need to follow a practical approach in making their transformation.

Global payroll providers have the opportunity to shift from being merely information processors to a larger role of strategic advisors or partners to businesses. To that end, modern data technology can provide valuable insights. The best strategy is to use an integrated platform to carry out every needed feature.

We will discuss the challenges of payroll in the future, and how global payroll services are adapting to meet them:

Current Global Payroll Challenges

Our research suggests that most businesses have outdated and inefficient payroll systems. Only 28% of businesses have access to real-time dashboards indicating payroll data. Almost 45% have very low to limited levels of standardization across global payroll processes. And on average, businesses surveyed used 7 different payroll providers. They could reduce that number to 1 by switching to a global payroll provider.

Businesses face challenges and need improvement in several areas:

Despite these challenges, businesses are pivoting towards new options.

Current Transformations in Payroll

Payroll transformation is a top priority amongst buyers, with most requiring assistance in navigating and enabling transformative outcomes. We carried out a survey of business owners to determine where they see their payroll needs currently changing.

Clearly, there is room for improvement across the board. But our research also shows that the vast majority of business owners are aware of this, and are beginning steps to make their own payroll transformation.

Market Trends

We have identified several current market trends shaping the face of global payroll.

Market trends in 6 icons

Cloud-based platform Adoption allows payroll to be enabled through HR and payroll technology platforms.

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) transforms routine office payroll tasks into automated programs.

Global Payroll Delivery Models integrates global payroll into one delivery system, allowing users to manage different regulatory requirements across countries.

Strategic Business Partnering makes payroll into a COE. In particular, executives can incorporate payroll into expansion plans earlier in strategic corporate discussions.

On-Demand Pay empowers workers by giving them more flexible payment options. Paying employees when they want to be paid promotes company loyalty.

Payroll Automation provides several benefits, including improving compliance, saving time and money, strengthening security, delivering data analytics, and realizing the value of HCM.

Future Needs of Payroll

Digitization will transform payroll operations from simple processing tools to a strategic COE (Center of Excellence). This will enable greater agility and resilience in navigating volatility, supporting strategic plans, and creating global payroll solutions. Payroll continues to be a critical, core element in improving the employee experience. It must promote trust through timely, accurate, transparent results and guided insights.

Mobile Accessibility

Mobile first, if not mobile only, UI /UX expectations will escalate. People already expect to do everything on their phones, and payroll is no exception.

Artificial Intelligence / Machine Learning

AI/ML will augment practitioners and employees with guided, predictive insights and decision making. This will create consistent payroll outcomes and improve data quality.

Alternative Payment Methods

Demand for alternative payment methods will escalate. Already, a number of digital options exist, and some businesses are even exploring crypto payment methods.

On-demand wage access

Employer integrated earned wage access for on-demand payroll will become a standard payment option expected of employers. Post-2020, people are used to on-demand transportation, entertainment, and delivery. Payroll will be treated no differently.

Legal & Compliance

Navigating intensifying compliance directives globally will remain a top challenge. Firms of all sizes will increasingly see their footprints pulled into new countries of operation, and the complexity of their legal needs will grow rapidly. International payroll services are necessary for managing international employees and a global workforce.

Flexible & Agile Payroll Models

Payroll operating models will require modern capabilities to scale, remain agile, and navigate future volatility. Manual data entry and manipulation is simply too slow, and takes valuable time away from work. Automation, on the other hand, will enable practitioners to focus on value-added tasks.

Predictive Analytics

Globally consolidated, predictive analytics reporting will be a standard, integral tool for leveraging the rich data sets that payroll holds. They will enable users to discover insights in employee data, identify bottlenecks, and streamline their overall payroll process.

Together, these needs will transform payroll services from simple processing operations into a strategic COE and advisor to the business and to HR.

Platform-based Approaches to Payroll

Immedis logo pointing at multiple different icons

Modern payroll services require a platform-based approach, incorporating technology, services, and extended integrated capabilities through a single global solution. Because no single feature suffices to modernize payroll, suitable systems will require a platform that can handle dozens of new features. Some of the most relevant features include:

Clearly, this is not a challenge for a single piece of software. Each business will have its own set of needs, which will likely include some subset of the features listed above. That’s why a flexible platform, with a 3rd party API marketplace, is the best option for businesses. Flexible platforms allow businesses to operate the core of their payroll while also choosing which specific applications to integrate to meet their unique needs.

A Practical Approach to Payroll Transformation

Dozens of features fit together to meet the growing needs of payroll and HCM in the 21st century. The worst way to accomplish this is to try to solve all problems one by one, with separate pieces of software that need to be carefully integrated by hand. Unfortunately, many businesses go this route, only to waste time and money and introduce errors and security risks to their system.

The best way to transform payroll to solve modern problems is to use a single, integrated platform. This approach allows data to be shared across applications, allowing users to manage their tasks with flexibility. Businesses can pick and choose the individual APIs they need and plug them into their system without having to worry about whether or not they will work.

Immedis is a global payroll provider that offers a fully integrated global payroll solution. Through a combination of automation, digitalization, and predictive insights, our platform allows payroll and HR managers to turn payroll into a valuable tool for managing workers and ensuring compliance with domestic and foreign employees alike.

We often say that our biggest competitor is Microsoft Excel.

It is true that much of international payroll comes down to operations on spreadsheets. Some prospective clients ask why they should use Immedis if they can get away with using Excel. To which we answer: why would you want to rely on spreadsheets? Spreadsheet applications like Excel don’t handle compliance issues, manage different rules for different countries, or provide security. Compared to robust global payroll providers, it’s like driving a horse and buggy instead of a car.

Not all companies realize the immense difference that global payroll operations can make, but many are starting to see where they are lacking. We took a survey with GPA (Global Payroll Association) to find out where our services can have the greatest impact. To start, our survey discovered that our fears were not misguided. Over 71% of respondents indicated that they frequently use Excel within payroll processing and data analysis.

Of course, the optimistic take on this is that most of the potential payroll application market is still untapped. Those 71% of businesses could all benefit from using Immedis software.

Let’s take a look at some other key results of the survey.

International Payroll Close: From Comfort to Crunch Time

We asked companies the following question: “What is your current payroll close date for all data inputs and changes?”

Respondents fell into four broad classes:

This suggests that most organizations could do better when it comes to their payroll close time. Few are handling data in real time. Most companies lose time by transferring information back and forth between external service providers. Imagine the nuances and complexity beyond just compensating employees as well. When focusing on other countries throughout the world, there is a very different approach to benefits, tax, withholding and things like bonuses and commission. Excel can track variances, in theory, but it becomes increasingly difficult to verify changes as they happen each month. With 39% of respondents claiming that they are processing payroll 6 days before payroll close, this is the equivalent of cramming for a test in university. Too much margin for error, and completely negates a Payroll specialist’s ability to make strategic decisions versus reactionary decisions.

Vendor Relations

We wanted to get a sense for how businesses managed their payroll through multiple vendors. One advantage of using an integrated global payroll system is that it combines data and processes into a single platform. It immediately alleviates potential shortcomings or variability within external partners.

Our survey discovered that over 44% of organizations are juggling at least 5 vendors at once, with some managing over 100!  We also wanted to find out about the beliefs and attitudes regarding vendors for those we surveyed.

Two questions we asked were:

Do you believe there is a single vendor who can handle all of your international payroll needs?

How important is achieving international payroll delivery through a single vendor?

Together, this information suggests that there is a vast segment of the market that is simply poorly informed about their options, or they have been burned in the past from other partners that have over-promised. More than half of businesses might not even know that their global payroll needs can be handled with a single vendor. And a large chunk does not know that delivering international payroll through a single vendor can have a tremendous impact.

Integration with Human Capital Management (HCM) Software

international workers using a multi country payroll software with the world in the backdrop

Our survey results showed that most organizations lack payroll and HCM integration, or lack HCM systems entirely.

Integrating global payroll with HCM systems is one way in which Global Payroll systems like Immedis provide immense value to businesses. It means easier data sharing and analysis. The fact that most organizations have some form of HCM in place, but very few have seamless integration with Payroll, means that Global Payroll is poised to provide benefits to large swathes of the market.

Payroll Information Access to Enable Proactive Decision Making

Global payroll systems provide the greatest speed and ease of access for payroll reports and employee data analytics compared to any other solution. Regretfully, not enough businesses take advantage of this fact.

With most organizations pursuing a sub-optimal path to accessing payroll reports and analytics, this drastically lengthens the time it takes to produce global payroll related reports. This can make it harder to pay payroll taxes and adhere to local tax laws.

With just 16% of respondents receiving reports at optimal speed, that leaves 84% who could potentially benefit from Immedis’ services. The data speaks for itself.

Employee Experience

International employees may need to update their payroll related information for a variety of reasons. They may move, change phone numbers, take leave, or request changes to their payment schedule. It follows that modern global payroll processes allow for global employees to self-service their change requests. Payroll data, much like Healthcare information, is also personal and private. It only makes sense for employees to have the ability to change their own information and be in control of things like banking, geographic information, etc.

Yet almost half of organizations surveyed have no way for employees to do this:

Additionally, a modern payroll solution would allow for international employees to request on-demand pay. Modern people, after all, expect on-demand rides, food, and tickets at the push of a button. The weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly payment schedule is largely a vestige of the 20th century. With statistics outlining that nearly half of organizations create additional hurdles for employees, this creates unnecessary friction and a lack of control.

Very few organizations offer on-demand pay:

Conclusion: Why Global Payroll Has Room to Grow

Not enough businesses have the proper awareness or take advantage of global payroll systems. It can be an intimidating initial conversation for a Payroll Specialist, CFO or CIO to wrap their mind around unifying In-Country Partners around one global Solution. Immedis has made the conscious choice to partner with 5 of the leading HCM Suite’s to fast track onboarding and reduce switching costs. Our research suggests that this is largely due to a lack of information. When businesses think they can get away with Microsoft Excel, they might not bother looking for other solutions. The other unfortunate reality is that the cliché, “If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it” applies when information and awareness is lacking. We are on a mission to help folks understand there is a better, more efficient way.

4 reasons why payroll has room to grow

Global Payroll Setup provides many advantages that not enough businesses enjoy:

Immedis offers a global payroll application that helps systematically manage all of the above details. Our system brings businesses to the highest level of integration with regards to HCM and Payroll. It is self-operating and self-correcting, allowing users to submit and access data in real time across domains.

Recently, Immedis and GPA took a survey of those within the payroll industry. We wanted to get a closer look at how organizations manage their global payroll data. We discussed the significance of these results for the bigger business picture in another article, but here we wanted to take a look at the statistics for a deeper dive into the “why” behind them.

We will examine insights from the following areas:

In every case, we found that most businesses operate with subpar payroll technology. They seem to be unaware of what the cutting edge of global payroll technology even is or looks like. They may not know how to transition to modern payroll. We believe that better messaging and communications can help organizations learn about their options and deliver better payroll to their employees.

Vendor Relations

Companies doing business in multiple countries face multiple different sets of regulatory requirements. As a result, many companies find themselves using separate vendors for each country. While this may function on some level, it is a poor global payroll data solution compared to using a single global payroll provider for comprehensive payroll data management.

Having a unified global payroll system means that it is far easier to share, analyze, and manage information across all of payroll. It also means that expanding into new countries is far easier—instead of having to get a new vendor for each new country, you can simply use the scaling power of your existing provider to expand.

person on the left stressed with managing payroll data and on the right the Immedis logo as the solution

The number of vendors that some organizations use is really incredible. We discovered that over 44% rely on at least 5 vendors at once, with some managing over 100. What likely happens is that a company doesn’t see the value of global payroll providers at first, and then gets stuck in a loop of adding new vendors.

Consider a company that only operates in the United States. If they choose to add locations in Canada, they might elect to simply get a new payroll system for Canada. Not seeing their distant global expansion, they don’t see the point in global payroll processing. And so with every new country they expand to, they get a new vendor, until they have too many to manage.

Evidence for this possibility comes from the fact that most companies don’t know about the possibility of global payroll.

We asked:

Do you believe there is a single vendor who can handle all of your international payroll needs?

To which 42.4% said yes, and 57.6% said no. This means that more than half of organizations surveyed are simply unaware of the massively cost-saving option of global payroll. Perhaps these organizations are content with their situation and are not searching for alternatives. But many of those surveyed would likely not be content with multiple providers if they knew about global payroll.

We also asked:

How important is achieving international payroll delivery through a single vendor?

To which 46% said very important, 40% said somewhat important, and 14% said not that important. It is likely that many of those for whom single-vendor delivery is important are also in the majority who don’t know about global payroll. Only a minority thinks they would not benefit from having a single vendor, but many of them would probably change their mind if they were better informed.

Despite this, almost half of our respondents have had problems with their payroll providers.

We asked:

Has your payroll provider(s) ever failed to deliver on their service?

To which 46.8% said yes, and 53.2% said no. Combined with the above results, this is astonishing- most respondents have had problems with their payroll providers, yet don’t know or don’t care about using a single provider. Yet having a single provider would improve accountability and transparency, and reduce the chances of error.

International Payroll Close

Modern global payroll solutions, like Immedis, allow for rapid, real-time delivery of information. But old-fashioned systems, which can be as basic as an Excel spreadsheet and manual entry, are much slower. They often require days or weeks of work to correct the data, and make inputs and changes. They are also lacking in data security.

We asked survey respondents the following question:

“What is your current payroll close date for all data inputs and changes?”

The results indicated that there is a wide spread in payroll close dates, with 39% saying under 6 days and 11.7% saying more than 15. In this case, it is clear that many organizations would benefit from real-time data and improved data security.

Employee Experience

Employee experience is at the heart of payroll operations. Getting paid is, after all, the main reason why people work, even if they do find meaning in the work itself. When it comes to employee experience, there are many things that payroll providers can do to make employees happier.

New trends, such as on-demand payment, give employees greater control over their own payroll. Better communication processes for payroll queries make life easier. And guarantees for remote work and gender pay equality ensure that workers feel they are being treated fairly.

We wanted to know what initiatives, if any, our survey respondents were taking to improve their employee experience. We gave them a list of possible initiatives that they could check off if their payroll teams and data were being used to support them.

illustration of employees filling out a survey on their payroll solution and satisfaction

Our survey results showed that only a minority, 37.3%, were improving the employee experience at all. As for specific results, a mere 7.4% said they were improving their employee well-being, and 15.7% were promoting diversity and gender equity. In addition, less than 12% were using payroll to facilitate remote work. Given how popular remote work has become in recent years, there is a lot of room for improvement here.

Again, many companies are likely not aware of the options that global payroll brings. If they were, they might be more likely to take these initiatives. But it is particularly surprising that so few are using payroll to promote diversity and gender equity, given that salary parity is a big part of equality.

Conclusion: Why Communication About Global Payroll Is So Important

Only a minority of the payroll managers we surveyed were taking full advantage of the powers of global payroll. Most delivered lackluster employee experiences, had poor payroll close cycles, or were tied up in complicated networks of multiple payroll vendors.

We believe that more businesses would benefit from global payroll if they received more communications and information about it. Companies that have dozens of vendors, for example, might have had just one for years, as soon as they started expanding internationally. This would have led to lower rates of problems with payroll providers and easier management of data.

In any case, the insights from the GPA survey are valuable for our continued operations and decision-making.

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