Professional March 2020


The future of payroll

Nick Day, managing director of JGARecruitment, predicts an exciting future for payroll professionals with payroll more influential, focusing on strategic activities supporting businesses and leaders

T his year will see technological transformation for the payroll industry. Trends will centre on automation, pay-on-demand and transparency as businesses focus on the employee experience, efficiency and growth. Advancements in technology, particularly those associated with robotic process automation, have left many payroll professionals worried about their futures. Will technology replace me? I always say the same thing; automation and technology will not replace the payroll professional, but the tasks within the traditional role as we know it, will be. The purpose of the payroll professional is evolving fast. Fortunately, history dictates that technology typically creates more jobs than it replaces, and I see no evidence to suggest this will change. However, we must concede that the payroll industry is changing at a pace faster than at any other time in memory. Robots are on the march and automation, machine learning technologies, mobile apps and sophisticated artificial intelligence (AI) are everywhere we look. So, what will the future look like? New technologies entering the market are transforming the world of payroll.

Technology should solve problems, add value, reduce costs, save time and make our busy lives more manageable. For payroll professionals, products primarily aim to reduce manual efforts through automation or by improving the employee experience. Businesses are starting to appreciate the impact payroll operations can have on enhancing the employee experience to improve retention as well as providing analysis to support strategic board-level decision making. Automation, cloud technology, self- service platforms, robotics and mobile apps are enabling payroll managers with real-time access to technology that automatically updates complex legislation, helping improve the deliverability of both domestic and global payroll compliance. As a result, payroll administrative roles in the future will become more analytical and less process driven. Tasks will focus roles in the future will become more analytical... ...payroll administrative

on analysing and interpreting information, manipulating data, creating complex reports, managing software operations and making decisions that are less rule-based and more lateral and complex. Eventually, robotic process automation will make manual payroll processes obsolete. Businesses can already access cost- effective, easy-to-implement automation solutions that both improve accuracy and reduce payroll workloads. I see this trend growing significantly, and it will not be long until most businesses have some type of robotic process automation (RPA) solution in place. Meanwhile, I expect to see the utilisation of bots and other machine-learning-based tools increase significantly. Machine learning bots are already capable of handling basic employee payroll queries and even communicate across different functions. We are witnessing vast improvements in machine-learning solutions, so it won’t be long until businesses start to adopt these as capabilities improve. As managing director of a payroll search firm, I believe it is worth considering how technology will influence the future of payroll recruitment too. In the longer term, it is likely we will see a reduction in the number of administrative payroll professionals recruited. We believe this will


| Professional in Payroll, Pensions and Reward | March 2020 | Issue 58

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