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Are you making any of these 7 mistakes when hiring payroll staff?

By Tracy Angwin, CEO and payroll expert at Australian Payroll Association

Are you looking to hire new payroll people? Payroll staff are an integral part of any organisation, whether it be in a finance or HR capacity. However, the reality is that it’s a specialist set of knowledge and skills that are unique to the payroll function and are often underestimated. This is why it is crucial to know what to look out for in potential candidates when hiring payroll staff members.

These are some common mistakes to avoid when hiring payroll staff:

  1. Having hiring system knowledge NOT payroll knowledge.Most organisations want to employ someone with previous experience using a specific payroll system. This will be useful for the short term; however it is more important to hire a person with a strong technical understanding of the payroll function as they can apply this knowledge and quickly pick up any mainstream payroll system.
  2. Underestimating company cultural alignment. Often the big picture is overlooked when selecting a candidate for their immediate skillset or experience. A longer-term retention is directly related to how ‘happy’ people are in their work environment and that often means how aligned they are with company values, goals and culture.
  3. Lack of client service and delivery mindset. The modern-day payroll function is driven by a high client service ethic and a focus on servicing payroll customers, both employees and management. A common mistake is a failure to recognise this by not distinguishing it from the outdated perception of payroll – just being a back office with an administrative function.
  4. Not incorporating a personal development plan from outset. The key success factor to any long-term hire is to outline a clear plan for that individual’s personal development from the very start of their employment.People are more likely to be fully engaged if they can visualise how they will evolve and are given the opportunity to develop personally.
  5. Never assume a candidate’s intentions during the hiring process. The true value of the payroll function is fast being recognised and the market for high calibre payroll staff is becoming increasingly competitive. Most successful hiring companies know this and develop techniques to promote their organisations at various stages throughout the hiring process.
  6. Insufficient testing of payroll knowledge. Most payroll people are still being hired on the assumption that if they have completed a certain role, their payroll knowledge must be at a certain level. This is not always the case and there are testing tools available such as one on the Australian Payroll Association website which allow you to get an accurate gauge of a candidate’s level of technical understanding of the payroll function.
  7. Failure to showcase the value of the payroll function beyond the payroll team itself. In most organisations, the payroll function can be somewhat isolated and disconnected from the broader business. The most attractive organisations to candidates demonstrate how and where the payroll function is recognised and value within the organisation. Always let a potential candidate know how the payroll function will relate to the larger business during the interview process.

About Tracy Angwin

Tracy Angwin is the CEO and founder of Australian Payroll Association, Australia’s leading network for payroll professionals that offers payroll advisory, training, qualifications and consulting. She is also the Director of Payroll HQ, a managed payroll service provider. Tracy has more than 25 years’ experience working in the Australian payroll sector.

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Loren Webb

Loren Webb

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