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Bridging The Gap Between Payroll And The C-Suite

“Payroll Officers, what do you need to do your job better?” That’s the question that every Payroll officer wants to hear from the C-suite.

In almost every company with which we have worked, the perception is that Payroll is a department that costs money and doesn’t make money. However, there's more to consider here.

The most common reason for high staff turnover and a bad reputation is a poor culture. And nothing destroys culture faster than paying your employees inconsistently and/or incorrectly. This is the Payroll team’s responsibility. Making sure your Payroll team are happy and running smoothly means your company will run so much smoother and safer.

The Payroll department is a high-stress environment and that can affect the Payroll team’s mental health. In companies that don’t look after the Payroll department effectively issues such as burnout, emotional outbursts, low self-esteem and an underlying dread of going on holidays or getting sick can constantly play on a Payroll officer’s mind.

If the Payroll team is so critical for your business, why are they often not given the support they need?

What you can do to help your Payroll team

Start a conversation

The best way to support your Payroll team is to talk to them. It’s as simple as that.

Ask questions and get their input - after all, they are the ones that use the systems, they are the ones that see the issues with your company’s terms of employment (eg. Enterprise Agreements EAs) and they are the ones that see what the managers are missing in timesheet signoffs.

If the C-Suite sat down and spoke to the Payroll department, often they would be shocked with just how much they have to manually do outside of the Payroll system itself just to get people paid on time and correctly.

They are usually very unaware of the manual workarounds that teams resort to because the system won’t do what they need, or worse, because the managers and leaders don’t do their own job correctly and completely. There is a constant need to follow up with managers to get things done right. There is often also the ongoing chase for new starter paperwork to ensure a new employee is paid correctly and on time from day one.

To get the most out of your Payroll team you should listen to their needs and actively budget for them. Most Payroll people won’t make spurious requests – most things that they request will be necessary, even if they struggle to describe a Return on Investment.

However, be careful, as always, to ensure that requests aren’t about more tech. Requests should always be framed around achieving business process outcomes. Maybe a tech solution is necessary, or maybe all that’s necessary is a process adjustment. Make sure all requests are assessed against this mantra!

Finally, it’s important to make sure you acknowledge how hard they work and talk to them about decisions that may affect their work so you know you’re not inadvertently making more work for them.

Payroll and Skill Based Training

Along with speaking to your Payroll team, thorough and ongoing training can be invaluable.

Payroll is a constantly changing landscape and you can’t expect your team to keep up with all the new legislation, tax, super and general Payroll changes if you don’t invest in their training.

If you keep your Payroll team on top of the changing world of Payroll, they can make sure your business adapts and improves constantly.

Training will help them update their skills to make your business safer and smoother. It's not just Payroll training either, applications such as Excel, Word, and the whole Microsoft Office suite are incredibly helpful for Payroll officers. If they are taught how to use these programs properly and effectively, it will make their working life much easier and the positive results will be forthcoming to your business.

What your Payroll team can do to help you

Decision Making

If you want to upgrade your Payroll and/or T&A system, you need to speak to Payroll.

If you want to start the renegotiation of your Enterprise Agreement (EA), you need to speak to Payroll.

If you want to understand aspects of your organisation’s culture, you need to speak to Payroll.

If you want to know if you are paying your people correctly, you need to speak to Payroll.

Your Payroll department does one of the most important jobs in keeping your company running and they work hard to make sure they do it right.

They can give invaluable input into what’s going on within the business and what you can do to meet your goals, so it’s crucial to talk to them before making any decisions that impact Payroll.

Payroll officers want to be heard and to have input into company decisions. They know what systems need to be upgraded and which are working just fine, and they know the most effective way to improve the Payroll process.

Of the many Payroll officers we’ve worked with over the years, one thing we hear very often is that the C-Suite will often try to fix systems that aren’t broken, rather than spending money on more effective ways to improve the Payroll processes.

Rather than trying to upgrade or replace technical systems, it is often much more effective to train more on the system you already have or rework operational processes. The key is to talk to your Payroll team and find out what they think is the best way to improve their work.

Remember, you don’t know what your Payroll employees are feeling unless you open your mind and try to understand what it is like to walk in their shoes. They are the glue of your company - if employees don’t get paid, you won't have employees.

The gap that often sits between the C-Suite and the Payroll team in a business can cause numerous issues. Don’t underestimate how much of a positive influence an open dialogue between these groups can have on your organisation.

Businesses can email call 1300 287 213 for free first-step advice on how to ensure your payroll processes can safeguard your payroll compliance. Follow us on LinkedIn or sign up here to receive our articles direct to your email inbox.


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