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July 2, 2021 | Payroll Software | Posted by Christine Stolpe

Managing the Managers: Payroll’s Secret Weapon

As a follow-up to our webinar titled "Time and Attendance Payroll Fraud", Christine Stolpe addresses several questions that arose during the webinar around best practices to handle and prevent payroll fraud. Employing these best practices within your own organization will lead to better communication across teams, establish processes to monitor for fraud, and stay compliant as an organization.

Payroll conversations with new managers

One of the most common questions that arose during this session was regarding how to conduct payroll conversations with managers. There are many ways to make allies with new managers and eliminate the feeling of pressure between both parties. It is important to schedule time with them right away to discuss expectations, processes and calendars that will dictate the workflow you both will be comfortable with. The payroll practices at each company may vary greatly, as well as the level of knowledge and experience. You may have a first-time manager or a seasoned professional. By conducting a one-on-one orientation with the Payroll Team member, that employee can be confident in the manager’s payroll responsibilities and gain a better understanding of any knowledge gaps.

Once these essential conversations are discussed and a plan is put into action, it is important to continue these relationships. Set aside time to schedule trainings or follow-up sessions for both parties' questions to be asked and answered. Another idea is to host a “lunch and learn” session to discuss appropriate timeclock systems. This is a great opportunity for Payroll to educate managers about how to be compliant and handle certain situations. Here are a few examples on how to do so.

  • If managers have employees punching in early or late, they need to get employee authorization before changing or editing anything related to their time log.
  • If they have employees who are missing punches, a conversation will need to take place with the employees on how to use the timeclocks as required before they correct the missing date and time.

Partner with your HR allies

Another great tip to prevent time and attendance fraud is to make sure you have a successful working relationship with your HR allies. Human Resources Business Partners typically work together with managers on employee matters. It is crucial to coordinate and cooperate with HR and keep them updated on meetings to create a good relationship. When any type of disciplinary consequence is discussed, or a corrective action needs to be implemented, HR input is invaluable. With HR as an ally, Payroll’s best practices can become part of the time and attendance policies. With established policies in place, the process of time and attendance fraud becomes much more difficult. Part of the policies success lies on holding your managers and team members accountable. Timecard and payroll issues must be discussed with the employee(s) as soon as they arise, even if that means every pay cycle. Letting an incident go, even just one time, will create an expectation of acceptance from the employee.

Perform frequent payroll audits

A good rule of thumb is to handle Payroll and Accounting Audits the same way. Audits must be performed on a regular basis, and any variances must be reported to the appropriate departments immediately. If there is no suspected fraud or the budget variances are not significant enough for comment, audits should not need to be done more than quarterly. However, if there are large variances or unexplained discrepancies on a regular occurrence, the audits should be performed ad hoc to help identify the root cause.

Deciding when to involve upper management

There may be times when conversations and trainings with the manager are not enough. Although it may sound unpleasant, certain situations arise where it is appropriate for upper management to get involved. When this happens make sure you have taken all the proper procedures to get to this point and inform upper management on where you seek their support. In some circumstances you may also need to implement disciplinary actions, or even place the manager and employee on performance improvement plans (PIP) to hold them accountable. A “PIP” is a documented list of improvements, achievements, and guidelines the individual must accomplish and adhere to. Failure to successfully complete the plan should result in significant consequences, up to and including termination.

Juggling payroll compliance, building and maintaining a strong communication company-wide and keeping an eye out for potential fraudulent cases is no easy feat. By leveraging these tips, you can help your organization partner with your payroll team because at the end of the day, the goal is to make Payroll a pal, not a pill!

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Passionate about furthering an understanding of payroll, Christine Stolpe, CPP has been working in some fashion of payroll for the past 25+ years and enjoys watching the profession blossom through emotional intelligence and personal fortitude. A member of the American Payroll Association since 2011, Christine recently launched her own consulting business, Wages Creek. She serves on the Social Networking Committee, GRTF-SALT Sub-Committee and Certification Item Development Task Force. In the past, she has served on the Board of Directors for the California Payroll Conference (CPC) and Silicon Valley Chapter (SVAPA) as well as serving a two-year term on the Board of Advisors representing Region 4 to National APA. Christine was also one of the first fifty individuals to earn the APA’s Global Payroll Management Certification in October 2011. Through furthering her own education and skill sets and attending educational offerings, Christine has developed a ravenous appetite for helping others. She has developed training for other payroll professionals, volunteered for National Money Matters Day during National Payroll Week, and she now looks forward to continuing to grow her network of resources, colleagues and friends.