Study: HR Professionals Focus on Strategy, Productivity, and Technology Amid New Challenges

Annual Paychex Pulse of HR Survey reveals nearly nine in 10 HR professionals have a voice in company strategy

The 2020 Paychex Pulse of HR Survey, released , found that 88 percent of HR leaders feel they are a strategic partner within their organization, particularly as they play a vital role in navigating new regulatory challenges compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic. The fourth annual report from Paychex, a leading provider of HR, payroll, benefits, and insurance solutions, also shows that 80 percent of HR professionals believe workplace technology helps support their role as a strategic contributor to the business and another 79 percent say technology enables their workforce to be more efficient and productive.

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“Accelerated by new technology and a rapidly changing regulatory landscape, the job descriptions of HR professionals are evolving to encompass high-level decision-making and managing complex tasks that contribute to overall business strategy and success,” said Alison Stevens, Paychex director of HR services. “The COVID-19 pandemic has put this shifting role into sharper focus as HR leaders have quickly risen to the challenge, adapting to meet the needs of their workforce, navigating new and changing legislation, and working closely with executives to plan for the future.”

When asked to define their role within their organizations, most HR leaders describe themselves as a “strategic partner,” which rose from the fourth-most common self-described role in 2019 to first in 2020.

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Adoption of workplace technology pays off for HR departments
Sixty-nine percent of HR professionals report that their budgets will increase this year and technology tops the list (50 percent) of planned use for these additional funds. A downward trend in manual task approaches to HR also indicates that more HR professionals are integrating technology into their strategies. Compared with 2019, this year manual completion of rekeying of data is down 60 percent and time spent manually merging data to inform decision-making is down more than 40 percent.

“A big HR contribution this year was using more technology and fewer human resources,” said one respondent, a Colorado-based HR professional at a 100-person construction company. In fact, seventy-nine percent of HR leaders say that providing self-service options to employees via an HR application or portal is an important factor in meeting the needs of their workforce and freeing up time that would otherwise be spent on administrative tasks such as time-off requests and updates to personal information.

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