New ways of working in Payroll – Interview with Dawn Newman

June 24, 2020

Working in recruitment means that we at Frazer Jones are in a unique position of speaking to a large number of payroll professionals on a daily basis. As we all know, the most recent months have been incredibly challenging as everyone adapts to their new way of working in both their personal and professional life.

We continue to see payroll professionals across the UK at the forefront of the government job retention scheme. Dawn Newman, EMEA Payroll and Benefits Manager at Tokio Marine, is interviewed to discuss the new way of working for today’s payroll professionals. 

Q1: As the lead for Payroll and Benefits across EMEA region, what has been your biggest challenge with our new way of working?

I have been incredibly lucky, everyone across my team and our business has really stepped up and made things work through these challenging times. The insurance industry hasn’t been as hard hit as others such as retail, property and leisure, with much lower rates of furlough across the sector. As the legislation seemed to change on a daily basis, I am so proud of the response of Payroll professionals and the ground-breaking work that they have done during this time.

Major company projects such as implementing a new outsourced payroll platform for our European employees and new company acquisitions have remained on track during this period, although, I do miss being able to run through processes using flip charts or brainstorming face to face with the team.

Additionally, some of our paper-based processes within Payroll had to change to cater for this new virtual environment and recruiting has been largely impacted with interviews being conducted by video which has taken some getting used to.

Q2: How important is the relationship with your global payroll vendor during the pandemic?

It has been really important, the support from our vendor with regard to legislation updates in each country has been very helpful. They have a handy dashboard that is updated regularly, whereby you are able to select a country and it will give you a full update on any changes to legislation within that jurisdiction. Overall, I feel the support that I have received in response to the crisis has been tremendous.

Q3: How do you find working remotely and has it had an impact on your day to day deliverables?

I am pleased to say that as a team I haven’t seen an impact on what we are able to deliver as a result of working remotely. In fact, our company as a whole has had excellent feedback from our stakeholders. 

There have been challenges with some HMRC processes which are still paper based, many of which I have never needed to question, but during the crisis this has brought to light that an automated version is essential. I am hoping that as we begin to return to normal, HMRC will take note of the technology available and phase out a lot of the paper forms in the future.

Other positives to result from remote working have included the opportunity to review some of our internal processes including reducing the number of paper-based forms that I receive and issue.

Q4: What do you think the future workplace is going to be like?

We may see that fewer people will want to return to traditional business hours, this also may mean less overseas business trips, better use of technology and new ways of working are introduced.

Throughout the world, people have really gone above and beyond to make things work during the last few months and I hope that we retain this spirit of flexible working and cooperation.

Long term, we may see the workforce scatter as people are able to live further from their place of work, resulting in a better work-life balance and more focus as people save time and money by less time spent on long commutes.

Going forward, a big factor in attracting and retaining staff more than ever before will be the ability to work flexibly, instead of the focus on just salary.

This will also give employers access to countrywide talent and not just those within a commutable distance.

Q5: When you are the most senior person within payroll for an organisation, now more than ever, I would assume you have to utilise your network for knowledge sharing opportunities. Is there a particular forum/networking group that you find most useful?

I am on a WhatsApp group with a number of other senior payroll professionals and it has been fantastic from a knowledge sharing perspective, while also giving us the opportunity to discuss any issues with a supportive network of likeminded professionals. 

I have a fantastic network on LinkedIn, which enables me to access various articles from industry experts with useful information. Also, The GPA have been supportive during this time and have produced a series of very useful updates which is broken down by country and easy to access.

The views, thoughts and opinions expressed in the text of this article belong solely to the author/individual and are the personal views, thoughts and opinions of the author/individual and are in no way a reflection of the views, opinions or policies of Tokio Marine HCC and its Group Companies and affiliates which employ the author/individual.The Companies do not guarantee the accuracy of any statements of views or opinions contained in the Article and advise against placing reliance on the views, thoughts and opinions expressed.

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