Shining the spotlight on our payroll heroes: Celebrating our Career Switchers in National Payroll Week.

National Payroll Week, celebrated from the 4th to the 8th of September, provides the perfect opportunity to spotlight the often-overlooked champions behind every payslip - the 'Payroll heroes.'

Unveiling the depth of Payroll

Payroll is much more than crunching numbers and issuing payslips; it's a dynamic function that keeps the financial gears of a business in motion, and it is one of the few industries that are not congratulated when doing well. 

There are many different layers to Payroll, and people often need to pay more attention to the amount of work that goes into the process. Nathan Drinkell, a Senior Client Payroll Executive, explains what it takes to be a payroll processor;

"I have had the opportunity to work across every department, and although the processing is similar, no one month or Payroll is the same. For me, the best part about Payroll is working out ways to make a process quicker. If something takes too long, I must find an easier way to do things. It is about problem-solving!

"There also needs to be an element of flexibility. As efficiencies constantly change, we find quicker and better ways to do things. You must be able to adapt to change; that is what makes Payroll progressive and different.

"To work in Payroll, you need precision and a keen eye for detail. There is a lot of inputting and cross-checking data, but switching off during the process can be costly and stressful for the client and their employee." 

Many hours are spent training a payroll professional, ensuring they are thorough, and nothing goes wrong. Dataplan takes pride in recruiting talented people with certain qualities from diverse backgrounds to create our future heroes in Payroll. It's referred to as the Career Switch Programme, looking for a pool of talented people to challenge and innovate the world of Payroll. 

Making the switch

The Career Switch programme is an intense 12-week course that Dataplan has pioneered since January 2021 and has evolved rapidly over the last two years. The programme aims to harness transferable skills from a wide range of career backgrounds and enhance them, making Dataplan payroll professionals unique and ambitious. 

Since starting in 2021, we have had 52 people go through our Career Switch programme, with over 85% still with us. They have come from various backgrounds, including teaching, care and hospitality.

The programme consists of a 2-day' Introduction to Payroll' course run by the Payroll Centre, which is then followed by 4 weeks of room-based learning. The payroll professionals are then given eight weeks of mock payrolls before entering the office and having their own clients. Wendy Lashbrook, the plan's Training Co-Ordinator and a Client Payroll Team Lead explained the programme and how well it has been received by the recruits. 

"We adapt and evolve with every cohort. We listen to the switchers and make changes to provide the best training and get the best from our recruits. The career switch programme is the best it has ever been and continues to grow.

Being a career switcher herself, Wendy explained. "It is a challenge to find people familiar with the systems we use and the pace and environment we work. The Career Switch programme allows us to bring in talented people with transferrable skills and teach them the Dataplan way. 

"The programme brings together cohorts of around 10 people, all training together and it's a great opportunity for us to all learn from each other".

Tom Hay, a Senior Client Payroll Executive for Dataplan, tells us how he has found the Career Switch programme and how it has progressed since its early days.

"The programme was just 1:1 when I started, and people joined at various stages. The programme now runs in blocks and clusters of people who begin simultaneously. As the programme has developed, the calibre of payroll processors has continued to improve. 

"Payroll is, in no way, easy, but I love working with computers, so I picked the processes up quickly."

Room to grow. 

Our Career Switch programme is successful, as is our in-house career development plan. Tom himself has already had a successful career within Dataplan, starting from a Payroll Administrator to now becoming a Senior Payroll Executive. Many of the career switchers have progressed and been promoted from administrators to Senior.

Tom expressed how pleased he was to have made the switch to Payroll. "Coming from a company that did not really appreciate my value and what I did to now feeling like I am an essential part of the team and what I do here matters, I see a career in Dataplan.

"The development framework within Dataplan enables not only career switchers but those that have 'fallen into' Payroll the ability to make it a true career path for them."

Adele Blackham, Director of Managed Services, shared the vision of Dataplan and investing in its employees. 

"One of the key skills we look for when recruiting is the ability to build relationships with our clients. We want to be at the forefront of Payroll, and while our systems are covering the technical element of the process, we do not want to be faceless. Knowing our clients and their businesses allows us to have that personal approach. Customer service is a top priority for us, as well as having knowledge of legislation and compliance.

"We have recently gone through a restructuring of the Operations team that has allowed for over fifteen promotions. Some have been following a normal progression pathway, and others have fast-tracked their way to becoming Team Leads and beyond. We will always support whatever path our payroll processors want and encourage them with extra training."

Nathan Drinkell is also a Career Switcher, having moved over to Dataplan 5 years ago, "I came to Dataplan after a career in teaching. It was through a referral. The good thing is that I can now combine the two professions and mentor payroll administrator. I still process payrolls, but I get to teach others how to do it, too. " 

Our payroll heroes are essential to ensuring a company's Payroll runs smoothly. Their dedication, skills, and commitment are necessary to ensure businesses' smooth operation and employees' financial well-being. In National Payroll Week, we take our hats off to the people responsible for ensuring the UK is paid.


Written by Katie Bell
Published on September 6, 2023

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