multi country payroll

Multi-country payroll optimization: Customer Story

Managing a multi-country spanning payroll operation is a complex and time-consuming task for multinational organizations. With different regulatory requirements, tax laws, and employment practices, it becomes challenging to ensure accurate and compliant payroll processing. One of our customer, COMO Group, experienced these issues and found a solution to overcome them: multi-country payroll outsourcing with Humanica.


COMO Group eases multi-country payroll burden with outsourcing

The Customer

Company: Como Group is a Singapore-based company operating businesses in the luxury & kids fashion retail, hospitality, wellness, and F&B sector. The company  employs now over 3500 employees in countries across Asia and Europe.

Business lines: Kids and Luxury Fashion Retail, F&B, Hospitality, Wellness,  Specialty Products

Employees:  3500 worldwide

Established: in 1972

Locations:  15 hotels worldwide, 400 retail stores across Asia and the UK

Project Goal: 
– Compliance to statutory requirements around payroll and tax for all locations
– Be in line with different employment practice  in Asia.

Key Achievements

Consolidating payroll activities with one vendor that has the expertise to manage payroll and tax in 10 Asian locations
Standardized and consistent payroll processes to reduce errors and inconsistencies
Being able to scale with the same vendor when new locations are added
✔ Better Employee Service
✔ No longer having to worry about their multi country payroll operation

A 50 years- spanning business history and success

Como Group is a Singapore-based conglomerate that boasts a diverse portfolio of businesses spanning various industries. It represents an integrated approach to living well, celebrating diversity and authenticity. Founder Christina Ong, started out with opening high-end boutique Club 21 in 1972. Over the course of three decades, Club 21 flourished into a network of 400 stores across Asia carrying more than 250 renowned brands. In 1997, the fashion retail portfolio expanded with the addition of Kids 21, a family lifestyle destination present in Malaysia, Hong Kong, and Thailand. 

The group’s hospitality arm began in 1991 with the opening of The Halkin hotel in London, England in 1991. Today, Como Hotels & Resorts operates 15 properties in Bhutan, Indonesia, Italy, Australia, Thailand, the Maldives, the UK, and Turks, and Caicos Islands. Additionally, the group introduced COMO Shambhala, an acclaimed wellness concept embodying the profound meaning of ‘Peace’ in Sanskrit. Combining modern scientific approaches with time-honored practices, COMO Shambhala actively promotes proactive holistic wellness and has earned numerous accolades. ​​

Food has held a special place of interest within Como Group, dating back to the launch of the Armani Cafe in London in 1989. In 2002 and 2007, respectively, purveyor of fine foods Culina and organic marque SuperNature came under the umbrella of the Group, cementing its reputation in the fields of F&B in Singapore and abroad.​

Notably committed to giving back to the community, the COMO Group has actively engaged in charitable causes since 2003. Collaborating with over 60 organizations they have diligently worked in closing to bridge the opportunity gap for women and girls, leaving a significant impact on the lives of more than 41 million individuals across 51 countries. 

The complexities of running a multi country HR and payroll operation

Having a 50 years spanning business history, operating in various business lines with multiple branches across different continents, serving customers on a global scale, the company employs over 3500 worldwide, the majority of them across Asia. As COMO Group expanded their business locations and workforce, so did the complexity in their HR and payroll management. Each country where the group opened a new retail store or resort had its own unique statutory requirements around tax and payroll, reporting and employment practice. Navigating Asia’s very complex legislation and payroll practices became one of their biggest complexities, leaving the team struggling to keep up with the diverse regulations across multiple countries. 

Consuming countless hours and resources to verify payroll and tax data against local regulations and fixing inconsistencies in a manual process was not uncommon for the COMO HR team. The team grew frustrated with the lack of efficiency in handling the intricacies involved in managing payroll across multiple countries and their inability to provide a better employee service.

“We found that we needed to improve that efficiency for our HR team and also provide better services to our employees to ensure we pay them correctly, on time and in compliance with local statutory requirements.”   Eswaran Nadarajah, COMO Group HR Director

With that in mind, the HR team embarked on a journey to try and improve the operation and efficiency in which they conduct their payroll activities in different geographies.

Finding the right vendor

Having certain expectations, the team spoke to many service providers in order to assess who could best service their vision of payroll efficiency and compliance with statutory regulations. Some non-negotiable vendor evaluation criteria were:

  • The need of an administration partner: to handle their entire payroll process from employee and attendance data management, to payroll processing, to payroll reporting and tax filing.
  • The use of technology in order to: 
    • provide a uniform platform for employee service
    • deliver a consistent user experience across all locations
    • have scalability if more locations need to be added
  • To have one reputable vendor: that has the know how, experience, and certifications to running payroll in all major countries in SEA including Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam, Cambodia, etc. in order to have:
    • one source of data
    • a single service contact
    • one master agreement
    • one escalation process for all their Asian locations.

Other, softer, criteria came down to professionalism, reliability, customer-orientation but were a bit harder to clearly outline. They would have to be evaluated through conversations and follow ups to the talking points. 


HUMANICA STANDS OUT

After extensive research and evaluation, COMO Group decided to partner with Humanica. Humanica convinced the team in multiple criteria. Firstly, their reputation, proven track record in multi-country payroll management, knowledge of local regulations, and their robust HR platform spoke for itself. Secondly, they also fulfilled many of the soft criteria that the COMO team was looking for.

“What impressed us most about Humanica was that from Day 1 when we engaged with the team, they were very supportive. They provided good advice, and their proposal was very thorough. When we started the journey with them, we were very comfortable that they would be able to give us the best service that we were looking for and sure that the goal of getting payroll compliant and efficient in those countries that we operate in in Asia we would definitely accomplish.”    Eswaran Nadarajah, COMO Group HR Director


Outsourcing their multi country payroll to Humanica

The collaboration between the COMO Group HR team and Humanica proves to be a very successful one. As an experienced payroll specialist, Humanic’s dedicated team was able to seamlessly integrate with the group’s existing HR processes. Meticulous and detail oriented, they gathered all the necessary data and information to take over the payroll operations for the group’s different Asian business locations. 

Humanica’s in-depth understanding of the different local tax laws, payroll and reporting requirements ensured that COMO Group would be compliant with each country’s specific regulations. Also, Humanica used their award-winning HR platform to automate the time-intensive processes such as employee data administration, salary and tax calculations, data verification, tax filing and reporting, thereby reducing the risk of data discrepancies and errors. 

At the same time, the team enjoys the benefits of a lesser administrative burden while providing their employees with on-time, accurate pay slips. Moreover, Humanica’s dedicated team closely monitors changes in tax and payroll regulations, ensuring that COMO Group’s payroll calculations and deductions remain up to date.

Moreover, as the group keeps expanding their global footprint, Humanica provides a framework to easily onboard new locations in the existing countries as well as new countries of operation. Using that framework, the group can continue to ensure efficient payroll operations as their business requirements change and their organization grows.

Overall Satisfaction and Continued Partnership

COMO Group’s decision to outsource their multi-country payroll to Humanica proved to be the right one. The streamlined payroll operations, improved accuracy, and enhanced compliance gave their HR team peace of mind, knowing that their employees’ salaries were being managed efficiently and in accordance with local regulations.  Confident that their multi-country payroll is in capable hands, the COMO HR team can focus on their core business functions and strategic initiatives to drive productivity and growth.

“Now, having completed our project with Humanica, what I can say is that I am very happy with the service they are providing. My HR team finds it very easy to deal with them, whether it is on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. They are reliable, and they communicate back on time. And I don’t worry anymore, and neither does my HR team that our payroll processing might not meet compliance standards or statutory requirements because with Humanica we are very sure that we are in good hands.”     Eswaran Nadarajah, COMO Group HR Director
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