Key skills and knowledge required to be a payroll expert.
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Salary deposits are a key component of every business, small or large. And since this process consists of multiple steps and requires attention, hiring the right people with expertise is vital. Many companies employ a stricter vetting process for HR and payroll employees than others. HR and payroll require a mix of skills, a good eye for numbers and the ability to keep up with changes in the tax code.  A weak system or payroll “expert” will result in dissatisfied employees and eventually unhappy customers. 

As an HR/payroll professional, you can consider that you are doing a good job if you have the following abilities: 
 
1.    Grasp of Compliance Laws
A good payroll expert will keep up with changes in the tax code as new items are introduced regularly.  A competent payroll administrator ensures efficient and accurate service by catching mistakes quickly and keeping databases updated. If you work for a multi-national firm and compliance requirements differ across the globe, the ability to keep up with requirements becomes a huge asset.

2.    Excellent Mathematical Skills 
As a payroll administrator, you must keep up with several complex deductions daily. Therefore, excellent math and accounting skills are an absolute must. Your job includes ensuring the right deductions, delivering accurately calculated salaries and submitting correct tax reports to the Revenue/Tax department in the concerned country.

3.    Professional Experience:
As a competent HR person, you should be willing and able to focus on details and advise employees on deductions and maximizing their savings. This is possible only with experience and a willingness to focus on details. 
4.    Problem Solver 
Since laws change and the number of employees in an organization grow, administrators face challenges like compliance issues, wrong calculations and irregularities related to taxes. A good administrator keeps up with changes and quickly solves problems.   

5.    Good Communicator 
Handling payroll is a complex process depending on organization size. If employees have questions, the administrator can explain what changes impact their paychecks and how to reduce tax burden. After all, even an employee is a client.

6.    Detail-oriented
Payroll processing can be complicated with lots of deductions like medical benefits, retirement savings, taxes, etc. As a payroll administrator, you must go through a checklist for each employee on deductions. An eye for detail and the ability to be accurate are essential for this job. There is no room for error.

7.    Excellent Planner 
Since pay cycles are set for each company, each cycle will have to deal with a set list of tasks in order of importance. As an administrator, you must plan to deal with deadlines and changes faster. Good planning on a weekly or monthly basis helps in transitions without any problem.

8.    Responsible and Discreet 
As a payroll administrator, you have a lot of responsibility to clients, employees and the organization. Since you will also deal with sensitive data, personal and corporate, discretion is an essential requirement. Data leaks are detrimental to a business, so understanding and implementing privacy protocols is essential. 

9.    Familiar with Latest Tools 
As a payroll administrator, you will also need good administrative skills. You may need to use a variety of software products to carry out everyday tasks. A willingness to learn quickly is the key to maintaining performance and compliance standards. Most companies look for experience in using the Microsoft Office suite, Quick Books and payroll platforms such as Paybooks. 
10.    Team Leader 
As a payroll administrator, you may have to lead a team to carry out tasks. Liaising with other employees in the organization like managers, Board members, and others is a part of the job description. If you can take charge and handle sensitive tasks with diplomacy, you can become an asset to any organization.

What can you do to improve your skills?
These days, there are courses and certifications that HR and Payroll administrators can take to better their job prospects. Organizations demand certified HR personnel and if you are up to date with your certifications, getting hired and carrying out tasks becomes that much easier. Training helps the person hired in seamlessly fitting in and cutting down the time required to get productive.  
 
Wrapping Up
In conclusion, as a payroll administrator, you play a key role in every organization. No two companies use the same system or have the same requirements. All the skills mentioned above are desirable in an individual and just an overview. The ability to work under pressure and handle multiple tasks at the same time are a requirement for the job. Hence, master these skills and leave an everlasting impact on your organization by helping in its growth with smart management skills.
 

Author:

Lingappa Amiyappa is General Manager of Payroll Operations at one of the fastest-growing payroll companies - Paybooks Technologies Pvt Ltd.