While payroll hasn’t always been front-and-center of businesses’ minds when it comes to innovation, times are changing. Payroll has been recognized as an essential strategic part of every business, especially in the current climate of evolving work patterns and an increased focus on employee wellbeing.
This repositioning of payroll’s standing in modern business is something that we explored at Paymakers 2023, our recent event in Barcelona. We were delighted to bring together a diverse group of customers, partners, and industry experts over three days, and explore the future strategic direction of CloudPay specifically, and the payroll sector as a whole.
With the background of an ever-changing environment, one of the key lenses that we focused on for Paymakers 2023 was the growing need for re-thinking the manual nature of payroll, and so we asked our audience, ‘what does payroll look like when it runs itself?’ Through this, we were able to identify four main areas where payroll will change in the months and years ahead.
Four Main Areas of Development in Payroll
Automation has already begun, enabling payroll to begin streamlining in many important areas, such as HCM integration and data integrity, saving time and reducing the stress of admin burden on busy payroll teams. However, the ultimate goal could well be to revise the payroll process entirely to make payroll ‘touchless’ in all but the most complex cases. Although for this to become a practical reality, an element of configurability and proven, transparent, smart automation go hand-in-hand to serve the needs of individual business.
In the future, payroll will need to increasingly focus on user experiences, and the way that payroll teams are supported and guided through their processes will be redefined to create faster, easier, and more efficient processes. Cutting back on the number of touchpoints will reduce the risk of human error and therefore further improve payroll accuracy and consistency. It’s for these reasons that we’re working closely with our customers and service partners to automate and simplify the flows of data, to highlight more key detail and enhance visibility to processes.
Data movement is a vital part of successful payroll, and now more than ever, that data needs to move freely and frequently. This means consciously moving away from manual data management through spreadsheets wherever possible.
There needs to be confidence that data can flow between payroll and HR and be utilized by both. This requires a comprehensive employee data set that is robust, secure, and up to date, which necessitates fast and easy collection of that data from employees, either during onboarding or through ongoing self-service systems.
Over time, integrations will become more deeply embedded within payroll and HR, and will come to encompass T&A and benefits systems too. HCM integration that is ‘out of the box’ is only really the starting point, from which more bespoke integration tools like artificial intelligence and machine learning can be deployed.
While technology will continue to transform payroll, in essence, it will always remain a human activity. It has always somewhat suffered from an image of being a backroom, process-heavy, practice, leading to a lot of utilitarian technology. However, for those who work in payroll, they realize that this is only a slice of what day-to-day life looks like. Having far more processes taken care of by software solutions is a great step-up in terms of efficiency and reliability, however it leaves room for a great opportunity to bring practitioners a means to regain a sense of touch, immediacy, and connection that has been somewhat lost.
So, in focusing on the way forward, the goal is not to replace human endeavor, but rather to redefine where that endeavor is applied. Beyond just delivering strategic benefits, payroll platforms of the future will provide clarity on what payroll teams are controlling and what they’re responsible for. This could include allowing payrollers to jump directly into an action anywhere in the payroll run as required, so that their efforts can make real improvements, or deliver them insights and solutions that they can explore to rectify issues from a proactive position.
From a payroll perspective, the importance of their relationship to workforce cannot be understated. Employees are the ultimate beneficiaries of the payroll process, and this underpins the most fundamental sense of feeling valued and engaged in their roles. They are also a crucial source of information, creating a strong natural relationship with one another. At a time when employee experience has a major bearing on talent retention and acquisition, this is especially important.
Because of this, payroll’s focus is shifting much more towards the needs and desires of employees, with a better understanding of how they interact with the payroll process and what they want to get out of it. Earned Wage Access applications such as CloudPay NOW are an excellent example of the direction of travel, putting flexibility, autonomy, and financial education into the hands of employees who have never previously had that level of payroll experience. And beyond this, bringing employees closer into their payroll, driving transparency, engagement and education will underpin just some of the ways in which payroll will continue to positively influence the trajectory and relationship of businesses around the world with their workforces.
In summary: Creating the future of payroll with you
It’s because of these future changes in payroll that we at CloudPay believe so wholeheartedly in the idea of the modern pay experience. No longer can payroll be considered siloed or transactional – instead, it needs to be:
- Fast: fewer steps, and a focus on accuracy and efficiency from end to end
- Flexible: accurate, timely, compliant payroll data that can easily flow to wherever it’s needed
- Certain: smart technology applied to drive change in payroll processing and elevate user experiences
It’s the businesses that reassess their relationship with payroll in this context and put the right processes and technologies in place to support a modern pay experience, that will be best placed to take their payroll to the next level.