Payroll Market Update – May 2020

Current Payroll professionals are under huge pressure at this present time and to say that they have been propelled into the spotlight is an understatement.

The profession is now regarded as critical, but in my view, this has always been the case. COVID-19 should not be seen as an excuse putting the historical Payroll rumours to bed, but it will be seen as the moment when true Payroll professionals stood out, showed their true worth and became respected. The words front-office, service delivery and “having a seat at the table” spring to mind.

A number of clients that I have been speaking to within Financial & Professional Services so far haven’t really been affected and are operating as normal. Working from home seems to be a success but managing teams remotely across the UK & Global space is proving to be challenging along with the dreaded “Vendor Management” duties which can be a struggle at the best of times. HR certainly needs to up the ante when providing the correct data but what I am seeing more of are hybrid type roles where Payroll, Benefits, HR & Reward are combined into one role, which is really interesting and certainly sought after.

Professionals within Commerce & Industry are truly under the pump though with the normal Payroll demands at this time: comp round, promotions and salary increases along with Year-End but on-top of this they now have redundancies, furlough, 20% salary reductions, bonuses being deferred, workers going part-time, pension holidays and then sick leave due to the virus.

My fear is that many Payroll professionals may not survive this new Payroll landscape, a lack of development particularly within systems and overall skillset shortages are going to be exposed. Clients will become impatient and look to make immediate changes and this is something that I have already seen, and we are only in week 7. Constant communication and complete honesty will have to come to the fore.

However, what has been great to see is the Payroll community coming together and having each other’s backs. People on the outside are now seeing and respecting how hard they work and providing 100% customer service to the best of their ability.

John O’Brien – Associate Partner, Payroll

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