Payroll administration involves a lot of number crunching, detecting errors and anomalies, calculate tax and other such tasks. It also requires one to co-ordinate with Human resources team and respond to staff queries regarding payment processing.
In other words, payroll admins have complex tasks in their hands, and there are some specific skill sets that are required for this job. In addition, this lucrative career has a huge future, and employers often require large numbers of payroll administrators for their companies. Yet, many candidates often wonder if they have the necessary skillsets to apply for the role of a payroll administrator.
In this article, we break down what it takes to easily get an interview and eventually be hired effortlessly. In order to make your payroll admin dream come true, here are the skill sets every aspirant needs to know:
1. Strong quantitative skills
To begin with, the job of a payroll administrator involves crunching a lot of numbers. This also involves making forecasts, identifying anomalies and having discretionary abilities to identify patterns in numbers. Aspirants should ideally have at least an advanced level of arithmetic and statistical skills. If someone does not like being thrown an awful lot of numbers at them, this job is not for them. If you love crunching numbers and are also excellent at it, payroll administration is the right career choice for you.
2. Ability to solve problems and arrive at solutions
A payroll admin's job is not just about crunching numbers and processing payments. It also involves problem solving skills and how one arrives at solutions. In this context, if payroll admins are trained in problem solving skills or are particularly good at it, they would be better suited for this role. After all, practically anyone can come up with a query or stressed situation hoping that the payroll admin will fix it for them. While all problematic situations may not be under a payroll admin's control, it is necessary to have the foresight regarding how to escalate or refer the problem to someone else.
3. Excellent communication skills
As you can see, payroll admins have to answer a lot of queries, clear doubts and sometimes even help employees with their taxes. They will also need to communicate potentially sensitive information to other departments. Thereby, it is necessary for those who are looking at a career in this field to have adequate communication skills. Excellent communication skills can communicate a lot more than mere numbers can. This is why, payroll administrators need to know how to communicate over the phone, email and in person.
4. Soft skills to handle queries and liaise with other departments
One of the biggest problems that payroll administrators often experience is not with complex formulae or technicalities of a software tool. It’s in fact their inability to tackle social situations within an organization. Payroll admins often have to communicate and liaise with other departments. Not having enough soft skills often stigmatizes the entire department, leading to lowered productivity rates. The ability to effectively liaise with other departments, soothe ruffled feathers and offer advice to staff are all important soft skills that payroll admins must have.
5. Ability to work under pressure
Processing salaries and payments do not begin only towards the end of the month. They can be sporadic in nature, and payroll admins often have to work under tremendous pressure. Not only do they have to comply with regulations and ensure that tax rules are followed, they also need to handle queries, liaise with other departments and just about do a lot of other things. This undeniably causes a lot of stress and many payroll admins often experience burnout. This is why, the ability to work under pressure and being able to handle duress skillfully are valuable skills.
6. Confidentiality and ability to remain discreet
Payroll management essentially involves a lot of confidential data. This includes information related to salaries, tax deductions, and personally identifiable information. Not only is it ethical to maintain confidentiality, it is also a legal requirement. In order to comply with confidentiality requirements, payroll admins should have the necessary skillsets to maintain confidentiality. They should also be able to remain discreet and not discuss matters with those who do not bear any connection. Being able to maintain confidentiality is in fact a valuable soft skill.
7. Administration skills and team management capabilities
Payroll admins not only have to process payments, they also need to complete certain administrative tasks. This includes data entry, filling up forms, and ensuring that duplicate information and errors are identified. They should also be able to manage their teams well and offer support to junior staff in the payroll department. This means, payroll admins often have to perform a number of administrative duties which are unique to the organization they are employed by.
8. Adequate experience in using necessary software tools
While quantitative skills are essential to a payroll admin's ability to perform well, that is not enough. They will also need to possess an extraordinary ability to use computers deftly. This is because, all the data is now stored on computers, and most organizations use accounting and payroll management software to process payments. In other words, the ability to use software programs skillfully is a necessary skill. Even if a job aspirant is experienced in a particular payroll management software, they will find it easier to another one. A person who has never used software programs will find it hard to learning this skill afresh.
9. Ability to generate reports and make forecasts based on insights
Just using software programs mechanically isn't enough either. A professional payroll admin should be able to derive insights and make predictions. They should be able to identify patterns and point out anomalies. This will help in discovering non-compliance issues and any illegalities that may go under radar. In addition, report generation is an important part of a payroll admin’s job profile. They will need to generate reports and present important points to other departments as and when it may be necessary.
10. Miscellaneous skills that may be expected in an organization
Every organization is unique right from its size to the role it performs. A payroll admin’s duties vary considerably, and often quite dramatically. This is why, payroll admin should have the ability to learn new skills and apply knowledge that is already learned. They also need to be able to perform miscellaneous tasks that may be expected of them in the organization. In other words, the ability to pick up new skills as one progresses in their career, is a valuable skill that every payroll administrator needs to have.
Payroll administration is complex, and multiple skills are required to succeed
As you can see, payroll administration is a complex job profile that involves a number of responsibilities. It is a unique synthesis of quantitative, computational and personal skills. Not only will aspirants need to prove that they can crunch numbers and comply with tax regulatory bodies, but they will also need to communicate effortlessly with employees, Human resource departments and other entities.
This exciting career holds a lot of promises but aspirants need to hone their skills in order to remain competitive and bag the job they truly want. Certainly, every aspirant must hone their existing payroll related skills, and add new ones in order to remain ahead of other candidates.