A Career in Global Payroll: Everything You Need to Know

A Career in Global Payroll: Everything You Need to Know

Whether an organisation chooses to carry out its payroll in-house or outsource to a payroll provider, one thing is for sure, payroll is one of, if not the most, important functions within any organisation.

Irrespective of headcount, location or industry sector, without a payroll function, organisations wouldn’t have employees, because let’s be honest, no one is going to spend their career working for free!

But just how does that money appear in your bank account accurately and on time every month? We take a deep dive into the world of global payroll through the eyes of our EMEA Payroll Operations Manager, Jade Hume and let’s just say, it’s about a lot more than just being good with numbers!

Before we get started, let’s define global payroll – global payroll refers to paying employees in countries beyond an organisation’s country of residence. Compared to domestic payroll professionals, global payroll professionals deal with additional layers of complexity. A global payroll team deals with everything from tax, labour and employment laws that vary from country to country to dealing with various currencies, time zones and working hours.

Getting Started in Global Payroll

Everyone who works in global payroll will have a different story to tell about how they got into the industry, some will have consciously chosen a career in payroll, while others will have “fallen into” the industry by pure coincidence. That being said, there’s a reason so many people spend their whole career in the global payroll industry and it is never too late to start. Whether you already have extensive knowledge or are a complete beginner, there are various roles available within the global payroll field, from entry level coordinator and implementation roles all the way through to management positions, the opportunities are endless! Take a look at activpayroll’s careers page and explore current job openings on our vacancies page.

Are There Any Qualifications Required?

Put simply – no. There are no official qualifications required for a career in global payroll, however having a recognised domestic payroll accreditation from a payroll institute or association such as the Chartered Institute of Payroll Professionals (CIPP), Irish Payroll Association (IPASS) or American Payroll Association (APA) is definitely advantageous. Some companies may even put their employees through industry recognised training programmes. For example, many team members at activpayroll have benefited from the in-house Payroll Training Academy which allows employees to join with no previous payroll experience and receive in-depth on the job training. This training, supported by activpayroll managers and team leads, allows team members to sit an exam for their CIPP Payroll Technician Certification. This opportunity is open to all employees regardless of their career or educational background and various team members who have benefited from this training are now working within global payroll roles.

What Qualities Are Required?

When someone tells you they work in payroll, the automatic assumption is that they are good with numbers, and although a natural aptitude for maths is required, there are various other qualities that are equally, if not more, important to pursue a career in the world of global payroll:

  • Sharp attention to detail – When working with numbers and personal data on a daily basis, even the smallest of errors can result in significant consequences, especially when legislation and data protection laws are also in play, therefore an eye for detail is a must.
  • Impeccable organisation skills – There is a long list of duties that must be fulfilled for each payroll cycle, this involves being highly organised to ensure each duty is taken care of.
  • A passion for customer service – Global payroll duties frequently crossover with customer service duties and you must be able to interact professionally and patiently with customers on a day to day basis. This also goes for other stakeholder, including payroll partners, suppliers and team members.
  • Discretion – As mentioned above, payroll professionals are handling sensitive personal data on a daily basis and should always treat it with the utmost confidentiality. Since GDPR was introduced in 2018, discretion has become one of the top qualities someone should possess if they wish to work in payroll.
  • Adaptability – The payroll field is diverse and changes can happen quickly. With new legislation, regulations and even new technology being constantly introduced, payroll professionals need to be able to adapt to these changes without dropping the ball on performance.

What Is It Like Working in Global Payroll?

It goes without saying, global payroll truly is an environment committed to service excellence. It is extremely customer focussed which requires a lot of multi-tasking, from your main objective of delivering a payroll accurately and on time to making the customer feel like you are a real part of their team which involves being available to them when needed.

On a daily basis, you speak to so many different people from a variety of profession levels, cultures and backgrounds, which makes it a really interesting industry to work in. Regardless of your profession level in global payroll, it is extremely fast-paced, as you are coordinating payrolls across many different regions, all with different pay dates, requirements and deadlines, making for a consistently busy, yet rewarding job.

What Are the Most Rewarding Aspects?

There’s a reason the activpayroll global payroll team have the motto ‘every day is a school day’. One of the best things about a career in global payroll is that you are constantly learning, the fast-paced aspect of the job allows you to learn quickly and develop many new skills in a short space of time. Even once you have mastered the full activpayroll global payroll end to end process, you will be constantly expanding your payroll knowledge of each country you are coordinating a payroll within. With 150+ countries and regular legislative changes, you really do learn something new every day.

If you are looking for a fast-paced role where you are continually learning, developing your skills and expanding your knowledge, a career in global payroll could be for you. Global payroll is an incredibly expansive field with many close connections and crossovers with a variety of other fields, including Human Resources, IT, accountancy, legal and finance.