Bob also founded HRTech247, an online platform providing access to the market-leading HR and payroll technology companies 24/7.
Bob has almost 20 years’ experience across the major disciplines in the business lifecycle and his incredibly high level of enthusiasm and drive, coupled with exceptional stakeholder management, team leadership and communication skills, make him an exceptional leader.
What are the key trends you have recognised within the Payroll Industry in the last 12 months?
Firstly, I’ve noticed a shift in organisations looking for solutions which are more accessible and provide more than just payroll functionality. Organisations are starting to recognise the value of a more forward thinking, digital proposition surrounding payroll services.
Businesses are also starting to recognise the importance of having a solution which integrates easily with wider technology systems such as benefit providers and HR platforms. Seamless integration and automation between technology systems is crucial to leverage the digital capabilities of these technologies and minimise levels of manual intervention.
There is also a huge focus, especially regarding global organisations, on how well they can adapt to ongoing legislative change. Many organisations are leveraging support from payroll companies to provide global services ensuring compliance with local statutory laws without the need to address their internal resources and capabilities.
The other area that has opened up in 2021 is the remote workforce. We know more and more that remote workforces are increasing in popularity which creates the opportunity to hire talent in countries where an organisation might currently not operate. Workforces can be located anywhere globally without geographical restriction. The ability to payroll or create an employee record type service where you do not have a legal entity can be complex but crucial to an organisation’s growth.
What lessons should the HR and Payroll industries learn from the pandemic? What kind of impact has the pandemic had on the HR and Payroll industries?
Firstly, the pandemic has uncovered that the technologies and services provided by organisations in some cases are no longer fit for purpose for the remote workforce, or the digital economy. In relation to HR and payroll functions, the Pandemic has encouraged organisations to re-evaluate their rules, governance, and ways of working, and rip up outdated policies to adapt to new hybrid ways of working.
The pandemic has forced HR departments to implement more forward-thinking practices despite previous reluctance. It’s less now about what HR and Payroll functions need, and more about how organisations can make sure they are providing the right services, technologies, and solutions to meet employee needs. HR directors should be asking themselves ‘How often do employees need to be in the office?’, and ‘Do they really need rigid working hours?’.
Organisations are realising that remote, flexible working has become the new norm and if they want to maintain their workforce they must adapt. Those organisations failing to listen to their employees will be impacted the most by the ‘great resignation’ movement which has seen people leaving jobs which don’t work for them anymore.
This also applies to the payroll industry. Organisations should constantly be thinking about how they can support their employees in better ways, for example, with time management solutions, attendance monitoring or pay on demand functions for employees who benefit from enhanced financial flexibility.
The other area in which payroll companies have had to re-evaluate their services relates to their ability to reflect changes in legislation. Payroll within a business needs to have agility in terms of their people, and their solution, to adapt quickly to things like the UK government’s furlough scheme.
The biggest lesson every organisation should have learnt from the pandemic should be that employee engagement and wellbeing are the most important, rather than worrying about transacting in the background.
What are the biggest challenges facing the HR & Payroll industries today?
I think the biggest challenge to HR and Payroll is working with executive members and getting investment from the board to get new technologies and adapt to new flexible ways of working for the future.
Another challenge is the war for talent. Organisations must reconsider how they think about their hiring practices for finding talent, as well as the whole compensation packages. HR functions must think about broadening their compensation packages for employees; not just in terms of the salaries but how they are going to look after their employees in other ways too.
Employees want to know ‘What’s in it for me?’, ‘How will they treat me?’, and ‘What are their working from home policies?’. The world of finding talent has changed, and HR must change with it.
For the payroll industry, it is continuing to make sure that it takes advantage of the lessons they have learnt throughout the pandemic, identify the challenges they’ve had to face, and make sure they’ve gone through a change to make them more effective for the future. This requires investment from organisations. For many companies this is difficult, especially for organisations who have struggled to make ends meet throughout the pandemic.
What do you think the future of HR & Payroll holds?
The future holds a lot of opportunity. It holds the opportunity to define the culture of an organisation, because the way in which they are going to handle employees and pay people defines how an organisation treats its employee’s.
The pandemic has provided more visibility and recognition of both HR and Payroll functions within an organisation. They now have to build on this opportunity to influence and have a seat at the table within their organisation; being seen as an influencer of the strategic direction of an organisation. The real opportunity is that HR and payroll people should shout loud and be heard whilst they have that opportunity.
Why do you think businesses are turning to suppliers to provide their payroll software and services?
We know that the world of payroll is complex. There are lots of local legislation to meet, and the different regulations surrounding this can change on a yearly basis in most countries, if not more often.
As payroll becomes more complex, organisations must think about what their core proposition is in payroll, and whether they want to invest so much into sourcing payroll personnel with the right knowledge and expertise. People with this level of experience are difficult to source.
Instead, organisations are looking to payroll suppliers to be that extension of their business. They’re reliable because payroll is their core business, and it is hugely beneficial to have a trusted partner which you can rely on to provide the knowledge and the skills to maintain compliance. By outsourcing the complexity, they’re relieving the internal burden, so that they can instead focus efforts on promoting better employee wellbeing and engagement initiatives.
Finally, the other thing that an outsourced payroll provider gives to an organisation is the agility to go into new industries quickly, for example the agility to explore new markets and expand into new territories, growing the business and extending the talent.