Can global payroll be compared to the Eurovision Song Contest?

Yes it can!

The number of similarities that can be drawn when comparing global payroll with an international song competition is crazy.

With a powerful but low-key ballad, the Netherlands won the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest. This win ended a 44 year wait for a fifth win for the hopeful Dutch. Artists from 41 countries sang for the title of ‘best in Europe’ (since when was Australia in Europe?!).

Throughout the competition, and hereafter, the Dutch team at NGA HR could not but notice all the similarities between being planning and hosting an international song contest and planning and hosting a Global Payroll solution. Does this sound too far-fetched? Like we’re still in the thrill of the win?

No. Not at all! Read on to understand how we have come to these conclusions.


Forty-one countries participated in the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest. Each country brought its own nuances, language, culture and expectations. These had to be brought together, analyzed, mapped and integrated into the planning and within the rules of the competition.

This same information gathering process is vital when bringing together multi-country payroll processes. How do you bring 41, or in the case of international payroll, sometimes more than 100 countries into a single instance? One that works equally for each country and can be understood by all.

Similarity number one: The Eurovision must consider the needs of multiple countries in a single event. A global payroll solution must achieve the same!

Flexibile and agile

As the winner, the Netherlands is also awarded the accolade of hosting the 2020 Eurovision. Its chosen host city needs to be able to deliver the event. To accommodate at least 2,000 delegates, journalists and spectators. To  have a show venue with capacity for 10,000 spectators. And, it needs to be within reach of an international airport.

If this infrastructure is not immediately available, a business case for change needs to be made. Does it make sense to build or to look at an alternative solution? To make the right decisions, the host country should opt to work with a specialist events team, one with experience of a similar project, creativity, but also a realistic view on the longer term return on the investment, especially if looking at a build project.

Likewise, this same foresight and flexibility is critical in the planning of any payroll modernization project. Select a global payroll partner that understands exactly what you need to achieve, and has the confidence to guide you, to use their experience to help you get the best outcomes. Rarely will you need to rip all out and start again. Usually, you can extend what you already have. Reuse; re-purpose; recycle, or ‘rent’.


There was some controversy surrounding Israel hosting the event. Michael Segalov, writer at The Guardian, was an audience member and explains how: ‘loud boos came from the audience when the Icelandic entrants waved Palestinian scarves solemnly to the cameras as their results rolled in.’ The European Broadcasting Union (EBU), the event organizer, sent out the statement: “This directly contradicts the rules … the consequences of this action will be discussed.”

We can tell from this statement that some rules put in place for the contest were not adhered to. Global payroll processes must also follow a strict set of rules and regulations. These are to ensure fair and accurate pay, and the protection of personal identifiable information.  Ensuring legislative compliance in every country in which your company operates is now more important than ever.

Client management

It is here where the organizers of Eurovision Song Contest can learn from Global Payroll Solutions. Who would have thought this possible?

While some Eurovision winners have catapulted to international fame, the majority have faded into obscurity. Abba, the Swedish quartet that won in 1974 with “Waterloo,” and the French-Canadian Celine Dion, who won for Switzerland in 1988, are two exceptions. They had strong, pro-active, post-their post-event management.

Like the world of entertainment, global payroll is complex. It’s challenging, it’s ever changing and no two countries adhere to the same rules and processes. The only way to keep your payroll processes vital, available and working it to employ dedicated management. A team that understands both the local and the international rules.

With the right management keeping your payroll performing, you an enjoy the same long-time successes as Abba and Celine!

Dare to Dream

Through these comparisons, we’ve just taken into account a few values to look for when choosing a global payroll solutions partner. For a deeper look, we suggest reading this article, Seven Considerations When Choosing your Global Payroll Partner.

To end this suitably, fans of the Eurovision will know that Dare to Dream! was the tagline of this year’s contest. According to Jon Ola Sand, Executive Supervisor of the Eurovision Song Contest, it represents and symbolizes everything that the Eurovision Song Contest is about: ‘it’s about inclusion. It’s about diversity. It’s about unity.’

For payroll, the values are similar. Set your payroll processes up to ensure that all employees, where ever they’re located, are paid correctly, fairly and in line with the rules, every pay run. The only way to do this is to have the foundations, infrastructure, processes and management fit for purpose.

Ready to take your next steps to a successful payroll future?

All you need to know about global payroll legislation can be found in the 2019, Global Payroll Complexity Index report.

The Global Payroll Complexity Index 2019 launch webinar can be viewed here now.

The report can be download here from Wednesday 12 June 2019.