CIPP FOREWORD Our third Future of Payroll report falls within a challenging year for the payroll community. Payroll professionals have quite literally been keeping the UK paid through the coronavirus pandemic, as have payroll colleagues across the globe. And, whilst this has been challenging and has felt like a thankless task over the months since national lockdown on 23 March, it is no doubt changing the future of the profession. The survey which informed this report was distributed approximately eight weeks into lockdown, and therefore the results give some insight into how payroll is being affected by world events.
Ken Pullar FCIPP Chief executive officer, CIPP
Whilst traditionally seen as a threat, respondents to this year’s survey confirmed the opportunities that they saw through the development of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and automation. Payroll professionals recognise that there is value in automating more transactional aspects of the role to enable them to focus on the human role of payroll, such as dealing with queries coming into the department. When asked about their payroll software strategy, respondents confirmed that they would seek specialist payroll software which integrated well with other specialist software, such as time and attendance or expenses. Therefore recognising this as a favourable approach to ensure skills of developers are not diluted and that software can be adapted quickly to deal with frequent changes to legislation, as was seen with some technology in relation to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS). What is also apparent for 2020 is that employees are demanding more transparency in respect to pay, which has led to the introduction of various pay gap reporting. However, organisations don’t always follow this belief, with 59% stating that pay strategies should be confidential. It will be interesting to see if this changes over the coming years. Pay on demand remains very topical, increasingly so during the current global pandemic. But results show that this is not something that payroll professionals are looking to introduce in their organisations. Essentially, payroll professionals have concerns regarding the long-term financial wellbeing of employees where pay on demand can encourage them to fall into a cycle of debt. We recently ran a roundtable on this topic and will continue to discuss this theme throughout the coming year. Unsurprisingly flexible working and work-life balance are more important now than in previous years. Perhaps more so for payroll colleagues who have been working 12 hour days, seven days a week over recent months. Respondents stated that there have been more requests for home working than ever before, something which will no doubt increase as we come out of the national lockdown and pandemic.
It would be remiss to consider the future of payroll without considering the skills required of payroll professionals, and positively payroll professionals recognise the need to develop their leadership, technological and remote working skills.
Finally, there is still work to be done to recognise the value of payroll. Positively 60% stated that payroll is represented at board level; however, just 9% said that this was through the role of a payroll director. The remaining 51% split between finance and HR.
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