In everyday life, automation surrounds us and simplifies tasks, much to the benefit of all of us.
However, in the workplace there is a fear that a major portion of human jobs will be eradicated by technologies such as robotic process automation (RPA) and Artificial Intelligence (AI). As management consultancy McKinsey says: “Forty-five per cent of the activities individuals are paid to perform can be automated by adapting currently demonstrated technologies.”
And the payroll industry won’t escape automation either, as it’s predicted by Deloitte and Oxford University that 97% of existing payroll jobs would automated out by 2025.
But amazingly, there is an upside. As organisations automate in an attempt to cut costs and reduce the chance of manual errors, it means payroll practitioners can spend less time on data entry and other repetitive work.
They are being offered the chance to move from working in an essential admin function to becoming strategic partners of the business by delivering essential insights and value instead. By using automation effectively, professionals can free up their time to operate at a more strategic level.
Why is automation a concern for payroll professionals?
According to the study ‘The Workforce View in Europe 2018’ research, almost a third (30%) of workers are worried that their job will be automated out at some point in the future. Interestingly, younger generations are more concerned about this scenario than their older counterparts – 41% of 16-24-year-olds fear their job will disappear at some point in the future compared to just 20% of workers over 55.
This situation begs the question of what organisations are currently doing to allay these fears. Worryingly, some 48% of European employees feel their employers are failing to make the necessary preparations to retrain and upskill them in response to the rise in automation.
What will the payroll professional of the future look like?
While some manual payroll tasks such as calculating tax are currently being automated, there are clearly areas in which human intuition and problem-solving will remain vital such as interpreting regulatory changes or dealing with exceptions. AI and robots cannot liaise with stakeholders, but payroll professionals with inside knowledge of systems and processes can. Humans will also be required to take charge of monitoring and directing AI systems too.
The biggest plus of automation is that it frees up professionals’ time to focus on more strategic concerns such as business forecasting, establishing employee return on investment and influencing board-level decisions. As RPA technology becomes more widespread, the need for data scientists to analyse the patterns and trends hidden in payroll information will increase. Humans will also play a central role in governance and monitoring terms.
Three Square Market, a software developer in the States, recently microchipped their workforce (voluntarily) to perform everyday tasks such as use the printers and unlock doors. You can read about it on another blog we wrote here;
How to prepare yourself for the future
The best way to prepare yourself for the future is to upskill and reskill. Versatility will be key. As data plays an increasingly important role in the function, payroll professionals will need to understand this data inside out. They will require deeper industry knowledge, an ability to solve problems creatively as well as effective data analysis and people skills.
While appropriate training will be crucial, it may also be necessary to recruit from a wider talent pool than has been the case in the past.
Payroll HQ held a webinar which examines the radically shifting digital wave of new technologies that are impacting how we work, the skills we need and what Payroll, HR and Finance Professionals can proactively do to ensure they stay connected to a new economy of jobs. You can watch a recording of this webinar here.
How Payroll HQ can help with build your future?
Payroll HQ are already equipped to provide many leading technology offerings to our customers all over Australia, saving them valuable hours each week by streamlining the payroll function. From employee self-setup, paperless timesheets, real-time insight and trend reporting and face recognition clock ins, we have the solution you need. Let us be your Payroll HQ so that you can concentrate on the important stuff. Contact us for more information.
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