Building a world class global payroll team

March 29, 2021 | Mary Holland 5 Mins read

A global payroll team at a multinational company in 2021 has a lot of responsibilities, many of which are evolving and growing in line with the strategic direction of the company. Building a world-class global payroll team requires the right mix of qualified dedicated people, innovative technology and a carefully selected global payroll delivery model.

If you begin by getting these three things into place, you can then focus on building a team and internal process capable of a best in class service delivery of global payroll operations.  Getting the foundations right helps you build a payroll team from a position of strength in a department with a clear identity around the role of global payroll operations in the wider company.

Building a global payroll team today is not only about the delivery of payroll services, it is also about enabling global payroll to become a strategic partner in the wider organization ecosystem. In this article, we will examine the key areas a global payroll owner needs to focus on when building a world class global payroll team.


Teams follow strong leadership and tend to adopt values and behaviors that they see in evidence every day. Global payroll leaders have to navigate a lot of moving parts; dispersed staff, cultural nuances, technology, tools and processes which differ from country to country. There is a lot to manage and effective payroll leaders need to include the following in their management skill set:

    • Identify strengths and weaknesses; your own and those of your team members
    • Identify where you can leverage the skill sets of your team members
    • Identify skills, process and knowledge gaps
    • Quickly communicate major changes in global payroll to your team
    • Ensure that your team feel included and informed

Ensure the team has a broad range when it comes to key knowledge and resources like accounting, finance, implementation skills, global mobility, payroll processing and project management. Align these with industry knowledge, analytical skills and teamwork & collaboration to ensure your team has wide-ranging skill sets that can be nurtured, developed and shared.

Also, remember that part of a global payroll leader’s job is to be an advocate for the global payroll team when speaking to senior leadership in an organization. Use all statistics and reporting information available to you to ensure that key stakeholders understand the crucial role that global payroll plays in the overall company structure. Your team needs a strong voice to ensure they are understood and valued.


Leaders need to think globally and realize that they are communicating with team members from a variety of different cultural backgrounds. Always think about what you want to say, be articulate and concise and it is usually helpful to keep things simple. Do not assume things, be respectful of cultural nuances & local country customs and be aware that English is not everybody’s first language. Many global payroll employees who use English as a second language often have concerns around their proficiencies with the language, so remember to be patient and encouraging when dealing with them. Small things can make a genuine difference and leaders who make an effort to adapt their communication style to specific individuals will be respected for it.

Consider Culture

Payroll is truly global today- multinational employees are scattered across countries and continents and things like time zones, languages and currencies need to be factored into any global payroll process. Also, members of a global payroll team are often from different cultural or ethnic backgrounds, speak more than one language, work different hours and may have different behavioral approaches due to cultural reasons.

Global payroll leaders need to take the time and put in the effort required to understand these differences.  Leaders should adapt their behavior in response to them in order to create a team that can effectively work together in a supportive and inclusive environment.

Build and develop trust

Trust is key when building a world class global payroll team. Trust needs to be established, nurtured and developed over a long period of time, it’s an ongoing process as opposed to a single task. Trust can also be influenced by a number of things: individual preferences, country and culture, work ethic, educational background, gender demographics and team dynamics. Some small but consistent steps that leaders can focus on when building trust include:

    • Avoid stereotypes and preconceptions-simply get to know the people you are working with
    • Be open and transparent -encourage others to do the same
    • Make trust the priority, focus on it a lot and talk about it regularly
    • Use virtual communication tools to help team members in multiple locations connect and communicate

Encourage collaboration

Global payroll leaders should always be asking if their team members are working well enough together and what can be done to improve collaboration. Collaboration is crucial to fostering a strong work ethic and team spirit- it also has the advantage of introducing efficiency and streamlining into global payroll operations.

Leaders need to ensure team members know each other despite time differences, cultural backgrounds or where some are working remotely. A sense of unity and focus on overall team goals needs to be instilled at an early stage. Team members need to have a clear understanding of both their own and colleague’s duties and responsibilities in order to be in a position to offer help or suggest ways to collaborate.

Develop Talent

Talent development is a big part of creating, building and leading a strong global payroll team. Start by ensuring your team has a broad mix of skill sets that are suited to the day-to-day delivery of payroll. Next, look at softer skills or personality traits which help create a team suited to the pressurized environment of global payroll. Passion, dedication, commitment, resilience, teamwork, adaptability and problem-solving skills will be required alongside technical and academic skill sets.

Articulate your leadership vision to all team members and attempt to foster a spirit of togetherness. Find out which members need upskilling and identify members who can share skills that will help others. Prioritize training and development and actively seek out investment in any technology that can help improve performance management within the team.

Create a talent development plan and ask some senior team members to participate. Ensure that there is a clear and achievable career path available to any team members who show real initiative and commitment to the cause. Plan for the future along with addressing current daily needs- payroll leaders have a duty of care to develop the next set of leaders. Developing leadership skills in others will help to boost their confidence and will also see them contributing more than their core responsibilities. Developments such as these can prove to be useful during unprecedented times or emergencies such as the one we are all facing now due to COVID-19.

It’s about monitoring skill sets and suitability for leadership roles but it’s also about asking yourself which team member seems to want it the most- passion and commitment will often be the key drivers here but they can sometimes be missed if payroll leaders get a little too preoccupied with their own responsibilities.

Building a team

The future of global payroll is set to be an interesting one, filled with lots of innovation, changing business needs and unexpected new demands. Covid-19 is already changing how we work and deliver services. Global payroll teams at multinationals around the world need to be agile and responsive. Global payroll leaders need to build a team that is prepared, skilled, focused and confident. Here are some final tips on how to build a world class global payroll team for your organization.

    • Have an inspired vision
    • Create a sense of optimism and positivity
    •  Hire people with the right mix of soft and technical skills
    •  Look for ability to adapt to change and cope under pressure in your hires
    • Lead by example, act with integrity, take responsibility and be accountable
    • Communicate with simplicity, clarity and conviction
    • Develop your listening skills
    • Embrace innovative technology, especially automation and integration tools
    • Become an advocate for payroll when speaking to other departments


Payslip and a world class team

Technology has a key role to play when it comes to building a world class team. Innovated, cloud- based technology like the Payslip platform can improve the delivery of global payroll. Payroll professionals can benefit from the automation, speed and efficiency of Payslip’s technology. They can operate in the far more agile environment of the cloud, where they can access pay run data information remotely and also switch tasks between team members in different countries at the touch of a button. They can also schedule, customize and run global consolidated reporting to deliver real-time data driven insights. The Payslip platform is designed to quickly onboard a new provider in the event of a payroll delivery failure. Technology like Payslip can be used alongside individual skill sets to improve payroll efficiency, reduce risk and create a greater level of visibility and control around the processing of global payroll.


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Using Payslip, we can manage all our payrolls across nine in-country vendors on one platform. When the global Covid-19 pandemic arose, it was not an issue from a payroll perspective, and critically getting everyone paid. The Payslip platform enabled continuity for our international payroll service including the fast and seamless implementation of the Payslip Employment Self Service during this time.

Colin Smith

Payroll Manager, LogMeIn

Payslip as a technology platform has added a missing piece in our payroll set-up. As an international company with offices in 16 countries, it’s important to us that every employee at GetYourGuide has the same great experience when accessing their pay data.

At the same time, we work well with smaller local payroll providers, supporting us with direct local expertise in their countries. We were able to combine those two elements by placing the Payslip platform in the middle, to simplify reporting and communication with local providers, and to have one simple employee-facing solution across all locations.

Julian Fichter

Head of HR, GetYourGuide

With business and employee growth rates of above 50%, we rely on our vendors to deliver on time, every time. Payslip’s workflow automation, enables Phorest to manage our payroll provider process – data driven, real time and transparent. Payslip saves us time so we can focus on our business growth.

Ana Kelly

International Payroll Manager, Phorest