Friday, May 21, 2010

Payroll Is Human and So We Should Be

First let me apologize for missing the blog yesterday. I was working on a deadline for the Payroll Manager’s Report and just did not have time to get the blog posted. I have to be honest with you that will happen from time to time. Why? Because believe it or not even though I am a payroll professional I am also human. And as a human being I am subject to the same exhaustion after a long day, the same illnesses and the same malaise that affect all of human kind.

Why am I using today’s blog to point out that payroll professionals are human? Because sometimes, let’s face it most times, we don’t think of ourselves that way and others rarely see us that way. I mean how many of you have put your payroll before your health? I know I have on dozens of occasions. I had to have emergency surgery one time. Not life threatening just had to be done that day. But you better be sure that I dropped off the direct deposit (we had to take it to the bank in those days) and made the tax deposit on the way to the hospital. What did my husband say as he was driving me? Absolutely nothing. He had been married to a payroll person for a number of years by that time so knew better than to protest. In fact when I was in the doctor’s office the Doctor asked if I wanted to have the surgery that morning or in the afternoon. I said the afternoon, he argued for the morning until I told him I was the payroll clerk and I had to get the checks out. Then he totally understood and scheduled the surgery for that afternoon. See what I mean about how others see us. Would he have reacted the same way for accounts payable or marketing? I don’t think so.

My point is how many other professions do that when it isn’t a matter of actually life and death. Firefighters have to put the fire out or people will die, property will be destroyed. But payroll, where is the matter of life and death? Yea people want their checks and they do have to pay bills. But does the payroll clerk have to die or endanger their health for it?

I always thought that my devotion to my payroll was just me. And I have to take time out to mention that it is really only payroll people who use the term “my” when referring to their job. Pay attention some time. Most people use “the”. I have to get the checks out. But payroll people use “my”. I have to do my deposits, my garnishments, my checks, process my payroll. And I am no different. It wasn’t until I started attending APA meetings in the middle 80’s that I found out I was not different than other payroll professionals. We all seemed fanatical about getting the payroll out.

So for years I accepted as normal my reaction of utter dismay and shock when HR would take off on vacation during open enrollment. Why that’s like leaving during year end! How could they do that? Their attitude was normal for other employees. It will be covered while I am gone or will wait until I get back. But not in payroll, oh no. I, like so many other payroll professionals I know, check my processing calendar before agreeing to attend parties, schedule surgery or doctor appointments, or any other event in my life. I want to make sure it’s not on a payroll week. Oh I may still do it but I will know to work extra the day before so as to leave nothing undone. And yes, my payroll was finished before I went into labor to have my daughter 28 years ago.

But now I wonder if perhaps this is not such a good thing for payroll people to do. Do we sacrifice our efficiency if we work when ill? Do we sacrifice our careers because we don’t want anyone else doing our payroll? I am going to be returning to this topic for the next several weeks. I think it is important to discuss this as it is the very core of the profession.

So let me know what you think? Have you ever put payroll first? I bet you have.

1 comment:

  1. I agree with you 100% on this! Our HR department is allowing both employees in the Benefits section to be on vacation at the same time. We in payroll have to coordinate things so one person is always here. It seems that everything tends to revolve around work when you are in Payroll. That certainly isn't the case in other areas. We do need to change the way we work so we can balance work and our outside life. I'm trying to do that but do tend to fall back on my old bad habits.