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Global payroll benchmarking survey report

Examining strategies, operations, service delivery, processing, technologies, and employee experiences

Our global payroll benchmarking survey is an in-depth, multi-level deep-dive into the trends shaping the payroll of the future.

Executive summary

In 2018, we joined forces with the American Payroll Association (APA) and Global Payroll Management Institute (GPMI) to produce one of the largest global payroll-focused surveys and collection of payroll data in the marketplace. As the fourth payroll survey conducted by Deloitte, this year’s survey expanded the number of participants. It also provided a wider range of organizations in size and geographies, and further evolved the questions asked, providing greater insights into payroll organizations.

The Deloitte Global payroll benchmarking survey, sponsored by the APA and GPMI, was open to Deloitte clients, APA members, GPMI subscribers, APA Congress attendees, and other Deloitte partners. The survey was presented through the lens of three geographic levels (globally, regionally and in-country) with three distinct sections offered (demographic, innovation and benchmarking).

Within the three distinct sections, data points were captured across seven categories

The survey could be taken through the lens of three levels

The survey was divided into three sections that could be taken individually

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How trends today help define the payroll of tomorrow?

Listen to our latest podcast and learn how payroll professionals can leverage these survey results to expand their careers and carve out a seat at the decision-making table.

Similar to Deloitte’s 2018 survey, this survey targeted experienced professionals in a wide range of industries who lead or are directly involved with the payroll function through in-house processing, outsourcing, or a shared services function at their respective organizations. The survey asked over 100 questions, and captured more than 1,400 responses from more than 750 distinct organizations across 55 countries spanning seven different industries, ranging in employee size from a few hundred to several hundred thousand. Results were broken down by industry, geography, employee population size, and organizational structure to make data more relevant for companies and to provide more insights into the similarities and differences among them.

Participant geography

Participant industries

Participant organization size

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Noteworthy takeaways from the payroll survey

Eighty-eight percent of respondents either have a payroll strategy or have plans to develop a strategy. One key theme from the 2018 payroll survey was that many organizations do not have complete visibility into their global payroll operations, but are looking to gain a better understanding of holistic operations. While this continues to be a theme in our recent survey, respondents confirmed the growing importance of global payroll operations and data visibility and consolidation by developing a global payroll strategy: Eighty-eight percent of respondents either have a payroll strategy or have plans to develop a strategy, almost a 40 percent increase from the 2018 results.

Sourcing, including services and technology, is one critical element of a global payroll strategy. Seventy-three percent of organizations outsource some aspect of payroll. While organizations are generally satisfied with their current third-party payroll providers, they believe there are many areas for improvement, including:

  • Compliance
  • Accuracy
  • Self-service capabilities
  • Reporting capabilities
  • Technology

Although many organizations outsource, the need to retain payroll expertise in-house remains high. Fifty percent of respondents who outsource report manually entering and/or loading payroll inputs and entering adjustments as two of the most time-consuming aspects of payroll processing. The good news is manually loading inputs and improving accuracy by limiting the need for adjustments are two of the areas ripe for next generation technology (e.g. robotics and automation, engagement platform, cognitive engagement, artificial intelligence, cognitive automation and insights). Leveraging next-generation technology can free up payroll resources to focus on more strategic activities and process improvement.

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The bottom line

Organizations understand the importance of having a global payroll strategy that includes sourcing (e.g., third-party payroll providers), an internal service delivery model regardless of their sourcing strategy, and robust technologies, including next-generation technologies such as robotic process automation (RPA). Although many organizations still do not have complete visibility into their global payroll operations, they are recognizing the importance and making it a strategic priority.

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Key contacts

Brian Proctor
Payroll and Workforce Transformation Practice Lead

Susan Leal
Payroll and Workforce Transformation Advisory Practice Lead

Tina Juliana
Payroll Benchmarking Survey Lead

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