How to Process Payroll: 9 Tips Help Keep Your Payroll Process Simple & Stress-Free

9 Tips to a Stress-Free Processing Payroll Process

Processing the city’s payroll is an important part of a clerk’s job. Being meticulous can prevent mistakes that are time-consuming and stressful to fix. The Calculation and Verification journal within SimpleCity Fund Accounting Management allows you to review your payroll in detail to ensure it is correct before paying your employees. Correcting the majority of errors discovered during Calculation and Verification is usually a simple process. However, once you move on to the next step, fixing errors can be more challenging, often requiring the help of gWorks Support.

These 9 tips can help make processing your payroll stress-free!

Want to reduce the time and effort required to review Calculation and Verification?SimpleCity Payroll Time & Attendance helped the City of Hiawatha, KS reduce their payroll-associated staff time by 75%, and the paperwork associated with payroll by 50%. Find out how they did it!

1. Process Your Payroll Early

gWorks recommends processing your payroll between three to five days before it is due. Doing so will help reduce stress by not pressing work up to the deadline. When you process your payroll early, it allows you time to carefully review the Calculation and Verification journal and provides a cushion with which to fix errors and review corrections. Should you run into an issue that requires gWorks Support, you will have time to resolve the issue before your payroll must be completed.

When planning, keep in mind not only when payday is, but also if you must address any administrative tasks to complete the payroll. For example, if your mayor always signs the checks the day before payday, plan to process your payroll three to five days before that day. If you have direct deposit, most banks require the ACH file to be submitted two business days before the effective date, when the money is withdrawn from the city’s account and deposited into the employee’s accounts. gWorks recommends you plan to process your payroll three to five days before the deadline to send the ACH file to the bank.

2. Plan Uninterrupted Time

City hall is a busy place with lots of interruptions that can make verifying your payroll a challenge. It's easy to miss an error when you repeatedly get pulled into other tasks. Schedule a block of time on your calendar to review the payroll. If you have an office, shut the door. If you don’t have an office, review the Calculation and Verification journal in a more secluded, quiet location, such as your council chambers. And if you often work the counter, coordinate with a coworker so that you can have time to focus solely on payroll.

3. Make Copies of Your Documents

Make a copy of both the Calculation and Verification journal and your timesheets before you begin so that you can write on both the journal and the timesheet, as well as keep a clean copy for your records.

4. Mark It Up

Compare the Calculation and Verification Journal to your timesheets, side by side. Check off things on both the Calculation and Verification journal and your timesheets as you verify them. If you get interrupted or take a break, it will be easy to know where you left off. When you find errors, make a note in different color ink, or highlight it, to make it easy to spot.

5. Make Multiple Passes

Attempting to verify everything at the same time can be overwhelming. You are more likely to inadvertently miss a problem when you are trying to review multiple items at once. gWorks recommends focusing on one step at a time. Reviewing your payroll multiple times reduces your chances of missing an error.

6. Follow a Routine

Following the same routine helps to identify errors and verify data. A routine will also make it easier to pick up where you left off if you get interrupted or take a break. Make a copy of your routine and check off each item once you have completed it.

gWorks recommends the following routine:

  1. Round One: Verify the Pay Period is correct, then review both documents and verify each employee on the Calculation and Verification journal matches the employees on your timesheets. Next, check that the total Employees processed is correct.

  • Round Two: For each employee, compare the Calculation and Verification journal to the timesheet and verify the following:
    • Regular Hours
      • Rate or amount if the employee received a raise effective this pay period.
    • Overtime Hours
      • Overtime hours were entered as overtime pay type
      • Number of hours is correct
    • Paid Leave
      • Type of paid leave matches the employee’s timesheet
      • Number of hours is correct
    • Deductions withheld
      • Some cities may have deductions that are not withheld every pay period
      • Any new deductions were withheld, and the amount or percent is correct
      • Amount or percent of deductions or benefits if they were changed effective this pay period (such as an increase in health insurance premiums or a rate change for the state pension plan.)

  • Round Three: Check the Calculation and Verification journal for errors and verify the total amount of the payroll is in the ballpark of what your payroll typically is.

  • Round Four: Review Vendor/Tax Checks to verify the correct vendors will be paid this pay period.

7. Take Extra Time When There Are Changes

If any widespread changes are effective this pay period, plan for extra time to verify the payroll. Common changes might be changes in the state pension plan, changes to health insurance premiums, or raises if your city gives raises at the same time each year.

8. Double Check Your Work

When you have finished reviewing the payroll and have corrected any errors, a best practice is to rerun Calculation and Verification. Review the journal with a clean copy of your timesheets to verify you discovered all errors and that the changes you made did correct the issues you found.

9. Get a Second Set of Eyes

Having two people review the Calculation and Verification journal increases the accuracy of your payroll. If possible, gWorks recommends having another person review the Calculation and Verification journal after you have corrected any errors to ensure accuracy.

Bonus Tip: Streamline Your Payroll Processes with HR Hub!

Reduce the time required to review Calculation and Verification, as well as the associated stress. Staff can clock in and out for work, as well as enter vacation and sick time in an easy-to-use interface. Supervisors can review and approve timecards to ensure they are accurate. Holidays can be set up to be paid for eligible employees automatically. When you import the timesheets into payroll, it reduces many of the data entry errors you are checking for when reviewing your Calculation and Verification journal. All of this and more are available in TimeTracker, which is part of HR Hub.

Want to reduce your time and effort devoted to payroll drastically? Get HR Hub with TimeTracker today!

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