3 Key Skills for Payroll Managers

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Wednesday, July 31, 2019

What are the most important skills payroll managers need to succeed in their job?

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Effective payroll management is a critical part of the healthy functioning of any business. If an employer’s most valuable asset is its people, then those people deserve to be paid accurately and on time.

If a company’s payroll is not managed properly, the repercussions could range from employee dissatisfaction to financial uncertainty for the organization as a whole.

Consequently, there is a lot of responsibility on the shoulders of the payroll manager, who must have the right skills and characteristics to do this demanding job to a high standard.

1. Attention to detail

One of the reasons payroll management can be such a demanding job is the high level of importance attached to every detail. When you are tasked with checking and approving large amounts of financial data, it’s imperative that you are able to spot and rectify even the most minor of oversights.

This is particularly important if you work for a large organization or assume responsibility for complex payroll processes, where a zero in the wrong place or a misplaced decimal point could have major financial implications.

The most successful payroll managers will have a natural ability to pick out points of concern or anomalies in large sets of data, combined with the rigor and work ethic needed to ensure every one of these details is checked and, if necessary, corrected.

2. Software proficiency

Like many business functions, payroll is becoming increasingly reliant on software to help people do their jobs with greater speed and efficiency. Core skills such as financial literacy and attention to detail remain important, but today’s payroll managers also need to be comfortable using software and getting the best possible results from it.

Familiarity with common office applications, such as Microsoft Word and Excel, is a minimum requirement for anyone working in a payroll department. If you are working at management level, you should also feel confident using more specialized payroll software, as well as offering junior staff and colleagues the support they need to get to grips with advanced tools.

Perhaps most importantly of all, payroll managers need to be fundamentally comfortable with the idea of using a range of technologies and identifying how these applications can be best deployed for the good of the business.

3. Calmness under pressure

With a lot of people relying on it to ensure their pay is processed accurately and on time every month, there is a lot of pressure on a company’s payroll department. As the manager, the ultimate responsibility for any errors rests with you, so you must be prepared to accept the pressure that comes with the job and, ideally, thrive under it.

Completing complex and potentially business-critical tasks in a tight timeframe is one of the most common high-pressure situations payroll professionals find themselves in. Regular pay days mean payroll departments are always working to a tight deadline, so everyone in the team, starting with the manager, must be able to function effectively and maintain high standards in a demanding environment.

Being a payroll manager is undeniably a challenging one, requiring some very specific technical abilities and personal characteristics. As well as those listed above, attributes such as good mental arithmetic, honesty, reliability and solid leadership are all important.

People who have these qualities could find they are well-suited to payroll management and have what it takes to keep even the biggest or most complex businesses running smoothly.

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