Do you desire to be known as the ultimate payroll professional?

Do you wish to be the ultimate ‘go to’ person in the payroll department? Similarly, do you dream of being that ‘one particular person’ within your organisation, that is truly indispensable to the running of the business?

This is possible and it ought to be an achievable reality too.

Payroll professionals need to boldly step up to the plate. The payroll professional is an essential component within the smooth-running operations of most enterprises. Long gone are the days where the payroll clerk merely occupies desk-space, punching numbers (whilst apologising for getting in the way of the other business functions).

The time has arrived for the payroll professional to be recognised! All too often, in the past, the payroll clerk was only ever noticed when mistakes were made. But not anymore! The payroll professional is the much-needed capstone human resource within many types of organisations.

3 building-blocks: relevance, indispensability & being pro-active

The primary building-blocks of any payroll department comprises its relevance, its indispensability and its ability to be pro-active when business challenges arise. Without these building-blocks, the modern payroll department will not survive the contemporary era of automation and process-driven payroll operations.


In everything you do—as a proud payroll professional—strive always to make your contribution relevant. Be sure to have accurate, correct facts and figures at your fingertips. Be ready to highlight the relevant challenges being faced (and how to possibly address these challenges):

  • Alert management to increasing overtime spends, particularly if it is leaning towards becoming a trend.
  • Raise an early white flag when you sense that labour-turnover rates are starting to look problematic.
  • Sound the alarm bells when new legislation stands to impact an organisation and its employees.

In order to make a relevant contribution, line-management oftentimes inadvertently forgets that the payroll department requires a wealth of rich meaningful information. The payroll professional should never have to repeatedly beg for information from other departments within the organisation. To be relevant, you need information — make sure you get the relevant information, on time, all the time.

Indispensability (your absolute necessity) to the organisation

Work towards gaining a thorough personal understanding of the human resource production line, right from the very beginning through ‘til the very end — from preliminary planning phases, to recruitment processes, …right through ‘til possible termination phase. This fosters and entrenches your indispensability to the organisation.

Importantly, don’t settle for only knowing how to operate your payroll software, but strive to master your use and understanding thereof. Once you’ve mastered this, you naturally become the central resource (information-hub) which others will feel drawn towards. For example, make it your primary speciality to know exactly how to set up a new employee record, …how to create an interview appointment, …or, how to issue the query for that complex management report.

Remember this: the line-management function prefers to manage. Intricacies and details of the payroll system is not their forté or interest — it’s yours, the payroll professional. Make sure that your indispensability comes from your special expertise.

Be Pro-active

The ability to be a pro-active payroll professional takes nothing more than a little well-considered thought and the ability to think ahead (i.e. planning).

Some common-sense examples include, the setting up of regular (and ad-hoc) meetings, …provide feedback on changes, …‘walk the floor” and/or engage others via e-mail, …start your own departmental Facebook Page, …use instant messaging to communicate with your employees (nowadays a standard built-in function with many payroll software packages).

Pro-actively build relationships with your various customers. Be sure they know what you expect from them. Remind them of what you consider to be your definition of outstanding service delivered to them.

Pro-active payroll professionals:

  • Expect to see the consequences of today’s actions, materialising sometime in the near or distant future.
  • Are expected to prepare management reports before being asked to prepare them (an automated feature which payroll software is easily able to do).
  • have forward-looking, forward-thinking minds, particularly when it comes to planning for public holidays and unexpected work stoppages.
  • Always think about next month (and next year) while processing the current payroll.
  • Are always anticipating the unexpected to happen — if the unexpected does indeed happen, it’s bound to be at the worst time. The pro-active payroll professional knows this.
  • Always double-checks their outputs/work — …“always reconcile and balance” is their trusted motto.

The payroll professional truly is (and always ought to be) the capstone human resource within the organisation.


Bottom line: The payroll professional actively works towards wanting everybody in the organisation to confidently say, “To be sure, let’s ask our payroll professionals first”.