Revealed – the hidden costs of manual HR administration | Moorepay
March 28, 2024

Revealed – the hidden costs of manual HR administration

Woman filling out paperwork and doing manual calculations at home desk.

Manual administration can create many problems for HR, as working with spreadsheets and paper-based systems are cumbersome and laborious.

The negative impact of all this labour-intensive administration is most obvious in the amount of time and effort involved in people doing these tasks. This translates into higher costs and missed opportunities, such as preventing teams from working on more impactful HR initiatives.

Yet this is just the tip of the iceberg, as there are a host of unseen costs related to manual HR administration that may be sucking up resources and causing problems without you even realising it.

Here are seven of the most common hidden costs of manual HR administration:

Human error

No matter how efficient they may be, people will always make mistakes – it’s human nature. And this can be very costly for your business, especially when it leads to non-compliance. Even relatively minor mistakes can result in harsh penalties and fines – such as the Californian events-planning company fined over $600,000 simply because an employee failed to complete a form properly. The fall-out from this type of human error can also lead to expensive remediation work, increased audit costs, and the untold damage that reputational harm can do, in the event of a GDPR breach, for instance.

Productivity problems

If processes are slow and difficult, then employees across the organisation are going to spend much more time than is necessary for carrying them out. Relatively simple HR-related tasks – such as booking a holiday, requesting leave, organising training etc. – can take an age when done manually. And this has a direct effect on your productivity, as employees could spend this time far more usefully and profitably, doing what they are actually paid for.

Inflated reporting costs

Often with manual HR, things take place on a fragmented basis – with different systems for different tasks. So, when a report is needed that takes data from multiple systems – it is time-consuming and costly to produce.

Payroll errors

Relying on HR to manually provide employee data to payroll can lead to serious and costly mistakes. According to a report by accountancy firm UHY Hacker Young, payroll errors cost UK firms over £700million each year through overpayments to HMRC. As well as tax implications, there is also the hidden cost of unreported over-payments. While many employees will report an obviously inflated wage bill, some won’t – and if it’s not spotted elsewhere then the money is lost.

Fraudulent activity

Unscrupulous employees may also cost you through fraudulent activity. Figures uncovered by accountancy firm RSM show that employee fraud costs UK businesses more than £40million a year. And manual HR processes make fraud easier to carry out. For example, a manager could pay salaries to twenty people, when only nineteen real people exist on the payroll, and pocket the difference. Without a system to reliably control financial transactions, this kind of fraud would be relatively straightforward to carry out.

Quality of work

When people are overwhelmed, the quality of their work suffers – and too much manual admin can be overwhelming. This is particularly likely when you have an HR team using manual systems in an expanding company, as they are often expected to cope with growing staff numbers without extra help. And if the HR team is also responsible for a key strategic initiative – such as integrating new staff from a merged or acquired company – this critical programme may not get the attention it truly needs.

High HR team turnover

Inefficient manual processes could leave a bad impression on your key HR talent – the very people you are most anxious to keep but are most likely to be ambitious and looking elsewhere. In fact, according to a survey by HR magazine, a third of HR professionals are considering quitting their jobs due to spending too much time on administration. This can leave a big and costly hole in your team and leave you with the expense of a new recruitment process. Also, losing an employee means existing workers must increase their own workload to cover the gaps.

In summary

Although manual HR processes are becoming increasingly outdated, they are still operated by many small and medium-sized businesses.

Struggling with spreadsheets, juggling paper forms and rooting through endless files for documents is not only costly but unnecessary. The new breed of HR software packages can automate and simplify these processes – and save you from all the hidden costs that eat into your both budget and productivity levels.

Introducing digital HR systems is not about cutting overheads – it’s more about alleviating the tedious burden of manual processes. And this leaves your HR team to get on with useful tasks that actually boost your business performance, rather than hurting it.  

At Moorepay, we provide award-winning, cloud-based software that’s easy to use, accessible on any device, and backed by secure, Microsoft Azure technology. But we don’t stop there! Our HR and employment law services mean you can enjoy expert advice as well as documentation and on-site support, from our team of highly qualified HR and employment law specialists. Find out more about our HR solutions.

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About the author

Molly Ackland

Holder of a Digital Marketing Diploma with several years of experience in marketing, Molly is our Content & Communications Manager. Molly is responsible for all customer communications for Moorepay, and for leading on and producing key content on legislative and industry topics for the Moorepay knowledge centre.

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