My Christmas List for Technology 2023

Each year I write my list to Santa for the things I dream or wish for when it comes to technology across HR, Payroll and Finance. I’ve been good this year, I should be on the nice list!


1. My first wish relates to user adoption. Please Santa, have users adopt our systems.

Investing in new technology is an exciting time – filled with promises of what will be delivered, the savings we will make, the efficiencies we will introduce, and the shiny new site to log into that solves all our problems.

But – what happens when user adoption isn’t quite what we expected? In a recent Gartner survey of technology leaders 57% said they had ongoing concerns about the adoption of the technology they had purchased. Should we scrap the technology and buy new? That is rarely the correct answer.

Interestingly, more and more of the leading tech providers are investing in reaching outside of the platform, and giving employees the ability to interact with HR, payroll and finance transactional activities through other business Apps such as Teams, Slack or Google.

Will this mean the death of the user interface for end users eventually? And what does this mean for engagement?

Certainly, from a data gathering perspective, utilising the technology whether in the UI or at arm’s length through connected apps doesn’t really make much difference. So, what are the key issues with user adoption we aim to address?

Historically the ‘landing page’ within the relevant software is an easy to navigate page which lists all the relevant interactions for the user, contains communications about the business processes included within the solution and hosts the native capabilities of the solution. Accessing processes via a third-party tool removes some of the user experience and limits the potential guidance for those processes.

If users find processes frustrating, cumbersome, or not user-friendly they will inevitably find workarounds (it still surprises me how many users don’t book annual leave online in HR solutions as the perception is the system is wrong, so teams adopt spreadsheets). Indeed, my Mum works for the NHS and maintains an annual leaver tracker for her team in an Excel sheet – bonkers!

Improving the adoption of technology requires end-user feedback to improve the technology, to incrementally fix issues, with a robust change management plan supported by the desire of the stakeholders on the evolution of digital maturity. Think NPS (Net Promoter Score) for your tech – what would your users score yours?


2. My second wish – let’s get this AI thing bottomed out – are we, or aren’t we?

Another important discussion is the amount of information written on AI and its applications in technology (ironically a lot of that content will have been created by AI!). But who are the people that actually know what is happening in the world of technology in our space?

One professor we work with regularly cited that this is one of the first topics that we can’t go to the library to get a book on – because the landscape is changing so quickly even the publishers can’t keep up with the topic so trusted online sources are our only place to look.

I defer to two people who I deem to be experts in this – for different reasons. Aaron Harris (CTO at Sage) who discusses the Sage approach to AI (and they have been doing it for longer than you would imagine) and Steve Elcock, CEO at ElementSuite who positively ‘Geeks out’ when talking about AI.

At a session with Steve, he made a really interesting point that has stayed with me, and I reflect on here. If AI is producing a large percentage of the content, and is using limited or outdated data, when AI next reviews data to produce the next set of content are we in an ever-diminishing circle of degraded quality? How do we prevent that – by sharing more data? Is that secure? How do we know?

There are a lot of unanswered questions – AI is set to be a disruptor (and let’s not forget the disruption at the business that really exposed AI to the masses!).

In finance and payroll in particular there needs to be firm trust built in AI tools before unleashing it to the masses. Generative AI is particularly important in this field, as the tool can learn about your specific data set and start to identify things like outlier transactions e.g. someone who usually doesn’t get a bonus has suddenly been paid a bonus, or a PO was raised for £10k but the invoice is being posted for £15k. AI can alert the human to the potential error – working together rather than instead of.

So, the question remains – are we or aren’t we when it comes to AI? I for one am wishing for clarity with the new year.


3. My third and final wish for next year Santa – Sort out holiday pay!

From 1st January 2024, the law will more clearly specify what is included in holiday pay for the first four weeks’ annual leave so that, to the extent it does not already do so, it must now include:

  • Payments, including commission payments and performance-related bonuses, which are intrinsically linked to the performance of tasks which a worker is obliged to carry out under the terms of their contract;
  • Payments for professional or personal status relating to length of service, seniority, or professional qualifications; and
  • Other payments, such as overtime payments, which have been regularly paid to a worker in the 52 weeks preceding the calculation date.

For irregular workers and part year holiday years – In relation to leave years starting on or after 1 April 2024, these workers will instead be subject to new regulations, which will provide:

  • A new holiday entitlement whereby holiday accrues based on 12.07% of the hours worked in the previous pay period; and
  • An optional right for employers to implement a system of rolled-up holiday pay for their irregular-hours and part-year workers. This will be based on a 12.07% uplift on pay paid at the time work is done, instead of when the worker takes annual leave.

So – we had the 12.07% and then we didn’t – and some of us never stopped using it – but now it is back and it is ok? Yes – that about sums it up!

Is there anything you would like to add to your wishlist for Santa? Let us know!


This blog has been written by James Proctor, Chief Operating Officer at Phase 3.

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Written by : Laura Lee

Laura’s role as Head of Marketing sees her continually looking for new opportunities to tell the world how great Phase 3 is.

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