Who you put on your payroll team can have a direct impact on your operations and is certainly not a decision to snooze on.
Having the right people on your payroll team is non-negotiable if you’re looking to run a tight operation. This is why you should be on the lookout for people who will bring their A-game every day.
Before you assemble your team though, you need to decide where payroll sits within your business. Is it HR, finance or shared services? The recent Australian Payroll Association 2017 Payroll Benchmarking Study found that payroll tended to report to finance in smaller businesses, while larger companies had payroll reporting to HR.
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Whichever reporting line you choose, ensure that your payroll team has an identity of its own within your business too.
Payroll Team Size
I often get asked how big a payroll team should be. As always, my response is: it depends. There are a number of factors to consider when deciding on how many payroll professionals to recruit.
Your payroll team size should not only be determined by the number of employees you have to pay. When building your team, also consider factors like: how often your pay cycle is, the number of locations paid, and employee turnover, just to name a few.
I have come across teams with 10 payroll staff paying 1500 employees fortnightly. Another team had the same number of staff on their team but paid 15 000 employees weekly.
Both teams had issues surrounding compliance and governance, which goes to show there really is no one-size-fits all answer to staffing size.
Payroll Team Knowledge
A few years ago, I was speaking with a client who was absolutely certain that the problem with their payroll operation was their payroll system.
Rarely is a system so poor that it can’t perform a basic payroll operation.
I suggested we dig a little deeper to find out if it really was a system issue, or if there were other underlying factors contributing to payroll problems.
When we assessed the payroll team for technical expertise, we found a general lack of legislative and regulatory knowledge about payroll basics.
An unqualified payroll team can cause a lot of damage to your business, especially from a compliance perspective. So make sure your team is up-to-date with the latest legislation from both Federal and State governments.
Payroll Team Capability
In addition to the size and the knowledge of your payroll team, the experience and problem-solving ability of each member also contributes to the strategic value of the payroll function.
Having 20 years of payroll experience may initially sound impressive, but I have come across people who are new to payroll outperforming their more senior colleagues.
This highlights a fundamental problem with the payroll industry – there has never been a standardisation of what is deemed necessary payroll knowledge. Until recently, that is.
While not all payroll professionals have a Certificate IV in Payroll Administration or a Diploma in Payroll Management, these qualifications certainly offer some assurances to employers looking to hire payroll staff.
People are your Best Asset
At the end of the day, your payroll team should be dedicated to ensuring all employees not only get paid on time, but also correctly.
Your payroll staff should also possess a thirst for knowledge and an adaptability to changes in legislation and regulation.
Most importantly though, be sure to look beyond the obvious when hiring your payroll dream team. An inherent instinct to add value to your organisation can be worth its weight in gold.