Payroll trends in 2020: A letter to payroll professionals

We all know the challenges that this time of year brings for payroll professionals. We're sailing into a new year, shrugging off any vacation hangovers we might have, and trying to resume normal work. But the payroll department has to be a step ahead and hit the ground running. They have to plan their fiscal year-end activities, and figure out how to start the fiscal year with a clean slate.

Your payroll department has probably refined its approach to these routine tasks, but those work patterns may be changing in the next year and beyond. Technological trends in the payroll domain have the potential to make payroll teams' work easier and more efficient. We've collected some of those trends here for you to watch out for—because knowing what's going on in the industry may be what helps you stay ahead of your competition.

Payroll trends 2020

Small but meaningful automations

If there is one department in your back office that is clamoring for automations, it's payroll. We're not talking about the large, obvious automations, like computing salaries or taxes automatically. We are talking about automating the small, manually intensive tasks that are eating into the time of your payroll staff. When people become comfortable with outdated systems and workarounds, they forget how much time small manual tasks are actually taking up. But when those tasks are automated, that valuable time is freed up again. Auto-generated employees' compensation difference reports will allow payroll staff to reduce the turnaround time when their CEO has requested information. Verifying Indian Financial System Codes automatically will ensure that payroll departments are sending salaries to the right branch accounts, resulting in a less-hectic month-end. Look out for an increase in small but meaningful automations that appear simple but offer great benefits.

Direct bank integrations to make salary payments secure, fast, and hassle-free

At the start of the decade, payroll software and banks were two different entities. Despite the frequent exchange of transactions, their operational realms were entirely different. Payroll software was confined to computing salaries and taxes, and banks were a lot more conservative about allowing any third-party software to interact with their systems. As a result, payroll professionals had to manually compile bank statements, validate them, and transfer salaries to employees. Fast-forward 10 years, and you can witness payroll software and banks working hand-in-hand to make the entire process of paying salaries simple, effective, and time-saving for business owners and entrepreneurs. For the banks, these integrations are opening up new opportunities to interact with business owners, MSMEs who are a great source of steady cash-flow. Expect more payroll software vendors to support integrations with popular banks for automated salary payments.

Compliance by design

Each locality contains its own unique and challenging labor laws and tax regulations. In India, some businesses have established presence in more than one state, and there are more than 17.1 lakh small businesses in the country. Adhering to the right set of financial laws and local regulations is an essential function of payroll systems. It's a complex task, but as payroll technology gets more advanced, automatic compliance becomes ingrained in the software. Today's payroll software is data-driven and able to access all of the information necessary for maintaining compliance. Tax slabs, tax rates, and regulations change frequently, but real-time cloud-based software adapts to the changes seamlessly. Payroll software of today and in the coming days will focus religiously to help business owners maintain a spotless compliance record across all the regions.

Personalizing employee experience to go where your employees are

A key part of solving the personalization challenge is ensuring your HR and payroll department's technology adapts to the devices your people use. Mobile devices are more important to people's lives than ever—according to research published by GSMA Intelligence, there are over 9.3 billion mobile connections being made as of this year. Mobile-based self-service systems should allow employees to swap shifts, see pay slips, check their performance history, and handle any other important issues in their work-life right from where they are. Implementing mobile self-service your practice requires little effort, thanks to established systems such as Zoho Payroll that use technology to transform your employees' experience. If you've been pushing the self-service trend to the back burner, 2020 is the perfect time to give the priority it deserves.

Rich data insights to contribute more to payroll strategy

Payroll is a mature function within most organisations, but it continues to present challenges and opportunities for improving service delivery. Often, organisations rely on formally established practices and manually generated analytics to manage the processes and results produced by the payroll function. But how do you define Key Performance Indicators for your payroll department to ensure that you deliver continuous improvements across your organisation? Look forward to integrations between payroll, HRMS, and dedicated analytics systems to put the data you generate to good use. Even a simple dashboard on payment types, error rates, processing times, and other KPIs important to your payroll processes could be game-changing.

Cloud technology for transforming your payroll operations

The arrival of cloud-based software is solving critical business issues for many payroll departments. In many organizations, payroll is handled by a small team of people or an individual using traditional solutions like spreadsheets or custom-built software installations. These systems fulfill just the basic functions of a payroll system, leaving the payroll staff to do coordination work like collecting leave and attendance data from the HR team. With cloud-based payroll software, HR and accounting come together with strong integrations and real-time collaboration. For example, integrating with facial recognition platforms has allowed payroll departments to capture employees' attendance with pinpoint accuracy. Integrations with conversational chatbots empower employers to answer employee queries with great accuracy and context. And deeply-rooted automations allow employers to future-proof their payroll operations for the coming years and massively improve the productivity of their teams.

The way forward, and beyond

HR and payroll are two of the most personalized functions of any business organisation, and they need to be adjusted to every individual employee's specifications. Though these functions always need a human touch, it's become important for organisations to consider how automations, new technology, and data-driven KPIs can help handle large volumes of data and make HR and payroll more efficient. Taking advantage of these developments in the payroll domain is a key way to stay ahead of your competition and optimize your payroll operations. Happy 2020, and thank you for doing what you do.


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