Myth 1: Payroll is a simple one-off process for paying salaries

The reality…

Payroll is anything but simple. It means handling complicated data with precision and assurance. It has multiple challenges – recording employee attendance accurately, changes in leave policy, deductions for pensions/auto enrolment, student loans and the list goes on.

Our customers’ markets are evolving rapidly in an era of disruptive change and in turn employees have to work in an increasingly agile environment – for that reason alone payroll has to be more responsive. So, it is not just about salaries – far from it. Staff packages are becoming more personalised – unique overtime arrangements, personalised expenses, ad hoc payments to name but a few.

Glenn Coleman, International Benefits Manager at Worldpay feels the perception lags behind the reality:

“Payroll is not simple – we’ve got a complex payroll operation. It’s very sophisticated with a host of different processes and calculations.” Payroll has also changed in another very important respect – the volume of pre and post payroll work has increased significantly. It has never been about
“pushing a button” on pay day, there is a large amount of “pre-process” preparation and information gathering around payroll that leaders in the business may not see.

And when pay day has come and gone, says Kate Innes, Head of HR at Vertas Group: “… there is also a lot of “post-process” work too – once payroll has been done there is still an increasing variety of work to be done in terms of HMRC, pensions and reconciliation with the finance department.”

Sarah Hamilton, People Director at The Cooperative Bank makes a great point around the myth of simplicity:

“If you’re making payroll look simple you must be doing a great job. The art of payroll is to make something very difficult look easy.”

So if people in your business tell you that payroll is simple, turn it into a compliment. Make sure they understand that payroll seems simple because you (and your provider) are doing a complicated job well.