The potential of payroll

Global payroll survey 2021

This global payroll survey shows how an often-overlooked function, payroll, has the potential to be the driver of future growth for organisations.

The survey looks at the resilience and competence of payroll. Exploring payroll from the perspective of HR, finance and payroll leaders, it analyses how well organisations are meeting the multiple challenges intensified as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Bridging the gap or widening the gulf

Payroll processes and systems, thanks to the ravages of the pandemic, are not as effective as they could be. Companies face a watershed decision: embrace change and digitally transform payroll to bridge the gap, with all the benefits that brings. Or continue to do nothing and face a gulf between their aspirations and what payroll currently delivers. The survey highlighted the need for change to build resilience, in case companies ever faced a similar scenario.

Payroll in the spotlight

The vast majority (82 per cent) of companies have found the COVID-19 pandemic challenging, particularly when it comes to accessibility and reliability of payroll systems, and delivering accurate, timely staff pay.
The companies surveyed are clear about what they want from their global payroll:

  • Access to greater reporting and analytics to inform company strategy and planning
  • Increased reporting speed to provide information as and when needed
  • Tighter data security to improve compliance
  • Streamlined payroll processes to reduce errors, lower costs and increase employee satisfaction

Given that there is a need to transform global payroll, to build resilience, streamline operations, and reduce risk, the next question for organisations is ‘how?’

Optimising global payroll

The three steps highlighted in the survey are Optimisation, Visibility and Agility. When it comes to optimisation, the vast majority of respondents (74 per cent) are still running multiple payroll systems across multiple geographies. As a result, 61 per cent report that their payroll staff are inundated with queries. Meanwhile, they are also being asked by senior management to provide extra data, as what’s been provided was inconsistent and difficult to interpret. However, only 14 per cent have a global payroll strategy fully integrated with HR and finance systems. They report less complexity and radically optimised costs.

Delivering visibility

The survey finds that running multiple systems with little integration results in a very limited view of payroll. Without clear visibility, 73 per cent of respondents said that globally they didn’t have the payroll data to inform the strategic direction of the company. Plus, 51 per cent had limited confidence in their payroll compliance. Meanwhile, those companies with a unified platform had a clear view of global costs which enabled accurate modelling, forecasting and reporting.

Becoming more agile

The need to adapt at speed has been brutally highlighted by the pandemic. Some 61 per cent of respondents have been unable to adapt payroll to meet the many challenges they faced. Others (33 per cent) said they didn’t have a payroll system to support company expansion plans. However, those with a unified global payroll platform report they have the agility to analyse data quickly and scale to support company growth.
An efficient global payroll strategy can meet the challenges highlighted by the pandemic, integrating payroll data with other systems to deliver more efficient reporting and analytics. Only then can payroll really deliver on its potential, providing the data to drive more strategic decisions and embed greater efficiency across the business.

Download the report

Independent research agency, Vanson Bourne, interviewed 1,100 senior payroll decision makers in 10 countries between 10 December 2020 and 22 January 2021. Interviewees were spread across EMEA, LATAM, North American and APAC regions.

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