AI vs Humans, Who Has an Upper Hand?

AI vs Humans Who Will Have The Upper Hand?

One of the most talked about topics since November 2022 is whether AI will take over jobs normally performed by human beings. Thanks to the sudden emergence of ChatGPT, everyone has begun to sit up and listen, even from the non-tech fraternity. Its impressive conversational abilities has even caught Google by surprise, so much so that when the search giant tried to go one up on this new sensation with its version of AI chatbot called Bard, it failed embarrassingly and lost US$100 billion in market value in the process. Such is the magnitude of the race to global AI dominance.

But although AI is quick to process terabytes of data and expansive in its reach, it is only as powerful as the data it can have its claws on. In other words, if no such data exists, it will return no relevant results to us. 

So in terms of job replacements, perhaps the right way to look at AI is to recognise it as a brilliant data cruncher rather than as a thinking machine. For it to think, it will require additional programming and learning (by the AI itself), similar to what some of the more sophisticated AI tools are doing out there at the moment. But just on the basic level of AI alone, people shouldn’t fear it too much unless their jobs are nothing but the repetitive and mundane ones.

From Jetsons, Kitt, Jarvis to Siri, OK Google

Although AI has got the world’s attention now, it is actually not something new because whether we realise it or not, this intelligent software has already been around us for some time. For example, what we thought of as “awesome” when our mobile phone’s scheduler was able to remind us about an event, today “codes” can activate our lights when we set it to “sunrise” or “sunset”. We could also instruct for our email to be sent after reaching a certain location. But where this will lead to can be quite nerve wracking because not only can AI take commands from us when we say the word, it has also gone where no one has gone before.

Case in point, I found a report explaining how a four-legged robot was smart enough to re-programme itself to stand on three legs after discovering that one of its legs was broken. Another interesting article also narrated about how a robot equipped with a camera was found to have captured faces of people passing by and systematically storing them in a database, all these without any prior settings to do so. This is perhaps the reason why people like Stephen Hawkings and Elon Musk found AI to be a very daunting subject to tackle.

“The development of artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race,” according to Stephen Hawking.

“[AI] scares the hell out of me,” Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk once said at the SXSW tech conference. “It’s capable of vastly more than almost anyone knows, and the rate of improvement is exponential.”

Automation Angel

But before any doomsday prediction can become reality, a Forbes article published in 2022 indicated what AI’s influence can potentially be like in the HR space:

  • AI’s Role in Making HR Teams Informed & Efficient – in particular like hiring needs and matching of candidates.
  • AI’s Role in Improving Employee Engagement – such as finding out why an employee leaves and how best to retain employees.
  • Powering HR’s Future with AI – to serve as a critical and strategic “talent insights engine” of an organisation.

Closer to home in Malaysia, AI is generally seen as a “nice to have” add-ons to an existing HRMS but certainly not among the highest priorities, or at least not yet. This is because the intelligent codes of AI are only being added right now into the HR modules and as such, may take a while before it becomes a mainstay.

But what AI can really achieve right now is matching CVs to jobs. This is where AI’s pinpoint accuracy can raise productivity to another level. Taking it a step further, AI can also be programmed to conduct first round interviews. This is because AI can be taught to be interactive, like how ChatGPT is, to manage conversational interactions. Now, if this is done properly, recruiters will be empowered with more time in hand to better prepare for the second and subsequent round of interviews, and this is where the cognitive skills of an experienced recruiter will really come to make a real difference.

AI vs Humans Who Will Have The Upper Hand?

Humanly speaking, unlike AI, recruiters like us are able to assess a person based on their facial expressions, body language, emotions and all the non-verbal communication signals that are present from the candidates. We are also able to process background events more accurately like traffic disruptions before the candidate arrives for an interview or how the passing of a dear one can impact the candidate’s mood on interview day. Human intelligence as such is still very much an important currency of our trade, something I reckon will be irreplaceable, or at least not anytime soon.

So what does the future hold then for HR practitioners like us when AI is already sneaking up into our lives and right under our noses? 

Like all technology that has come before AI, the key to remaining relevant is to embrace this new kid on the block. By this it means practitioners who are now used to the repetitive and mundane jobs must, at their quickest and most convenient time, look for opportunities to upskill and re-skill so they can move up the value chain. Because like all technology’s evolution of progress, it will arrive much sooner than later, just look at the pace of change in

personal computers, mobile phones, tablets, websites, job boards, cloud computing, cryptocurrency, autonomous cars, the list goes on.

At CXL, we will be looking at AI to improve our productivity internally first by testing out module after module to ensure they are performing to what we think they should. Only when this is accomplished will we then think about sharing this technological privilege with our panel of clients.

About Fariz

Fariz Abdullah is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of CXL Group. The organisation offers HR solutions which include Contingent Workforce, Executive Search and Payroll & HR Outsourcing. Under his purview, Fariz has transformed CXL Group into an HR organisation that believes in the importance of advancing through technology but with a deep focus on the human touch in an increasingly digital era.

Malaysian Remote Workers Ready for the World

Malaysian Remote Workers Are Ready To Take On The World

Much has been said about the Covid-19 pandemic and its consequences but probably the sole topic that has surfaced the most is how people began working away from the office. From the literal catchphrase of Work From Home (WFH) to Hybrid and now “Remote Working”, it is redefining work arrangements as much as it is changing real estate workspace configuration.

The latest trend to grab HR headlines, Remote Working has caught the attention of both the employers and employees because of its many facets of appeal ranging from cost efficiency, wider talent pool to the opportunity to work with desired international companies without relocation.

 As far as Remote Working of this season goes, it begins with the employers and employees residing in two totally different countries sharing the same objective – employment, and although the tenets of hiring cross borders seem like a steep climb, it can still be made to be fully compliant with local laws. This is what companies like Deel and Remote offer over in the US to their more than 1,400 clients globally. Closer to home, Remote Working is also offered by people like us at CXL to secure the services of great Malaysian talents for clients abroad.

Made in Malaysia

It is common knowledge in our industry that the Malaysian workforce is of a certain calibre and commands some level of respect from employers in the West. Our people are often praised too for their professionalism and quality in terms of proficiency, knowledge and experience.

When compared on the dollars and cents, Malaysian professionals are priced competitively but with a slight premium above peers from the more popular outsourcing countries in the region like Philippines, Vietnam and India. The general market consensus is that talents from India and Vietnam may be best for employers on a tighter budget but Malaysians and Philippinoes tend to stand out better for communication skills. This is often key to delivering projects with minimal disruptions and lifting the productivity levels to the optimum.

To take a page from CXL’s Remote Working, we have undertaken a special cross border appointment for a Hong Kong employer even before the pandemic began. Through us as an HR intermediary, we facilitated the hiring of a specific Malaysian talent that checked all the boxes for our client. This eliminated the traditional prerequisites of setting up an office or establishing a legal business entity here in Malaysia by our client.

Hiring through CXL also means we become the Employer of Records (EOR) and this effectively gives us the right to employ and secure the talent on behalf of our client. All expenses incurred on the employment such as payroll, benefits, taxes and stock options are then administered and billed accordingly to the client. This arrangement would also accelerate a client’s cross border expansion plans, protect its Intellectual Property (IP) in the process and allay all the Malaysian compliance matters like the accurate classification of employees, statutory contributions and tax matters to us at CXL.

This is a win-win-win for all parties because not only can our client fulfil their hiring through Remote Working or sometimes also known as “Distributed Teams”, the talent is also able to meet his/her ambition by working with an international employer. On our part as the conduit, it gives us immense pride to be able to mobilise our clients’ needs in the shortest time possible and still adheres to all of our clients’ onboarding processes.

Revival or Rebrand

But to be fair to the market and for the benefit of our readers out there, working remotely hasn’t been all that new in our industry because Business Process Outsourcing (BPOs) and Contact Centres have been on this path for the longest time. It was only in the last 5 years or so when the tech, digital marketing and creative industries have come on board more significantly. This has also empowered corporate HR companies like us to bravely think-out-of-box and take a second look at all the jobs within our walls.

For example, the change from prioritising “8-hour” and “academic qualifications” to embracing “productivity”, “skill sets” and “job scopes” have had a far reaching impact that directly influenced how talents can be employed. It is for this very reason that we’re re-evaluating if a Recruiter can be engaged remotely since all they need is access to and communicate with the employers and candidates.

Working at home with family

But before I come to a close of this article, I might also add that while it is all promising on paper about working remotely, the truth is not everyone is cut out for it. From issues like space constraints to family habits and cultural differences, they each come with its own sets of parameters that can derail productivity. This was the reason behind the varied level of performance by individuals from the moment lockdown was imposed in 2020.

The story may however be entirely different when the right person in the right profession is hired and by “right” it means someone with a conducive work environment at home given the roomier layout and muted chances of disruptions. Such an appointment will likely be a boon from the get go.

As such, I foresee the tech, digital marketing, graphic design and UX/UI professions in the higher pay brackets to be the pioneering cohort to take the lead into remote working successfully in Malaysia. This is where we’re looking to add value to our clients, firstly by matchmaking these highly qualified and adaptable professionals to our clients in Singapore, before the same Made in Malaysia offer is extended further to the UK and US.

But should we really consider Remote Working as a serious hiring method? A survey conducted with 1,004 full time employees in the US out of which 505 were working remotely revealed that remote workers are generally more productive. The same article in also shared that 37% of remote employees as surveyed by Global Workplace Analytics would take a 10% pay cut to continue working from home.

Although the story, statistics and sample size may be quite different from Malaysia, such reports are indicative enough to suggest Remote Working is now on a rising trend and may have a longer runway to establish itself as part of how the employer-employee relationship will be redefined in the not too distant future and beyond.

About Fariz

Fariz Abdullah is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of CXL Group. The organisation offers HR solutions which include Contingent Workforce, Executive Search and Payroll & HR Outsourcing. Under his purview, Fariz has transformed CXL Group into an HR organisation that believes in the importance of advancing through technology but with a deep focus on the human touch in an increasingly digital era.

What Businesses Need to Know When Running Payroll Internally

What Businesses Need to Know About Running Payroll

As the COVID-19 pandemic rolls unbelievably into its second year, continuing to affect both lives and livelihoods, organisations around the world are undoubtedly rethinking the way business processes are done. This has certainly hit home for many organisations as they strive to proactively manage the changes they find themselves facing in such disruptive times.

Organisations need to remain agile in how they deliver their services, stay connected to their customers and find ways to improve service delivery, expand their portfolio and drive growth. But in the pandemic that organisations have been facing for some time, there is even more upheaval, uncertainty and disruption.

Payroll is a critical component of any business given that it is a core recurring business activity. Ensuring its continuity is of utmost importance. Taking this into consideration, we’ve put together some key points that every business that runs payroll internally should take note of.

1. Ensure your payroll team is defined and mapped out against responsibilities and skill sets.

It is important to have the best payroll team possible.

Your payroll manager typically supervises a team, the size of which might vary depending on the organisation. The manager reviews and approves all payroll payments and provides advice on payroll issues.

The manager also educates employees about various issues such as changes in legislation or regulations, updates on corporate policies and clarifications on pay structure.

As such, he/she needs to have a list of all team members and then map them out based on their responsibilities, skillsets and contact details. By doing this, tasks can be quickly and easily redistributed if there are changes in the work roster, availability of staff, in the event of lockdowns or any disruption.

Particularly where individuals or teams are required to work remotely, remote access credentials and processes need to be clearly defined and communicated so that payroll operations may continue uninterrupted.

If your organisation uses a payroll SaaS (software-as-a-service), there would typically be a task scheduler feature within. This would enable the team lead to assign payroll processing tasks based on the skillset and availability of team members even if they work remotely.

2. Having up-to-date technology hardware and software, along with your cloud data storage is critical.

Having up-to-date technology hardware and software, along with your cloud data storage is critical

These are twin concerns that should be high on your list of priorities.

Organisations that are still running their payroll platform on-premise should ensure that their payroll team has a secure VPN (virtual private network) connection to the payroll platform and data storage. A VPN creates a secure connection between you and the internet. So when your team uses a secure VPN, they ensure that all data traffic is encrypted. This keeps hackers away and ensures devices are not as vulnerable to attacks.

Today, the definition of a workplace has become increasingly flexible as organisations have to consider work from home arrangements. In lieu of this, a robust security system is a must when remote access is allowed into the network.

Alongside this, employees need to be provided regular training and communication to support this initiative. This ensures that everyone is on board in terms of use, rollout,  security, common weaknesses and threats and how these may be addressed.

Furthermore, a storage solution is needed. Your organisation is not just transmitting and processing data. You will also be required to maintain records, all of which are processed, transmitted and stored electronically. A data storage solution ensures that your data is easily accessible and can be relied on which is of paramount importance when processing payroll.

3. Keep abreast of regulatory changes especially in a dynamic environment.

During a pandemic, governments around the world are responding to the situation as it unfolds.

Governments have been and will likely continue to make weekly, sometimes, daily, announcements and even, changes to regulations, to support the population. For example, in Malaysia, the government introduced stimulus packages as a response to the national lockdown measures put in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This is not all. Other announcements have been and may continue to be made. These include the deferment of regulatory filing dates, wage subsidies as well as changes to the social security contributions. All of these need to be tracked as they can complicate payroll processing. When these are managed well,  infringement and penalties can be avoided.

Keep abreast of regulatory changes

How can payroll be made simple.

This is where outsourcing can prove to be a valuable strategy.

It enables an organisation to remove critical administrative tasks from their core concern, freeing them up to focus on driving the business forward. Outsourcing can prove to be more cost-efficient as it negates the need for additional hardware, software and manpower for this task.

Let’s take a look at what happens when an organisation decides to outsource payroll.

1. One-time payroll activities.

These include conducting a business requirements study on the organisation to evaluate their specific needs and how support can be customised. The payroll processing platform will then be configured to support this. This includes establishing rules and protocols.

Relevant data will be captured and a migration exercise carried out. Dry runs to check the system and data would be conducted in parallel to ensure a smooth transition and to catch potential issues early.

2. Recurring payroll activities.

Once everything has been established, the first payroll processing can occur which involves crediting wages to the appropriate employees, creating the necessary supporting documentation (including payslips) and statutory reporting.

A system and protocol will be established to manage both client and employee queries as these surface.

3. Annual payroll activities.

The scope includes the preparation and submission of the annual tax returns. In Malaysia, these include the annual employee tax return (EA form) and the annual employer tax return (Form E).

4. Payroll reporting.

The pandemic has created massive complications. National lockdowns have been and continue to be enforced. Brick and mortar businesses continue to struggle with moving forward especially if they are not able to digitalise key aspects of their business.

This can lead to revenue loss. There have also been supply chain disruptions and the introduction of remote work to get around these challenges.

The fallout from the pandemic signals a return to basics.

Organisations are shoring up value and driving costs down, with a renewed focus on risk management. The latest Deloitte report on Global Outsourcing confirms that “cost reduction is back on top and that cloud and robotic process automation are table stakes”.

In conclusion, there are many ways organisations can minimise the disruption, negative

impact and uncertainty that is present in these volatile times. The use of outsourced payroll and the digitalisation of data can work well to help organisations navigate forward successfully.

Optimise Your Payroll Management with Outsourcing

In conclusion, there are many ways organisations can minimise the disruption, negative impact and uncertainty that is present in these volatile times. The use of outsourced payroll and the digitalisation of data can work well to help organisations navigate forward successfully.

Explore outsourcing with us to find out how your organisation can benefit from the expertise and technology that we have to offer. CXL Payroll & HR Outsourcing service guarantees compliance, reliability and security of your company profile. We’re committed to help you improve your payroll process that can optimise your resources, talent, knowledge and tools.


Author Bio

Fariz Abdullah is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of CXL Group. The organisation consists of two divisions— Contingent Workforce and Payroll & HR Outsourcing. Under his purview, Fariz has transformed CXL Group into an HR organisation that believes in the importance of advancing through technology but with a deep focus on the human touch in an increasingly digital era.

Managing Payroll in a Pandemic

Hassle-free payroll processing

As the pandemic rolls into its second year, many organisations face critical challenges in managing both the lives and the livelihoods of their employees. Keeping their eye firmly on the prize, organisations face a constant battle, balancing between focus on the present and the future. How payroll is managed is one such worry.

Managing Payroll Can Be Painless Yet Secure

Naturally, some organisations have had to ask themselves the twin questions: Should our payroll be outsourced and if so, is it worthwhile for us to do this?

So, let’s start by defining what payroll outsourcing means. As the name suggests, outsourcing payroll involves engaging a third party to manage and process all payroll and claim-related payments to employees. Typically, this involves the payroll outsourcing provider collecting relevant payroll and time attendance information before processing the data.

This is undertaken in order to derive the wage payout, income tax and applicable compulsory contributions. Following this, the provider ensures that the regular statutory reporting is delivered to the local authorities and to their client as well as distributes such payments.

Hassle-free payroll processing

Outsourcing can bring significant advantage

Is outsourcing right for everyone? It can be. Regardless of the size of the organisation, a major benefit to outsourcing payroll is the sheer time and resource savings since this is a recurring exercise. Time and effort saved can then be devoted to prioritising the core business and helping it move forward.

In a pandemic, a focus on the core business is critical to regaining the lost momentum. There are negative impacts sustained as a result of enforced lockdowns, disruption to service delivery, impacts on the supply chain and more.

Outsourcing payroll is beneficial regardless of whether your organisation has a digital footprint or not. It can be a particularly effective strategy for brick and mortar businesses that have had to scramble to transition to digitising workflows and processes.

So what are clear advantages for organisations to consider payroll outsourcing in a pandemic?

Payroll outsourcing affords you flexibility and can be integrated with your current business processes and practices

No organisation wants to take two steps back to move one step forward. Bringing in a new solution should not result in damage or loss to other important processes.

For example, let’s say that your organisation already runs on an end-to-end ERP solution. A good payroll outsourcing provider will be able to seamlessly integrate your payroll and finance modules to both collect and process your organisation’s payroll data. Likewise, if your organisation uses time attendance data to process salaries, the integration will minimise human intervention.

Employee Self-Service platform to reach an engaged audience

You are assured of working in a trusted environment

Security is key. Your organisation will rest easy knowing that your data remains secure. Start by asking your provider about their identity management and verification processes (such as biometrics or facial recognition, for example) to ensure only properly credentialed people see your data.

A reputable provider will ensure the safety and security of the data centres they use. Review the office location for potential external interference or physical threats. Ask your provider about their security policy including frequency and quality of checks and controls. Enquire also about security training conducted as evidence of their security policy measures.

Reputable providers understand the value and assurance provided by international benchmarks

Well regarded providers embrace international accreditation and ISO certified processes. ISO (International Organisation for Standardisation) works not just to provide standardisation across an array of products and companies. The focus is on process improvement, safety and quality.

These certifications, therefore, provide much-needed peace of mind that products and services are not just compliant but meeting international standards.

Tremendous cost savings from reduced manpower

Payroll outsourcing dispenses with the need to hire a team of HR professionals to handle these ongoing tasks. An aspect worth highlighting is the availability of the pay-per-use option.

A payroll outsourcing provider would typically have an expanded suite of services and offerings. A pay-per-use option enables you to leverage selected functionality as required without needing to invest in any capital or recurring hardware or software costs.

HR on the cloud ensures an optimal employee experience

Typically, a cloud solution is accessible anytime and anywhere. End users have a range of access options, from their laptops through to tablets or smartphones. A range of HR offerings can be made accessible, from timesheet management, claims and leave management, digital payslips and more.

This eases the completion of repetitive yet important HR tasks, omitting tedious paperwork and redundancy. This saves time. Additionally, geolocation (the identification of the geographic location of a user through a variety of data collection mechanisms) enables employers to track employee attendance in real-time. In the end, the HR process becomes smooth and seamless.

Be assured that your compliance needs are met

Typically,  an organisation possesses a legal entity which means it will be subject to local laws and regulations which govern the treatment of their workers or employees. As authorities are vigilant about enforcing regulations and these regulations can be enlarged over time, it is essential that organisations follow best practices and comply with local laws.

Be clear that payroll involves more than just wages and bonuses. Payroll involves recruitment and layoff and all manner of compensation – sick leave, incentives, holidays, insurance, pension schemes and/or other benefits. Because payroll systems are linked to accounting and tax laws, they are subject to legislation which makes the above critical. And the penalties, should they be incurred, can range from fines to prosecution.

Outsourcing puts the responsibility for preparing, verifying, submitting and making payments, with your provider. As such, reputable providers have expert knowledge of local statutory regulations and other compliance requirements.

A SaaS (software as a service) offering brings significant advantage and cost efficiency to the organisation

From a business continuity and disaster recovery perspective, organisations are able to take a more proactive, ‘always on’ stand to manage their collective data.  SaaS offerings typically remove the need for organisations to worry about hardware installations and instead, are able to tap into the skilled expertise of their payroll provider. As the diagram below indicates, this approach supports business growth as it is scalable, with the reduced operational hassle.

SaaS Model

These are simply a few of the advantages for organisations  to consider payroll outsourcing. Is it time for you to consider outsourcing your payroll? If you are ready to find out how managed payroll can benefit your organisation, feel free to contact us with any questions for an obligation-free appointment.

Author Bio

Fariz Abdullah is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of CXL Group. The organisation consists of two divisions— Contingent Workforce and Payroll & HR Outsourcing. Under his purview, Fariz has transformed CXL Group into an HR organisation that believes in the importance of advancing through technology but with a deep focus on the human touch in an increasingly digital era.