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What to Expect from the 2021 GPA Global Payroll Survey

Tara O'Sullivan
Tara O'Sullivan

Chief Marketing Officer, Immedis

Jul 29, 2021 2 mins

I am always curious to know and understand what others in the global payroll world are experiencing, and whether they too see the industry undergoing a massive transformation. The best way to find out is to ask. Immedis recently paired up with the GPA for their latest annual payroll survey. The vast majority of those who responded were payroll managers or higher, and over half represented organizations with over 2,500 employees.  

Highlights of the 2021 report

I highly recommend reading the complete 2021 Survey Results: Is Global Payroll Setup to Impact the Bigger Business Picture? report. It offers a comprehensive examination of the industry, the challenges faced, and how payroll teams can best serve the business while also enhancing their status within the organization. 

To give you an idea of what to expect, here are some snapshots from the report: 

  • Payroll teams are still spending a lot of time on time-consuming activities such as running payroll, reconciliations, and audits, and completing data entry - all areas where RPA would have a beneficial impact. So despite the attention, RPA garnered a few years back, it doesn’t appear to have made a huge impression in payroll teams. The survey shows that the three biggest barriers to new technology are costs, staffing, and the presence of legacy systems. 
  • When evaluating their payroll providers the areas for improvement are compliance accuracy and reporting capabilities. This last one is made even more challenging because over 60% of respondents have a cut-off date of seven days or more before the pay run, meaning that reporting cannot be delivered in real-time. Another consequence of this is that due to such early cut-offs, overtime and other items expected in a payslip are not present, resulting in employee queries- again, time payroll teams could invest in more strategic activities.  
  • There is a serious lack of integration between payroll and other systems. Although almost 67% use a cloud-based HCM, just under 15% report seamless integration between payroll and HCM solutions. This means more work in ensuring that the data is correct in both systems and opens the possibility of error and data breaches during manual interventions. 
  • One of the most shocking finds is that just over 71% report having to use Excel for processing and/or analysis during the payroll cycle. As noted in the report, this requires deeper analysis to understand why this percentage is so high fully. Is it about trust? Or a lack of the correct information? Or is it simply that given the number of providers involved, it is the only option? After all, nearly 22% are working with over 10 different providers, so consolidating reporting is an issue. 


Source: 2021 GPA Survey: Is Global Payroll Setup to Impact the Bigger Business Picture  

  • I am glad to see that roughly a third of respondents are using the payslip and payslip-related emails to communicate more than just wage/salary information. Given the prevalence of financial wellness conversations and the demand for a better employee experience, I’d like to see that number increase as other organizations see the potential and value of payslip in providing financial wellbeing programs to their organizations. To learn about this, please read Planning for Employees Financial Wellness: An Employer’s Guide- it’s packed with suggestions for creating and implementing these initiatives.