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Simon EllisNov 9, 2022 11:48:54 AM7 min read

What is the cost of a printed payslip?

Payroll management is a crucial part of any business - and it can often be one of the most time-consuming. When you talk about payroll in most companies, we tend to only think about processing payments in the form of wages, salaries and other benefits on a weekly or monthly basis. In reality, that's only one aspect of payroll management in the Human Resources function. For the most part, businesses across the spectrum have a handle on how to do this efficiently. However, another aspect of payroll that's widely overlooked is where a real challenge lies: distributing payslips. What is the real cost to company of a printed payslip?

Are your employees Office-Based or Deskless?

If you work in an office or run payroll for a company where most of your employees work from a desk, distributing payslips probably isn’t much of a challenge. Even if your payroll and HR software is relatively basic, you most likely have the functionality to automatically send payslips via email as soon as a salary or wage is processed. However, the odds that your workforce is based mainly in the office are surprisingly low because, in reality, 80% of the world's workforce is deskless. That means their work doesn't involve them sitting behind a computer all day. In South Africa, 97% of the workforce is deskless. If this is the first time you’re hearing that astonishing statistic, you’re not alone.

Clearly, Silicon Valley and almost every other HRMS (Human Resource Management System) company in the world has also overlooked that fact because most HR software is built for those that sit behind a desk.

There are a few simple reasons why distributing payslips - and managing most other basic Human Resources Admin - is exceptionally difficult when most of your employees do not work in an office or at a desk. Firstly, it’s tough to maintain a database with up-to-date employee contact details when most of them don’t have email addresses. Employee self-service also fails here because it is common for deskless workers to change their cellphone numbers regularly, and there is no easy way for them to update their contact details in the company database.

Secondly, the most common methods of distributing payslips, via SMS and Email, have meagre engagement rates. That’s not even mentioning that many deskless workers either don’t have email addresses or rarely use them even when their company issues one. In countries with high data costs, like South Africa, employee self service apps fail because they are data-heavy. They’re also ineffective because open rates can’t be tracked, and bulk SMS services are normally one-way channels, making it more difficult for employees to query their payslips.

Clearly, distributing payslips to your deskless workforce is a challenge. The traditional channels to reach them either aren’t available or aren’t working. But being a predominantly deskless company is not the only reason why payslips cost you a fortune.

Digital Transformation (whether you like it or not)

During the first few months of the Covid-19 pandemic, companies that hadn't digitally transformed were faced with an ultimatum: adapt or die. While this reality impacted companies of all sizes, it was a far ruder awakening for smaller businesses (SMMEs or SMBs). Large corporates tend to adopt new technologies faster than privately owned SMMEs. This is because of 2 main reasons 1) they have the financial resources (budget) to do so 2) and the in-house technical expertise to implement and maintain these digital systems. Without the pressure of large stakeholder groups and boards pushing for regular digitisation of processes, SMMEs must rely on manual, often paper-based processes to get jobs done in their companies. However, digital transformation is critically important for all businesses for growth, staying competitive, efficiency and cost savings.

When it comes to distributing payslips, it’s pretty common for smaller organisations to do so manually. That usually means printing each individual payslip, placing it in an envelope and having it delivered directly to an employee. Suppose this is how your company distributes payslips to your employees. In that case, you aren’t alone because the reality is that most employers are doing it. The bad news is, it’s costing you far more than you may realise.

The Real Cost: Time & Money

Printing, folding, licking, sticking and delivering dozens or hundreds of payslips might not sound like a hugely time-consuming activity, but it is, and we’ve quantified it with some of our clients. One of them is one of South Africa’s largest ceramic tile manufacturers. When we approached them about Jem’s HR systems for deskless workers, they immediately understood why they needed it. We learned that their HR administrators and payroll staff spent almost 27 hours a month distributing payslips to their 1,100 employees. Another client of ours who operates specialised dementia and Alzheimer's care facilities used to spend 13 hours a month distributing payslips.

There’s also the cost of dealing with queries on payslips, like 'how do i download payslips on my phone?', and 'how do I get copies of old payslips?'. Our previously mentioned client in the ceramics industry was fielding up to 5 queries per day on their payslips - equating to almost 3 days of their time per month. This isn't just a waste of time but an unnecessary burden on your already stretched HR and payroll staff.

There’s an easy way to calculate the cost of this time: we can look at the team involved, calculate their hourly rate and work out the direct cost of their time. Another, more troubling perspective is to consider what could’ve been achieved if those hours were spent productively. And make no mistake about it: when there’s an affordable, simple, digital solution for distributing payslips to deskless workers, a paper-based process is nothing but a waste of time, not to mention the environmental impact.

There are more direct costs involved, too: printing and distribution. Across our Clients, we’ve worked out that this can cost, on average, R20 per employee per month.

How Jem solves the problem

Regardless of your company size or industry, Jem can help you distribute payslips to your employees via WhatsApp. Jem plugs into your existing HR or Payroll system, and set up can take as little as 2 hours. Importantly, there is no need to change or update your current system to work with us.

Almost every internet user in South Africa uses Whatsapp, and it's not only the most downloaded but the most actively used application in the country. So while the rest of the industry continues to obsess over the minority of workers who have regular access to email and SMS, we decided to build an HR system that is Whatsapp-first so that you can reach, engage and manage your workforce where they are and where the work is happening.

If you’re an HR or payroll administrator, you can get set up with Jem in three simple steps.

  1. Download a CSV file from your existing payroll system and upload it into the Jem Dashboard - an intuitive web page. Jem’s onboarding team can assist you here, ensuring you fully understand how to works from the outset.
  2. Download all PDF payslips from your existing payroll system and upload them into the Jem Dashboard. Jem’s system then works its magic and matches the PDF payslips with the correct employees.
  3. Once you've done that you're employees now have access to their payslips via WhatsApp. If they have a query, they can respond on WhatsApp which allows you to resolve the query digitally.

It’s probably easy to see how much faster and simpler this is than distributing paper payslips manually, but we’ll quantify it for you. That ceramic manufacturer that spent 27 hours a month processing payslips now spends 15 minutes on average and brought their 200+ payslips queries a month down to 2 on average. That care facility that spent 13 hours a month now spends 10 minutes. On average, Jem saves businesses 90% of the time and costs three times less than printing and distributing payslips. That’s not just an improvement: that's an entire revolution for these businesses.

What else is costing you that you haven’t considered?

When it comes to the needs of deskless workers and how they’re being served (or, really, not being served), payslips are just the tip of the iceberg. Now that you know that HR systems aren’t built with your deskless employees in mind, think about all the other ways it's failing them and you. How are your employee's logging leave, and how is it administered in the office? How do they apply for an advance, how is it processed, and who bears the financial risk? How do you reach and engage your staff with urgent messages that simply cannot wait? Finally, is your current HR system enabling any of this, or is it simply ineffective?

If you’re ready to start using systems that work for you and your deskless teams, then book a demo with our team to find out why Jem is The Ultimate HR System For Deskless Teams.


Simon Ellis

Simon is the CEO of Jem, an African technology company that is making HR & Payroll easier using WhatsApp.