Canadian Payroll Best Practices

This article was adapted from the Peer-to-Peer Best Practices Panel presentation, delivered in June 2015 at the Canadian Payroll Association’s 33rd Annual Conference in Québec City. Topics discussed included dealing with legislative change, leading teams, prioritizing workload and dealing with senior management. It was originally published in the November/December 2015 issue of DIALOGUE Magazine, the magazine for members of the Canadian Payroll Association.

Canadian Payroll Best Practices

Documenting Canadian Payroll ProceduresDocumenting Payroll Procedures

To make sure your payroll department runs in an organized and orchestrated manner (even during times of change), documentation management is critical. We are all guided by different driving forces, such as policies, interpretations, applications and systems.

Documenting payroll operations, schedules, processes and applications creates consistency and uniformity, enabling you to direct actions effectively, establish the rules and methodology to be followed, and ensure the accuracy of the processing to be performed.

Documentation serves as an essential reference for anyone on your team. Appropriate documentation unifies team members, builds knowledge and contributes to high performance.

Does a team member have a question?
The answer is usually already documented.

Is one team member covering for another?
Documentation provides interim assistance during an absence.

Is someone leaving your team?
Documentation facilitates the transfer of knowledge and files.

Is someone new joining your team?
Documentation eases the employee onboarding and integration process.

Canadian Payroll Software Selection and ImplementationImplementing Canadian Payroll Systems

Stage 1. Document Your Payroll Process

Start by answering some questions:

  • Who does what?
  • When and how do they do it?
  • Why do they do it?
  • For whom do they do it?

These answers will help clarify what you need from your systems implementation.

Stage 2. Determine Your Needs

  • Be clear about your monetary budget and resources.
  • Know the modules you need (HR, Payroll, Finance, etc.).
  • Determine the reports you require.
  • Identify your final deadline.

Stage 3. Choose a System/Provider

Choose a provider that respects your needs and your budget, and provides after-sale service. When making a decision, think about standard and additional operating costs.

Remember to ask for references (here's a handy reference call checklist).

Stage 4. Produce the Plan

Yes, you need this new system but don’t rush! Set a firm, but reasonable, deadline for choosing the system. Determine the staff required and their responsibilities in the process. Assess how much is necessary for each task and set reasonable deadlines for each stage. Plan follow-up meetings to be held periodically from the beginning of the project all the way to the end of it.

Stage 5. Execute the Plan

It’s now time to deploy your project.

Your new system is almost there! Always make sure you remain in control of the implementation and that your team complies with deadlines. It’s your role to validate the progress and adjust the plan, if necessary.

Stage 6. Conduct the Post-Mortem

Your new system has been implemented — bravo!

But your work is not done. Now, you have to evaluate what was accomplished and what remains to be done.

Canadian Payroll Best Practices for Human Resources ManagementHuman Resources Management

For those of us with both payroll and HR responsibilities, the human resources management aspect of our role can be daunting.

Here are the top five human resources management trends and their associated challenges.

1. Globalization

Increasingly more employers have offices all over the world. For payroll and human resources practitioners, global operations require complying with multiple jurisdictional regulations. The challenge is to decide what works best to facilitate payroll compliance in the entire organization. Will you provide centralized or localized services? Will you regionalize payroll practices or harmonize them globally? How will you handle workforce mobility and deal with employees leaving the country to work abroad or those entering the country to work for your organization? Only you can answer these questions.

2. Workforce Diversity

Teams are comprised of people from different cultural backgrounds, who may speak different languages, or have different needs and priorities. Payroll and human resources departments are no exception. Given this reality, best practice suggests that you adapt your policies and benefits accordingly, and deliver training sessions to build awareness and support for workforce diversity. This facilitates not only team cohesion but also legislative and regulatory compliance.

3. Generation Diversity

Nowadays, you may have as many as four (and perhaps even five) generations of employees working together in a single department. These generations tend to be defined as:

  • Traditionalists(age 69 and over)
  • Baby Boomers (ages 55 to 68)
  • Generation X (ages 32 to 54)
  • Generation Y (ages 18 to 31)
  • Generation Z (ages between 14 and 17)

These different generations must be managed in different ways, based on their varying visions of authority, communication styles, career expectations, etc.

4. IT Resource Management

Never has the management of IT resources been so important. And never has it been such a challenge, particularly with the growth in things such as social media and telecommuting. How does your department and organization supervise the use of resources? Do your best to ensure they are used to help your company achieve its strategic goals.

For example, your employees may be active on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn and more. How much access do you want to give them in the workplace? How much supervision should employees have while utilizing IT resources?

Make the decision that works for your organization and adapt your IT policies accordingly.

5. Recruiting

Recruitment is still a challenge for payroll departments. With low unemployment rates and low worker mobilization rates, finding qualified candidates can be hard. Hiring people today is much different than it was 10 (or even five) years ago. To attract the best candidates who will complement your organization, be innovative in your recruiting methods. For example, go further than just posting a job ad on your corporate website or popular job boards — consider using social media.

Offering job flexibility is another way to attract and retain employees.

Organizational Approach to High Performance and Payroll Best Practices

Whether you are documenting processes, implementing a system or managing human and IT resources, keep these points in mind:

  • Give priority to your workload
  • Recognize and manage change
  • Consider the requirements of
    • upper management, and
    • changing legislation
  • Give your teams sufficient direction

These considerations in your approach to managing people, projects and payroll will facilitate high performance teams that can adopt and maintain best practices.

Mélanie Benoit, PCP, works for Ubisoft Divertissements Inc.; Raymonde Meghji, CPM, works for Sanpalo Investments Corporation; Caroline Bernard, PCP, FCPA, CHRP, C.A.A.S., works for SDV Logistiques. All are long-time Canadian Payroll Association Subject Matter Experts.

About the Author

The Canadian Payroll Association

The Canadian Payroll Association has been representing employers’ payroll interests since 1978. As the authoritative source of Canadian payroll knowledge, the Canadian Payroll Association influences the operational, compliance and technology policies and processes of payroll service bureaus, software providers, hundreds of thousands of small, medium and large employers, as well as federal and provincial tax authorities.

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