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What a First-Time Payroll Administrator Needs to Know


I once overheard somebody say: “Overpay your employees by a dollar and you won’t hear anything, underpay your employees by a dollar and you’ll have a line out the door.” What does this mean? Accuracy is the single most important part of a payroll administrator’s job.

Employers are responsible for paying their employees properly and on time. Because of this, the payroll administrator (PA) has a crucial function in every business. PAs help ensure that the number of hours worked are recorded accurately, that workers are paid correctly and on time, and that the business complies with all applicable laws and regulations. That’s why payroll management is such a detailed and important task, which we know isn’t always fun.

A company may choose to engage a payroll administrator, assigning them with all the business’s payroll duties. While running company payroll, there are certain habits and tips you should adopt and follow for maximum efficiency and success. These responsibilities can be quite complicated and technical when it comes to preparing, distributing, processing, maintaining, and verifying an organization’s employee attendance and other related records – payroll can be overwhelming, even for the pros.

If this is your first job as a PA, here are some tips that’ll help make you successful in the world of payroll.


When managing payroll for your company, you will deal with a wide array of information, such as names, numbers, reports, records, and deadlines. Be aware that you are dealing with sensitive material, like social security numbers, birthdates, and other personal information; for that reason, you need to have an organized and comprehensive system to capture and store this vital data. An excellent payroll admin thrives on digging into the details – especially numbers – and carefully combing through every document. This ensures that everything is in good order. You should have a clear and organized filing system that you can easily refer to as well as update and change when needed. You should also have a backup in case you cannot access it due to a technical glitch or malicious tampering.

Software Knowledge

Most employers in America avoid using manual payroll systems, as they are too time-consuming and prone to errors. Employers typically use payroll software in order to process their payroll. As a payroll administrator, you must have a good grasp of MS Word, MS Excel, and MS PowerPoint. You should also be proficient with various payroll programs, such as payroll software, time and attendance software, and general ledger software, which you may use on a daily basis. Knowledge of and experience with payroll software also indicates to your employer that you need less training.

Problem Solving Skills

Payroll administrators must have excellent mathematical abilities so they can compute employees’ income accurately and on time, but they also have to frequently solve problems, like tax irregularities, miscalculations, and compliance issues. You must be prepared to tackle any problems quickly and efficiently while anticipating potential challenges. When dealing with new and unique problems your organization may face, creative thinking can be just as crucial as the ability to crunch numbers. You will be faced with many forms and processes that you have never dealt with before – that is why it’s crucial for a new payroll administrator to know where to go for reputable answers and resources, such as:

Collaboration and Flexibility

It’s no secret that the payroll process usually involves plenty of moving parts as well as an element of human unpredictability. You may have to work closely with your HR manager in order to review salaries, performance bonuses, and promotions. You have to be collaborative and flexible enough to maintain the highest standard of compliance. You should be able to give a comprehensive analysis of your business’s finances and coordinate with the team in order to resolve any challenges or concerns. This is where a robust reporting tool can help; make sure your payroll vendor allows custom reporting.

These tips and tricks will help you become a payroll admin that your company can rely on. Above all, to be a successful PA, you should be trustworthy, honest, communicative, confidential, approachable, and helpful.

And if you ever need to brush up on a particular payroll topic, Viventium can help! Visit our resources page for more information.

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