SKILLS OF PAYROLL PROFESSIONALS AND THE JOB ROLES OF THE FUTURE
Covid-19 has rapidly increased the adoption of remote working technologies. Suddenly the whole world seems to be familiar with the daily use of Zoom, MS Teams or Skype. Consequently, the barriers to hiring staff in remote locations have been reduced as businesses continue to globalise workforces. This added complexity to the payroll process will require payroll professionals to develop new skills in managing global compliance, remote teams, and rapidly changing technologies more efficiently.
Nick Day ACIPP Managing director
The growth in cloud-based solutions, automation, AI, and robotics will highlight additional skill- related challenges as the payroll industry fights to stay ahead of its rapidly evolving landscape. Mundane processes concerned with inputting data and managing manual processes are being replaced by skills required to deliver automated solutions that drive corporate strategy. From 438 payroll professionals surveyed by the CIPP, 68% said they thought cloud-based technologies would provide payroll professionals with an opportunity to show their strategic value. I believe this is already happening. In the world of payroll recruitment, at an administrative level, we already see payroll positions becoming more analytical and less process driven. 86% of payroll respondents from 441 surveyed by the CIPP believe automated business processing will reduce transactional responsibilities. With this in mind, expect skills to become more prioritised on data analysis, reporting and stakeholder communication. At the other end of the career spectrum, organisations are demanding more from payroll as boardrooms seek improvements in speed, profitability, flexibility, security, and transparency. The data generated by advancing payroll technologies are providing payroll leaders with information to make these strategic improvements possible. Therefore, organisations will require payroll managers to possess data interpretation skills that can identify cost-savings and efficiency improvements to drive organisational objectives. Every day, payroll jobs evolve with more task hours succumbing to automation by robots. As this trend increases, the skills needed to manage machines and collaborate with technology grows. With data now considered one of the most valuable resources in the world, businesses are becoming increasingly dependent on data to drive strategic decision-making. It is an exciting evolution in the world of payroll. Why? Because payroll leaders can be the backbone that supports businesses with the data required to make the crucial decisions that drive successful outcomes. Currently, only 9.5% of 390 payroll professionals surveyed by the CIPP confirmed they have payroll represented at board level with a payroll director. It is disappointing that this percentage is not higher. Still, as data continues to drive organisational strategy, I believe this number will grow as the value payroll directors contribute at board level increases in recognition. Meanwhile, as payroll responsibilities augment, soft skills and technical skills increase in demand. Skills such as change management, project management, data management, leadership capability and stakeholder engagement will be more critical than ever as we move into a new age of automation and AI. In fact, 83.6% of 390 payroll professionals surveyed by the CIPP agreed that they are likely to take on more of an advisory role once technology improves. So, what does this mean for the future? Payroll directors will be required to contextualise data and advise boards with an incisive understanding of how to use it to support organisational goals. Understanding how the technology works and how to get the best value from it will be essential. Meanwhile, as the pace of change intensifies and innovations emerge, skills gaps will appear, making niche skills associated with specific systems, remote management, and global compliance heighten in value. Experienced individuals lacking skills in board-level reporting, leadership development, performance management, global payroll or data interpretation may need to undertake external training to stay competitive.
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