Welcome to the Willamette Chapter of the American Payroll Association

We are a dedicated group of Payroll and HR professionals, dedicated to increasing knowledge and technical expertise within the Payroll/HR field. We welcome all who strive to keep current with changes to Federal and State regulations and further our payroll expertise. We meet in the evening on the third Thursday of every month and provide a great place to network with other associates. Please enjoy your visit and come back often to see what’s new!

Accountemps Monthly Newsletter – August

Summertime Slump: Don’t Pay the Cost of Working Tired

Nearly three-quarters (74 percent) of U.S. workers polled in a recent Accountemps survey said they feel the cost of working tired. Are warmer summer days calling as you enter payroll data? Are you staying up late to make the most of the season, but then coming to work exhausted? If you’re in a summertime slump, you’re not alone. For payroll professionals who have to crunch numbers and maintain rigorous attention to detailed documentation at all times, it’s imperative to incorporate activities in our workweek that offset the sedentary nature of the job — year-round. Here are four tips:

  1. Work in time to move around

Whether it’s on-site yoga, jumping jacks in the break room, or a brisk walk across campus, movement is the best way to fight fatigue. When you’re starting to slump, five to 10 minutes of exercise will wake up your brain — and buffer you from the cost of working tired.

  1. Don’t resist the outdoors

When you’re distracted by a picture-perfect day, give in. Move the staff meeting to a park bench or a shady spot under a tree. See if you can find a work errand that takes you outdoors. At noon, take an al fresco lunch break with a non-finance person. Getting some fresh air could energize you, boosting productivity during the rest of the work day.

  1. Fuel your body with healthier food choices

If you’re stuck at your desk, you can get a summertime lift by choosing meals that are in tune with the season. Pack a pasta salad filled with fresh tomatoes, grilled zucchini, basil and mint. After an afternoon of processing payroll, reward yourself with a carton of fresh cherries, blueberries or peaches.

  1. Give yourself a buffer after a getaway

Need a vacation after your vacation? Summer is a time to enjoy the outdoors and gatherings with friends and family, but be wise about your schedule so you’re not exhausted at work. If you’re returning from your vacation on a Sunday, consider requesting off Monday in advance so you have a day to get organized at home and recover from your holiday before coming back to the office.

The cost of working tired has no upside. But with a few small adjustments to your routine, you can fully enjoy life without feeling exhausted at work.

Accountemps, a Robert Half company, is the world’s first and largest specialized staffing firm for temporary accounting, finance and bookkeeping professionals. Accountemps has more than 325 locations worldwide. More resources, including job search services and the Accountemps blog, can be found at roberthalf.com/accountemps.

Accountemps Monthly Newsletter – July

How to Groom Generation Z Into Future Leaders

Generation Z, the newest to join the workforce, are eager to step into management positions as soon as possible. That’s one takeaway from a recent Robert Half study on Generation Z in which 32 percent of college students interviewed see themselves supervising others in five years. Another 24 percent expect to be moving up the ladder but not yet in the leadership ranks.

These future payroll professionals need the help of senior leaders to prepare them for the leadership pipeline. Here are some preferences many Gen Zers mentioned in the survey, along with ways managers can not only retain them but also develop their talents and incorporate them into a succession plan:

Generation Z values personal growth. This generation has been shaped by trends and transformative events like reality TV, 9/11, mass shootings and social media. They desire connections and fulfillment in their personal and professional lives, so give these future leaders plenty of opportunities for learning and networking.

Generation Z wants to personalize their careers. Rather than following in other payroll professionals’ footsteps, these future leaders want to forge their own way. You can help them design their own career path. This includes having quarterly or semiannual conversations with them about goals and milestones, and finding out what motivates and interests them. If you don’t, they’re not opposed to job-hopping to find fulfillment.

Generation Z prefers social cohesion. Does your payroll department tend to pick top performers and focus most of the resources on those select few? Millennials care about fairness and feel more comfortable when members are equally valued. So, if management elevates some but not others, Generation Z may gravitate to another workplace environment, one where there’s a stronger sense of social connectedness.

Generation Z craves feedback. They received a constant stream of reactions and affirmation while growing up from parents and teachers. As employees, they expect it from management. This is in stark contrast to Gen Xers and baby boomers, who tend to be more independent and may even want to be left alone to do their work. When developing millennials to be future leaders, you likely need to bump up the amount of feedback, instruction, correction and praise.

The future payroll professionals in your department may have radically different outlooks and work styles than you. As you prepare your Generation Z workers for leadership roles, the most important step is to get to know them — as a cohort and as individuals.

 

Accountemps, a Robert Half company, is the world’s first and largest specialized staffing firm for temporary accounting, finance and bookkeeping professionals. Accountemps has more than 325 locations worldwide. More resources, including job search services and the Accountemps blog, can be found at roberthalf.com/accountemps.

Accountemps Monthly Newsletter – June

How to Ace Your New Job’s 90-Day Trial Period

The interview process can be grueling when you’re looking for a new job in payroll, and once you land that position, it can be tempting to relax and let your professional guard down a bit. But that would be a mistake. In fact, it’s crucial to make a good impression in the first 90 days after you start a new job: More than half (54 percent) of chief financial officers (CFOs) interviewed for a recent Robert Half survey said they give workers in a new role less than three months to prove themselves.

In other words, now’s the time to really wow your new boss. As you settle into your new job, here are six ways to make the grade:

  1. Arrive at work early, and well-rested. Try to get to your desk at least 15 minutes early during the first few weeks so you can prepare for any unfamiliar tasks and get a handle on your day. It’s more important than ever, too, to get plenty of rest in the evening; if you come to work tired, you’ll likely struggle to learn your new job.
  1. Ask for help. In payroll, the tiniest mistake can result in huge financial errors and unhappy clients. If you’re in doubt about policies or processes, seek out assistance or clarification from colleagues. To make sure you’re on the right track, set up a weekly check-in with your manager for feedback.
  1. Do it their way. Even if you prefer the way things got done in your old firm, it’s important to learn your new employer’s methods and procedures thoroughly before suggesting any changes. That way, your critiques will be seen as constructive, rather than unhelpful criticism.
  1. Save any special requests for later. Supervisors typically want to assess an employee’s performance on the job for a while before they agree to a remote work arrangement or flexible schedule. Prove that you’re a reliable employee by completing tasks on deadline and with a positive attitude, for a reasonable amount of time, before you ask for anything outside the norm.
  1. Show your gratitude. When you’re under stress, it’s easy to forget to say “thank you.” But make sure to tell your new colleagues how much you appreciate it when they guide you through new processes, give you directions to the best lunch spots or offer advice on the most efficient ways to complete routine tasks at your new job.
  1. Get social. Your boss isn’t the only person you need to impress at your new job. You should also start building your in-house network. Getting to know your colleagues not only improves your happiness at work; it can also help you better understand your role in the company.

The first few months in a new job can be intimidating for any payroll professional. With a little extra effort, you’ll prove yourself and make a great lasting impression.

Accountemps, a Robert Half company, is the world’s first and largest specialized staffing firm for temporary accounting, finance and bookkeeping professionals. Accountemps has more than 325 locations worldwide. More resources, including online job search services and the Accountemps blog, can be found at accountemps.com.

Accountemps Monthly Newsletter – May

How to Make Training and Certification Work for You in the Payroll Job Search

It’s no secret that getting a professional certification can help you land the most desirable payroll jobs and earn a higher salary. The Certified Payroll Professional (CPP) is one of the most in-demand credentials employers seek in payroll candidates, according to the 2016 Robert Half Salary Guide for Accounting and Finance. The CPP is a certification for those with payroll knowledge and experience, but requires eligibility.

Another option is the Fundamental Payroll Certification (FPC). The FPC is a certification credential for payroll beginners, and no experience is required to take the exam.

Read on for tips about how these certifications can work to your advantage during the job search process:

  • Mention the certification in your cover letter. Although some employers may have dispensed with cover letters, the accounting and finance sector still often asks for them — or will, at the least, make it an optional part of the application process. The cover letter is another good place to highlight your commitment to professional development.
  • Highlight training on your resume. Because the FPC and CPP are so highly regarded, make sure these certifications are called out and prominent. It’s OK to toot your own horn. Mentioning you have achieved or are pursuing these payroll competencies could help you to stand out among other applicants.

  • Connect credentials to your skills. During the interview process for payroll jobs, emphasize how your FPC or CPP training prepares you to carry out job duties with professionalism, discernment and the latest best practices. Your answers to interview questions should incorporate the knowledge you gained during the certification process on topics such as the Fair Labor Standards Act, regulatory compliance and internal auditing.
  • Discuss future goals. Demonstrate to hiring managers your dedication to the profession. Mention your specific plans for maintaining your FPC or CPP credential and staying on top of trends in your field. When it’s your turn to ask the interview questions, one of them could be around how the employer supports its workers with ongoing training and professional development opportunities.
  • Share your knowledge. One other tool in your toolbox you can offer employers is sharing knowledge you gain through your continuing education with your potential colleagues. The ability to raise the game of other is a highly valued skill.

Companies are pursuing top payroll professionals today in hopes of bringing them on board. With your FPC or CPP credential, it could set you ahead of the pack. Just don’t forget to highlight your training and certification at all stages of the job search process.

Accountemps, a Robert Half company, is the world’s first and largest specialized staffing firm for temporary accounting, finance and bookkeeping professionals. Accountemps has more than 330 locations worldwide. More resources, including online job search services and the Accountemps blog, can be found at accountemps.com.

Accountemps Monthly Newsletter – April

Relationship Management Demystified:

5 Tips for Payroll Pros

Excelling at relationship management is critical to a payroll specialist’s role. You should aim to be on good terms not only with finance colleagues and vendors, but also with your company’s employees who rely on accurate recording of their compensation and prompt feedback to their questions. The communication required to keep these relationships robust may take considerable effort, but it is typically worth it in the end.

Here are five relationship management tips that aim to build and strengthen ties, whether you’re a reluctant schmoozer who shies away from small talk or a manager looking to boost your payroll team’s abilities. 

  1. Delegate decisively. If you’re a manager, sit down with your team to determine which payroll pros will be handling specific accounts, vendor partnerships and departments based on their communication strengths and areas of expertise. Having a direct relationship with a vendor or employee can lead to quicker responses and decisions. The purpose of relationship management is like that of a non-stop flight. The fewer stops along the way, the stronger a bond can be. 
  1. Lead by example. The way you interact with clients, vendors, or other employees shows any staff member that may be observing you how you handle those important relationships. If they hear you getting snippy with a caller, they might think that’s an acceptable approach. Without fail, be consistently friendly, respectful and professional. You will uphold a gold standard for relationship management and professional communication, and others will likely follow suit. 
  1. Tap your team’s wealth of relationship management knowledge. Each payroll specialist takes their own approach to relationship management. Collaborate and brainstorm with employees and colleagues about best practices in strengthening alliances. If you are a manager, consider discussing relationship management at your next group meeting. Ask your team to present an example of a communication success and pitfall to avoid, such as how they handled an angry employee whose paycheck had the wrong deductions. 
  1. Let respectful communication be your default. Civility is the glue that strengthens bonds in relationship management. Show people you value their time, talents and efforts by being prompt, listening with an open mind, sharing facts judiciously and showing your appreciation. 
  1. Address mistakes without delay. Payroll errors are bound to happen. When they do, it’s important not to focus on the blunders, but on how to fix them — promptly. Pointing fingers or getting defensive can only undermine relationships, so make sure you apply tact and diplomacy in these situations. Afterward, learn from the mistakes, regardless of whether they were yours or someone else’s.

Relationship management plays a crucial part in a payroll department’s success. To provide the best customer service, place as high a value on communication skills as payroll expertise. Your boss, coworkers, employees and vendors will thank you.

Accountemps, a Robert Half company, is the world’s first and largest specialized staffing firm for temporary accounting, finance and bookkeeping professionals. Accountemps has more than 330 locations worldwide. More resources, including online job search services and the Accountemps blog, can be found at accountemps.com.

Accountemps Monthly Newsletter – March

Hit a Retention Hole-In-One with Nonmonetary Perks that Work

3 Ways to Boost Employee Benefits without Hitting Your Spending out of Bounds

As competition for the best accounting and finance professionals heats up, retention of top talent has become a high priority for many firms. A recent Robert Half survey of workers and chief financial officers (CFOs) shows that in addition to competitive compensation, companies are upping their game by offering nonmonetary perks and other benefits. Here are three strategies for keeping your payroll staff happy, satisfied and teed up for success without shelling out a lot of extra green.

  1. More time off. Of the workers polled, 31 percent say the nonmonetary perk that tops the leaderboard are additional vacation days. This is not surprising, as time is one of those things that money can’t buy. Offer employees more days to relax and recharge, and you could see them hitting more payroll birdies and eagles.
  1. Telecommuting options. When your payroll specialists ask to work remotely, give it serious thought. Allowing for some commute flexibility might improve your staff’s spirit. Some employees will appreciate the ability to work from home, even if it’s only one or two days a week. The benefits of letting team members telecommute include higher morale, greater productivity and a better retention rate.
  1. Non-traditional hours. Flextime is a nonmonetary perk that allows your staff to work a full day without forcing them into a rigid schedule. Employees want flexibility in their start or finish time for many reasons, including avoiding the gridlock of rush-hour traffic, and managers should accommodate reasonable requests.

The CFOs polled by Robert Half thought their workers would value health and wellness benefits the most, but that nonmonetary perk was ranked fourth by workers. And while subsidized gym memberships and exercise classes make for a healthier workforce, the survey results suggest that staff members place a higher value on time than any other form of compensation.

To keep your top payroll talent, aim for the perfect shot with these cost-effective benefits and retention tools. By giving employees some choice over their work schedules, you’ll make it easier for them to maintain work-life balance, be more productive when they’re on the job and less likely to leave the game if one of your competitors offers them a little more money.

Accountemps, a Robert Half company, is the world’s first and largest specialized staffing firm for temporary accounting, finance and bookkeeping professionals. Accountemps has more than 340 locations worldwide. More resources, including online job search services and the Accountemps blog, can be found at accountemps.com.

Accountemps Monthly Newsletter – February

What the Arrival of Generation Z Means for

Your Payroll Department

Get ready, hiring managers. Generation Z, those born between 1990 and 1999, has already begun entering the job market. This cohort of recent graduates is brimming with talent and eager to put it to use in your payroll department. But to make the most out of working with Gen Z, you need to understand what makes them tick and how they’ll relate to their baby boomer, Generation X and millennial colleagues.

Not every member of Gen Z can be neatly categorized, of course, but their own comments about their work preferences provide useful insights about the group as a whole. Here are some key highlights from Robert Half’s and Enactus’ Get Ready for Generation Z study, and what they mean for payroll managers:

Stability matters

Generation Z isn’t very interested in risky ventures. Because they grew up during the Great Recession, they value workplace security. About eight in 10 (79 percent) Gen Zers polled said their ideal work environment is a midsize or large organization, while only 19 percent wanted to work for startups or as independent consultants. When recruiting this age group, sell them on the solidity of your company’s current and future financial state.

Overachieving is the new norm

These young professionals don’t shy away from responsibility. In fact, 77 percent of respondents expect to work harder than employees from millennial, Generation X and baby boomer groups. Additionally, Generation Z is ambitious. When asked where they see themselves in five years, the top response was “managing or supervising employees.” To keep Generation Z satisfied at your company, provide them with professional development opportunities and a clear career path.

Collaboration is key

The vast majority (79 percent) of Generation Z respondents feel comfortable working with and learning from millennial colleagues, but 45 percent feel it would not be as easy to work with baby boomers. As a manager, you’ll need to bridge the gap between baby boomers and Gen Zers by highlighting their similarities and teaching them to appreciate the differences each group brings to the table.

Generation Z is ready to make their impact in the workforce. Make certain your payroll department is prepared to recruit and maximize the potential of this skilled and eager cohort.

Accountemps, a Robert Half company, is the world’s first and largest specialized staffing firm for temporary accounting, finance and bookkeeping professionals. Accountemps has more than 340 locations worldwide. More resources, including online job search services and the Accountemps blog, can be found at accountemps.com.

Accountemps Monthly Newsletter – December

How to Get the Current Job Skills You Need as a Payroll Professional

Payroll professionals know that if they don’t keep up with changes in the profession, they’ll get left behind. That’s why accounting and finance professionals polled in a recent survey from global staffing firm Robert Half said having current job skills is a top concern. The majority of the respondents also said when weighing job opportunities, the chance to pick up new proficiencies is a major consideration. Not surprisingly, the more junior the respondents, the more eager they were to add to their professional tool kit.

Whether you’re just starting out or are already at the top, don’t be complacent about your payroll knowledge. Throughout your career, prioritize professional development, including certifications. Here are some ways to acquire the job skills you need.

Go back to school

A high school diploma or equivalent is the basic educational requirement for entry-level payroll positions. However, to qualify for administrative roles, employers want candidates with at least an associate degree in business, accounting or human resources. Pursuing a two- or four-year degree will broaden your current job skills in math, finance, project management and more.

Get training

To stay relevant as a payroll professional, you need continuing education in subjects like compliance reporting; federal, state and local requirements; and preparing for year-end. The American Payroll Association (APA) and other groups offer live seminars in major cities, as well as online courses. You’ll also want to acquire advanced skills in Excel and Outlook, plus common payroll platforms like Oracle, Kronos, ADP or PeopleSoft.

 

Earn certifications

A professional certification can upgrade (and tout) your current job skills, making you a more valued employee and a more competitive job candidate. Depending on your experience and training, a few in-demand payroll certifications to consider are:

 

Don’t neglect professional development

Training helps you do your present job better, while professional development prepares you for future roles. Think about your current job skills and what could use improvement. If your goal is payroll management, consider APA’s Leadership Certificate Program. Networking is also part of professional development, so make sure to meet and greet during payroll conferences.

 

By honing your current job skills, you’ll open up more career possibilities. Work toward certifications and keep up with professional development, and you’ll earn the credentials you need to keep advancing in your field.

 

Accountemps, a Robert Half company, is the world’s first and largest specialized staffing firm for temporary accounting, finance and bookkeeping professionals. Accountemps has more than 340 locations worldwide. More resources, including online job search services and the Accountemps blog, can be found at accountemps.com.

Accountemps Monthly Newsletter – November

Taking a New Look at the Lunch Break and Work-Life Balance

 

Are your finance employees who lunch alone doing so because that’s their preference?

Maybe not. A recent survey from Accountemps, a Robert Half company, of finance professionals found that while nearly half (49 percent) of all respondents spend their lunches alone, 46 percent say they would actually like to share a meal with coworkers.

Maybe what they need is a gentle push — from you. Sharing a midday meal with coworkers could be something that improves your team’s work-life balance.

And not only that. Many good things happen when teams, including the boss, take breaks together. Here are some:

  • Deeper work relationships
  • Better collaboration
  • Sharing ideas and best practices
  • Helping each other solve problems
  • Allowing new employees to get up to speed faster
  • Lower stress
  • Greater job satisfaction
  • Improved physical and mental health

As a payroll manager, you set the tone for your team. If you work through your lunch break and rarely leave your desk, your staff will receive the not-so-subtle message to do likewise. Instead, promote working smarter, not harder. Cultivate a work environment that builds in downtime and collegiality throughout the day, including a full lunch break with fellow finance specialists. Here are some ideas:

  • Take a full lunch break away from your desk. It doesn’t have to be daily if you have pressing work and deadlines looming, but make it often enough so employees see that it’s perfectly acceptable to take a full lunch break.
  • Make the break room a welcoming place for eating and chatting.
  • Treat your staff to a group lunch every so often to share ideas and frustrations and to promote bonding.
  • Invite a few colleagues out to lunch once a month or so to get to know them better.

So resist the temptation to eat at your desk while finishing a report or analyzing a spreadsheet. Take a much-needed lunch break with colleagues, and encourage your payroll staff to do the same. The team that eats together works better together.

 

Accountemps, a Robert Half company, is the world’s first and largest specialized staffing firm for temporary accounting, finance and bookkeeping professionals. Accountemps has more than 340 locations worldwide. More resources, including online job search services and the Accountemps blog, can be found at accountemps.com.