Payroll goes green?

by HCA20 May 2009

As year-end approaches, all eyes are on meeting the reporting deadlines and ensuring that your workforce's Payment Summaries go out on time. So it wouldn't be surprising if the last thing on a payroll manager's mind is how to make the payroll more 'green'. However, there has actually never been a better time to consider how to make payroll and HR processes environmentally friendly.

Despite moves to put reporting processes online, year-end is still the time when payroll has the biggest impact on the environment, with massive amounts of paper being used to print various reporting materials. While going green may not be top priority at this time of year, it would be a good time to evaluate your payroll processes and consider ways they could be made more environmentally friendly.

Going online to cut the carbon

Making payroll more green can take many different forms. For some organisations, it means moving processes online, from managers and employees requesting benefits to on-boarding staff to managing the exit process. Others are able to take this a step further and even offer online payslips, reducing a major paper-waster from the process. And for those companies where the workforce is not computer-based, or their staff refuse to say goodbye to the payslip in their hand, it can be made a greener process by printing them on recycled paper. This shows it's not impossible to create an environmentally-friendly payroll.

NorthgateArinso is helping many businesses achieve this greener vision of payroll and HR.

The Body Shop UK, for example, has extended its pledge to 'Protect our Planet' to its HR services through expanding the chain's use of ResourceLink. The integrated HR and payroll solution includes a 'self-service' module that will reduce paper waste. With ResourceLink's self-service approach to HR, employees can fill in time sheets and holiday or training request forms online. The tool will cut down both time and paper wasted in HR processes.
The Body Shop first outsourced its head office payroll to NorthgateArinso in 2003. The company then extended the service to include retail units in 2005, and now provides additional online services for HQ-based staff.

Justin Taylor, HR partner at The Body Shop, commented: "Our work with NorthgateArinso enables us to improve efficiency and provide a better service for employees. By cutting down on the amount of paper used in the HR process, we're also able to strengthen our commitment to the environment."

Making paper greener

In addition to reducing the amount of paper used in their HR processes, where printing is unavoidable, organisations should be considering the switch to the use of recycled paper.

Not everyone can access the Internet, so for large companies, providing online payslips isn't enough. Most of the 'official' information we receive these days can be printed on recycled paper, for example bank statements and council forms. Payroll documents have, until now, been the final resting place for 'virgin' paper, but now there are no excuses.

By printing on recycled paper, businesses will save 1.32 tonnes of CO2 per tonne of paper, when compared to printing on virgin paper.

These days, just about every big business has implemented a green corporate social responsibility policy, and using recycled payslips can go a long way to fulfilling carbon commitments. At NorthgateArinso, we've worked closely with the printer and the paper supplier to ensure the same quality of printing and sealing is possible on recycled paper. Trials have proved that it's possible to have 'green' payslips at little extra cost. We're hoping that many of our payroll customers will make recycled wage slips part of their environmental strategy.

As our impact on the environment gets higher and higher on corporate agendas, it won't be long before HR and payroll departments are asked to prove that they're taking steps to reduce their carbon footprint. Online processes and payslips and the use of recycled paper where it's absolutely necessary are relatively straightforward ways to show you're taking the green agenda seriously, and to contribute to the organisation's journey towards having a paperless office.

About the author
Max Nicholls is managing director of HR software company NorthgateArinso Australia


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