CIPP future of payroll research report 2020



employers with the savings that are generated by individuals working in an office setting. The fact that technological skills related to automating processes within systems scored so highly lends itself to this idea that more routine, simplistic tasks will be performed via a system, meaning that payroll departments can focus on developing other skills that feed in to the strategic work of their employer. Whilst there is value to be added in teaching payroll staff how to utilise systems in a way that will mean that systems can then perform automated processes, there isn’t much appetite for the more focussed IT-based skills, with machine learning and computer programming both scoring a low 8% . It was not surprising to see that leadership skills ( 51% ) was a top answer, as this supports the responses to the question which revealed that 59% (the majority) of payroll departments did not have succession plans in place. As a key function within any company, which obviously impacts on every area of a business, this is something that both departments and wider businesses should be addressing. A priority focus for future payroll leaders as we develop greater leadership skills should be of contingency and succession planning. In larger organisations, payroll teams can consist of a fair number of members of staff, so it is important for people working within the department to possess those leadership skills, and to know how to apply them. It may also be the case that existing members of the team do not aspire to take up the position of team leader or manager, in which case there is a question of the requirement to locate and employ individuals who do want to take on that level of responsibility. The other answer options and their corresponding results all suggest that a move to more analytical and technical approaches within the payroll department is imminent. What this also potentially means is that there will be less of a requirement for payroll professionals to have any sort of experience or background in administration, as the more routine tasks will be dealt with by technology. This opens up much wider discussion about the types of candidates that those offering payroll positions will be looking for in the future and will also affect the content of payroll training courses. Advances in technology and how that interacts with payroll will have significant implications on the profession in the future. Only 41% of respondents revealed that their payroll department has a succession plan. The outbreak of coronavirus will inevitability have an impact on this number, as businesses will reassess company policies and plans, and prepare for an ever- greater number of events including pandemics. In line with this, the CIPP asked if payroll is represented at board level within the companies of respondents. 40% confirmed that it categorically was not, but there are calls for this to be rectified, for the profession to be raised up, and for payroll to have its place at strategic planning and board meetings. As shown in other responses, there is substantial work that needs to be undertaken in order to gain recognition for payroll as a standalone profession, separate from both Human Resources and Finance. This has been particularly relevant as we explore the way in which payroll departments have performed throughout the pandemic, with payroll staff completing the more business as usual items whilst also grappling with the complexities of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) and other Government measures. Payroll teams have single-handedly ensured that the UK has been paid, both correctly and on time. It is also true that payroll departments will have been instrumental in deciding whether or not to take advantage of the CJRS, and additionally, which members of staff to place on furlough. These are clearly strategic, operational decisions, and will have impacted the financial stability of companies, as a whole, potentially saving jobs and protecting businesses. A low 9% of respondents confirmed that they had a payroll director. The CIPP continues to campaign to raise the profile of payroll, contacting MPs and government at the highest level to ensure that the profession receives the recognition it deserves.


Conversely, a higher number of responses confirmed that payroll is represented at board level but through a different department, such as Human Resources (HR) or Finance. Payroll is often categorised under one of those teams and not considered in its own right. 22% stated that payroll was represented via HR, and 28% confirmed that payroll was represented through Finance. Yes, payroll does have many interactions that overlap with both the HR and Finance departments however as we saw above with the evolution of technology, government policy and increasingly complex contractual pay and reward arrangements there is increasing strength to the argument that the payroll profession needs to be represented at a strategic level.


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