Inefficient compliance isn’t just painful for HR and payroll teams and the people they serve — it’s also costly and harmful to the business at large.
A report by JD Supra indicates that as many as 76% of Form I-9s nationally contain errors. Each I-9 already costs over $7 to record into a Human Capital Management (HCM) system, and correcting an error adds another 10%, while consuming 17 minutes of an HR professional’s time.
On top of these lost hours, compliance inefficiencies also erode employee trust and run the risk of penalties, such as when you have incomplete I-9 forms. Worse, wrangling with compliance issues isn’t the fundamental purpose of an HR or payroll team — supporting the business is. Every minute lost to compliance-related complexity is one that can’t be spent on strategic projects.
Saving time with compliance requires modernizing processes to keep pace with regulatory changes. Issues like tax withholding complexity related to the COVID-19 pandemic underscored how quickly compliance issues can change, and why it’s important to have scalable automation in place beforehand. Here are six ways to save time on compliance.
1. Formalize your monitoring of compliance regulations
One of the most time-consuming aspects of employer compliance is staying current with regulations, especially for large organizations with offices located across many states. Every year there are numerous changes affecting employers at all levels of government and managing these updates can stretch an HR team to its limits.
For example, on January 1, 2021, a number of new California statutes came into effect governing everything from paid family leave to COVID-19 reporting. There are also ongoing disparities between states to keep up with, such as how pay statements are accessed and what information is included in them.
Traditionally, managing these complexities has been a people-intensive process, requiring long hours and lots of manual work from HR and payroll teams. For organizations that still choose to do monitoring in-house, it’s important to dedicate people to review industry sources and then have the right processes in place to manage and implement updates across your company.
There’s a more convenient way forward, though — namely, working with an outside partner like CIC Plus, who manages all regulatory updates automatically with its Compliance Library. This approach ensures that your compliance practices are always current.
2. Automate HR processes wherever possible
Beyond automating your compliance monitoring, HR teams can also benefit from broader process automation that eliminates error-prone and time-consuming manual activities. Automation can simplify compliance and free up time for other initiatives.
The growth of robotic process automation (RPA) in HR is a case in point. A 2020 survey from Sierra-Cedar HR Systems noted a 50% increase in RPA usage in HR from the previous year. Some of the major benefits cited included:
- Easier compliance, since adjusting to a new law is a matter of updating software rather than retraining entire teams.
- More streamlined collection of information for routine requests like those related to transition assistance and certification renewals.
- Email automation for faster, more scalable communications across departments.
Automation reduces the administrative burden HR and payroll teams experience and curbs the volume of calls into support centers, too. It also has taken on greater importance during the pandemic, helping HR teams provide a consistent employee experience for all employees—regardless of their location.
HR and payroll should regularly review their current processes and evaluate if any changes related to technology and external providers can further improve compliance.
3. Look to streamline your employee onboarding processes
The bulk of all employer compliance activities occur during new employee onboarding. Employees need to complete an average of 18 forms during onboarding, along with numerous other activities like training sessions and introductory meetings.
The shift to remote work has also greatly complicated the onboarding process. Because new hires are not on-site with HR professionals to guide them, they need tools that can steer them through onboarding with minimal guidance. Employers should focus on delivering a consistent onboarding experience to new hires, regardless of whether they are on-site or working remotely.
How-to videos and video conferencing are particularly important in this context, as they can provide direct and contextual guidance. More broadly, try to simplify onboarding processes wherever possible by removing unnecessary or confusing steps that may require time-consuming follow up over channels like email and phone calls.
4. Optimize your key HR technology systems and tools
Many HR departments use multiple tools for similar tasks and could benefit from technology consolidation or at least better integration between their tools. Otherwise, HR technology can quickly become overwhelming and costly, putting efficient compliance at risk.
With the help of a partner, HR can implement seamless integrations between technology systems to automate the flow of employee data and streamline compliance. For example, workflow automation suites like ServiceNow can be connected to CIC Plus services for tax withholding, to automatically gather the right tax information upfront. This setup eliminates the need for extensive manual data management.
Likewise, implementing single sign-on (SSO) across HR and payroll systems and tools both strengthens compliance and improves the employee experience. SSO helps avoid common login issues like having to remember too many passwords, and this efficiency in turn diminishes the number of support calls made to your teams.
Creating an accessible, yet secure system, through which employees can manage their tax forms and perform other HR and payroll functions is also important, especially in remote work situations. Implementing these types of platforms simplifies year end season and provides a smoother user experience, too.
5. Look for opportunities to enhance your employee experience
One of the most time-consuming aspects of compliance for employers and employees alike is when an employee is unsure what to do and needs to ask a question. Productivity for everyone is impacted. One way to avoid these scenarios is to make sure employees have the proper guidance needed to complete their compliance tasks.
Be sure your HR systems deliver employee self-service effectively by providing guidance and automated workflows. This eliminates any guesswork and reduces the chances that errors will be made. Newer features, including AI-driven guidance and chat bots, replace the need for HR and payroll teams to support employee requests in many cases.
6. Encourage employees to register for electronic form delivery
This may seem like a minor step. However, the majority of employees — more than 70%, in fact — still receive paper year-end tax statements and ACA reports delivered through the mail.
Paper-based delivery delays the receipt of important tax-related information for employees. It also increases costs for employers by forcing them to pay for printing and postage. Electronic forms maintain compliance without any of this extra overhead.