Every day I am talking to people within organisations who are looking for great payroll people. To me and the majority of our clients ‘great payroll people’ fundamentally means, strong technical payroll knowledge and experience combined with a proven client service ability and a strong work ethic.
Why in the current climate is there such a high demand for these people and why is it so increasingly difficult even for good organisations to secure these people and get them onboard?
I have a few theories that may help to explain the current shortage.
- The ageing workforce and robots.
I firmly believe that overall, we are now seeing more people leaving the payroll profession (at the retirement end) than there are joining it (at an entry level or more junior positions). With that we are gradually losing senior technical payroll expertise from the sector. On the flip side, this also presents an enormous opportunity for the younger generations to step up into positions that are in increasing demand and offer great earning potential.
I don’t subscribe to some of the paranoia that payroll jobs will soon be replaced by robots. Whilst new and improved technology will always be well utilised within payroll (and any data processing function for that matter) there will always be a requirement for human decision making and oversight of any function that requires interpretation, personal conversations and decisions around the emotive process of paying people correctly.
- Payroll professionals are being retained.
Smart organisations are increasingly realising the value of ‘great payroll people’ and the associated risks and costs of getting payroll wrong. They are putting more effort into keeping and developing their best payroll talent by offering incentives such as qualifications and managing their career development more effectively.
- Political and economic uncertainty.
Even more so, close to a federal election, I think the last 6 – 12 months has seen increased uncertainty around the overall economic outlook. This always has the effect of making people ‘freeze’ a little, and less likely to move permanent jobs if they are uneasy about the immediate future.
It could be a ‘perfect storm’ with all or at least some of these things at play, but I am certainly hearing from good clients a lot more recently about the difficulty in trying to attract and secure high calibre payroll people in the current market.
If you do happen to know of anyone that may be interested in discussing their payroll career options or hearing about new payroll opportunities with great employers, I’m always keen to hear from them.