Council Guest Post: It’s Time We Make Payroll Elegant Every Day of the Year!

Pete Tiliakos at 2022 Global Payroll AwardsI’ve just returned from the 2022 Global Payroll Awards held on September 22nd in Dublin, Ireland, and what a memorable night it was for global payroll!

Congratulations to Melanie Pizzey and the Global Payroll Association (GPA) team for organizing such an elegant evening recognizing the critical profession and industry! Congratulations to all the nominees and winners on their contributions and impact in shaping the future of global payroll!

This was my first time attending the black-tie affair and what has become the premier event for the global payroll industry. Recognizing and showcasing the hard work, innovation, and impact this industry continues to have on so many lives around the world.

The event started with a daytime symposium featuring thought leadership presentations and a panel highlighting the keys to a better future for global payroll, centering on technology, analytics, and championing payroll as a trusted strategic advisor and agility enabler.

Further, the GPA highlighted its newest and most important initiative, “Payroll is a Career”, a campaign that focuses on attracting, developing, and retaining talent within the critical profession.  Like so many skilled professions and industries today, payroll is under threat and hasn’t been immune to the current skills shortage plaguing the global talent marketplace.

The new program is fundamentally designed to raise awareness for and champion the profession as a ‘career path of choice’.  To achieve this, the GPA aims to attract and cultivate new talent within the industry and will do so through ongoing promotions to raise awareness, establishing industry learning standards for practitioner education and skilling, and sharing complementary resources and training to support future payroll talent engagement and development.

I’ve always said that few people aspire to work in payroll – you just sort of end up there. Yet so many incredibly talented practitioners and leaders ‘land in payroll’ and thankfully have made lasting careers there.  But how do you engage new talent to consider payroll as a career path? Or convince emerging talent to make the pivot toward payroll? This is the challenge the GPA is keenly aware of and leading the charge by leaning into the task.

Elevating payroll: a top down-bottoms up approach

2022 Global Payroll Awards - PanelI’m often asked by payroll stakeholders how to go about elevating payroll within their organization. How to influence executives to see payroll as more than a simple cost center, how to convince their organizations to look to payroll as a value driver, and agility enabler, and how to fundamentally obtain that elusive “seat at the table” for payroll to have a voice.

Raising payroll’s position and value in the organization requires a “top-down and bottoms-up” approach.  It requires senior leadership to recognize the value payroll can provide and enable its practitioners to unlock that value.  It requires understanding that payroll is anything but simple and comprised of equal parts employee experience and wellness driver, controllership and risk management, and a data-rich resource and advisor for supporting strategic plans.

Empowering payroll to achieve peak performance and unlock its full potential requires senior leaders to prioritize payroll and champion its success and importance within the organization.  Payroll must be recognized as a key element in the employee experience and the broader HCM ecosystem, and critical to executing strategy.

Payroll must also be supported with adequate investments to enable a modern tech-enabled operating model. Positioning payroll for greater agility, resiliency, and scalability to support the organization’s path forward. Most importantly, unlocking and engaging its rich insights to support data-driven decision-making for improved business outcomes.

In parallel, it requires payroll to leverage its infrastructure to ensure consistent timely, accurate, and compliant payroll outcomes.  Payroll must also shift its mindset and role away from that of a simple back-office cost center and processor to more of an analytic strategic advisor and champion for impactful change.  It must be a value enabler that supports the business as it navigates strategic imperatives – earning and leveraging its seat at the table to share its insights and perspectives in support of key initiatives.

Elegant as a standard

2022 Global Payroll AwardsAs I reflect on the evening of awards, networking, and reconnecting with industry founders and executives, I can’t help but think it’s time we make payroll elegant as a fundamental standard in every organization.

My vision remains for every practitioner, employee, and stakeholder to have an amazing payroll experience – we all deserve that. The goal of HR transformation is unachievable without payroll at the heart. Payroll deserves far more respect than it’s been shown in the past, it deserves investment, empowerment, and engagement to unlock its value potential.

Payroll must become elegant every day of the year for the profession to thrive long-term – not just for one night.


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