Alight, Inc. (NYSE: ALIT), a leading cloud-based human capital technology and services provider, has unveiled alarming statistics in its 2024 Company Payroll Complexity Report.

The study exposes that a staggering 53 percent of surveyed companies faced payroll penalties over the last five years due to non-compliance issues.

The report, building on insights from the 2023 Alight Global Payroll Complexity Index, draws on responses from nearly 300 payroll professionals and stakeholders.

It sheds light on critical aspects of payroll operations, including the geographical scope of payroll processing, the utilisation of technology, and the prevalence of outdated practices within organisations.

According to the findings, 51 percent of surveyed companies still rely on spreadsheets, while 19 percent persist with outdated manual or paper processes in their payroll departments. This revelation underscores the urgent need for transformative changes in payroll management practices.

A shift towards more streamlined processes

The survey also highlights a gradual shift toward more streamlined processes and the adoption of cloud-based solutions. Presently, only 26 percent of companies reported employing fully cloud-based strategies. Despite media attention on artificial intelligence (AI) and the industry trend toward digital solutions, a mere 8 percent of respondents expressed intentions to incorporate AI into their payroll processes within the next two years.

One notable priority for organisations, as indicated by the respondents, is the integration of payroll and benefits into a unified platform. This was ranked as the top priority, followed closely by employee data analysis and the implementation of automatic reporting mechanisms.

Notably, companies operating in the top 10 most complex payroll processing countries face heightened challenges, with a direct correlation between the number of countries in which an organisation operates and the likelihood of receiving fines for non-compliance.

The report reveals that 24 percent of organisations operating in a single country received fines, with this percentage surging to 67 percent for those expanding operations into two-to-five countries, marking the highest prevalence of fines within this range.

Errors will damage your reputation

Luca Saracino, Executive Vice President of Payroll and Professional Services at Alight, emphasised the critical nature of payroll management, stating, “Payroll is an integral part of any business and can damage an organisation’s reputation if something goes wrong. These mistakes can be mitigated with a well-integrated, single platform that combines all-important HR functions such as payroll and benefits into a one-stop shop. Streamlining such processes not only saves time and minimizes risks of human errors but also goes a long way in safeguarding both the company and promoting employee wellbeing.”

The Alight 2024 Company Payroll Complexity Report serves as a wake-up call for organisations to modernize their payroll practices, minimize compliance risks, and ensure the smooth functioning of critical HR functions.





Amelia Brand is the Editor for HRreview, and host of the HR in Review podcast series. With a Master’s degree in Legal and Political Theory, her particular interests within HR include employment law, DE&I, and wellbeing within the workplace. Prior to working with HRreview, Amelia was Sub-Editor of a magazine, and Editor of the Environmental Justice Project at University College London, writing and overseeing articles into UCL’s weekly newsletter. Her previous academic work has focused on philosophy, politics and law, with a special focus on how artificial intelligence will feature in the future.