National Payroll Week: How Payroll can support employees resolve their financial stress.
With 79% of organisations considering including financial education in their HR Strategy, how can Payroll support this initiative?
A recent survey by Sodexo Benefits and Rewards Service  found that over half of employees surveyed were worried about their financial situation; 23% of respondents did not have enough money set aside to deal with basic household emergencies, such as a washing machine breaking down. With figures this high it is easy to see how nearly a quarter of employees feel that financial stress is negatively impacting their work. Employers are recognising this issue and 79% of those who responded felt that supporting their employees could be part of their HR strategy, with over a third already offering financial education or advice.
So how can Payroll support both employers and employees in this area? With the Payroll function usually the first to be aware of changes in legislation and the impacts of these on employees they are best placed to provide the initial advice and guidance. And with the theme for this year’s National Payroll Week being “Educating the Nation”, what better time to begin this initiative?
National Payroll Week aims to recognise the role Payroll plays in both the organisation; paying more than 30.4m employees per year, and the economy; as income tax makes up almost half of the taxable revenues paid to HMRC.
The role of the Payroll function is often an invisible one; only thought about on payday or when there is a query with an employee’s pay. Providing financial education to the employees of the firm would enable Payroll departments to raise their profile. The suggestion is not for them to provide full financial planning advice (as they are not qualified) but guidance to employees on their options. For example, many employees are still unaware of what their tax code means, what the benefits of salary sacrifice schemes are, and how they could maximise their pension contributions.
In addition it is not just employees that can benefit from the guidance of the Payroll function. 90% of employers, according to a survey by Eversheds , have yet to review or amend their policies and procedures in relation to shared parental leave, which becomes effective later in the year. In addition, 95% have not considered the impact of employees having the right to take leave discontinuously or intermittently and request flexible working upon their return. The Payroll resources of the organisation are best placed to advise on this area, prior to processing the absences for employees who take it up.
To be able to provide guidance to both employees and the employer the Payroll resources need training themselves, especially as the role of the function is changing to be more strategic. Whilst there will always be the need for the Payroll resources to understand current and future legislation, technology and outsourcing advancements mean the need for deep legislative training is being replaced by more strategic and client-facing training requirements. For example, internal implementation projects require project management skills, and running employee awareness sessions requires presentation skills.
The Payroll function has a lot more to offer both the employers and employees than just the processing of the Payroll; and National Payroll Week is the ideal time to start reaping these benefits and recognising the contribution Payroll can make to the organisation.
Rebecca has over 17 years Payroll operational and consulting experience and is a Fellow of the CIPP. She leads the UK Payroll Advisory Services and has a wide breadth of experience having project managed many stand alone Payroll projects and the Payroll aspects of large scale global transformations.
 Sodexo Benefits and Rewards Services, (2014). Financial Stress is Impacting Productivity for Nearly a Quarter of UK Employees.
 Eversheds (2014), Shared Parental Leave: a new regime – employer’s views.