Just before COVID-19 hit and lockdown was implemented, Reward Strategy met with Liam Gill, the face of payroll at Booking.com, who won the Next Generation Award at The Rewards 2019.
Here’s a snippet of the conversation that took place in March 2020, between Reward Strategy and the senior international payroll specialist who became an ambassador for payroll at his company.
RS: Can you tell me how you came to be in the world of payroll?
LG: “It was that old cliché where people fall into payroll. I had just finished my studies and saw a job advertisement at an exam board - they were taking on more people for the summer and needed someone in payroll. I didn’t know what payroll was, but as soon as I started I hit the ground running. I loved it.”
RS: What was your view of payroll before you started working in it?
LG: “I had absolutely no idea, because I’d literally come straight from studying. I didn’t have any kind of knowledge about tax and salaries. It was all really new to me, but it was something I could get stuck into. I really enjoy it.”
ALP: What does your job at Booking.com entail?
LG: “I’m one of two specialists that process the payroll, and everything and anything needed for payroll, for the transport arm of the organisation.
"Our team of three, which includes the payroll manager, serves about 3,000 employees.”
RS: Where does payroll sit at Booking.com?
LG: “Currently we are sat within HR and I think that’s the way it’s always going to be. We have a great relationship with HR too, we have a good dialogue - there’s no pointing fingers and no blame games. We are lucky in that sense.”
"At a lot of companies, payroll is just an end product"
RS: Do you feel payroll is valued at the company?
LG: “I would say it is. We have a good reputation within the business and one of the good things about the company is that our payroll department reaches out to the employees through drop-in sessions. We sit with them and speak to them about any queries they may have.
“I have worked in companies before where employees don’t see the payroll department and the payroll department don’t see employees, but it’s a really important relationship that’s needed.
“In terms of value, I think it’s hard because at a lot of companies payroll is just an end product - people getting paid. Payroll are just expected to get it right all the time, but when something does go wrong - it’s the only time someone comes to see you. There needs to be some way for payroll to open up and prove its value.”
RS: So, how can payroll better prove its value and show that it’s a fulfilling career and one to aspire to?
LG: “People don’t really know much about payroll or how to get into it. They don’t know what skills they’d build if they worked in payroll, but I think the introduction of the payroll apprenticeship is helping to educate people about this and realise there is a path into payroll as a career.
“Payrollers need to try and keep in touch with the business and make sure they are out and about speaking to as many other functions, and employees, as they can to help build awareness and help others understand the value payroll can offer. Payroll has so much intelligence that could be utilised.
“There’s a bigger motion, a bigger demand for payroll to be heard.”
RS: Does payroll have board level buy-in at Booking.com?
LG: “The payroll manager is at the forefront of anything regarding integration, so she will get a say in that. In terms of the highest executive decisions, they will be cascaded down by the HR director.”
RS: Should payroll have a seat at the board, for example a payroll partner?
LG: “Yes. There is so much information that comes in and out of payroll.
"In businesses people are the most valuable resource and financially, they are one of the best controls you can have - you know how many employees there are and what they are paid. There is a lot to develop there and I don’t think, from the outside in, there’s visibility of what can be achieved from the payroll department.”
Read the full interview here.
You can find out how to attract and retain the next generation of payrollers at the Payroll & Reward Conference, ran in partnership with The Payroll Centre, which takes place digitally this week on September 8th and 9th.
The Payroll & Reward Conference, sponsored by Ceridian, Cintra HR & Payroll Services, SD Worx, Frontier Software and the CIPP, has a range of free and discounted passes available to attend. Book now by contacting James Hunter on email or 020 7940 4821.