‘One of the greatest challenges that payroll professionals face is simply educating others in their organization about the value they can provide’
Payroll professionals generate more than $7.9 billion in GDP for the Canadian economy. Employees at payroll service and software providers (PSSPs) generate an additional impact of $700 million.
These numbers, from a recent report by the Canadian Payroll Association (CPA), are backed up by quantitative and qualitative evidence showing that payroll professionals play a significant role in the productivity of organizations, the experience of their employees, and even their management of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The report demonstrates the unique value of payroll professionals to their organizations and wider Canadian society.
“The contribution of payroll professionals toward organizational success, however, is largely unknown or misunderstood — not only to senior executives, but also to governments and Canadian society as a whole,” says the report. “For organizations looking to thrive and grow, the potential value and impact of payroll should not be ignored.”
Payroll professionals are often overlooked because their work is confused with the wider HR or finance departments at an organization — if it’s seen at all, says the CPA.
Ensuring an error-free pay process is a background role that is often taken as a given, but a seamless pay process is critical for the employee experience and overall functioning of the organization, it says.
The report includes survey data from over 2,400 payroll professionals.
Payroll professionals also have a major impact on the productivity of organizations through their contribution to key productivity initiatives, says the report, based on the survey of over 2,400 payroll professionals.
The top initiatives are “ensuring proper auditing methods are established to assist in the elimination of payroll errors and overpayments” (58 per cent) followed by “working more cooperatively with HR and finance” (54 per cent).
Also popular for productivity? Helping to enhance employee scheduling (45 per cent), helping to identify opportunities to optimize employment and labour legislation as overtime (39 per cent), having a safe environment to reduce workers’ compensation claims (26 per cent), providing inputs to create a better workforce plan (25 per cent) and measuring and improving business productivity during the collective bargaining process (19 per cent).
“In terms of contributing to organizational productivity, one of the greatest challenges that payroll professionals face is simply educating others in their organization about the value they can provide — not only to improve day-to-day productivity, but to help the organization think strategically about future productivity initiatives,” says the CPA.
The report also highlights how payroll professionals’ work has proven essential by the COVID-19 pandemic. As a flurry of legislative changes affected payroll, employment status, and financial aid programs such as the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), payroll professionals navigated the shifting landscape for their organizations, even in situations where provincial legislations varied widely.
“Payroll professionals played a critical role in quickly implementing legislative changes related to financial aid programs and pay initiatives in order to support individuals whose jobs have been impacted by COVID-19,” says the report.
While the report goes into greater detail on the specific skillsets, KPIs and employee experience impacts payroll professionals have, the key takeaway is that this profession — which so often operates silently in the background — has an outsized and understated impact on employers and Canada as a whole.
“Canadian organizations and governments should better recognize the value that payroll professionals provide and their critical role in the present and future well-being of the Canadian economy,” says the report. “While payroll professionals are an important part of organizations today, there is far more that they can do to create additional value in the future. Companies that embrace the possibilities with respect to the value that payroll professionals can provide and look to reshape the future of payroll will be well positioned to thrive regardless of the challenges that come their way.”
An earlier survey by the CPA found Canadians may be saving more during the pandemic, but their financial stress is still rising.