Our recent report looking at The Workforce of the Future reveals enlightening predictions from senior industry professionals on the social and economic shifts organisations will need to embrace by 2025. One of the biggest changes will be closer alignment between Payroll & HR in order to provide employees with Learning & Development opportunities, a better work-life balance and financial well-being services such as debt counselling. These expectations are coming from managers seeking to attract and retain talent, as well as the workforce itself. 62% of professionals expect an increase in employees choosing flexible working week definitions, disrupting traditional pay cycles.
As the remit, importance and influence of payroll expands, 88% of CFOs and CHROs expect their investment in payroll technology to increase by 2025. Artificial Intelligence (AI), mobile apps, cloud technology and automation will bring greater efficiency coupled with a reduction in errors. In turn, this means that payroll teams will have more time to devote to strategic initiatives such as making financial well-being a workplace reality.
72% of senior professionals predict automation will have a moderate or significant impact on payroll. In the same field as robotics, automated payroll systems are infallibly accurate and agile, expediting administrative tasks as well as complex pay calculations. Looking at their top three activities, 54% of payroll professionals think they should spend most of their time identifying improvements to payroll. In line with this, automation frees teams from manual tasks such as accuracy checks to facilitate strategic planning instead. Agile, automated systems that are repeatable and scalable will accommodate workplace changes including growth, reduction, overseas expansion or acquisitions/mergers, without needing extra hardware, infrastructure or time-consuming updates. Automation offers peace of mind, efficiency and time to prepare for the future workforce.
Employer responsibility is high on the agenda, with 55% of professionals valuing ‘a simple way to view and interact with payroll systems’ more than overtime rewards. Cloud-hosted solutions can be securely accessed anytime, anywhere, from any internet-connected device. This equips payroll teams with control, agility and mobility while offering employees secure visibility of their personal data. Payroll & HR apps provide a user-friendly interface for payroll systems so employees can self-serve, reducing payroll queries by up to 75% and releasing payroll teams from arduous tasks. Such transparency nurtures a productive workforce and will no doubt influence future job applicants as they seek a cultural fit with an organisation.
Powered by cloud computing, Software as a Service (SaaS) payroll solutions benefit from hosted software that is updated automatically, negating the need for complex in-house IT infrastructure, maintenance and storage. As new features or legal updates are made to payroll systems, organisations immediately benefit. Compliance with ever-changing rules and regulations puts payroll teams firmly in control and ensures accurately calculated wages. With the predicted changes to pay frequency and flexible working weeks, SaaS will become essential and eventually an expectation.
AI is no longer science fiction, it’s very much real world and can underpin effective business strategies that increase profitably. Innovative payroll systems using AI analyse huge volumes of data to identify patterns, flag gaps or anomalies and can also logically problem-solve, predict and make decisions. HR-specific benefits include forecasting your people costs with incredible accuracy and agility, proving ROI, predicting those likely to leave the organisation and suggesting personalised rewards packages and training programmes, a key focus for the future workforce.
According to our research, access to learning and development opportunities is amongst the range of considerations that have become more of a priority in the last few years for payroll professionals (65%). The top three skills that payroll professionals will need by 2025 include being digital-savvy and highly analytical – quite different to the current required skillset of being reliable and knowledgeable which, as we have seen, can be assured via tech such as automation and cloud solutions. Remember, automation benefits payroll teams in many ways, including creating more time to upskill in order to thrive in a digital workplace, harness new technology and meet future workforce demands.
Over the next five years, the industry will rely on digital payroll solutions to support the move towards greater alignment between Payroll and HR. The best talent will be seeking responsible employers that can offer specific payroll packages, flexitime and financial well-being as well as visibility. But many current payroll solutions will not be fit for purpose: 43% of professionals say not having the right technology solutions available is a key challenge to providing more tailored payroll solutions. It’s time to consider what resource and knowledge gaps your organisation has.
Auditing the technological capabilities of your existing payroll solution or external provider includes assessing the provision of security, compliance, accuracy, agility and employee empowerment. If you haven’t reviewed your payroll strategy recently, find out why an annual payroll review is essential even if you are in a contract. If you’re considering a new payroll solution, here is our insider’s checklist with questions to ask yourself as well as potential suppliers.
The Workforce of the Future is available now to download. The 250 senior professionals surveyed for this research included a mix of business owners, HR and Finance decision-makers as well as heads of department and managers from a range of industries and business sizes.