We all know that getting paid is awesome. But that wouldn’t be possible without the people who make it happen. Cue National Payroll Week (Sept. 4-8 in the U.S.), a campaign that celebrates payroll professionals. It highlights the crucial role they play in the oversight and accurate and timely payment of workers, particularly at a time when human capital management is evolving with greater use of technology.
It’s also an opportunity to help workers (there are 150 million wage earners in the U.S.) better understand the payroll system, its benefits, and how to maximize their paychecks. There are challenges, of course, to ensuring a company’s payroll system runs like a well-oiled machine. Here are strategies to avoid some top payroll pitfalls.
First and foremost, it’s important to be aware of compliance and legal regulations – to protect the business and your team. Stay up to date with industry news, best practices and changes to legislation. By staying up to date, not only will you remain compliant, but you can also help to prepare your leadership team and company for upcoming legislative changes impacting the organization. This is key to avoiding penalties and organizational disruption.
Year-end is crunch time, particularly for payroll professionals. There are tight deadlines – and no room for error during this critical period. Planning ahead is therefore key to success.
Year-end preparation should take place all year long. From a process and efficiency standpoint, while it’s tempting to leave work until year-end, don’t do it. Some payroll management platforms allow for running test year-end reports all year long. This allows you to correct issues as they happen, rather than waiting until months later when you have to rack your brain to figure out what happened and what you need to do to fix it. Build year-end auditing into your year-round plan to keep up-to-date.
Another preparation strategy for year-end is being aware of the resources and training your team needs to complete it successfully. Build training into your year-round plan to ensure the team is up to speed ahead of crunch time. Whether it’s about how to identify issues and audit year-end records, legislative changes, or important dates and deadlines, training will increase the confidence and engagement of your team. Talk to your payroll provider or association early to find out which courses will be available and when. Register early – these courses and seminars are very popular. Taking the time to train and stay up-to-date on best practices has major ROI.
Streamline payroll processes with automated and integrated solutions. The less manual data entry, the better. Less keying means fewer errors, and fewer errors means time saved. Implement automated workflows, which help with approval tracking, which in turn helps with internal and external audits and compliance. Automating processes, including employee and manager self-services, provides consistency and continuity. Let your human capital management system track and capture data and history required for legislative compliance. The ongoing need to do more with less means automation where possible is key.
There’s a huge advantage in being able to view payroll changes in real-time. A real-time view allows a payroll professional to immediately see the impact of changes, ensuring time savings, accuracy and compliance. This is key in helping to spot errors before payroll is committed. It’s a payroll professional’s job to ensure payroll is processed accurately and on time. Real-time views make this much easier.
Payroll is a business-critical activity, and following best practices adds value to the whole organization. It’s equally important to continuously look for opportunities for improvement – not only does this benefit and support the departments working closely with payroll; it also benefits the business.