How to get communications right when introducing global payroll projects How to get communications right when introducing global payroll projects

How to get communications right when introducing global payroll projects
26 Apr 2018

Global payroll projects not only have the potential to provide your organisation with great benefits, but could also lead to the introduction of great change. The problem is such change can be unsettling and may even be unwelcome for some.

But an effective communication strategy can make a big difference here by helping you engage with staff at all levels of the business. If you clearly explain the impact and benefits of your proposed new initiative, it will also greatly increase your chances of making it a success.

This article will explain why a communications strategy is important. It will list some of the typical organisational decision-makers and stakeholders involved and also highlight the impact and benefits of global payroll projects on each of them. Finally, the piece will explain some of the most effective ways to positively communicate your aims and objectives to each of these groups.

Creating a communications strategy

As an initial starting point, it is important to recognise why you need to develop a global communications strategy for your project in the first place. Global payroll implementations touch many different layers of the organisation across all of the countries in which the business operates.

A good communications plan will identify each of these communities and recognise that each will be affected by the initiative in a different way. So your communications strategy should highlight each of them and set out the messages that you wish to communicate to each one. It should also include ways to share your communications with them and lay out a clear action plan as to who will be responsible for doing so.

  1. Ensuring senior leaders are on board

Your project will benefit greatly if senior executives are both aware and supportive of introducing a global payroll initiative. At an international level, this means they are showing an interest in the benefits that such a project could bring.

Moreover, they will want to understand the likely scope of activities and how the project is to be managed. They may likewise be interested in the scheme’s potential organisational risks and how they can be mitigated. Once a global payroll system is up and running, they will also be keen to know how it will be managed and how it aligns with the business’ wider vision in organisational design terms.

As a result, it makes sense to ask your executive sponsor about the best way to communicate with this group as getting it right will vary from business to business.

For example, you could consider including the project as an item at a board meeting. It may also be helpful to create a bespoke presentation that summarises your business case as this will include most of the issues that senior executives care about. It is likewise important to give your audience the opportunity to ask questions, so consider following your presentation with a question and answer session.

  1. Focusing on local payroll teams

Your local in-country payroll teams will be the ones most affected by implementing a global payroll system. Therefore, your communication strategy should take this fact into account and focus heavily on ensuring they have a good understanding of the project.

Local teams may also require a detailed explanation of how your new global payroll vendor and systems will operate and the benefits they are expected to deliver. They may likewise be concerned about how the implementation project will be staffed and whether the initiative will affect their workload or have an impact on their role and jobs.

This means that your communication plan should be tailored to take these factors into account, and also include more detail than for other groups.

Another important activity, however, is to reassure local teams there are sufficient resources to cover day-to-day payroll activities while the new system is being implemented. If any restructuring is required, it will be necessary to carefully co-ordinate your communications with those of the HR department.

  1. Winning over country managers

Country management teams are responsible for the day-to-day running of their local organisations. They manage all or most of the employees in that country and have responsibility for local sales and profit targets.

Implementing a global payroll system will have a limited but important impact on people in this group. Their main concern is often about the impact of the move on their employees, the most immediate of which is payslip changes. New technology often makes it easier for employees to find and view their payslips online, for example.

But country managers may well be concerned about the implementation risks and the impact on their workers should things go wrong during the transition. As a result, the key communications messages here should focus on employee benefits. Country managers should also be reassured that implementation risks will be low as strong data checks and thorough testing will be a priority.

It is also worth bearing in mind that countries often have issues with their current payroll provider. For example, the service may be unresponsive or their supplier could be using outdated software. If there are any issues with the existing payroll setup, it makes sense to argue that global payroll will be able to eliminate these problems.

  1. Informing local employees

The introduction of a global payroll system should not be a significant event for local employees wherever they happen to be in the world. Most staff are not interested in payroll as long as it is accurate and timely, they can access their payslips and ask questions whenever they need to.

But implementing a global payroll system will bring about change that employees will notice and so your communications plan should take this situation into consideration. Messages in this context usually include a high-level description of the project, its benefits and an explanation of how the changes will affect workers.

Employees also need to be informed that their payslip format will change, and when this change will occur. If staff are to be expected to locate and receive their payslips in a different way, your plan should detail the situation and make it clear how access will take place in future. The same applies to any changes to payroll support such as the introduction of a new helpline for employee queries.

 John Galvin

John Galvin is founder and CEO of award-winning international expansion company Galvin International, which has offices in the US and UK. His firm helps clients expand globally by providing one-stop commercial and compliance services in more than 100 countries. John is a former multinational CFO with over 20 years of international commercial and finance experience, and was named Global Consultant of the Year 2016/17 at the inaugural Global Payroll Awards.

 

Global payroll projects not only have the potential to provide your organisation with great benefits, but could also lead to the introduction of great change. The problem is such change can be unsettling and may even be unwelcome for some.

But an effective communication strategy can make a big difference here by helping you engage with staff at all levels of the business. If you clearly explain the impact and benefits of your proposed new initiative, it will also greatly increase your chances of making it a success.

This article will explain why a communications strategy is important. It will list some of the typical organisational decision-makers and stakeholders involved and also highlight the impact and benefits of global payroll projects on each of them. Finally, the piece will explain some of the most effective ways to positively communicate your aims and objectives to each of these groups.

Creating a communications strategy

As an initial starting point, it is important to recognise why you need to develop a global communications strategy for your project in the first place. Global payroll implementations touch many different layers of the organisation across all of the countries in which the business operates.

A good communications plan will identify each of these communities and recognise that each will be affected by the initiative in a different way. So your communications strategy should highlight each of them and set out the messages that you wish to communicate to each one. It should also include ways to share your communications with them and lay out a clear action plan as to who will be responsible for doing so.

  1. Ensuring senior leaders are on board

Your project will benefit greatly if senior executives are both aware and supportive of introducing a global payroll initiative. At an international level, this means they are showing an interest in the benefits that such a project could bring.

Moreover, they will want to understand the likely scope of activities and how the project is to be managed. They may likewise be interested in the scheme’s potential organisational risks and how they can be mitigated. Once a global payroll system is up and running, they will also be keen to know how it will be managed and how it aligns with the business’ wider vision in organisational design terms.

As a result, it makes sense to ask your executive sponsor about the best way to communicate with this group as getting it right will vary from business to business.

For example, you could consider including the project as an item at a board meeting. It may also be helpful to create a bespoke presentation that summarises your business case as this will include most of the issues that senior executives care about. It is likewise important to give your audience the opportunity to ask questions, so consider following your presentation with a question and answer session.

  1. Focusing on local payroll teams

Your local in-country payroll teams will be the ones most affected by implementing a global payroll system. Therefore, your communication strategy should take this fact into account and focus heavily on ensuring they have a good understanding of the project.

Local teams may also require a detailed explanation of how your new global payroll vendor and systems will operate and the benefits they are expected to deliver. They may likewise be concerned about how the implementation project will be staffed and whether the initiative will affect their workload or have an impact on their role and jobs.

This means that your communication plan should be tailored to take these factors into account, and also include more detail than for other groups.

Another important activity, however, is to reassure local teams there are sufficient resources to cover day-to-day payroll activities while the new system is being implemented. If any restructuring is required, it will be necessary to carefully co-ordinate your communications with those of the HR department.

  1. Winning over country managers

Country management teams are responsible for the day-to-day running of their local organisations. They manage all or most of the employees in that country and have responsibility for local sales and profit targets.

Implementing a global payroll system will have a limited but important impact on people in this group. Their main concern is often about the impact of the move on their employees, the most immediate of which is payslip changes. New technology often makes it easier for employees to find and view their payslips online, for example.

But country managers may well be concerned about the implementation risks and the impact on their workers should things go wrong during the transition. As a result, the key communications messages here should focus on employee benefits. Country managers should also be reassured that implementation risks will be low as strong data checks and thorough testing will be a priority.

It is also worth bearing in mind that countries often have issues with their current payroll provider. For example, the service may be unresponsive or their supplier could be using outdated software. If there are any issues with the existing payroll setup, it makes sense to argue that global payroll will be able to eliminate these problems.

  1. Informing local employees

The introduction of a global payroll system should not be a significant event for local employees wherever they happen to be in the world. Most staff are not interested in payroll as long as it is accurate and timely, they can access their payslips and ask questions whenever they need to.

But implementing a global payroll system will bring about change that employees will notice and so your communications plan should take this situation into consideration. Messages in this context usually include a high-level description of the project, its benefits and an explanation of how the changes will affect workers.

Employees also need to be informed that their payslip format will change, and when this change will occur. If staff are to be expected to locate and receive their payslips in a different way, your plan should detail the situation and make it clear how access will take place in future. The same applies to any changes to payroll support such as the introduction of a new helpline for employee queries.

 John Galvin

John Galvin is founder and CEO of award-winning international expansion company Galvin International, which has offices in the US and UK. His firm helps clients expand globally by providing one-stop commercial and compliance services in more than 100 countries. John is a former multinational CFO with over 20 years of international commercial and finance experience, and was named Global Consultant of the Year 2016/17 at the inaugural Global Payroll Awards.