How has your association responded to the covid-19 pandemic in terms of how you communicate with members?
Covid- 19 has undoubtedly created numerous challenges for organisations across the globe, including the CIPP. The uncertainty of what was to happen and how this would affect us all was clearly felt by businesses and individuals alike. One of the CIPP’s main priorities was to ensure that our communication channels with our members were wide open.
We focussed our attentions on the services that were, and still are, vital to our members, whilst we made the transition to working from home. Front and centre of these essential communications were our Policy and Advisory teams. As the government created new legislation and guidance, including the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, we produced factsheets, breaking news, and webinars, explaining what this new legislation meant and how our members were to implement it. This information was sent out to our members via our daily and weekly News Online service, via emails and across our social media channels, ensuring as many of our members had immediate access to this information, no matter the circumstances.
Our Advisory service answered a record amount of calls and emails from our members, becoming that much needed extra member of their payroll team. They worked solidly throughout the pandemic, providing support, guidance, and advice, ensuring we all kept the UK paid.
Whilst we may not have been able to provide our members with the physical events they know, love and rely on, we were able to hold a variety of events online, ensuring we were able to continue communicating with them, they could communicate with us, and maybe more importantly, each other. Events such as our National Forums, through to our Annual Conference and Exhibition are a vital part of how our members network, stay in touch with, and share ideas with others in the payroll industry. Instead of postponing these crucial events, we moved them online, streamlining and focussing on the essential elements we know our members appreciate. We were thrilled to see them chatting, sharing ideas, and contributing to each session with enthusiasm and passion, and were delighted to have been able to provide this outlet for them.
Our members have been at the heart of every decision we have made since the pandemic began. They are why we exist and why we do what we do at the CIPP every day. We have discovered different ways of keeping the channels of communication open, some have been extremely successful, whilst others we have taken lessons from. We will continue to communicate with and listen to our members throughout this challenging period and beyond, ensuring we provide them with knowledge, support and advice for as long as they need us.
To what extent has the pandemic brought the industry you serve together and fostered joint initiatives and the sharing of best practice?
The payroll community has always been a close-knit community, but the pandemic has definitely bought us closer together. We found ourselves trying to understand, communicate and implement changes at a speed we’d never encountered before.
We began to see the community sharing ideas, asking questions, supporting each other, and using various digital and social media channels to do this. A great example of this was our annual National Payroll Week. The week is designed to demonstrate the impact the payroll industry has in the UK through the collection of income tax and National Insurance, which is expected to contribute in the region of £325.7bn* to the UK economy in 2020/21. We saw a record number of people downloading our packs, sharing the contents, and celebrating their and their colleagues’ commitment to the profession.
We were thrilled to have once again received the backing from the UK government for our National Payroll Week. Rt Hon Jesse Norman MP penned a letter of endorsement , praising not only the hard work done by the CIPP with regards to National Payroll Week, but to all payroll professionals in the UK for ‘keeping the UK paid’. We also received a letter of endorsement from Solihull’s very own MP Julian Knight who stated: “Payroll professionals are vitally important to our economy, and are a profession often not seen but are vital to keeping the UK paid”. These letters were shared with the payroll community throughout September to encourage feelings of positivity, community and togetherness.
During September, we also saw Portfolio Payroll launch their ‘Payroll Heroes’ campaign, which again celebrated the payroll community and highlighted those in the industry who had gone above and beyond to make sure we all kept the UKPaid.
On the subject of awards, our very own Annual Excellence Awards, held during our annual conference in October, were a great way to promote and celebrate those true payroll and pension professionals who have made an outstanding contribution and demonstrated a commitment to excellence in their profession. With the awards being digital this year, alongside our conference, this meant we could broadcast to a wider audience and could share examples of best practice with the wider community.
Our policy and research technical lead, Samantha Mann MAAT, MCIPPDip along with our wider policy team have taken part in a variety of consultation panels and have fostered excellent relationships with HMRC and the Government, in order to work together, to understand the future of payroll, the legislation updates and to be the first to communicate the changes to the payroll community.
The CIPP is the first place the payroll community come to, whether that be for their training needs, their qualifications or for their membership support. The pandemic has bought us closer together as we chat online, we train online, we support and share online and we meet online, together.
Ken Pullar is a judge at the 2021 Association Excellence Awards – visit the website for more information on how to enter and gain recognition for your and your organisation’s successes, efforts and achievements.