Does the buck really stop with payroll?

It’s a typical scenario. An employee’s pay is processed incorrectly and it brings the following reaction;

“They got my pay wrong again. Now I’m going to have to go and see my manager in the morning to sort it out with Payroll. I’ve had enough; this is just unacceptable!

I’ve got rent and bills to pay. I’ve got rights. Someone needs to take responsibility. I hate working for this company, they can’t even get my pay right!”


And it’s payroll’s fault, right? Or is it?

In a lot of organisations, a significant amount of money has been spent on payroll infrastructure and technology to drive efficiency and productivity across the payroll function. It looks great and it costs a lot but the systems are only as good as the processes you follow.

Unfortunately, in numerous organisation’s there is a disregard for following the processes required for an effective payroll system. They don’t adhere to the guidelines or they lack discipline in meeting deadlines and acknowledging accountability. The net result is an information failure which has an upstream or downstream effect on the employee’s pay packet. The employee sees a payroll function that ‘got it wrong again’ but the payroll people are only as good as the information they are given.

Every organisation should be checking to see if people fully appreciate the business processes and whether they are following them. When something goes wrong in payroll we should be looking at the conduit between payroll and the employee, to make sure they have done their job and provided the correct information at the correct time. That conduit is invariably the line manager, or the HR business partner, or both.  

There is almost always a bigger picture to consider.