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Payroll Rocks the World! 10 Takeaways from APA Congress.

May 31, 2017



Congress

I recently had the opportunity to attend the American Payroll Association (APA) Congress in Orlando, Florida. It had been a couple of years since I last attended. It was great to see and interact with many old colleagues, industry analysts, partners, customers, and enjoy four days of being the unabashed time & attendance geek I am.

Payroll Rocks the World was the theme of this year’s Congress and, in my opinion, was very appropriate as collecting time & attendance and paying your employees is the bedrock of an organization. At the end of the day, employees expect to have their time accurately recorded and paid correctly for the work they do. If it is not, then they have little-to-no motivation to be productive or even show up for work. So yeah, payroll is the rock star of any organization!

The agenda was chock-full of great presentations and keynote sessions.

So what did I take away from the Congress?

Lots.

So à la David Letterman, here is my Top 10 list of trends that all payroll professionals and organizations should have on their radar:

1.       Time & Attendance and Payroll are slow to the cloud.

Due to a number of factors, these business processes have been one of the slowest to make the move. However, this is changing as organizations start to realize the benefits of moving to the cloud, such as lower internal costs, access to the latest system releases, less dependency on IT and much more.

2.       Data security, data integration, and legislative changes are payroll’s biggest challenges.

Time and payroll data is highly sensitive by nature and payroll professionals need to ensure the security of the vendors and solutions that they select. With companies expanding through acquisitions and inheriting various systems, integrating these with the existing systems can be very complex. Payroll professionals today not only have to keep track of legislative changes in their home country, but also in every country that they do business. This is a daunting task for most organizations.

3.       Getting basic HR details in a global organization is hard.

“All I want is a Global Headcount Report!” was a common complaint heard many times in sessions or in speaking with attendees. With the challenges of growth through acquisition, country specific systems, and older platforms, getting basic data such as a global headcount or total wages and salaries report is no longer a simple task. Organizations are looking for one system to be the single source of record for this type of reporting. This is not a replacement for country specific payroll and HR, but rather a master system to handle consolidated reporting requirements.

4.       Fair labor Standards Act (FLSA) proposed changes for the salary threshold of exempt employees is still on hold.

A decision is expected towards late summer. However, there is a possibility that the Department of Labor may submit a new proposal with lower thresholds than in the original proposal. Stay tuned…

5.       Your workforce is changing.

The Millennial generation is not going to accept legacy and manual processes. In order to compete for top talent, organizations need to align their processes and systems to meet the challenges presented by this new generation.

6.       More and more organizations are starting to track location worked for mobile employees.

With increasing complexity in tax reporting for workforces that may work in multiple jurisdictions during the course of a year, more organizations are looking to improve their ability to track where both blue- and white-collar employees actually work.

7.       Standardize policies and systems.

Treat all employees fairly and equally. It is best to have the “system” enforce policies such as attendance. This removes the manager from the process and makes the system the “bad guy.”

8.       The rise of the contingent workforce.

Not only are we seeing more generations in the workforce now than ever before, but we are also seeing more contingent employees being embedded into daily activities. Employers are bringing in specific skill sets on a contingent base to fill gaps in their workforce either for a specific duration or on a project basis. The mix of full-time and contingent labor is causing challenges collecting time & attendance and ensuring that all are paid correctly.

9.       Comp Time for the private sector in the US may pass into legislation this year.

Comp Time allows an employee to bank overtime instead of having it paid out automatically. The legislation for the public sector in the US was passed a few years back, but it now looks like this will also become an option for the private sector. Assuming this does pass in the near future, it will add more tracking requirements for employers. Start planning now!

10.    Self-service is a must, especially for younger employees.

Self-service gives your employees the flexibility they need to better manage their work-life balance. For example, employers should avoid forcing employees to work overtime. Sometimes this is not avoidable but where it can be, a better approach is to put the overtime shifts out to bid allowing qualified and interested employees the opportunity to work rather than just forcing someone to. With the Millennial generation, self-service tools will be key to longer-term tenure.

If you are involved in managing time & attendance, scheduling and absence management or payroll for your organization, I highly encourage you to join the American Payroll Association or your country’s payroll organization such as the Canadian Payroll Association, Australian Payroll Association, South African Payroll Association, or The Chartered Institute of Payroll Professionals (UK).

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