3 minute read 11 Sep 2018
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Three ways companies can prepare for the payroll of the future

A rapidly changing world has widespread implications for payroll services.

Digital and social disruption are fundamentally transforming all aspects of a company’s business. Traditional payroll service and delivery is no exception: globalization, increased legislation and the accelerated advancements of digital technology are among the most strident forces propelling multinational and global organizations to reimagine their payroll operations.

Many companies are seeking to expand their global footprint to chase new revenue streams. This has payroll implications that companies need to consider as part of any exploratory process. As companies become more global, however, the need for greater compliance and standardization across jurisdictions becomes more acute.

Meanwhile, legislation around the globe grows increasingly fragmented and complex. Governments contending with a perfect storm of declining revenues and rising costs of aging populations are pursuing more aggressive means of payroll tax collection, thanks to the advances of digital technologies. Digital technologies also lie behind the stance by governments for greater regulatory transparency of personal data collection and greater scrutiny of data privacy protection.

In this summary of our third biennial edition of the EY Global Payroll Survey, we explore how these issues and others are impacting organizations, as well as the solutions they are using to address them. We also delve into the choices payroll providers are making to respond to the challenges their customers face.

1.  Global expansion means prioritizing payroll earlier

Payroll is no longer seen as a risk, but rather as a risk mitigation tool. Payroll professionals can identify complexity, and provided that they are given advance notice, they can develop solutions to avoid legislative noncompliance and the associated penalties.

2.  Companies are incrementally moving payroll back in-house

The number of companies with fully outsourced payroll service models has decreased by seven percentage points, from 26% in 2015 to 19% today.

Standardization of payroll delivery


of respondents believe that their payroll processes are fully or very highly standardized globally, versus 68% in 2013.

3.  Digital technologies will drive the next wave of payroll operations — whether HR is ready or not

Digital technologies are creating both opportunities and challenges within the organization. Advances in third-party payroll applications are making organizations rethink their payroll environment as they are being forced to move away from legacy on-premise systems and toward a cloud-based model. At the same time, advances in robotics process automation (RPA), internet of things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI), chatbots and blockchain, among others, are enabling payroll functions to automate repetitive processes that have historically consumed considerable time and resources.

Importance of global delivery


of organizations agree that a truly global delivery model would bring significant benefits to their organization.

Final thoughts

Overall, we expect that the strategy and delivery of payroll will continue to evolve and shift to accommodate the global advancement and growth that many organizations are experiencing today. As more companies take action, EY will continue to monitor the trending solutions companies are using to deliver accurate payroll across the globe.


In our third biennial EY Global Payroll Survey, we explore how organizations are addressing the challenges a rapidly changing world has on payroll services.

About this article

By EY Global

Ernst & Young Global Ltd.