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The Life of a Payroll Professional

14 September 2022
Professional photograph of Head of Payroll, Sarah Nicholson

by Sarah Nicholson, Head of Payroll Outsourcing

Payroll has always been a role with a lot of pressure, there is great responsibility in making sure people are paid correctly and on time. There is also the added pressure of timescales and hitting deadlines, which can often lead to sleepless nights worrying if something has been missed or not completed in time. No doubt I am not the only one who has woken up during the night in a panic, thinking ‘Did I send that BACS payment?’

As payroll professionals, we ensure everything happens in the timescales required, often quietly and with no fuss. By doing so we often make it seem so simple and straightforward, yet there are many complexities – far more now than there ever used to be.

How has payroll changed over the years?

In my 28 years in the profession, I am amazed how much the role has changed from my early days as a junior payroller. I remember receiving paper timesheets and staff were paid cash out of the till!

Processing payroll was much simpler back then. There was no such thing as National Minimum Wage and we did not need to consider all the complicated rules that come with this act. Operating pension schemes were far less common, and certainly nothing like the rules of automatic enrolment. Now as far as payroll legislation is concerned, the list is endless. It is imperative that as payroll professionals we can adapt and change very quickly because we simply cannot predict when another change in the law will impact payroll directly.

What has been your experience working in payroll?

The work involved in payroll may appear to be mundane and repetitive, a job where we simply push a button, and everyone is magically paid. The job might be perceived as the poor relation to HR or accounting and not something you aspire to, but something you fall into, which was often the case. However, apart from ‘falling into the job’ this has not been my experience.

I love working in payroll, and I am passionate about what I do. Nothing makes me happier than making sure employees are paid on time and accurately. I take great pride in training members of my team and seeing them grow professionally makes me so proud. In terms of career, I couldn’t think of anything else I would rather be doing. My work has made me resilient, emphatic, conscientious, and gives me an incentive to keep going.

Is payroll finally getting the recognition it deserves?

One of the positives to come out of the pandemic is that the payroll profession has been lifted and brought into the spotlight allowing us to shine. Payroll is no longer seen as a ‘normal’ job but a position that can offer a great career. One where you can thrive and really make a difference, which is fantastic to see.

Contact us to discuss your payroll needs.

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