CIPP future of payroll research report 2020


The functionality used within payroll together with the role of the payroll professional has had to evolve as more demands have been placed upon it from employer contractual obligations, government policy developments and technological advancements. There was a time when cash was counted out and physically handed to staff, a task that, in itself, required skill to analyse the notes and coinage required from the bank, through to today where payment by BACs remains the most popular method of payment. In recognition of such a constantly evolving challenge, the Future of Payroll survey sought to gain some insight into how payroll professionals think their roles will change in the future, and what skills they will need to develop going forward. As we see a significant shift towards more administrative, manual, repetitive tasks being completed via AI, payroll professionals will have more time to dedicate to gaining a greater awareness of technology and developing skills relating to AI, along with spending more time on more strategic tasks. This could, in turn, significantly change the perception of, as well as the tasks, carried out by payroll departments. It is still true that the more traditional customer service skills will be required of payroll practitioners, as employees will still have need of a human presence, particularly where they wish to challenge some aspect of their net pay. For all the developments, take home pay remains an emotive and sensitive topic. This was reflected in the answer to the question, “aside from legislative updates, which skills do you plan to develop, for both yourself and your team, within the next two years?”

Artificial intelligence 32.19%

Computer programming 8.44%

Business intelligence 28.23%

Data analytics 46.70%

Machine learning 7.92%

Communication skills 49.60%

Leadership skills 50.66%

Technological skills related to automating processes within systems 54.62%

Financial awareness and understanding 37.20%

Accuracy skills 36.68%

Management skills 34.04%

Report writing skills 37.73%

Business strategy 28.23%

Strategic awareness 30.61%

Remote working 55.94%

Remote management 37.47%

50% of respondents confirmed that communication skills would be a skill they intended on furthering and developing in the future. There were only three responses that commanded higher numbers of results than this, which were leadership skills (51%), technological skills related to automating processes within systems (55%) and remote working (56%). Remote working is a particularly pertinent skill at the current time, following on from the fact that the impact of the outbreak of coronavirus has caused many, who would ordinarily not work from home, to do just that. This has created many conversations surrounding the role of payroll in the future, given its largely successful transition to working from home, as departments have proven they can work effectively in this environment. It has the potential to provide cost savings to


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