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Making payroll more efficient through adaption and improvement

Business success depends just as much on its staff’s satisfaction as it does on its customers’. Failing to pay your workforce promptly and correctly for the hard work they do can cause resentment, says Sage UK payroll expert Jonathan Dowden.
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Payroll is often thought of as a minefield, where success is never acknowledged, but failures quickly breed distress amongst employees. As payroll is such an important factor to get right, we have developed some key tips that any business can follow to ensure payday always goes without a hitch.

Getting organised 

Payroll can be a complex beast, requiring several important considerations such as tax deadlines, shifting paydays, and quarterly reporting. Create a yearly calendar that flags up all the important dates such as submitting timesheets, invoices, and making payments.

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Not only will this help to ensure that important tasks are not missed, but also keep employees informed about when they will get paid, and what tasks they need to complete for payday to run smoothly.

Review your policies

One of the biggest problems facing the payroll department is when there is no clear set of policies for inputting issues which affect employee pay; for example, sick leave, overtime, holidays and expenses. Too much complexity, together with a lack of clarity about how to submit this information, will only complicate the process.

The aim of any review should be to create a comprehensive and unambiguous set of policies and practices for all issues that affect employees’ pay. This provides a useful guide for employees to follow and use when querying additions or deductions to their earnings.

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Adopt a self-service model

There’s no reason why the payroll department should have to chase and input every single piece of data about their employees’ working life. Chasing time sheets or expense forms is a time-consuming and tedious task, and some workers don’t recognise that their failure to submit this information makes it more difficult to get paid.

The solution is to give employees more responsibility by moving towards a self-service model. This can take many forms, from having workers file their own time sheets or receipts into a central system, or requiring them to request their own holidays or mark sick days on an online calendar. 

This makes it much easier to review and approve employee requests as they come in, and puts the onus on individuals to submit their personal information – freeing up valuable time for payroll workers. Of course, self-service does require having the right technology platform in place to support these functions – something worth considering when evaluating providers.

Review and improve

It’s important to get out of the mind-set that you can “fix” vital business functions such as payroll. It should instead be seen as a constant process of adaption and improvement to suit changing circumstances.   

Organisations need to keep an ear to the ground to monitor for complaints, and actively request feedback from employees about the process can be improved. Once an issue has been identified, payroll can then conduct workflow analysis to identify bottlenecks, or areas where errors are creeping in.

Again, taking this approach will do a great deal to reassure employees that you have their best interests at heart, helping to maintain a happy and committed workforce.

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