Why is SaaS Payroll Software Popular in Asia Nowadays?

Software as a service (SaaS), or simply online software has been around for quite some time. This software distribution model is popular such that the software is centrally hosted by the vendor and licensed to customers on a subscription basis. With Asia being a fast growing region consisting of emerging and mature economies, SaaS payroll has a big role to play in productivity, cost and HR efficiency.

There are many ways to process payroll. Essentially, we look at 3 other methods – Manual Processing, On-premise Software, Payroll Outsourcing

Due to the affordability of SaaS payroll, there is no longer any doubt that manual payroll processing with Excel spreadsheet is an outdated practice. Compared to on-premise enterprise software, SaaS payroll software vendors offer reduced software cost, pricing flexibility, lesser implementation time and save the customers the hassle of updating the software themselves. Compared to payroll outsourcing, SaaS software is more affordable as a self service model.

Let’s explore the key drivers behind the growth of SaaS payroll, compared to these other more traditional payroll processing solutions.

Processing Payroll with Spreadsheet

As old as the Internet itself, many companies actually started off with payroll processing using Excel in the past, and even now. Using spreadsheet is useful for sole proprietors and when the company is a small startup, or sometimes when the company is family owned which involves a few family members. They may not even need a payslip!

As companies start to scale up and become more complex in operations as well as human resources, there is no doubt a need to automate and optimize payroll processing. For companies with more than 3 employees, the benefits of using SaaS payroll software should outweigh its cost. Although not free, SaaS payroll eliminates the monthly mundane task and manual calculations. SaaS payroll providers also keep track of provident fund rate changes, comply with local regulations and send notification reminders so companies can pay their employees on time.

Read more about the best practices to process payroll manually.

Using Enterprise Payroll Software

Before SaaS payroll takes centre stage, mid size corporations and large MNCs often have their payroll software installed as on-premise enterprise software. Companies need to spend on upfront capital investment to purchase these software products, install, maintain and update the software on their own. This is less efficient compared to cloud based software (SaaS) whereby software installation is not needed, and the vendor will do all necessary software maintenance. They charge the customers a small subscription fee for using the software based on number of employees.

With a Pay-As-You-Go subscription model, pricing becomes flexible and more justifiable. SaaS payroll providers typically charge for their software/services based on Per-Employee-Per-Month (PEPM).

The rise of a more digital savvy workforce and SaaS providers simplifying their payroll software for easy onboarding help to fuel the growth of SaaS payroll. Implementation time is greatly reduced so what used to take days just for onboarding and training to start using the software may now be reduced to hours.

Enterprise Payroll software is often expensive, and the smaller companies find themselves priced out of this option. With the SaaS model, these plenty of small companies and startups can also enjoy productivity gain by automating payroll processing using software.

Hence, The SMEs represents a huge market that would benefit from SaaS payroll solution.

Payroll Outsourcing VS SaaS Payroll

For larger enterprises (typically more than 100 headcounts or MNCs with multiple locations), there is another popular option to consider, which could be managed payroll service or payroll outsourcing. With payroll outsourcing, companies reduce the need to hire and train in-house payroll staff. Similar to SaaS software, local compliance is taken care of by the outsourcing vendor.

This end-to-end managed payroll services comes with a higher price but clients can often enjoy high quality professional services without dealing with payroll complexities at all.

Why SaaS Payroll?

APAC is the fastest growing and most dynamic economy now. It is also a diverse region with different languages, cultures and economies. Driven by robust growth, payroll providers of all kinds establish footprints in different market segments. Yet there are hardly dominant players that can thrive in all locations.

With all the funds pouring into SaaS payroll startups, these companies are in the news. The big reasons for the rise of SaaS payroll comes with its cost, flexibility, reduced implementation time & ease of use.

As companies big and small start to embrace SaaS payroll, it is indeed an exciting era for existing SaaS payroll providers and the newcomers.

2020 Public Holidays in Singapore

Here is the official Singapore public holidays for 2020. There are 4 public holidays falling on a Friday and 3 on a Sunday. So there will be 7 long weekends in total!

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*If your rest day falls on Saturday or Sunday which is a public holiday, the following Monday will be a public holiday.

Add 2020 Public Holidays to Your Calendar

Source: MOM Public Holiday Calendar

Understand more about Pay Calculation & Entitlement

Best Practices For Processing Payroll Manually

Every month, a handful of HR executives repeat a painful process of running complicated payroll for the entire company. From tracking employees’ attendance and overtime hours to calculation of commissions, claims, allowances and tax filing, these manual daunting tasks could be really challenging. Most important of all, mistakes are not tolerated and the Pay Day could not be delayed a single day.

The pay day is no doubt an exciting day for many of us. On the other hand, it could be a monthly nightmare if you are the payroll executive processing payroll manually.

Nowadays, complicated payroll processes could be automated to reduce paperwork and human errors. Using spreadsheets to manually calculate your company’s monthly payroll is more likely to cause delay and result in miscalculation. There is also the hassle of complying with local regulations such as IRAS Tax and CPF contribution rate.

For companies small or big, there are numerous payroll software solution providers in the market to help. These software could be SaaS based or proprietary solution that calculates salary payments and takes into account of bonuses, claims and allowances.

Most mid-to-large size corporations are already using Payroll solutions such as Workday HCM and Oracle. Some startups and small business owners may still be using Excel, but there is really no reason to do so as SaaS (or web based) payroll solution is really affordable.

If your company still processes payroll with Excel Spreadsheets, here are some tips that could make your life easier.

Historical Payroll Records

When preparing payroll for the current month, there is no doubt that you need to refer to past payroll records. It could be easy if your company has only 2 or 3 employees. When the headcount rises, so will your frustrations because managing payroll can be much more complex when more employees are involved. So, keeping proper and tidy records of employee historical payroll data is important.

We’re past the days of filing cabinets. Today, powerful payroll and HR software systems can store and retrieve past payroll information easily.

Classify Employees Correctly

It may sound simple but too often, companies fail to separate the different categories of workers. Especially in the Gig economy, our workforce is becoming more diverse. Employees could be Full Time, Part Time, Freelance, Interns, Seasonal, Volunteer and Independent Contractor. Understanding the distinction helps payroll executives to speed up payroll processing and avoid errors later.

Streamline Processes

It is imperative to conduct regular reviews of payroll processes and identify areas that can be optimized or removed. By identifying specific areas that require troubleshooting, this can help to increase productivity in the long run.

GIRO Payment

The HR department can save precious time with automated GIRO salary payment. This benefits both the HR/payroll department as well as accounting department. Printing cheques and delivering to employees can really consume a lot of time. It is also highly prone to errors. Direct deposits is definitely a quicker way to disburse salary to employees.

Payroll Dates & Deadlines

The payroll department can draw up a list of important payroll timeline for the entire year and mark down important dates, such as CPF monthly submission and year-end tax filing deadlines. This is important if there are different types of employees with different pay periods.


Taking Payroll Further…

Besides performing basic steps to optimize payroll processes, further measures could be done which may also involve other departments within the company.

Payroll Communication

Keeping your employees informed about payroll policies and procedures is an important way to keep employees engaged. To build trust and confidence, it is important to communicate any changes in policies and procedures to employees in a clear manner such as updating the company policies page, conducting a town hall or sending email announcements. This is also to avoid any misunderstanding or uncertainty within the workplace.

Regular Audits

Ideally, payroll audit should be conducted at least once per year to verify that processes are up-to-date and comply with local regulations. Audits are also needed to ensure payroll accuracy, and even unravel any potential instances of fraudulent activities.

Data Protection

Understandably, payroll data that is highly sensitive and confidential. Along with employee information, this data requires high levels of protection. Payroll data should be stored securely with encrypted (or password protected) Excel file. The file itself should only be accessed by authorized HR managers and management with various access levels.

If you are using cloud based solution, make sure your provider is using certified public data centers for highest security.

Using Payroll & HR Software

Payroll processing software is highly affordable nowadays. This comes in the form of SaaS payroll, which typically comes in a Pay-As-You-Go model. Besides payroll, many HR processes could also be automated. In fact, using a Payroll and Human Resource Management System can help the HR department to automate Payroll and HR processes completely.

When choosing the right platforms, it is important that the system is able to cater to multi-country and localized markets. As a payroll admin in an MNC, it could be a real headache if you need to deal with separate payroll or HRM systems for each country. So a single platform with multi-country capabilities will be highly desired.

While it is still possible to manage payroll manually with spreadsheets, the first step to increasing payroll productivity is to start adopting good payroll “habits”. To improve company work processes and efficiency in the long run, it is definitely important to consider a payroll and HRM software.

What Managers Can do About Employee Health & Wellness

What Managers Can do About Employee Health & Wellness

There is no secret for business success. For a company to thrive, you need thriving employees. In this article, we explore what managers can do to improve the health of their people and why it matters to your company.

Sedentary office, prolonged sitting, expanding waistline… these are just some of the terms associated with a modern workplace. Yet corporations, especially smaller companies, are not doing enough to address employee health and wellbeing.

There are many ways that managers can do to encourage employees to lead a more active and healthier lifestyle. Healthy employees are more productive at work, happier and this reduce the company’s healthcare cost in the long run.

A key component of employee wellness program is workplace wellness. In Singapore, several government agencies have already taken steps to drive the initiative. This is according to an article on Straits Times, “Stepping up workplace wellness efforts to boost staff productivity, morale“.

Awareness on employee wellness has also gained momentum in Asian companies. Increasingly, employee wellness could be measurable and linked to corporate benefits.

“Across Asia, wellness is increasingly considered a key component of the employee experience. As the concept of wellness gains ground, companies are starting to measure and report on the links between wellness and financial performance,” said Mr Sam Harvey-Jones, managing director of occupier services Asia at Colliers International.


A simple measure with no cost involved is to create an office culture that promotes wellbeing. Below are some practical steps that management could consider for a healthy workforce program.

Hourly Stretch Breaks

Sitting in front of the computer whole day could cause your neck and body to become stiff. Managers can encourage team members to perform hourly stretch breaks of about 5 minutes. This should ideally include neck and shoulder stretch, back stretch and some forms of leg raise. Employees do not need to leave their desk.

Again, there is no cost involved in these little exercises. Some companies may even encourage their people to stand up and stretch together.

Nutrition Counselling & Health Perks

It is commonly said that “We are what we eat”. Conducting a nutrition workshop could be very helpful for employees to eat healthier. As most of office work is sedentary in nature, many employees would want to reduce calorie intake or lose weight.

As a suggestion, HR department could introduce programs such as “Fruit of the week” whereby each employee receives a free fruit every week. This could be quite engaging for people to remember that fruits are important part of a healthy diet. It helps to raise awareness and employees become more conscious that they should eat fruits more often.

Office admin may also stock up the pantry with healthy snacks such as fat-free granola bars, fruits and nuts instead of crackers and sweets.

Weekly Recreation

While large tech companies have the funds to implement fancy perks within the workplace such as on-site gyms or standing desks, smaller companies can also create an office culture that encourages healthy living. This could include introducing weekly recreation activities such as 1 to 2 hours of basketball or jogging session. It really helps to promote team bonding and get everybody laughing and sweating.

According to research, team sports is proven to reduce stress…

Stress Management

From time to time, employees may feel stressed or burnout from work. As HR manager, you may help your employees by introducing accessible guidance how on to manage stress. A dedicated in-house counselor or department manager could be trained in how to recognize and manage stress for his/her team members.

There are many reasons why employees may feel stressed about work. It could be meeting deadlines, heavy workload, long working hours, office politics etc. And employees may not openly share how they feel. Good managers should identify these issues and help their subordinates manage stress instead of adding more.

Gym Subscriptions

For working adults, there is no doubt that most of us are short of time. Many employees have to cope with tonnes of work and challenging deadlines. However, it is still viable to allow employees to sneak in a nearby gym for a quick 30 minutes run during lunch break or after work.

Gym subscription does not come cheap. So, employers can do a tie up with gym operators to offer employees a subscription that comes with corporate discount. With lower gym subscription cost, employees may be more willing to go for workouts and lead a more active lifestyle.

Healthcare costs is expected to rise every year. Companies can introduce a holistic long term strategy that encourages employees to lead a healthier lifestyle without incurring hefty healthcare costs at the same time.

Flexible Leave Benefits

The workplace today is made up of a demographically diverse workforce that includes the Baby Boomers, Generation X, Y and Z. Different generations of workers have specific expectations when it comes to workplace wellbeing. For instance, Baby Boomers tend to focus on financial stability while the younger generations might expect more work freedom, autonomy and a sense of purpose doing their work.

Similarly, working mothers might expect a flexible employment arrangement. As male employees get more involved in caring for their infants nowadays, they may also seek more paternal leaves as well.

Since there is no one size fits all solution, companies can consider introducing varying leave benefits that cater to different employee groups.


How can Companies benefit…

Healthy employees are happier, request lesser time off and more productive at work. So for companies, is it worth the effort to invest in employee wellbeing program?

Attract Talented Employees

With health perks like gym subscription, flexi-leave arrangements, employers can definitely highlight to prospective employees in job ads, on social media or even during job interviews. This helps to promote the companies overall image that the company takes priority on employee wellness.

More Productive

As an employer, employee health and wellbeing does more than just making them happy at work. Happier and healthier employees naturally outperform the rest. For quite some time, management believed investing in employee health schemes to be a waste of money, yielding little rewards for the business. Yet, research shows that corporations are increasingly spending more than $90.7 billion globally per year on employee wellness program.

Lower Turnover

When it comes to running a business, turnover could be a big headache. High turnover can only mean negative impact on a business. When staff members quit, there are a few reactions that can take place in the company. Firstly, team morale drops and existing members may also consider looking elsewhere. Secondly, it could bring a lot of inconvenience for customers if the employee that resigned was in a customer facing role. Thirdly, getting a replacement could be costly.

Savvy companies understand they do whatever they could to retain the best people.

The Bottom Line

A workplace wellbeing that is high on an employer’s agenda will result in a more productive, loyal and committed workforce. There are plenty of “quick wins” that a company can implement to boost employees’ wellbeing in the short run. Of course, companies should not forget about long term wellness strategies.

This investment will eventually pay back through high levels of employee engagement, loyalty and retention.