March 16, 2021 Continuous Improvement, HCM Technology

Preparing for Change: Top Client Priorities We Are Observing for 2021

Since many businesses of all types and sizes took a wait-and-see stance during 2020 when it came to making HCM, WFM and payroll improvements, 2021 is shaping up to be a year of preparing for and embracing positive change. Changes that make employees’ lives easier and streamline administrative tasks to become more reliable, automated and accurate are in demand. Here, our two VPs of Client Services, Marta Williams and Jennifer Southworth, who have 56 combined years of industry experience, share the top client priorities they are observing for 2021.


Marta Williams, CPP, watched last year as many companies placed their HCM and payroll projects on hold. Now, she says, client demand for optimization projects is exploding. “If you have decided that now is the time to shake off the dust and start planning and executing projects, you should know that everyone else in the industry is doing that as well, everyone is getting very busy.” Below are some of the areas where Southworth and Williams feel HCM professionals will be spending time and money in 2021, as well as projects to think about addressing sooner rather than later.


Automating Manual HCM and Payroll Processes


The employee experience is very much on everyone’s mind. It is always a priority, yet since so many workers are literally sitting in a different place than they were pre-pandemic – a hastily thrown-together home office has become the new normal for so many workers – HCM professionals are looking at a different set of needs than they thought they were a year ago. Maintaining the employee’s sense of purpose and connectedness in a virtual environment looks different and requires different tools and techniques. Southworth says “the trend I am seeing is with the mobile workforce. They are needing more automated solutions such as the automated PTO request – replacements for the many things they used to be able to get done via communication within the office.”


HCM System & Process Optimization


The first step to understanding how your system can better serve employees and your organization’s new business needs is examining how the system and processes are currently set up. There may be functions you are underutilizing or opportunities for automation and efficiencies you are not taking advantage of. Having an experienced professional gather information about your current pain points, your immediate needs and your long-term business goals and comb through your system with you to discover ways in which you can achieve improved results is very valuable. Southworth says she has seen companies “ready to purchase a new system out of frustration with their current one, then engage Wise to complete a system review and realize that the current system can deliver what they want with minimal investment compared to purchasing a whole new system. Through the system utilization review I have seen HCM professionals fall in love with a system that just a few months back, they had been ready to abandon.”


Custom Reporting and Business Intelligence


At Wise, we saw an uptick in client desire for more custom reports and reporting training last year, a trend that has accelerated in 2021. HCM teams are eager to parse through the data for lessons learned and to identify best steps forward. The same holds for business intelligence and data analytics. Looking at what happened and why, as well as forecasting future outcomes, is incredibly valuable when setting goals and steering the direction of the business through still-uncertain waters. Many organizations have either optimized their HCM software’s capability to do this or invested in new software that does it exceedingly well, knowing it will pay dividends.


Automating Integrations & Interfaces – Improving Open Enrollment


Anything that helps upgrade manual processes to automated and facilitates accurate and swift communication between systems is of great value. Both Southworth and Williams agree that this year, particularly when it comes to automating carrier feed integrations, starting earlier is better. If you are planning to change benefit vendors, starting soon will very much aid the speed and success of the project. You can view what one of our experts has to say on the subject here.


Making the Move to Managed Payroll


With local regulations and evolving COVID legislation still very much keeping things lively – just this past week The ­­­­American Rescue Plan relief package was signed into law, further expanding the employee retention tax credits – many organizations are finding it prudent to engage the services of managed payroll professionals who will provide accurate payroll tax support, quarterly and annual reconciliation, timely tax filing, investigate remote worker tax issues and perform COVID act credit tracking as well as handle year-end issues. The value in shifting these critical tasks to a team of certified professionals who are 100% focused on all the changes that are happening and the best ways to protect their clients from risk and save them money can be enormous.


Wise Can Make Change Easier


Change can be painful and create extra work, yet the payoff can be huge. Wise consultants are here to advise, perform the heavy lifting, and be the Swiss army knife resource you need to get it all done. It is our job as well as our passion to successfully support clients with all their HCM, WFM and payroll needs. For 25 years it has been rewarding to experience a high rate of return business, and we have been particularly gratified to support our loyal clients with all the new issues that have cropped up throughout the pandemic. If you have questions, reach out to us at or 800-654-4550.


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