State of Payroll Study

Today’s post is submitted by Joyce Maroney, Executive Director of the Workforce Institute. Here we reveal a new survey in which we collaborated with The American Payroll Association to ask 651 payroll professionals from North America about the state of payroll in 2019.

In this research, we find that payroll pros are frustrated by the gap between their perception of the importance of the payroll function and the perception of their leaders. Fully 78% of payroll professionals see what they do as strategically important, but only 22% believe that C-level executives feel the same.

One of those executives who do share that view is Workforce Institute board member and payroll expert Martin Armstrong. In response to the survey results, Martin said,

“The payroll function is primed for disruption. With modern solutions now automating many of the previously manual, time-consuming elements of each pay cycle, payroll professionals have an opportunity to transform into data analysts, strategic consultants, and even educators. Organizations that empower their payroll teams empower their entire organization.” – Martin Armstrong, CPP, DBA, and Vice President of Payroll Shared Services at Charter Communication

Among our respondents, though, nearly 45% say their payroll solution is at least 6 years old and 27% indicate it is more than 10 years old. Processing payroll takes more than an entire day at three-quarters (72%) of organizations, while half (50%) of payroll professionals say they still do not track key performance indicators, virtually unchanged since last year’s study.

These folks see the value in higher powered payroll tech. Top asks include security access options based on user role (94%); on-demand reporting (89%); frequent compliance and regulatory updates (85%); real-time reporting and analytics (84%); and employee self-service (82%).To improve data quality, eliminate duplicate data-entry, and achieve real-time visibility, nearly two-thirds (60%) prefer a payroll solution unified with time and labor management and/or human resources.   

Are you reading this and asking yourself if things can really be so tough in payroll? Research we did in 2017 indicated that more than half the US workforce had experienced a problem with their paycheck during their career. Fifty-six percent reported paying a bill late because of a paycheck error. Fifty-eight percent reported living paycheck to paycheck – and having no patience for employers who couldn’t pay them accurately and on time. In fact, 24% said they’d look for a new job after experiencing a single paycheck error while 25% said they’d be on the job search after two errors.

In a climate of super low unemployment, every little bit of retention strategy matters. Maybe it’s time to take a closer look at whether your payroll processes and tools are giving them pause to think about greener pastures.

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