To reap the benefits of employee satisfaction, productivity and profit, South Africa should adopt global practices when it comes to the function of payroll in businesses. While payroll professionals are internationally recognised as valuable contributors to management, strategy and finance, often sitting on the board of large companies, this is unfortunately not the case in South Africa.
“The South African organisation needs to break old habits and look to new ways of redefining payroll,” says James McKerrell, CEO, South African Payroll Association. “Stop relying heavily on technology or simply appointing a data capturer to work the system, neither of these solutions can provide the business with the insight and support it really needs. Internationally, payroll is more proactive, advising employees on how to structure their pay packages for greater benefit and liaising with management in terms of overtime spend, staffing and productivity targets.”
This means that payroll departments in companies abroad has inordinate value and businesses are benefitting in terms of bottom line and employee morale.
Save or spend
“In the UK organisations typically use two people to do the job of payroll, which has the additional benefits of no burnout, no overwork and a work-life balance,” says McKerrell. “In SA, there remain historical skill gaps and dissimilarities in work ethic steeped in cultural differences. The result is that technology, an excellent resource with impressive functionality in SA, is picking up the slack. However, technology can’t advise on roles, employment numbers and employee benefits and cannot solve all payroll problems.”
Therefore, if the local business sector rethinks its model and invest in the role of payroll, despite it being 1.5 times higher than current salaries, they will undoubtedly experience significant overall savings.
“Internationally, payroll professionals are not as busy and they have more time for manual processes,” adds McKerrell. “In South Africa, they are overworked. This is where technology can now step in, doing the transactional elements while allowing for the payroll professional to take on a more strategic and advisory role.”
The steps towards an inclusive and dynamic payroll role is to blend technology with humanity, allowing for the former to support the latter rather than take on the role in its entirety.
“Payroll, when integrated and not overworked, will deliver insight, strategy and a more holistic view of the business,” concludes McKerrell. “Internationally payroll training has followed this model for years, South Africa is only just getting started. Now is the time to invest in the right training and to enable payroll people to act with confidence and the difference will soon be felt.”
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