No one enjoys filling out forms or copying contracts. Yet many companies spend far too much time on administrative tasks. This has a considerable impact on the economy. But there’s a simple way to reduce the effort.
According to a study conducted by the University of St. Gallen, SMEs spent an average of 54 hours and 30 minutes per month on administrative activities in 1998. The Federal Council calculated the impact of this on the overall economy at the time and determined that it resulted in an annual cost of 2 percent of gross domestic product. Although administrative requirements have been streamlined, more recent studies show that the cost is even higher now. For example, in 2009 Schweizerische Gewerbeverband sgv, a Swiss trade association, asked consultancy KPMG to determine the regulatory costs for Swiss SMEs. The study shows that the total amount that SMEs spend to meet all of their regulatory obligations in Switzerland, as in other countries, is around 10 percent of GDP. With a current GDP of nearly 800 billion francs this totals around 80 billion francs a year. These figures show the burden that bureaucratic red tape places on SMEs – from complying with inspections and inquiries, to processing data, to completing forms.
Biggest time drain: social insurance
Most bureaucratic work is related to mandatory social insurance. Completing, copying and archiving employee benefits forms is one of the biggest administrative time drains. However, many insurance companies are aware of this and now offer their customers simple online tools, which can be used to make and archive changes to employees’ personal details online. All contract and insured data can also be accessed – and changed – around the clock with the click of a mouse. You can also run informative simulation calculations of BVG pensions for insured persons or early withdrawals for the purchase of a home, which will reduce the amount of time needed to advise employees.
Minimise administrative effort
Simplify your personnel and pension fund administration.
Some insurance companies also enable electronic salary and claim notifications. Accident and illness notifications can be initiated as easily and quickly as electronic salary notifications, which send the employee’s salary data easily and quickly from payroll accounting directly to the employee benefits institution. This saves time during the preparation stage and, thanks to automated data reconciliation, during the review of the data as well. The only prerequisite for using such tools is current, and thus compatible, accounting software.
Training and development
All these new tools help to minimise the amount of unproductive time required for a company’s administrative tasks. But there are two things computer programs and online tools cannot replace: a company’s internal organisation and the provision of information to its employees. Staying informed about the latest regulations is a major challenge, especially for SMEs. While professional associations, federal information centres for SMEs and fiduciaries can help SMEs to stay on top of the latest information through newsletters and information services, they cannot ensure that the latest requirements or company procedures are actually implemented. The company’s administrative management must see to such things. For this reason, employee training and development is another measure for increasing a company’s administrative efficiency. This is because when employees know precisely what it is they are supposed to do, they will carry out their tasks with greater confidence, more quickly and with fewer errors.
Modern online tools and employee training are of no use if internal processes are not clearly defined and arranged – and, of course, observed. The more standardised a process is, the more quickly and seamlessly it can be completed and, when necessary, carried out by a deputy. Each individual step involved in processing an administrative task should be defined as precisely as possible.