Your payroll manager is key to your organization’s smooth operations. After all, they are responsible for making sure employees receive accurate, timely pay. But running bi-weekly or semi-monthly payroll isn’t the only responsibility of your payroll manager. This role is also essential for maintaining compliance with tax and HR laws and delivering a positive employee experience.
When you’re looking for top talent to manage payroll for your company, you need to find a professional with the experience and qualifications to accurately manage employee pay. You also need someone who is committed, reliable, and possesses the ability to work with people and data. Therefore, to identify the best talent for your organization, be sure to consider the following information when crafting a payroll manager job description:
What Is a Payroll Manager?
Before you create a payroll manager description, it is essential to understand the role's definition, scope, and impact. A payroll manager is a business professional who prepares and delivers employee pay. The payroll manager also has the responsibility of managing processes that enable employee payments, such as:
- Taking employee pay deductions for taxes, benefits, and savings accounts, such as a 401k
- Completing regulatory payroll and tax filings
- Maintaining payroll records
Not all payroll manager positions are identical. For example, the payroll manager can be a member of either the accounting function or HR, and may also have an alternate title such as payroll officer, payroll clerk, or payroll administrator.
Payroll Manager Responsibilities
Managing a company’s payroll and everything that goes with it is a multi-faceted job with a broad range of financial and HR-related responsibilities. Furthermore, the days of manually managing payroll calculations have largely passed, and many payroll managers run payroll processes with the aid of digital, cloud-based payroll systems. According to a 2018 Deloitte survey of global payroll managers, 60 percent of respondents said they were already using or considering a cloud-based technology to manage payroll.
The key responsibilities of the payroll manager position can vary from company to company, but they generally include the following core activities:
- Creating and maintaining payroll policies and procedures, and following payroll best practices in keeping with applicable federal and state laws.
- Issuing paychecks to employees according to the regular payment structure.
- Maintaining employee records, including all deductions, exemptions, pay rate changes, Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) classifications, and extra payments such as bonuses and commissions.
- Processing employee payroll onboarding and offboarding.
- Reporting on payroll taxes, deductions, summaries of earnings, paid leaves, nontaxable wages, and periodically providing relevant payroll reports to management.
- Staying informed of key dates and regulatory deadlines.
- Calculating social security, unemployment, and worker’s compensation payments.
- Furnishing and filing tax forms to employees and with the IRS.
- Supervising payroll staff as needed.
Key Payroll Manager Qualifications
A great payroll manager possesses a deep understanding of payroll procedures and systems and demonstrates the capability to work well with colleagues, both in HR and throughout the organization. Look for the following skills and qualifications in your next payroll manager:
Attention to Detail
Payroll errors can have negative implications for employees and the organization. A great payroll manager must know how to establish the necessary processes and tools to accurately calculate and report payroll information.
Analytical and Mathematical Skills
A high level of comfort in dealing with numbers and finances is critical to any payroll manager role. In addition to making accurate calculations, a payroll manager must also be able to look at payroll data and identify key trends in areas such as total expenses and overtime.
Proficiency with payroll software
These days, it is not enough to just be familiar with Microsoft Excel. Your organization can benefit from using cloud payroll software or an integrated workforce system, and your payroll manager should know how to use it to manage payroll effectively.
A payroll manager has regular access to an organization’s money, taxes, and confidential employee information. As a result, honesty and accountability are absolutely essential.
Sought-after payroll managers typically have a bachelor’s degree in accounting or finance. A master’s degree in these areas or a related HR discipline is a plus, but not often required.
How to Position Your Payroll Manager for Success
Once you identify a payroll manager with the qualifications you desire, you’ll also need to ensure that person has access to technology that supports all of the various payroll activities. With the right tools, your payroll manager will be better equipped to maintain accuracy, compliance, and timeliness in employee pay.
To help your payroll manager meet employee expectations and stay on top of compliance requirements, use a payroll system that streamlines core payroll functions. For example, an integrated payroll system can boost the productivity and effectiveness of your payroll manager by delivering the following benefits:
- Integration of time off and benefits deductions with employee pay
- Automation that cuts down on paperwork and manual processes
- Fewer payroll errors
- Accurate, real-time reporting
- Anywhere, anytime cloud-based access to payroll data
With the time you save from payroll automation, your payroll manager will have the freedom to focus on other important tasks, such as handling employee requests and identifying critical process improvements.
Develop a Highly-Effective Payroll Function
If you’re looking for a payroll manager, you’re in a great position to add new talent who will make improvements in your payroll policies and processes. To make the most of your new payroll hire, be sure to equip that individual with the technology and tools necessary for better compliance, efficiency, and accuracy. For tips to help you get started, read the Guide to Saving Time on Payroll.
Originally published Feb 3, 2015, updated June 22, 2021