I attended a panel discussion on the future of work today, and an interesting anecdote emerged. One consultant specialising in payroll said she had been contacted by a building company in Queensland which was offering a job managing its payroll at $160,000 a year (plus super and benefits), but hadn't got any takers. Is payroll such an utterly hideous job that no-one would do it for that kind of money?
Picture by Kheel Centre, Cornell University
Obviously, salary alone doesn't tell the whole story here. Presumably this job required a certain level of payroll experience; we don't know if the job was in a terrible location or the boss was a psycho; and we don't know the conditions associated. As the consultant pointed out, managing payroll in a rapidly growing business with timesheet-based workers where turnover exceeds 100 per cent is a lot harder than in a business with a stable workforce where everyone is on a monthly salary. And payroll isn't a job that lends itself to flexible hours particularly; if you don't get paid at a fixed time, chances are you will complain.
Is there any way payroll can be made more sexy as a career? Craig Osborne, Australian managing director for Sage MicrOpay, suggested that making the job less administrative might help. "The role has to evolve to start being more meaningful. It has to be more than just payroll. For a lot people, the mundane tasks are not appealing. You need to put a lot of technology in it." That all makes sense, but at the end of the day someone has to make sure the time sheet data is accurate.
Nonetheless, I'm wondering: would you be happy managing payroll for that sum, or would you prefer a more "meaningful" job? Tell us in the comments.