6 Steps to Grow the Strategic Role of Payroll in 2023

7 September 2022
Recruitment Obstacles


"Payroll is an often misunderstood function within Canadian organizations and, given the effectiveness with which it is executed, it is often seen as invisible. As long as payroll runs smoothly, it tends to be overlooked by different levels of management. The challenge is that payroll is a tremendously critical function within organizations, responsible for one of the most important aspects of the employee experience: compensation", according to PwC.

In order for payroll to gain relevance as a strategic part of organizations, payroll professionals need to upskill and spread their reach to move forward to what the future of payroll will look like in the next couple of years. According to Tara MacKinnon, you can start with these 6 steps to prepare yourself for what's coming.


  1. Migrate to the Cloud

    For payroll professionals, moving to the cloud will help empower the entire organization. Migrating to a cloud solution will allow you to be more strategic in your role. Running a payroll is a process that, when done manually, can involve some fairly redundant tasks. The automated features of cloud-based solutions will allow you to focus on the big picture – your employees.

  2. Automation is Nothing to Fear

    Automated functionality and tasks reduce time-consuming processes. Payroll professionals will shift their primary roles as automation and technology evolve. You won't be automated out of a job, but parts of your jobs may be. This solution will give more focus on strategy and how to use your data to your benefit.

  3. Upskill for the Win

    What are you doing to learn how to work with data and develop fluency with modern technology systems? Learning and investing in yourself is imperative, and it's never too late to learn new skills. Using, manipulating, and contextualizing data is becoming more critical for payroll pros. As we move into a future of enhanced payroll models, knowledge and experience with data are incredibly important.

  4. Protect and Use your Data

    There's a resistance in Canada's somewhat conservative business climate to transferring data from on-premise to the cloud. Businesses looking to the future need to know that moving to the cloud provides increased security for your data. It must be protected vigilantly.

  5. Choose a Trustworthy Payroll Provider

    Ensure you find a vendor that will help you with your new user experience and be supportive with your transition to the cloud. Your provider should also understand who you are as an organization, what you do, and what your goals are.

  6. Start Having Conversations with Leadership

    Talk to your leaders about what the future of payroll will look like, look at the areas where you need to grow, invest in your team, and don't forget to educate and advocate to convince stakeholders of the strategic possibilities payroll can bring to the table.


As Bianca Mueller puts it, "in the past, payroll had a little-to-no crossover with other roles or departments within an organization (for the most part). But, with advancements in digitization, payroll as a service is being redefined. Today, payroll is a crucial internal stakeholder at the boardroom table, collaborating with departments like HR, finance, risk and IT”.

"Sadly, most payroll professionals feel that payroll is a lower-end, back-office function without a strategic seat at the table. These changes – moving to the cloud, the development of new technologies, the enhanced payroll model, and smartly using data – will help you win your seat at the table,” Tara MacKinnon concludes.


Do you agree payroll professionals will have a key strategic position in their organizations? Share your thoughts on the future of payroll in the comments section below.  

Have more to say? Start a conversation in our forum to share your thoughts with other professionals in this community.  


Other The 17th Floor articles you might find interesting:

6 New Job Titles in the Future Payroll Department
7 Massive Advantages of an Automated Payroll System
E-Payroll: Benefits, Cost-Savings & Top 10 Vendors

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1 Comment

Kim Hill
Kim Hill
September 14, 2022 at 15:40

I am not sure if Payroll will have a key strategic position in the organizations, i still see most of the key decisions regarding employee’s, benefits, pay are all controlled mostly by HR.

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