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Wise Consulting
  December 18, 2020

Thoughts from a Consultant: What’s at Stake for Payroll Teams?

2020 has been a year of uncertainty, change and, quite frankly, anxiety. That’s why many of us are looking to 2021 as a fresh start that allows us to turn a page and finally close out this year’s tumultuous chapter. Yes, this anticipation is real and should be enjoyed, but the reality is that COVID-19 may still be a major player in the next chapter. Anita Kulik, CPP, Payroll Consultant at Wise, reminds those burdened and burnt-out payroll managers out there that they have options to receive support. Below, Anita provides an overview of obstacles that may appear for payroll teams as they turn the page to 2021 and the options that are available to protect their payroll continuity. 

What is Typically Most at Stake for Payroll Teams?

Even in a post-COVID era, companies left and right can experience complications if their payroll teams face the all-too-common setbacks that plague the profession. Anita warns of the three most common risks for payroll professionals she has noted. The first one being, perhaps unsurprisingly, burnout. 

“One of the number one things I’ve seen is the potential for burnout from the employees who are processing payroll,” Anita says. “It all depends on the type of payroll that they are running, how often they are running it and what kind of support they have.”

“The second thing I have seen is inadequate backups for the payroll resources,” Anita continues, “and the third thing I’ve seen is the risk the company has taken on if compliance issues are not fully comprehended.” These mistakes can then lead to dreaded audits and penalties down the road.

Anita underscores the importance of one compliance issue she regularly observes being mishandled:  “The regular rate of pay calculation under the Fair Labor Standards Act is very often not handled appropriately if at all, and penalties can be significant if the company is not in compliance”

One of the biggest compliance issues people face is not being familiar with state regulations. “People sometimes don’t follow them because they don’t know what they are,” Anita says. That is the value in engaging payroll professionals who are aware of how payroll and tax regulations change state-by-state and understand those regulations inside and out.

How Has COVID-19 Complicated the Matter Even More?

In the midst of COVID, people should think about having an emergency payroll backup plan more than ever. Anita points out that “now that COVID has hit, it makes more sense than it ever did before [to have a backup plan].” Your payroll person can become sick very suddenly and you will need somebody to run your payroll on short notice. 

Anita continues, “it just makes sense to have that safety net. If somebody goes out, our team can come in and pick up right where they left off. There isn’t that panic.” That peace of mind, knowing that you’re covered, is and will always be worth it.

Other COVID considerations for 2021 include all the new regulations that could resurface on January 1st. “If the CARES Act is extended, how will [payroll professionals] handle it, how do they defer social security? Those are some challenges that may happen in the New Year that payroll teams will lean on the Wise team for support with.” 

So, What Are My Options for Payroll Support and Protection? 

With outside payroll support more valuable than ever, you need to know your options. Below, Anita provides a brief overview of Wise’s safety net of payroll support offerings:

Emergency Payroll Support

When your business contracts with Wise in advance to document your payroll process, we can provide seamless coverage for any emergency. “It could be that your payroll manager or HR manager quit,” explains Anita. “Or maybe it is sickness or a circumstance that happens out of the blue that results in a need for immediate assistance. Emergency payroll support can be short or long-term, depending on the scenario. About one month to one year, on average.” Ultimately, emergency payroll support pays off on the dreaded day that you need support now, and the Wise team swoops in to cover your payroll without a hiccup.

Short-Term Payroll Support

Short-term payroll support is for when you know change is coming and you’ll need quality payroll coverage. Anita explains it as, “maybe you know someone is going out on leave and you’ll need someone to replace that person for a temporary period of time. Maybe you need to let someone go and you’re looking for a backfill position and training for the new hire when they come on board. Short-term payroll support typically lasts 2-6 months.”

Long-Term Payroll Support

As Anita outlines, long-term payroll support typically arises out of a short-term engagement that extends when events conspire to delay the original plan. Sometimes, hiring a new payroll team member was planned but clients choose to put off the hire until later. “There are times when our client is happy with the job we’re doing and doesn’t need to hire in-house. What started as short-term payroll support evolves into a long-term partnership with a process review, a configuration, and other services that build on each other.” In some instances, clients opt to outsource their payroll function to our managed payroll team. With flexible levels of coverage, clients choose the level of support they want knowing our certified payroll professionals have them covered. 

Why are payroll support services so important, you might ask? “Payroll continuity equals business continuity,” says Anita. “Your business can fail if you don’t have it.  People won’t show up to work if they don’t get paid. Once you start losing people, you start losing your foundation.” 

Invest in Your Business’s Payroll Continuity with Wise Consulting

When you need payroll support, you deserve a results-driven, experienced partner you can trust. Remember that the Wise team can swoop in during any payroll emergency and ensure your continuity is protected, even amid the pandemic. Reach out to Wise for information on how we can help protect your  payroll continuity. Email HCMHelp@wiseconsulting.com, or call 800-654-4550 today.