21 September 2021

Gemma Mullis MCIPP, policy and research officer at the CIPP provides an overview of the new style benchmarking survey unleashed for 2021

The CIPP’s benchmarking survey 2021 saw some fundamental changes this year – for the first time ever, it was opened to everyone working within the payroll profession. This widened scope enabled the CIPP to produce a report that payroll professionals can use to benchmark payroll departments and services, as well as providing insights into how the rest of the industry is performing.

Making the survey available to the wider profession meant that data was gathered from across the UK; from varying sectors and industries, giving a broad spectrum of responses.

Additional questions relating to average salaries and details of which benefits organisations offer were incorporated into this year’s survey. Respondents were asked how they report benefits and why they opt to use that method, and who was responsible for processing any expenses paid out to employees.


Key findings

To whet your appetite, some key findings from the survey have been provided below:

  • Most respondents were based in the Southeast of England (32%), with fewest responses from Northern Ireland (1%) and Wales (3%)

  • Respondents were replying on behalf of organisations of all sizes, ranging from micro-employers with less than ten employees, to larger employers, paying thousands of staff. The majority (40%), however, stated they processed PAYE (pay as you earn) for between 251 and 1000 employees

  • Respondents were largely from the private sector (79%) with 21% confirming they were from the public sector. There were no responses from the charity sector

  • 74% of respondents advised their payroll was operated in-house, 19% partially outsourced their payroll function, with just 7% reporting that they fully outsourced their payroll

  • 17% of those that completed the survey advised that they operated an expat payroll

  • Payroll teams are predominantly equally split into the finance and HR (human resource) departments

  • Many payroll teams are made up of females

  • The private sector offers higher salaries across all roles within the payroll profession

  • Tracked errors have enabled payroll teams to collect more overpayments

  • Issuing P60s was the most common obligation that was not made on time

  • Just 3% of respondents advised they did not provide any benefits, but there has been an increase to the number of cycle to work schemes and car allowances offered when compared to previous years

  • Salary sacrifice is the most popular method for collecting pension contributions

  • 17% of respondents offer saving schemes.

For future research, questions that explore some of the key points raised by the survey will be included. For example, why are there more females working in the profession than males? What can organisations and payroll teams be doing to ensure that there is a more varied mix of men and women?

Additional questions may be asked about why it is P60s that are often sent late, or why such a small percentage of organisations appear to be offering saving schemes, to give rich and helpful insight into some of the issues encountered by payroll teams.


A valuable tool

The benchmarking report is a valuable tool for payroll teams as it presents the findings of the survey, giving them a more accurate picture of how the profession is currently operating. Payroll departments can identify current trends, and the report also provides thought-provoking recommendations from the CIPP’s policy team throughout.

Those that hold full level or above CIPP membership will receive a free copy of this report, as will anybody that responded to the survey. If you are interested in receiving a copy, or taking part in next year’s survey, please contact [email protected]


Featured in the October 2021 issue of Professional in Payroll, Pensions and Reward. Correct at time of publication.