Want happy staff? 6 tips to pay them correctly and manage well

Want happy employees? Your people are your biggest and most important asset when running a business.

People are more invested in their employer when they feel appreciated, valued and properly compensated for their work.

It’s up to you to create a culture that encourages your employees to thrive.

Setting up the structure for a happy workforce requires a lot of moving parts, such as getting payroll right on time and error-free, staying on top of compliance, and setting up a benefits package, to name a few.

It’s a big responsibility with very little room for mistakes.

But don’t despair.

To help you with this, here are some tips to help you overcome payroll challenges, keep people management running smoothly and maintain a happy workforce.

Here’s what we cover:

1. Recruit, retain and reward employees with a benefits scheme

2. Use software to stay on top of payroll and HR

3. Outsource if you need to

4. Stay on top of payroll compliance

5. Get feedback from your employees

6. Switch to a self-service model

Final thoughts

Look at your employee benefits scheme as a tool to keep your employees energised and performing at a high level. Your scheme should provide benefits that appeal to your workforce’s interests.

For parents with young families, Tax-Free Childcare is likely to be popular. Older workers may be more focused on healthcare and pensions.

You can easily ask your employees which benefits they prefer and aim to offer as much as your budget allows. Picking a scheme that offers some flexibility is a good idea.

Research the top-rated suppliers that offer those benefits to build a shortlist and narrow down your choices where those criteria intersect.

Software these days is so easy to download and install.

There are built-in wizards to guide you step-by-step through your set up, and useful tutorials on YouTube for most problems as well as good training programmes with the providers.

Cloud payroll software and cloud HR software make it easier to zip through tasks such as processing leavers or new employees, tracking holiday, sick pay, maternity pay, bonuses and so on to ensure your staff are paid correctly and on time.

Payroll software can also handle auto-enrolment pension requirements.

Payroll and managing people processes are quite involved to manage as your business starts and grows.

Instead of trying to become a master of it all, it may be better (and easier) for you to hire payroll services through an accountant or a payroll bureau.

Consider how much help you need with your payroll matters. Remember, you’re responsible for collecting and keeping records of your employee’s details.

Your payroll provider will need these to run payroll for you.

Some payroll providers can offer you more support if you need it, for example keeping employee records, providing payslips and making payments to HMRC.

In a nutshell, here’s what’s essential to managing payroll compliance:

  • Keep accurate personal records, which can easily be done digitally.
  • Communicate your compliance plan with your employees so they understand their role in maintaining compliance.
  • Understand workplace pensions. Even if you have one employee, your pension duties require you to put certain staff into a pension scheme to which you must contribute.
  • Use audit trails to link each transaction that is made with supporting information, such as purchase orders and invoices, which will validate any payments that look unusual.
  • Keep up to date with payroll legislation by attending payroll seminars, watching webinars and going to industry conferences can help to enhance your knowledge.
  • Keep the experts on speed-dial, such as an accountant or an employment lawyer.
  • Submit your payroll information on time. Tax deadlines, shifting paydays and quarterly reporting are only a few of the complexities of payroll. To help you stay on top of everything, create an annual calendar featuring important dates. It should cover timesheet and invoice submissions, when payments need to be made, and tasks you need to complete for payroll year end (think submitting final reports to HMRC and sorting P60s for your employees).

Monitoring issues and requesting feedback from your employees on how processes can improve is a quick way to gauge how well you’re doing. This counts for your payroll processes too.

Once an issue has been identified, you can analyse workflows to spot where errors or poor service are creeping in.

If your employees feel they can comfortably voice any concerns, you’ll before problems get out of control.

By reassuring your employees that you have their best interests at heart, you’ll be helping to maintain a committed and happy workforce.

You shouldn’t have to chase and add every piece of data about the working lives of your staff into your systems.

Chasing timesheets and expense forms takes a lot of time (try using online timesheets instead) – time that could be better spent doing more valuable tasks.

By moving to a self-service model, you’ll be giving your employees more responsibility.

It makes it easier to review and approve their requests as they come in. It also puts the responsibility on your staff to submit their personal information and verify and confirm its accuracy.

If you want your business to thrive, managing your people and payroll processes in the right way will help you achieve this.

As you know, your people are your greatest asset, so giving them the support to succeed will go a long way. Payroll and people management can be challenging, especially if you’re new to managing them.

The same can be said as your business grows and things get more complicated.

But by having good processes in place and working with your employees’ best interests in mind, this will help you to succeed as far as things go with payroll and people management.

And using technology can help you to win big here.

Editor’s note: This article was first published in November 2020 and has been updated for relevance.

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