The Avanti team had an amazing time “Roaring Back” with the payroll community at the National Payroll Conference in Niagara Falls! It was wonderful to reconnect with familiar faces and welcome new ones. We had a blast bumping elbows, giving hugs, and doing the Charleston on the dance floor with so many of our payroll pals.

Whether you attended in person or virtually, we hope the conference left you full of learning and feeling inspired for the future of payroll. Here are some of our key takeaways from the conference!

Adapting to remote and cross-border employment trends

In a breakfast panel discussion moderated by Peter Tzanetakis, president of the National Payroll Institute, payroll leaders discussed remote and cross-border employment trends coming out of the pandemic and what they mean for the future of payroll.

As employers face these new challenges, it’s vital to have the right systems in place to help employees adapt quickly and successfully. Commenting on the topic, Avanti’s co-CEO, Amin Lalani, discussed how technology has been a key factor in facilitating the move to a 100% distributed workforce at Avanti, as well as providing a flexible solution for our clients with workforces spread across Canada.

Implementing the right tech and clearly communicating the changes as they come is pivotal in setting up payroll professionals for success.

Panel discussions at the 2022 National Payroll Conference
Avanti Co-CEO, Amin Lalani (left) during a panel discussion. Avanti Co-CEO, David Owen Cord (right) introducing Susan Aglukark.

Going forward with a digital-first approach

It’s not surprising that more and more organizations are shifting to a digital-first, cloud-focused approach to payroll management. The days of manual data entry and on-premise solutions are quickly coming to an end and for good reason.

The benefits of having a full-cycle digital payroll speak for themselves. Cloud-based payroll systems give teams the ability to work anywhere from any device, all while delivering real-time reporting, and improved data security.

As technology trends such as the adoption of AI and RPA (robotic processing automation) make payroll tasks more streamlined and automated, the payroll function will evolve accordingly. Payroll professionals will need to upskill and focus more on data analysis and strategy. These insights into payroll data will provide immense value to organizations and pave the way for payroll to be a driver of innovation and growth.

If you’d like to learn more, read our blog post on the role of AI & RPA in Payroll Management Software which was originally published in NPI’s Payroll Service & Technology Supplement.

Finding the right fit

As cloud-based tech solutions become more accessible, how do you comb through the hundreds of options and choose the one that best suits your needs? Avanti’s co-CEOs, Amin Lalani and David Owen Cord presented an education session called “The Missing Middle” on how mid-size businesses have unique challenges and needs to consider when selecting a payroll solution.

The size and complexity of a company’s workforce determines how robust and flexible its payroll solution needs to be. Most “out of the box” software meant for smaller businesses simply won’t have the configurability most mid-size businesses need, especially as they continue to grow and scale. On the flip side, enterprise software that is powerful enough to handle your payroll needs may not be a cost-effective option.

These are key questions to consider when selecting a payroll vendor. When you commit to one, you’re entering into a long-term relationship ranging from three to eight years. You definitely want to take your time and choose the right partner for you.

Want to learn more? Check out our summary of Dave and Amin's presentation in The Missing Middle.

Managing and navigating conflict

In the session “Leading Calmly through Conflict,” Faith Wood, former law enforcement officer and now conflict coach, shared several great reminders for how to navigate through conflict:

Your attitude is the only thing you can control
You can’t control others' perceptions of you or a particular situation, but you can control your own. Identify and be aware of your own triggers and practice bringing yourself back to neutral when emotions are heightened.

A little support goes a long way
When situations of conflict arise, find ways to show support to those involved. Dealing with conflict effectively takes a team approach.

Make it safe to be honest
Honest and professional communication can help prevent and defuse conflict. Creating this kind of safe space is especially important for those in leadership and management.

And like any other skill, conflict management requires practice. Proper preparation and planning will help you better deal with conflict when it comes.

Avanti team members at the Avanti booth for the 2022 National Payroll Conference
Avanti team members at the Avanti booth.

Achieving better work-life balance

Does the perfect work-life balance exist? Probably not. But we can all take steps to improve our work-life balance. In the session “Achieving A “Better” Work/Life Balance,” Michael Lewis, a motivation and development trainer, shared how the pandemic forced people to slow down, reflect, and re-prioritize things in life. Here are a few things you can action to improving your work-life balance:

Have the “big talk”
Clearly communicate with those around you what you want and need in order to have a life that is more balanced and less stressed.  

Decide what is truly important in your life, whether that’s your family, your health, or your career. As time goes on, continually reassess whether your priorities have changed or not.

Set boundaries
Boundaries are healthy. Just like computers have “boundaries” or firewalls to protect them from attack, people also need to have proper boundaries for protection. What you permit, you promote. What you allow, you condone.

One of the most crucial aspects of your life that need to be protected is your time. How many payroll professionals have been able to take adequate vacation in the last few years? Treat this as a PSA: Take your vacation; you need it more than you know. Talk to your team and your management to get the support and tools you need for improving your work-life balance.

The fact that this was one of the most highly attended sessions shows that everyone could use some work on their work-life balance!

The Avanti-sponsored Wellness Lounge at the 2022 National Payroll Conference
The Avanti-sponsored Wellness Lounge gave attendees an opportunity for refreshment and relaxation.

Resilience and adaptability

The last couple of years have demonstrated just how resilient and adaptable payroll professionals are. They had a lot to contend with during the pandemic and they didn’t falter, often working long hours, going into the office during lockdowns, and dealing with countless updates from the Canadian Revenue Agency (CRA). To put this into perspective, the CRA released around 600 changes to their services, due dates, and programs as a result of the pandemic!

Despite all of this, their employees could count on them to get paid accurately and on time. So many education sessions at the conference emphasized just how critical payroll is in every organization. The pandemic demonstrated that payroll is not just a service arm of an organization, but strategic partners responsible for a wealth of critical business information. So why not equip them with the tools and technology they need to succeed?

Until next time

We hope you had as good of time as we did at the Payroll Conference. And if you managed to come by the Avanti booth, thanks for stopping by. From the engaging speakers to the insightful presentations, this was a conference to remember. We look forward to seeing you next year!

Additional Reading:

Looking for more resources?

We’ve specially curated content and resources for payroll professionals. Feel free to peruse and download assets like our HRIS Buyer’s Guide or our PDF on How to Get Buy-In For Better Tech.

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