Author – Amanda, Payroll HQ
Like most of us, payroll wasn’t exactly something I planned to fall into as a career choice. With that in mind, I’ve put together this little guide on tackling some of the challenges we all face during our payroll career, and more importantly, how to learn from them.
First, some context
Years ago, after finishing my undergraduate degree, I applied for my first job in the professional world. As a young adult with limited experience, I applied for an administrative role in a small office, however, on my first day I was asked to see how I would go at processing payroll. I started on a Monday, and with the assistance of my manager, we had to get 250+ staff paid by close of business Wednesday.
It’s safe to say that I was thrown into the deep end. However, with how payroll works at times, perhaps this wasn’t the worst way to learn.
I may have progressed in the payroll industry since, however, every working day still poses new challenges, and the deadlines in our calendars have a tendency to build up as we learn to manage our time more efficiently and push for more from ourselves.
Four things I have learned through my experience in this industry that I find to be an integral part of the payroll process:
Treat mistakes or incidents as an opportunity to learn
As payroll professionals, we can get into the mindset that no news is good news. We tend to hear from our staff or clients only when they have issues with their pay. But when these problems arise, how can we identify where the cause of the matter is? The issue could stem from lack of the processor understanding the system they are using, lack of cross checks where necessary, or even ensuring your employees and their managers understand the ESS if they are utilising one.
Payroll systems have the same goal
When learning a new payroll system, or function within a payroll system you are familiar with, there will always be differences in the way you process a payroll in comparison to others you might have used in the past. At any point – especially in payroll outsourcing – you could even be using multiple systems. Any well-built payroll system will have one goal: to ensure your payroll is run not just efficiently, but also accurately, which leads me to my next point:
Understanding how your system works is everything
I processed payroll for about a year for one company. When I moved into implementations, I was provided with the opportunity to learn the setup of the back end of that particular software. Understanding how the system worked meant that when someone notified me a specific area of their payroll wasn’t working correctly, I’d be there to assist them to figure out what was causing it. Once my colleagues and I could pinpoint the source of an error and troubleshoot the situation, we could feel more confident in the quality of the service we were delivering to our clients.
If you work in a team, ensure everyone feels supported
I’ve worked in teams where high-level payrolls are processed on weekly, fortnightly and monthly basis – also don’t forget off-cycle payments and ongoing payroll system maintenance thrown into the mix. When employees know that no one else might have the account knowledge of their payroll, they are less inclined to take much needed time out. For example, employees may forfeit taking much needed personal leave as they don’t feel their work could be completed to a high enough standard, and if it were to get done, there might be more work to on their return. If employees feel this pressure, how do you think this would affect your staff morale and turnover? Ensure your team is cross-trained and that there is always a back-up should one of your employees need to ever take time off. As payroll professionals we all know our entitlement to annual and personal leave, we should feel like we can take it without having to worry or think about work while we are away.
As an industry, processors (both in-house and outsourced) and consultants tend to be grouped together as we are relied upon for a specific subset of knowledge. Our roles can often be defined by tight deadlines, performing a variety of high-level calculations while delivering superior service to our employees and clients. Throughout my time so far in this industry, I have had the opportunity to work in both standalone and team environments which have allowed me to gain not only crucial knowledge, but an understanding of the key points above which have been just as valuable and prepared me for each step forward in my career.
What’s the next step?
Payroll HQ’s staff are all qualified to a minimum of Certificate IV in Payroll Administration, so our clients are confident that their payroll rests in safe & capable hands, ensuring compliance. If you are thinking outsourcing your payroll, download this FREE e-book, In Safe Hands, a blueprint for employers looking to transition to a managed payroll model while retaining complete control.
To discuss how Payroll HQ could help you, contact us here.download your free e-book