Worried about compliance? Five tips for getting payroll right every time

19 Oct

payroll compliance: tips on getting payroll right each time

Everyone finds it challenging to keep up with the ever-changing payroll laws. We’ve got five tips that will help you stay compliant and get payroll right every time.  

Don’t stress! You’ll be relieved to discover that majority of companies have experienced issues like this at some point.

According to a report by Ernst and Young in 2013, 59% of companies experienced local tax authority audits and queries. Similarly, according to research by Fundera, a third of businesses are penalized for payroll compliance mistakes.

Today, new laws are impacting compliance too.

In the US, many states are planning to raise minimum wage requirements over the next few years and enforce new overtime laws. Once these new changes go into effect payroll will be processed differently.

When you also factor in the challenges of an international workforce operating under different tax laws, it’s easy to appreciate the risks involved.

Errors in payroll not only leave businesses vulnerable to government penalties; they also negatively impact employee morale and performance.

According to research by Sage, more than a third of employees would seek alternative employment after just one payroll error.

In the same study last year, 90% said they would not want to work for a company with a history of payroll mistakes, over 50% said a payroll error would cause them to lose trust in their employer, and 44% said they wouldn’t enjoy their job thanks to an issue with payroll.

“Payroll is something employers must get right,” says Jonathan Dowden, Payroll Expert at Sage. “With a clear potential to transform staff morale, influence employee engagement and make an employer more appealing to current or future talent, it should be brought out from the shadows and into the spotlight for businesses.”

It is critical that businesses get payroll right by meeting government rules and regulations to keep employees on their side. Here are five tips that will help you do just that:

  1. Get personal information right

This may seem obvious but make sure you have the right personal information for each employee and get them to confirm their personal information with you in writing. Don’t be fooled into thinking this is a once-off job. Personal information that affects payroll regularly changes – e.g. employee status, addresses, marital status, bank account details etc.

Consider scheduling a regular check-in with your employees when you can confirm the personal information you hold on file is still up to date. Don’t assume the relevant departments will automatically keep you informed of changes in pay or hours. It’s your responsibility to maintain employee records accurately for the duration of their tenure.

  1. Don’t assume that people know as much as you do

Keep an open dialogue with your employees and don’t be afraid to check, check and check again that they understand their obligations in terms of remaining compliant, such as adhering to your expense policies or keeping overtime records.

Let’s be honest, when you start a new job you get a lot of paperwork that often finds its way into the drawer marked ‘Read Later’.

Just because a policy is put in place doesn’t mean that everyone’s has read it or knows how it works. You may need to educate employees regularly on their responsibilities and how to document expenses and overtime properly, so you don’t get caught out at the end of each month.

  1. Roll on enrollment

Are there certain benefit packages that your employees need to be enrolled in? Government websites are a good place to start when it comes to checking what employees need to be enrolled in and the contributions you and the employee are required to make.

  1. Understand local legislation

If your business operates across multiple states it’s important to be informed what the tax and payroll laws are for that region. It’s your job to keep up-to-date about these changes. Areas to monitor include: changes to legislation particularly concerning the minimum wage, employee tax reporting and maternity leave. Similarly, different states will have different laws covering how businesses handle expenses and overtime.

Many states have experienced legislative changes with payroll over the past year and are planning to enforce new rules in 2017.

Staying up-to-date with changing legislation is a challenge. Outsourcing payroll can help your organization stay-up-date on the local legislation that may affect your business.

  1. Don’t forget there are people on your team

Do you know who knows a lot about compliance? Your accounting department. If you have questions, you should set up a meeting them. They have a deep knowledge of accounting and compliance laws and can help you to make sure that you’re getting it right.

Keep tracking of a complex and constantly changing set of rules and regulations seems like an impossible task. While it’s unlikely that all of your colleagues are aware of the challenges you face, remaining compliant will help you protect the future of your business.

The expert’s guide: Five advantages to outsourcing payroll

13 Oct


Our new series, The Expert’s Guide, covers trends surrounding the human resources and payroll industry. One of the hot topics in the payroll industry right now is if outsourcing payroll operations is right for businesses. Preparing payroll can be tedious, time-consuming, and prone to human error, yet it’s an integral function for every business. Successful companies want to handle payroll efficiently, so it’s best to leave it to the experts. Your employees depend on you to get it right with payroll so they can get paid accurately and on time.

Today we are discussing five advantages to outsourcing your payroll needs.
1. Leave it to the experts who are skilled in payroll

Outsourcing your payroll operations will also allow you to focus on other areas of your business that need greater attention. Leave payroll to the experts who are certified professionals and up to date on the latest trends and laws in the industry.

2. Relief from tax penalties

Having an outsourced payroll service helps large and small companies stay compliant and avoid tax penalties. When it comes to your federal and state taxes, don’t cut corners when handling your payroll. An outsourced payroll service can help you avoid tax penalties by automatically and electronically filing on your behalf; filing quarterly and annually, making your state and federal tax payments, and processing your year-end 1099 and W-2 forms for your employees—all with little action required on your part. What’s more, if they make a mistake, many companies will pay the mistake and any penalties or fines that result.

3. Time-savings

You and your team will be amazed by the amount of time and money you will save by outsourcing payroll. Leaving payroll to an outside resource can help reduce the stress levels your existing team is facing to push out your weekly payroll reports.

4. Access to a customer service team round the clock
One of the major benefits of having an outsourced payroll system is having access to a customer service team before and after office hours. If a last minute emergency happens, an outsourced team can help relieve stress from your in-office staff having to put in extra hours to resolve the issue.

5. Constant back-up of payroll data
Does your company have the internal storage space to house all of your payroll data? In the digital world of payroll, it’s important that your data is constantly being backed up and on hand should you be audited. In some businesses, reports are pulled on a daily basis. Outsourcing payroll allows your employee data to be housed in a safe and secure place without taking up your valuable internal server space.

Handling payroll is often a daunting task for most small and medium businesses. With so many federal and state laws and looming deadlines, it’s not hard to see why you would want to put your payroll in the hands of a professional service. Deciding to use a full-service payroll service is a huge step, and it pays to do your research. Choosing the right one can give you peace of mind when dealing with payroll compliance and make your HR and payroll staff more productive by removing a time-consuming burden from their work day.

Interested in learning how to get payroll right and discuss outsourcing your payroll, contact us at 1-866-271-6050 or visit our website.

Building authentic leaders in the workplace

21 Sep


Last month we discussed how finding superstar talent within your organization could help you prepare for the workplace in 2020. Today we are sharing tips on how to build authentic leaders for your organization.

A recent study released by Deloitte stated that 6 to 10 millennials feel as if their leadership skills are not up to par and need to be further developed. Chances are it might be time to upgrade your leadership development program or put one in place to help make sure your current employees are ready to lead.

What is an authentic leader?

An authentic leader empowers colleagues, expresses a strong commitment to the organization, looks to grow as a person, builds trust with executive leadership, is solutions-oriented, and has a genuine and kind demeanor.

Here are 3 tips for what you can do to build authentic leaders within your organization:

  •    Develop or update your corporate leadership program– A corporate leadership program is a great way to find superstar talent within your existing lines of business. The program should span from a week to 6-month timeline. Identify leadership candidates within the organization that are willing to serve as mentors. Have managers nominate their employees that they think will be a great asset to the program. Make sure guidelines and time commitments are clear and expressed up front.
  •    Create a strengths-based working environment–  A strengths-based work environment is where an organization places employees in roles where they naturally fit and are passionate about instead of putting them in a role that needs to be filled. A research study conducted by Gallup showed that people who use their strengths every day are six times more likely to be engaged on the job and remain with the company for years. This type of working environment will not only help build your employees’ strengths to benefit the organization but also identify areas you may need to improve upon over the next few years. A strengths-based working environment will help you build diverse teams and empower your employees.
  •    Promote employees who align with the organization’s values and mission– After an employee has spent a while within the organization, you should be able to identify those who have strong values. These are the employees who are actively involved in the company and are willing to help out whenever they are needed.

Corporate leadership programs, strengths-based working environments and promoting rockstar employees who are dedicated to the organization are just a few ways to build authentic leaders within your organization. Download our e-book to discover how investing in your employees can help you yield a healthy return.

Are you ready for the workforce of the future? Five steps to prepare for 2020

22 Aug

LaDonna Lewis, product manager at Sage Payroll HCM shares how to prepare for the changing workforce of the future.

Workingenvironmentofthefuture_sagehrmsBy 2020, there will be a huge shift in the workforce. Research analysts estimate that there will be a shortage of approximately 40-45 million skilled workers. As Baby Boomers are retiring, there aren’t enough people to take on the leadership roles of tomorrow. By 2020, 40% of the top leadership will have reached retirement age.

This shift will demand a massive need for hiring top talent across all industries. Generation X and Generation Y will need to take the torch and be prepared to lead.

What can you do today to prepare the workforce of 2020?

Here are five steps you can put in place today to make sure your organization is ready for the future through succession planning and talent management.

  1. Find top talent from within—Building leaders from within your organization is a great way to retain top talent and prepare for a changing workforce. Creating a mentorship program is a great way to develop your existing employee base to take on a leadership position in the future.
  2. Adapt to change fast—By 2020, the workplace environment as we know it will change due to the evolution of technology. Companies will need to start thinking socially to adapt to the industry they work in at a faster pace. If you haven’t already, it is important that you create a strategic plan for the next ten years for your company.
  3. Create an environment that promotes education—According to the Department of Labor, 65 percent of all jobs will require some form of postsecondary education. It’s important that your company culture values continuing education or additional training that will enhance your employee skill sets. Create an opt-in program that offers internal training courses for your employees or a tuition reimbursement plan if they chose to pursue a degree or certification from a university program.
  4. Reinvent your recruitment style—As your company adapts to new cloud-based people management and payroll platforms, it’s time for you to also rethink your talent acquisition strategy. Recruiting the right talent that matches your company culture of today and tomorrow is key. So we challenge you to think outside of the box and look for new avenues to find the right employee base. Visit our guide to learn new tips and tricks on how to reinvent your recruitment style.
  5. Understand your employees’ working styles based on personality types—Finding and building the right the team goes beyond the interviewing process. It’s important that the team you are hiring for mixes well with the company culture and the managerial style of leadership. According to CEB, 62% of human resources professionals use personality tests to vet candidates in the hiring process. Tests like our HR payroll hero quiz can help you discover your strengths, compare your work style with peers, and enhance your current skills sets related to the human resources and payroll industry.

Is your organization ready for the workforce of the future? Help your company start planning today by downloading our infographic.

Tips on how to make your workforce happier – without raising salaries

19 Aug

The saying, “Money doesn’t buy you happiness,” is as true in the workplace as it is in real life.

Do you want a happy staff? If you pony up some extra funds, you may be able to make them more satisfied in their roles, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they will enjoy coming to the workplace every day.

Keeping your employees happy

Today we are sharing how trust, recognition, and a flexible work environment can have a greater long-term impact on Return On Employee Investment (ROEI) without giving constant pay increases.

How can you create an environment that engages, motivates, and encourages your people to stay with a small budget?

A recent research study from CareerBliss.com on how to keep staff members satisfied while on the job showed that as salary increases, happiness levels grow slightly. However, managers and executives care deeply about their daily tasks and their company’s reputation. As you can see, compensation is important, but good pay isn’t the be-all and end-all when it comes to their happiness.

“Employees used to be happy just to be paid consistently and, hopefully, paid well,” said Heidi Golledge, CEO at the job site CareerBliss.com. “Now, overall job and life satisfaction, sense of well-being, and the work that they do are intricately tied together.”

Here are three tips from Globoforce on how to ensure your workforce remains happy:

1. Ask employees to recognize the success of others

Building camaraderie among the staff is key to ensuring that they will enjoy the company of the their co-workers. This is why you must encourage your team to notice a job well done by other members of staff. The blog post stated that employees who are asked to recognize their teammates will be more engaged in the office and more willing to form relationships with them.

2. Build a flexible work environment

The blog post referenced statistics from research conducted by Georgetown University and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation that revealed that 80 percent of employees would be happier in their roles if they had the opportunity to telecommute. Not only can this contribute to a better work/life balance, but it shows that you trust your staff.

3. Encourage workers to trust each other

When team members can rely on one another to help them with their tasks, it builds respect throughout the workplace. Nancy Etcoff, the lead researcher on a Harvard University study cited by the blog post, said that interpersonal trust and quality personal relationships can contribute to a more productive workforce.

For more tips on how to tips on how to make your workforce happier, visit SageHRMS.com

Register for and attend ACA best practices webinar on August 31

18 Aug

SageACAWebcastJoin us on Wednesday, August 31st at 2 p.m. as we discuss best practices and the latest updates with the Affordable Care Act (ACA) during a live webinar.

Scott Pope is a sales engineer at Sage. Scott came to Sage in 2011 with over 10 years of experience in the industry. Scott has led several webinars on best practices related to the human resources and payroll industries.

Scott will lead an interactive discussion on the following:

  • General overview of the ACA and why is it important to HR administration.
  • What are the dates and times that information needs to be gathered, submitted?
  • What type of information is needed?
  • What are the reporting requirements?
  • Issues and repercussions if they don’t have the right information/reporting
  • What are the reporting tools available in order to help with compliance and avoiding costly fines?

Register today!

How to attract millennials to your workplace

11 Aug


LaDonna Lewis, product manager at Sage Payroll HCM shares how to attract millennials to your workplace.

By 2020, Millennials will make up 50 percent of the workforce as baby boomers continue to retire. In any competitive industry, Millennials aren’t going to find your company attractive if you do not have a good talent recruitment process in place.

Here are five key elements to consider when marketing your place of employment to Millennials.

•    Have a good brand Identity. Millennials are searching for employers who are known as being trusted advisors in their industry. Reputation is everything. If your company does not have good branding, Millennials will look the other way. When considering your brand image, your business must be able to facilitate knowledge about vision, values, and employer value proposition.

•    Make your recruiting process mobile friendly. Our recent global study on Millennials shows that 41 percent of this generation believe that technology will make the concept of “your desk” defunct and that, in the future, everyone will work through a mobile platform. How does this affect your workplace? Is your business ready for the boom of mobile use by 2020?

•    Have a social media presence. Whether you have a large or small workforce, it’s important to have a social media presence and an external facing career portal. Most of recruiting today is done through social media. A 2016 survey conducted by SHRM reported that 84 percent of organizations are using social media to find the right candidates. When most people think of social media, they refer directly to the marketing department. It’s essential that HR professionals also have the training and skill set of the latest social media tools to attract the right candidates. When interviewing candidates or potential business partners, the first thing I do is search their social media channels to see how they represent themselves online. If you are going to be an employer of the future, your human resources department should have the tools in place to automate.

•    Create a great environment for your employees. With the power of social media good news travels quickly, and bad news travels faster. For an organization with a limited talent pool, one bad employee experience can destroy a company. Businesses looking to attract Millennials should make sure their workplace is one where employees can have a good work-life balance, thrive in their careers, and learn from one another.

•    Have a good onboarding process in place and remain innovative. Seventy-seven percent of employees who have a formal onboarding process meet their performance goals. In today’s world, onboarding Millennials is different from the orientation process you implemented five years ago. For the Millennial generation, the onboarding experience should begin before the first day and continue past the one-year anniversary mark. Millennials are asking for ongoing peer mentoring from organizations. This generation is always digitally connected, and it is critical you meet them where they are and connect with them at all times. You have to facilitate knowledge to employees electronically through an online solution that gives them access to your company’s resources and events. One of the biggest HR challenges is that employers spend capital on bringing employees in but forget to continue the process afterward. It’s important that your workplace continues to thrive and remain innovative as technology evolves.

Millennials are the future of the workplace, and it’s important for businesses today to understand what this generation wants and needs. Learn more about Millennials by downloading our recent research report on the generation.

How payroll can you help you find superstar performers in the workplace

21 Jul

Benoit Gruber, VP, global product marketing at Sage, shares with us how payroll can help you find and keep your star performers.

FindingSuperstarEmployeesFinding your star performers

Modern HR and payroll technology can help you manage colleague performance and development. With workforce analytics, you can now find your star performers and keep hold of them.

Depending on your industry, the cost of your workforce is likely to be between 30-50% of your total overheads.

Through payroll data you can collect information about salary, absence, overtime, training costs, and return on investment. Cross-reference this data with qualitative information you have about colleagues—how they are viewed in terms of your performance culture by their peers, superiors, and teams—to develop a complete understanding of who your high achievers are.

Create a breeding ground for talent
Trend analysis allows HR to understand the working conditions that allow new stand-out talent to bloom.

For example, if a certain department has a low turnover rate and consistently good appraisals, then using data to find out why will help you recreate the department’s environment across the entire business.

Technology can also provide tools that help you decide which colleagues could benefit from training—it provides valuable insight to inform decisions that a paper-based system could not do.

Turn your star performers into mentors who can help other colleagues who find the business more challenging and need inspiration.

Often the star performers expect support for self-directed training—HR is in an ideal position to help create innovative programs and bring in new training platforms.

Keeping your star performers happy

Top-performing colleagues seek higher pay and greater opportunities. According to a U.S. survey by Gallup, 32% of people cited a lack of promotional opportunities as a reason for changing jobs, ahead of 22% who claimed pay and benefits caused them to seek a new position.* It’s important to identify the stand-out colleagues who are helping to drive the company forward, and do what you can to retain them.

Start by looking at payroll and performance data to make sure that your star performers are getting the remuneration they deserve for driving your business forward. This could mean better pay or bonuses or simply positive feedback showing that you appreciate the extra hours they are putting in.

It’s also worth bearing in mind what your competitors offer in terms of salary, working hours, vacation time, and benefits—you need to be at the very least matching and ideally exceeding them.

You should also have a way of identifying what your star performers value most. There is no point in investing in costly initiatives or training programs if your colleagues aren’t going to benefit from them. Give them the opportunity to shape their own careers and determine how they are rewarded.

Left alone, star performers will see opportunities with competitors. Your payroll data gives you the chance to build a complete view of the talent in your business—what creates, motivates, and retains the star performers, wherever they are in your organization. It’s important to take notice of what payroll data tells you, because once a star performer has handed in his or her notice, it’s already too late.

Find out how Return on Employee Investment can help you find rockstar employees by tuning into our latest webcast.

Benoit Gruber

VP, global product marketing at Sage

* Gallup, Inc. January 2015

Five great places to start analyzing payroll data

14 Jul

Benoit Gruber, VP, global product marketing at Sage, shares five unexpected places to look when examining your payroll data.

Analyzing Payroll Data

Payroll is a vital source of data in your business and has the potential to have an immediate financial benefit. It can provide a monthly snapshot of your company’s health. Furthermore it is, by its nature, one of the most up-to-date sets of data in your business. Businesses are required by law to keep live payroll information, so there is no chance of your making decisions based on old news.

There are a number of payroll metrics that can give you a deeper understanding of how healthy your business is from a financial point of view. Here are five places to look when analyzing your payroll data:

  1. Remuneration: Salaries will be an obvious place to start. With these numbers, you can build other metrics into your analysis such as a return on investment (ROI).
  2. Turnover: It’s not good news if you have a high staff turnover rate—it may signify a deeper problem within the business when it comes to areas such as conditions, morale, and corporate culture. And it can cost money in lost productivity, recruitment, and training.
  3. Absence: Analyzing data on sick days and vacation time will help you understand when workers are more likely to be absent and whether employees are taking their annual leave at the right time of year for the business.
  4. Overtime: If employees are regularly working more than their agreed hours, consider what this means in terms of productivity and the way people are working. You can find out whether it’s more cost-effective, for example, to hire part-time or additional staff.
  5. Training costs: Payroll departments can be under pressure to find ways to cut costs and improve efficiency. With a training cost metric, it’s possible to walk that tight line between making cuts and ensuring employees are upskilled properly.

Across each of these areas you’ll find a huge amount of data available to examine and because it covers such a long period of time, it should be easy to start spotting trends. With the right technology it can give you a great platform for future planning, with the reassurance of knowing you have a constantly up-to-date view of your business. It should be the first place you look, before planning for the future.

Interested in learning how to get payroll right and analyze your data better, contact us at 1-866-271-6050 or visit our website.

Benoit Gruber
VP, global product marketing at Sage

Why payroll is an untapped gold mine in the business world

7 Jul

Benoit Gruber, VP, global product marketing at Sage, shares with us why payroll is the untapped gold mine of business insight.


Payroll is one of the most commonly underused resources available to businesses when it comes to insight. It has the power to shine a light on your largest resource and overhead—your people. Tapping into payroll data analytics can help you gain a better understanding of where your strengths and weakness lie. A good payroll system should provide data that shows you where your money is going and how you can benefit from your most valuable assets, your employees and customers.

In the past, the unfortunate perception of payroll was of a repetitive administration machine. But that’s changing. Innovative updates to payroll technology have delivered payroll a seat at the reporting table, and businesses are better able to analyze their greatest asset and largest cost.

Payroll now has room to play a more strategic and valuable role. Compensation for employees is not simply a cost to contain, but an important consideration that will save money and drive efficiency in the long term.

However, payroll professionals must use and understand the large amounts of data available to them if their businesses are to keep up with the competition. Research by Sage and IDG has found that companies with more effective data grow 35% faster.*

Reporting is crucial

As highlighted by our research, reporting is key to business success. It can contribute not only to growth, but also to the productivity of employees. Businesses with more usable data increase productivity by 10%.*

For payroll professionals, it allows you to understand and make best use of your company’s biggest capital investment—the employees. After all, the wages a business commits to the workforce have a direct impact on the money it makes.

Reporting and analytics are of immense value. And they can help in the two biggest financial priorities—cost reduction and forecasting—allowing your company to grow and succeed in a business world where every advantage counts. When you combine payroll data with qualitative elements such as performance culture, skills, behavior, and experience, it can help you form a picture of the issues affecting business performance.

Download our white paper to learn how to stay in control of your business with an in-house payroll system.

§  Tell us in the comments – what insights have you gained from Payroll?

§  Contact us if you have questions.

Benoit Gruber

VP, global product marketing at Sage

* Impact of data effectiveness on business outcomes at medium sized business in North America and Europe study performed February 2014