Take a moment to remember what your profession looked like when you first started out. No matter what your occupation or length of time in the workplace, chances are you’ve seen plenty of change – to the way you work, the working environment and culture, the technology you use, and the legislation you work under. And if you haven’t yet, you surely will – because change is now a constant.
This constant change represents a huge challenge for professionals and organisations alike. Those that sit still soon find themselves behind the curve; the skills you gained last year may be out of date next year.
One thing is clear: continuing professional development (CPD) has never been more important.
I caught up with Julie Lock, Service Development Director at MHR, and Elaine Gibson, Education Director at the Chartered Institute of Payroll Professionals (CIPP), to discuss the significance of CPD within the payroll industry, and asked why both MHR and the CIPP have chosen CPD accreditation for their training courses.
Why is CPD so important?
Elaine Gibson (EG): “Payroll professionals do their absolute upmost to pay people on time and accurately, and in order to do that they need to have the tools to help them learn new skills or polish up existing ones.
“The amount of people that come along to a course and say ‘I’ve been doing this for years; I didn’t realise we should be doing that’ – it’s this realisation and then filling in those gaps that allows them to go back and say ‘I’m a true professional.’
“CPD gives people something to aim for. It provides a framework that allows them to start recording all of their successes, achievements and future development. For us as an institute, it’s everything we stand for. We want to support our members, students and the wider payroll community to be the best they can.”
Julie Lock (JL): “Once you’ve gained your qualification, it’s a case of ‘what’s next?’ Payroll changes all the time – the legislation shifts, rules change, there are all sorts of economic issues that impact payroll, and we have to react to them all.
“The focus on CPD is one that says ‘OK, we’ve got you to a professional point, now let’s help you maintain that by supporting your CPD.’ So each year you are evidencing that you are still in development – because everybody learns all the time.
“The best professionals in the world have coaches because they never stop learning or trying to master their craft, and it’s no different in payroll”.
So gaining a professional qualification is no longer enough?
EG: “The qualification is important but it is just the beginning; it is the foundation for all of the experiences yet to come. Having a solid foundation is important so that an individual can build on their skills and knowledge. This is when that person really starts to grow and develop as a professional, through constant challenge, change and transformation.”
JL: “CEOs ought to be thinking about investing beyond the professional qualification and enabling people to have the resources and time to continue to develop, otherwise skills become out of date fairly quickly.
“If you’ve invested in somebody getting professionally qualified and then there’s nothing after that, over a period of time the value of that qualification is diluted as things change. It is therefore important that CEOs recognise the value in continuously developing their people.
“Any employer that’s willing to put an employee through a professional qualification, fund it and support them with the time to do it, should also then back that person’s CPD once the qualification has been achieved to gain maximum return on their investment.”
Is CPD more important than ever in the payroll industry?
EG: “I think the industry is waking up to the importance of it. Before, payroll was seen as a back-office function, but it isn’t anymore. It’s got some profile now, some kudos, and I think employers are beginning to realise that. We are in a very technical industry – it’s like an applied science, a form of mathematics, and you’ve got to get it right. Nothing’s more important than compliance and paying people accurately and on time. CPD plays an essential role in ensuring payroll professionals are able to achieve this.”
JL: “Change is the norm for every organisation and also for the payroll profession, and I think organisations do now recognise this. Perhaps in the past, all a CFO needed from payroll was to get people paid on time and report the costs; it’s very different now, there’s more emphasis on payroll analytics than ever before as we constantly look for efficiency savings.
“In the last few years we’ve seen massive changes for payroll, with the introduction of auto-enrolment and RTI, and I dare say there will be more to come with us exiting the EU. To be able to come out the other end and say ‘I’ve done my studying, I understand it all, I’m in control, and I’m going to keep on top of it’ – that’s a pretty strong message.”
What are the benefits of CPD for organisations?
EG: “From a CIPP point of view, people come to us because they want to upskill their employees or themselves, and they want to shout out to the world that their staff are always at the top of their game. Many companies use their qualification status as a USP in their particular field.
“CPD offers an organisation peace of mind that their people are gaining the relevant skills and knowledge they need to perform their work efficiently in an ever-changing world.”
JL: “In order to achieve the goals of a business plan you need your people to be completely skilled and their knowledge up to date. You don’t want to have to stop your project to get people trained up or brought up to speed; you want them to always be at the top of their game – and CPD promotes this.
“You also need to look at how it attracts talent. As an employee, if I were looking at two organisations for a potential new job, one that offered CPD and one that didn’t, I’d be highly likely to choose the one that believed in continuing professional development.”
Why did the CIPP go down the route of CPD accreditation for its courses?
EG: “CPD accreditation is important to the CIPP as it supports the quality of our training and enables individuals to showcase their achievements. The CIPP continues to build a profession for the payroll industry that cuts across many sectors.
“CIPP members are required to abide by a Code of Conduct, which includes an expectation that members keep their knowledge and skills current; this is important at all levels of the profession and supports best practice. The CPD process and related accreditation provides a framework for members to achieve this requirement, enables the recording of best practice and career development planning, and assists in achieving organisational objectives.
“In October 2017 the CIPP were delighted and very proud to announce the introduction of Individual Chartered Status (ICS). This is the highest level of membership that can be achieved within the payroll profession. CPD accreditation and the recording of achievements is vital to retaining this status, and this badge of honour sends out a message demonstrating that members are striving to be the best in their profession.”
Why did MHR go down the route of CPD accreditation for its courses?
JL: “Organisations that offer services and training can very easily comment that they deliver best practice, that they have high standards and quality – and we do have that.
“But we wanted to become part of this continuing professional development movement. And having a third party audit the content of our training and say that the objectives of the training are truly met, and accredit the courses with CPD credits, is a way of saying ‘we believe in the quality of the work we do, but here’s the CPD seal of approval to support that fact.’”
At MHR, we recently received CPD accreditation for our customer training programmes, meaning each of our courses now carries a set number of CPD points. So anyone currently participating in a formal CPD programme, such as those ran by the CIPD or CIPP, can use the points from our courses as part of their ongoing professional development.
You can find out more information about our training courses here.CPD Accredited Training