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Five valuable lessons I’ve learned working in payroll

18 Jan

payroll professional

Ruth Groshon, CPP, shares valuable insights she’s learned working in the payroll industry.

Like many working professionals working in payroll and human resources, I just fell into the industry. Numbers always intimidated me and I never thought I would be celebrating 10 years working in the payroll industry next year. I began working in the human resources department when our payroll person left and I was asked to take over their role. At the time I knew nothing about payroll and immediately had to become the expert in payroll.

Today I’m sharing four lessons I’ve learned working in the payroll industry:

Find a mentor

I was lucky enough to find mentors early on in my career working in payroll that helped me navigate the payroll industry. Being able to get advice from professionals who have been working in the industry for decades helped ease my transition. Any questions or issues you may encounter during your early years working in the industry, ask your mentor. Mostly they’ve run across a similar situation during their career.

Always remain a student in payroll

After 10 years of working in the payroll industry, one of the most valuable lessons I learned was to always remain a student. To stay up-to-date on the latest trends and laws related to the payroll business, I’ve taken several continuing education courses offered online and in-person in my area. The payroll industry has evolved a lot in the past decade and to remain an expert I’ve found it important to remain competent and up to speed on what’s going on in the industry.

Join payroll organizations

To connect and learn from other industry professionals like myself, I joined the American Payroll Association (APA). I am now a Certified Payroll Professional (CPP). I became certified so that I could develop a deeper understand of the payroll industry.

Stay up-to-date on the latest payroll trends and laws

Outsourcing parts of regular my payroll tasks helped me stay compliant and up-to-date on new rules and regulations that would impact my employees and company. Having an outsourced partner that I could communicate with regularly was essential to easing the stress of stepping into a new role and industry.

Navigating your first years working in payroll? Take our HR and payroll quiz to determine how you can succeed in your career.

Workforce visibility: What every HR leader should know

21 Nov

Workplace Visibilty

“How many people work in your business?” It’s a simple question, but one many HR professionals are hard-pressed to answer without several weeks of research. And in a fast-changing business environment, that’s several weeks too long.

Having consistent, accurate, up-to-date information about your workforce is essential. It allows your business to be more efficient, responsive and effective. Lawrence D. Brown, Professor of Statistics at the University of Pennsylvania, suggests there is evidence that robust HR systems can even improve shareholder value.

But having the right processes is only part of the story. Aberdeen Group says the value of workforce visibility is in “the ability to define the talent required by business needs in terms of skills, behaviors, and attributes.”

Essentially, it’s the acknowledgment that obstacles are overcome through different skillsets. HR leaders need to be able to see the make-up of their organization to match individuals with different goals.

Making people tick

Workforce visibility will help you become a more efficient HR professional… and a better manager. It will help you understand the needs and desires of your people and find ways of empowering them to contribute more to your business.

On the other hand, bad people management shoehorns individuals into roles or teams to fill a resource gap. It’s detrimental in the long-term because it disengages people. Employees who feel involved in their work are less likely to consider leaving their current position for a raise.

When offered a 20% raise elsewhere, only 37% of engaged employees would consider leaving, whereas 54% or unengaged employees would leave. So, it’s vital you know what makes your people tick.

Efficient environments

Businesses need to design better working environments, to help employees become engaged and effective.

During the last decade many organizations began transiting toward the open office working environment to increase employee engagement. New research shows that the open office concept is actually reducing productivity and eliminating creative thinking.

In an IPSOS survey, 84% of workers reported their work environment did not allow them to concentrate easily, express ideas freely, work in teams without interruption, or choose where to work based on the task at hand.

Many top workplaces now include everything from go-karts and climbing walls to volleyball courts. These may seem like novelty ideas, but they can stir creative juices and attract top talent.

Coupling a positive environment with the right training and motivation programs can reduce staff turnover costs too.

“People care if you take a genuine interest in their future. Development planning should be something a manager takes a real personal interest in – not an HR-driven mandate,” says Forbes contributor Victor Lipman.

Building for the future

Understanding your workforce will help you to plan more effectively for the future. It will help you to understand who the next rising star is and identify the natural leaders with the ambition to get to the top.

It will also help you to think more clearly about your business strategy and the direction your business is heading in.

Don’t just think about the skills you need now, think about what your business will need in five or ten years’ time. Then, start training your star performers to fill these roles.

This way you can support the aspirations of top talent, place the most important people in your business at the heart of its future and reduce the cost of recruiting.

People are your core asset. With the right technology solutions, organizations can gain greater visibility into people strategies across their operations. It’s about HR having the necessary information to guide workforce planning, ensuring the right resources are in place, and delivering a great employee experience that retains and engages your best talent.

4 tips for managing payroll accurately

11 Nov

Payroll Accuracy

The recent “American Payroll Association “Getting Paid In America” survey revealed that 92 % of American employees are confident that their paychecks are accurate every pay period. The survey reported a three percent increase from last year.

Are your employees’ paychecks consistently accurate? This is essential in building employee trust, credibility, and ultimately, loyalty to the company. Payroll mistakes can lead to complex issues beyond employee compensation and can be very costly for your company.

Here are 4 tips to keep you on track with payroll:

Collect Time and Attendance

According to the Department of Labor, on December 1, 4.2 million Americans will become eligible for overtime pay under the new Fair Labor Standards Act changes. The new rule states that anyone who makes less than $47,477 annually will be required to receive time and a half pay for any overtime hours clocked. Collecting accurate time and attendance will become more important for small and medium-sized business around the country. Time and attendance software makes this process seamless and saves you time.

Constantly audit your processes

As your company continues to build and expand its workforce it’s important to constantly audit your payroll process. Auditing payroll allows you to verify all of your employee data, generate accurate reports, assess your current policies and update employee benefits.

Stay informed on new payroll tax and overtime laws

Payroll tax laws vary from state to state and are becoming more complicated every year. Staying informed with the latest rules and regulations related to the payroll is industry is important. Check out our recent blog post on how to staying compliant while working in payroll.

Accurately document onboarding data

As new employees come on board at your company a lot of new data is being added to your system. Compiling accurate data is vital when onboarding new employees into your database. Make sure you have a great checks and balance system in place to help make the on-boarding process a lot easier for you and your staff.

The secret to hiring the best talent (and turning them into star performers)

8 Nov

Secret to Hiring

Your job isn’t over when you find and recruit top talent.

It’s challenging.

As a HR professional, you have to attract the right talent, nurture your people and help them grow into a role. And you need to do it in such a way that your business benefits.

The problem is you face stiff competition from other companies who are also looking to recruit the best talent from a challenging job market and even from inside of your company.

So, how can you find and retain the best talent, help them succeed at their jobs and keep your company thriving?

Getting recruiting right

According to a 2015 LinkedIn worldwide survey of HR professionals, the three biggest obstacles for attracting top talent are: finding candidates in a high-demand job pool, agreeing on compensation and facing competition from employers.

If you want to overcome these obstacles, know that attracting the right talent starts before you conduct your first interview or even place a discovery call.

It starts with communicating to the job market what your company wants… and what it will offer talented employees.

“Increasingly people are less compelled simply by financial reward and are seeking other things as well,” says Jon Ingham, strategic HR consultant and author of Strategic Human Capital Management. “It’s that total reward proposition that needs to come across,”

It’s about understanding how people work best. So, factors such as flexible working, professional development or an appreciative environment, can be highly influential in a candidate’s decision-making process.

Competing on talent

Many HR managers and directors worry about competing with other companies for top talent and wonder if they can recruit someone without breaking the bank.

So, what should you do?

“Try not to compete,” advises Ingham. “Firstly, that’s expensive and secondly it doesn’t really help you retain people.”

“If people only join [a business] because you’ve offered a higher salary than a competitor, they won’t stay for long. Eventually, someone will offer them a higher salary.”

If you’re concerned about what your competitors are offering, you’ll stand a far better chance of attracting top talent if you and your business communicates clearly why you’re an attractive employer.

“An innovative reward proposition can be part of showing [talent] that [a business is] thinking differently,” says Ingham.

“If you do that smartly, very often the type of people you want will be different to the type of people your competitors want.”

Onboarding your hires

Your job doesn’t end once a talented candidate finally signs a contract. To justify the investment of time and resources, it’s vital that top talent commits to your business. As an employer, this requires a proactive approach.

Jon recommends HR managers and directors who want to increase retention should prioritize enabling new talent to build relationships with colleagues.

“One of the things many [HR professionals] forget is the team-based element of an organization,” he says.

“If you can help people form those relationships firstly you can help them perform effectively. Secondly, you will directly reduce retention because you have given them a social network in the workplace as well.”

Once people feel welcome in your business and part of a team, they’re less likely to leave because of conflict or because of  your business’s management style.

“People join organizations [but they] leave people,” says Jon. “It’s not just about a manager relationship, it’s about relationships with lots of people in the business.”

Growing new recruits into star performers

Companies who offer opportunities for professional development will naturally attract talented employees, as will those HR managers who go the extra distance to help new hires grow professionally within their roles.

So, how can you help new talent succeed and contribute to your business’s bottom-line?

“A lot of smart organizations are redefining recruitment from getting somebody into the organization to [hiring] somebody who is performing in their job,” says Ingham.

You can help talent in their jobs by providing 360-degree feedback, graduate development program, courses and external institutions and even cross-functional project assignments.

“It’s not just about coming in on that first day into the office and doing an induction program. [Talented employees] are getting ongoing coaching and mentoring within that first six months,” says Jon.

The secret to your success

You don’t need superpowers to succeed as a HR professional.

Start by communicating clearly to the jobs market what your company offers and how you stand apart from your competitors. This will help you avoid competing directly with others and reduce the costs associated with talent recruitment.

Once the contracts are signed, the real work of on-boarding talent into your company beings.

Then, it’s up to you as a smart HR professional to ensure new recruits feel welcome and valued and that they have what they need a week, a month and a year into their role.

Because the secret to your success lies in the hands of your company’s best people.

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 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 “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

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!