Five opportunities for payroll professionals to raise their profile

Career Comeback

Claire Treadwell, senior payroll product manager at Cascade HR speaks about how industry professionals can wow the wider business environment, in 2019…

It’s what you know…

It may be an age-old saying, but there’s a lot of truth in the phrase ‘knowledge is power’. In a seemingly volatile business environment – being continually rocked with the uncertainty of Brexit, to name just one catalyst – payroll professionals need to maintain an unswerving focus on professional development. By remaining abreast with – if not ahead of – industry trends and legislative changes, payroll teams can speak to customers (internal or external) with confidence. There has never been a more important time to provide organisations with a ‘safe pair of hands’.

…And who you know!

Savvy payroll professionals know there’s far more to the job than simply hitting a button and remunerating people. But it’s not something we should keep to ourselves. There needs to be a greater level of interaction with employees – and clients in the case of bureau providers – to highlight just what we do.

However, this mustn’t be seen as an exercise where we feel we have to prove our worth – customers don’t need to know the detail of what’s involved day-to-day. Yet we ought to be thinking more about our mindset and how we communicate our role in the business environment. We operate in a service culture, where standards matter, and we need to take that service to the next level. It links back to point one – we have the chance to be a ‘go to’ aide for so many business professionals and the workforce alike. But the customers who are centric to our world need to know it.

Colleagues need to know it too. There are so many opportunities for payroll teams to contribute to finance and HR projects internally for instance, and the debate surrounding our relationships with these departments is not new. However, with movements such as gender pay gap reporting and the ongoing grumbles surrounding shared parental leave, for example, the need for knowledge transfer and collaborative working has never been greater. We need to be clearer – and more confident – about the value we can add to strategic conversations in the boardroom.

Be a compliance champion

Helping to ensure legislative compliance is another fundamental requirement of a payroll professional – it was certainly highlighted as a key topic that has dominated the world of HR over the past 12 months. From gender pay gap reporting to GDPR, regulatory changes in recent times have been vast, and amidst this sea of complexity, we have the opportunity to once again ensure we’re viewed as a safe pair of hands. Business owners and management teams have enough compliance headaches to worry about – how great to show that we can remove a couple of those headaches, just by doing our job well!

The PAYE modernisation of employer submissions is now finally here, auto-enrolment pension contributions are on the up again, payslips are evolving once more and – as of 1 April – the first postgraduate loan deductions must be recovered via payroll at a rate of six per cent (on earnings over £21,000).

Compliance is not an exciting topic by any means, but it is an important one, whether we’re thinking about data security, non-discriminatory practices or HMRC requirements. Again, linked to point 1, remaining abreast with regulatory requirements is not easy but this ongoing top-up of knowledge is crucial.

Amplify our voice

It is important to have a voice not just within the businesses we work for, but in the wider landscape too. This is achievable by contributing to both internal company-specific publications and external forums such as LinkedIn groups. Whether we use these channels to transfer knowledge, seek advice or build connections, payroll’s voice will be amplified as a collective, and our profile will raise as a result.

Celebrate our successes

It’s perhaps a huge generalisation to make, but a number of payroll professionals seem to shy away from shouting about their successes. 2019 should therefore be the year that, as an industry, we challenge ourselves to step out of our comfort zone and applaud our achievements. There are a number of celebratory award schemes in the industry – such as the CIPP’s Annual Excellence Awards – but they can only recognise talented individuals, teams and successful projects, if they are aware what accomplishments have taken place.

I therefore urge my peers to research what opportunities exist to raise their profile – and that of their colleagues – as the year unfolds, as it will benefit morale, professional development and the profile of the industry altogether.

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