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NHS Foundation Trust invests in team "to promote payroll as a career"

Ahead of the Autumn Update 2019, Karen Beckett, head of payroll and benefits for Dorset Healthcare University NHS Foundation Trust, takes part in a short interview.

"A career in payroll, pension and reward is changing"
"A career in payroll, pension and reward is changing"

Beckett will be speaking at the conference, taking place on December 5th at the Hilton London Bankside.


Reward Strategy (RS): What has been the story of your career so far?
Karen Beckett (KB): “As with a number of payroll professionals, I did not choose payroll as a career but it chose me. I started as a payroll clerk in government in 1985. After a couple of years, I moved to the NHS where I spent 12 years and progressed to payroll officer and then team leader.


“I moved into the private sector in 1999, working for an independent recruitment agency. This is where, I considered, I learnt payroll as I also had to print payslips cheques and reports, send off the BACS details and run/process everything to get people paid and then report to the various legislative bodies. I left the recruitment agency to work for a payroll bureau and was responsible for paying staff at some high-profile organisations.


“In 2005, I returned to the NHS as a payroll manager. Having worked in a number of NHS organisations, I am now head of payroll and benefits for Dorset Healthcare University NHS Foundation Trust responsible for payroll, pensions and staff benefits (including paying some client payrolls and providing a pension service to them) and have been in this post for the last six and a half years. I have recently taken on a project to implement self-service across the organisation.”


RS: What do you think has been the most visible change to the payroll and HR profession in the last year?

KB: “In payroll, the start of the tax year always brings about a number of changes. These seem to increase year-on-year, so we are tasked with staying up-to-date.


“The change in technology is also moving at a pace which presents its own challenges. The change to pensions is another area that is growing, which is requiring the team to have additional knowledge.”


RS: What do you think are currently and will be the biggest trials facing pay and reward professionals?

KB: “Technology. The rate at which technology changes creates its own challenges. We have a diverse workforce to support - not everyone embraces technology whilst others would like it to advance quicker. With a change in technology, there is a change in the payroll and reward professional’s role, which can be difficult."


RS: What is going to be the biggest area of investment for your payroll function in the next 12 months?

KB: “People. We have just recruited four payroll apprentices as well as increased the number of staff in the pension team. Now that there is a career pathway for payroll professionals, we felt that this was an opportunity to invest in the team and to promote payroll, pensions and reward as a career.”


RS: Without giving too much away, what two things will delegates learn from your session?

KB: “How technology can support payroll professionals in their role and how a career in payroll, pension and reward is changing.”


RS: What other sessions are you looking forward to at this year’s Autumn Update?

KB: "There is a wide selection of sessions which means that everyone will be able to take a lot away from the day. The sessions I am particularly looking forward to are:

  • Digitalisation of pensions, due to how interest in pensions has grown and how the area is changing rapidly.
  • Payroll Update 2020/21, as it is always useful to have a heads up on what professionals will face in the next financial year
  • Providing employee financial support and guidance: This is an area I am passionate about. Financial issues have a significant impact on employees’ health and wellbeing, which will impact on their ability to carry out their job. I believe, as employers, we need to provide support where we are able to."

The Rewards, sponsored by Cintra HR & Payroll Services, FMP Global and The Payroll Centre, take place the evening of the Autumn Update.


This is the best year yet for The Rewards, with the most entries ever received. Tables in the Bronze and Silver Zones have already sold out, so book your table now to get the best position.


Save £100 on conference tickets by booking before November 15th. Reach out to Jamie Thomas, from our delegates team, by calling 020 7940 4832 or email. Or, take a look at the event website here.


If you are interested in speaking opportunities or sponsorship, please speak to Ben Miller, commercial director, by calling 020 7940 4803 or email. Or, take a look at the media pack here.

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