Payroll processing might seem to be a herculean monthly process even for the most seasoned payroll specialist. With seemingly endless calculations of salary elements such as wages, overtime, bonuses, allowances and statutory contributions, coupled with the pressure to ensure timely salary disbursement to employees, payroll processing requires meticulousness and patience.
With the evolving workplace and the need to remain competitive in today’s market, business leaders are taking a closer look at what it means to optimise core functions such as payroll. Whether it means implementing new payroll software or scaling payroll operational processes, organisations need to be flexible and agile to ensure payroll success in today’s workplace.
The right team and knowledge
The success and accuracy of your payroll depends largely on having the right team. The size of your payroll team depends on the scale of your payroll. If your organisation only has 50 employees, a payroll manager and one payroll staff should probably suffice. However, if you have 1,000 employees across 10 payrolls in 10 countries, you will definitely require more manpower.
Besides ensuring that there is sufficient payroll staff to process your organisation’s payroll, it is crucial to ensure that you have hired the “experts” for your payroll team. This means ensuring that your payroll staff possess sufficient knowledge about payroll processing, from wages and allowances calculation, employee benefits, correct employee classification to claims, statutory deductions and local tax laws.
While it may not be possible to get the “dream time”, ensuring that your payroll staff are well-equipped with appropriate payroll knowledge can help to minimise the risk of costly payroll errors.
Flexible work processes
In today’s digital age, technology is essential to the success of modern payroll operations. Yet, it is common for organisations to be slow in adopting new innovations due to concerns around security, privacy and costs. Despite the hesitation, it is becoming increasingly difficult for organisations to justify not investing in technology. With the rise of cloud computing, mobile computing and big data analytics, combining payroll with technology has proven to significantly increase the accuracy, efficiency and speed of payroll operations while reducing compliance risk.
As technology continues to transform payroll operations, your payroll staff need to expand their knowledge beyond payroll basics and focus on strategic payroll initiatives. This means becoming more agile and flexible, moving away from manual processes and towards solutions for automating, integrating and digitizing payroll functions, systems and data.
Robust payroll software
Manual payroll system runs the risk of costly payroll mistakes. You might end up punching in the wrong number into the calculator, record a number under the wrong employee or disbursing salary payments to employees a day late. These payroll mistakes can result in hefty costs on the organisation and poor employee morale.
Implementing a payroll management system can help to remove manual intervention and create more accurate processes. At the same time, it frees up time for your payroll staff to focus on productive tasks.
Besides automating manual payroll processes, your payroll software should also be robust against cybersecurity threats and fraudulent activities. Given that your payroll data includes your employees’ personal and confidential information, it is imperative to enforce strict data privacy policies, such as ensuring regular data backups and limiting the number of user access to the payroll software, to minimise the risk of data leaks.
With the rise of globalisation and mobile employees, this places new pressures and challenges in terms of compliance and the need to manage regulations across borders. Internal and external noncompliance can have profound impacts on both employees and the organisation.
Payroll staff are no doubt under tremendous amount of pressure each pay period to ensure timely completion of processing in time for salaries to arrive on payday. Despite the pressure, internal controls should still be adhered to within the payroll department to minimise the risk of errors and fraud. For instance, a payroll staff may cut corners by not ensuring their manager sign-off on all timecards before processing payroll. While this may result in timely payroll processing and salary disbursement, it may result in legal and tax issues if the employee is not accurately compensated for the hours worked.
Similarly, the rise of mobile and remote-working employees bring about a host of compliance issues relating to local payroll and tax laws. It is imperative that payroll staff are equipped with sufficient knowledge on the respective payroll and tax laws to ensure accurate statutory deductions and contributions. Noncompliance to these payroll and tax laws may result in hefty fines for the organisation and inconvenience employees as well.
The debate around whether payroll should sit within the Human Resources or Finance department continue amongst leaders around the world today. Ultimately, the success of payroll management relies on its collaboration with various departments. While the department that payroll belongs to remain debatable, it is in fact intricately linked to other teams including finance, accounting and legal. For instance, payroll is considered a company expense and any calculation mistakes may pose a significant impact on the organisation’s balance sheets. Likewise, finance and accounting teams are responsible for monitoring the organisation’s cash flow and ensuring sufficient funds in the organisation’s accounts during payday.
With these pillars on mind, a thorough understanding of the foundation upon which payroll success stands on can help your organisation to build an integrated and standardized payroll management in the long run. By taking the proactive approach to train payroll staff as well as be fluid to changes to drive effective payroll strategies, this will help your organisation to continue delivering timely, accurate, and compliant payroll regardless of change.