Five tips for taking the stress out of your payroll year-end Five tips for taking the stress out of your payroll year-end

Five tips for taking the stress out of your payroll year-end
29 Mar 2018

As we all know, payroll year end, no matter when it falls, can be a stressful time - not least because getting it wrong has implications for both the business and staff.

There is no denying it can be a painful process. From reporting figures accurately and on time to the authorities to providing the right documentation for employees, there is a lot to think about during this critical time. It can even feel like a disaster waiting to happen.

But things do not have to be like this. By implementing robust plans and processes, you can keep year-end stresses to a minimum. Here are some suggestions how:

  1. Plan the payroll year-end well ahead

There is a lot involved in tying up the payroll year-end, but rushing the job at the last minute almost guarantees that things will go wrong. The relevant information will probably not be to hand and errors are likely to creep in.

So creating a year-end process map is a good way to ensure you follow all the necessary steps to file successfully. Start by mapping out everything you need to do to ensure the last payroll run of the current year and the first one of the following year go smoothly. Doing so will provide you with a clear view of the timeline and resources needed to file accurately and on time.

But it is also important to coordinate your year-end efforts with HR, IT, finance and whichever other business functions you might need to call upon should you encounter any issues or need extra data.

  1. Integrate payroll and HR systems

Trying to finalise your year-end payroll in a vacuum is bound to cause problems. Before the year-end process starts, it is important to audit your payroll balances and verify that employee information is accurate.

For example, check that employee name changes are up-to-date and ensure that any terminations or deaths have been properly noted. Changing your records to take account of sickness and maternity payments will also save valuable time and reduce the risk of incorrect submissions.

One possible way to ensure your database provides a single version of the truth in employee information terms is to integrate your payroll and HR systems. Doing so will cut the amount of duplicate data entry that takes place across both teams, reducing human error and speeding up data processing.

  1. Invest in employee training

No matter what you or your team’s level of global payroll expertise, taking a few refresher courses in the lead-up to year end can help you to get it right first time.

Regulations and legislation change frequently around the world so payroll teams need to stay on top of it all. This means that training is definitely not a one-off activity. Industry bodies such as the Global Payroll Association run lots of courses here and many suppliers also run refresher sessions in the form of webinars.

  1. Have a back-up plan

Even if you believe you have everything in place, things can still go wrong. This means that having the right backup and disaster recovery systems in place is vital to make it possible to restore data if computers crash, or in-house systems go down. Cloud systems that enable you to access systems from any device and from any location can prove useful in this instance.

  1. Carry out a review

Once the year-end is complete but before you sit back and relax, it is worth exploring what went well and what could be improved upon. It is also useful to evaluate what new processes or systems might help to make things run even more smoothly next time.

 Ceara Metcalf 

Ceara Metcalf is product management lead for payroll at Sage, where she has worked for 15 years. She is an expert on payroll compliance and, in her current role, concentrates on using technology to simplify payroll requirements for customers.

 

 

As we all know, payroll year end, no matter when it falls, can be a stressful time - not least because getting it wrong has implications for both the business and staff.

There is no denying it can be a painful process. From reporting figures accurately and on time to the authorities to providing the right documentation for employees, there is a lot to think about during this critical time. It can even feel like a disaster waiting to happen.

But things do not have to be like this. By implementing robust plans and processes, you can keep year-end stresses to a minimum. Here are some suggestions how:

  1. Plan the payroll year-end well ahead

There is a lot involved in tying up the payroll year-end, but rushing the job at the last minute almost guarantees that things will go wrong. The relevant information will probably not be to hand and errors are likely to creep in.

So creating a year-end process map is a good way to ensure you follow all the necessary steps to file successfully. Start by mapping out everything you need to do to ensure the last payroll run of the current year and the first one of the following year go smoothly. Doing so will provide you with a clear view of the timeline and resources needed to file accurately and on time.

But it is also important to coordinate your year-end efforts with HR, IT, finance and whichever other business functions you might need to call upon should you encounter any issues or need extra data.

  1. Integrate payroll and HR systems

Trying to finalise your year-end payroll in a vacuum is bound to cause problems. Before the year-end process starts, it is important to audit your payroll balances and verify that employee information is accurate.

For example, check that employee name changes are up-to-date and ensure that any terminations or deaths have been properly noted. Changing your records to take account of sickness and maternity payments will also save valuable time and reduce the risk of incorrect submissions.

One possible way to ensure your database provides a single version of the truth in employee information terms is to integrate your payroll and HR systems. Doing so will cut the amount of duplicate data entry that takes place across both teams, reducing human error and speeding up data processing.

  1. Invest in employee training

No matter what you or your team’s level of global payroll expertise, taking a few refresher courses in the lead-up to year end can help you to get it right first time.

Regulations and legislation change frequently around the world so payroll teams need to stay on top of it all. This means that training is definitely not a one-off activity. Industry bodies such as the Global Payroll Association run lots of courses here and many suppliers also run refresher sessions in the form of webinars.

  1. Have a back-up plan

Even if you believe you have everything in place, things can still go wrong. This means that having the right backup and disaster recovery systems in place is vital to make it possible to restore data if computers crash, or in-house systems go down. Cloud systems that enable you to access systems from any device and from any location can prove useful in this instance.

  1. Carry out a review

Once the year-end is complete but before you sit back and relax, it is worth exploring what went well and what could be improved upon. It is also useful to evaluate what new processes or systems might help to make things run even more smoothly next time.

 Ceara Metcalf 

Ceara Metcalf is product management lead for payroll at Sage, where she has worked for 15 years. She is an expert on payroll compliance and, in her current role, concentrates on using technology to simplify payroll requirements for customers.