3 minute read

Working in payroll is complex, demanding and as technology and employee expectations change, so does the payroll task list. Datagraphic’s Glyn King discusses how the profession is evolving.

In my experience, payroll is one of the most flexible departments when it comes to adapting to change. As a profession, we’re regularly challenged to understand and implement new legislation within deadlines and to present it in meaningful ways to employees and business stakeholders. The analytical and communication skills used in this process are – and will continue to be – valuable, providing a ‘human’ touch in a world of increasing automation and robotics.

Whether you view technology as a friend or foe it’s undoubtedly shaping payroll and with a wave of new digital tools, it doesn’t show signs of stopping. As an industry we must embrace this change and learn to work hand-in-hand with digital colleagues (robots).

As humans in payroll, we will increasingly turn to digital colleagues for data entry and number crunching, to release time for us to deliver higher value tasks. These include but aren’t limited to roles such as:

Payroll as a communicator

Payroll regularly communicates with employees. Whether that is responding to in-bound calls from employees requesting clarity on pay-related queries or sending out-bound hard-copy or digital documents such as payslips. Payroll has the core communication skills needed, but must develop these to deliver a better ‘employee experience’.

Technology used in our personal lives is filtering through to the workplace, with employees expecting to be treated like ‘customers’. They want instant and easy access to payroll and HR information. They want a personalised experience, delivered through a channel of their choice: be that their smart device, work computer or still as paper documents. When competition for talent is high, organisations that deliver a high quality employee experience, can gain an edge: leading to greater employee retention, loyalty and productivity.

Payroll has a big part to play in helping to deliver a better employee experience by understanding the different channels of communication employees want and making information available via the preferred routes.

Payroll as a financial wellbeing guide

Employee wellbeing is becoming more of a priority in the workplace, and payroll is well positioned to support this work. For instance, according to Hastee Pay, 32% of workers admit to missing work because they can’t afford the commute. The impact of financial worries on employee motivation and their mental health can be significant.

Often, financial education for those entering the workplace straight from school is limited. And for other employees, changes in their personal lives can create periods of financial hardship. For these groups, managing income and having to budget may be new or difficult. Payroll can offer advice to help employees better understand their payslips and offer ways to save money through schemes such as salary sacrifice or making clearer reward options that they are entitled to, but have not taken.

Employees making savings for the end of their career can equally feel anguish if they lack understanding about the process or value of saving for retirement. Working with the organisation’s pension providers, payroll can help communicate and educate employees about auto-enrolment and the pension schemes available.

Payroll as a data specialist

Payroll has access to a wide range of employee data and analytics. If payroll teams can review and interpret this information – in line with the organisation’s strategic objectives – invaluable insights can be offered to the c-suite.

Employee data can also be used as an opportunity to improve employee experience and wellbeing in the workplace. For example, if data suggests employees typically leave after a certain time period, improvements can be made to communications and employee experience ahead of that time to retain their loyalty and help improve productivity and reduce turnover rates.

Having this level of payroll influence on strategic decision making helps to elevate the role of payroll and expose the c-suite to the power payroll has to make a positive impact on performance, reward and remuneration.

So to conclude. The role of payroll professionals looks set to become more ‘human’ than ever before. We will be there to provide insight, to engage, motivate and inform our co-workers, whilst digital colleagues take care of the repetitive and administrative tasks that take up our workloads today.

The future of payroll – and its role within an organisation – is evolving and it definitely does more than just pushing a button to keep the UK paid!

How many roles do you play in payroll? Share your thoughts on Twitter with @Datagraphic1 or LinkedIn @datagraphic-limited using the hashtag #payrollas.

The Future of Payroll

We are pleased to support the Chartered Institute of Payroll Professionals (CIPP) Future of Payroll research survey report.

This survey explores industry developments to provide payroll professionals with some ‘food for thought’ regarding what the future may look like, as well as how they can start to think about new developments which may lead to a more strategic role within their organisation.

Download your free copy of the 2019 report here >>