01 May 2022

Jeremy Montgomery BA (Hons) FCIPP, bureau manager at MP Payroll Solutions, provides considerations when trying to attract perfect payroll professionals

When looking to employ, whether internally or externally, it’s essential you put together an honest job description. Don’t fall into the trap of leaving things open to interpretation, and be explicit in your requirements. Don’t forget, if the role is going out via an employment agency, ensure you speak with the consultant managing the process, and discuss in detail what you need in a candidate. This will allow the agency to select the right candidates to put forward for interview – avoiding wasted time for all involved.


How to attract payroll candidates

There are many ways to attract suitable candidates to a role and I suggest the main draw would be the salary and benefits package. The salary needs to be realistic and appropriate for the role in question and I’m a great advocate for showing a salary or salary scale on a job advert.

Candidates often expect some form of benefits package, which could include:

  • study or sponsorship packages

  • private medical and dental

  • season ticket loans

  • parking spaces

  • discount vouchers.

This is by no means an exhaustive list, but whatever is on offer, make it clear when it becomes available and at what level.

Job progression is another important consideration – is there scope for progress? How is this measured? Is it purely competency in the role? Is a professional qualification required? Does it require a location change? Be clear about all these things from the outset.

You should be mindful that candidates are expecting employers to demonstrate inclusivity and diversity. They will want assurances and examples (e.g., staff social events, to show the environment they’re intending to join is a friendly one).


Where do you want to attract candidates from?

The most cost-effective route is an internal one, but that isn’t always an option. There are many other routes into payroll roles, such as sourcing individuals in similar professions, often from accountancy or human resource teams. Depending on the role, a candidate may be looking for a complete career change. These can be exciting opportunities for employers to bring in someone with a completely different focus, who can introduce lots of different approaches and ideas. Employers may also hire someone on a temporary basis, with a view to eventually making the role permanent.

Whatever approach you take to bringing new staff on board, it’s essential you have robust succession plans in place. They need to be set from day one of employment. As an employer, you need to have contingency plans in place, to cover for staff resignations, long-term sickness, job rotation and retirements.

Taking retirements as an example. They’re normally known in advance, so you have plenty of time to decide what you require from a replacement. This may be an opportunity for a complete change, as the previous individual may have been in the role for a considerable time. Innovative ideas may be required to take the role / team / service offering forward. Are you replacing like for like? Will you change the focus of the role? Are you looking for matching experience? It could even be time for a complete payroll system change, as often processes and systems remain unchanged for years, and don’t necessarily keep pace with innovations in modern technology.

Job rotation is a great way to provide short-term cover for a role as there’ll be experience in-house, which should cover holidays and short-term sickness. For long-term sickness, it can be more difficult. If you have the benefit of several team members, someone could step up from a more junior level. You could then source cover for the role that has less impact – maybe by using agency staff. The other option would be for the manager to cover, as often they have more of a guiding, than a hands-on, role. Where it’s a sole role, there will still be a reporting line. The person overseeing must ensure they stay familiarised with the payroll role. The saving grace is that there are lots of very skilled payroll people out there and payroll professionals are very resilient.

Whatever the situation, it’s essential that documented procedures and processes are in place. They should be vetted and tested regularly to ensure effectiveness.


Do your checks

Finally, don’t forget that, as an employer, you too have a right to expect clarity from the candidate – check any qualifications and professional memberships, and ensure you take references – perform your due diligence checks! 


Featured in the May 2022 issue of Professional in Payroll, Pensions and Reward. Correct at time of publication.