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 – June

How to Find the Best Workplace for Your Payroll Career

Happy worker at his desk

Finding a new payroll job is not unlike dating. To make the relationship work, you and your new company should be well matched in areas such as style and personality. Whether you’re an active or passive job candidate, here are seven factors to look for when assessing potential employers and planning your next steps in your payroll career:

1. An engaged communication style

If you’ve ever worked for a company where information seldom trickles down to the staff level, you understand how frustrating a poor or nonexistent communication style can be. When evaluating potential workplaces, note how responsive they are to your messages. Do you have to wait days or weeks to hear back, or do your emails and phone calls get returned within a few hours? How’s their tone — curt and hurried, or friendly and respectful? An organization’s poor communication style can lead to low morale among staff and a high turnover rate.

2. A good work-life balance

To attract top talent, companies are offering an assortment of perks that encourage employees to take care of themselves and spend more time with their families. And that makes perfect sense: The happier workers are, the more productive, creative and loyal they’re likely to be. As you research potential workplaces, take a good look at their job postings and website. Are they proud of their generous vacation policy and flexible scheduling? During the interview, ask hiring managers how the company helps employees balance work and personal life with policies such as telecommuting and flextime.

3. The right opportunities

You want to be part of an organization that will invest in your future as a payroll professional. When speaking with hiring managers, ask what they offer in terms of professional training. Do they help pay for certification exams and payroll association fees? Will they allow you to take continuing professional education (CPE) courses on company time? Do they provide mentoring opportunities? Employers that value their workers typically put strong emphasis on professional development.

4. A suitable city

Sometimes landing a top payroll job requires moving to another area. Finding the right city depends on your priorities. To help you weigh your options, Robert Half has put together a comprehensive list of all U.S. major cities — ranked by factors such as career prospects, quality of life, cost of living and cultural diversity. If you’re in a position to relocate, doing so could give your professional and personal life a boost.

5. A compatible culture

Do you like fast-paced and challenging assignments, or do you prefer predictable and steady work? Is your preference to hang out after hours with colleagues, or are you more comfortable with well-defined professional boundaries? The best workplace is the one where you can feel at home each day, and where you’re a respected part of the team.

6. Similar values

Robert Half’s recent study on working happy finds that organizational pride is one of the most powerful drivers of job satisfaction. People feel good about their role when they believe in what their employer is doing, such as improving the lives of their customers and making their community a better place. If you don’t believe in the mission of your company, you will have a hard time supporting it with your best efforts.

7. Above-average wages

Of course, money can’t buy happiness, but not having enough leads to stress, disgruntlement and eventually your departure for greener pastures. The best workplace for your payroll career is one that recognizes your payroll skills and compensates you fairly for it. Check out our Salary Guide and Salary Calculator for starting salaries in various payroll positions. Then don’t be afraid to negotiate your starting salary.

The job market is healthy for payroll professionals, so you can afford to be selective about your next employer. Don’t settle for so-so when you can land the job — and workplace — of your choice.

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.

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Accountemps Monthly Newsletter – May

5 Ways to Beat Stress in the Payroll Department

Man feeling stress at workIf the pressure of your payroll job is weighing you down, and you’re not sure how to deal with stress at work, you’re in good company. In a recent Accountemps study, 52 percent of workers polled said they are somewhat or very stressed at work. Additionally, 60 percent feel employee stress has increased over the past five years.

Workplace stress is bad for your productivity, personal happiness, and physical and mental health. But payroll never ends, and it seems that every payday results in at least a few people upset about their withholdings. The good news is you can better manage your anxiety level. If you want to know how to deal with stress at work, here are five ways to reclaim your inner peace.

1. Amp up your physical activity

Exercise can feel like torture when you’re in it, but its stress-relieving effects stay with you long after your workout. For one, it increases blood flow to your brain, improving memory and helping you process information better. According to the Mayo Clinic, working out also combats depression by increasing the amount of endorphins (aka “feel-good” neurotransmitters) you produce. Happiness and health go hand in hand.

So make exercise a regular part of your life. Opt for public transportation rather than driving. Jog up the stairs in your workplace instead of waiting for the elevator. Take a lunch-time yoga or tai chi class to reduce stress and learn to let go. And rather than surfing the web during breaks, head outside for a brisk walk. Before you know it, your workplace anxiety — and maybe even your weight — will drop.

2. Learn to unplug

Because people need to get paid every two weeks or every month, it’s understandable why payroll specialists are reluctant to get away for an extended period. In another Accountemps survey, 41 percent of workers polled said they didn’t take any or all of their vacation days because they’re concerned about coming back to a pile of work. Another 35 percent said they didn’t want others to have to manage their workloads.

It’s one thing to be a dedicated employee, but quite another to jeopardize your mental health. Vacation time exists because you need and deserve that time away to relax and recharge. So go ahead and schedule that week-long break — no guilt or work emails allowed. Ask colleagues to cover for you, and return the favor when it’s their turn to get away. Be sure to create an out-of-office message so you aren’t overwhelmed by an overflowing inbox when you return to work.

3. Practice single-tasking

Recent research suggests multitasking is out because it hurts your health and productivity. But mindfulness, the act of focusing on the present, is in. Embrace being in the moment by not getting distracted by another task or problem. When analyzing data or compiling a report, concentrate on the content and not what else you have to do. During meetings, pay attention to the speaker rather than checking your messages. Control your environment so as to reduce distractions. Do you really need to be notified of every email that hits your inbox? The better you are at monotasking — a basic time management technique — the more efficiently you can finish your work.

4. Indulge in outside interests

Here’s a question to ask yourself: Are you letting work creep into your personal life? If you’re still toiling away during evenings and weekends, it’s time to draw some boundaries and work on a pet project. Some excellent choices include those that require you to focus, such as baking, gardening, woodworking or playing an instrument. Or give back to the community by volunteering your skills for a worthy cause. Having non-work interests gives you something to look forward to and provides another means of relaxation.

5. Make some changes

Naturally, peak periods like year-end processing and reporting deadlines are stressful. But if your anxiety level is high all year long, take a good look at your work environment and consider whether it’s time to start a job search. There’s no easy way of coping with bad management, a toxic workplace or an office bully. In these situations, you could relieve the stress by finding another employer. While it’s true that a job change is stressful as well, the peace of mind might be well worth the effort.

While no payroll job is 100 percent stress-free, there’s no need for work-related worries to take over your life and harm your health. Workplace happiness is within your reach and control.

More tips for how to deal with stress at work

Tags: Stress

Accountemps Monthly Newsletter – March

6 Steps to a Happier Payroll Job

Few organizations can function without payroll professionals. And with businesses adding new jobs and hiring, payroll managers and clerks are in high demand. That’s the good news. On the flip side, job satisfaction may be elusive. People in finance and accounting experience the least happiness, according to a recent Robert Half study of 12,000 workers in the U.S. and Canada.

Drivers of workplace happiness

What makes one person ecstatic may be sheer drudgery to another. But in general, the research finds that these three factors determine whether accounting professionals experience on-the-job happiness:

  1. Feeling appreciated for the work they do
  2. Being treated with fairness and respect
  3. A sense of accomplishment from their work

Payroll specialists likely spend a lot of time entering data and other tasks that seem mundane. And when employees get upset about mistakes or withholdings that reduce the size of their paychecks, those specialists can be at the receiving end of their wrath — furthering their unhappiness.

If you’re no longer excited about your payroll position, it’s time to take steps toward greater job satisfaction. Here are some happiness tips for improving your workplace experience:

If you’re a job seeker

Make sure the role is a good fit. While no job is sunshine and roses all day long, you will experience greater job satisfaction if your responsibilities align with your skills, interests and personality. For greater workplace happiness, apply for jobs that excite you.

Scrutinize potential employers. Each organization has a unique workplace culture. Shrewd job seekers research companies before applying to see if they’d enjoy working there. During on-site interviews, gauge whether workers look content or harried. At the end of the meeting, ask questions about the corporate culture and why people enjoy working there.

If you’re already employed

Focus on career growth. Have you been in the same payroll position for a while? Lack of career mobility contributes to a sense of unhappiness. Talk to your manager about your career path and continuing education options, such as payroll certification, a college degree or professional training courses. And if you feel you aren’t being sufficiently challenged, ask for bigger projects.

Request more money. Being underpaid is unfair and makes you feel unappreciated. Check the 2017 Robert Half Salary Guide for Accounting and Finance to ensure you’re receiving competitive compensation for your job title, experience level and geographic location. If not, it’s time to ask for a raise.

Develop positive workplace relationships. The Robert Half study finds employees who get along with their coworkers are 2.5 times more likely to be happy at work. Even making small talk can help create a stronger rapport with your fellow payroll employees, which can boost your mood and increase your happiness.

Get back in balance. If you frequently work late, your work-life balance is off-kilter. Taking better care of yourself leads to greater workplace happiness. So don’t feel guilty about getting away for a long vacation. Ask your boss about flextime and telecommuting options. And if the workload becomes overwhelming, see if a temporary payroll professional can be hired to assist.

Even though many finance and accounting professionals rank themselves relatively low on the happiness scale, you don’t have to be among them. Take action now toward greater job satisfaction.

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 – 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 – September

6 Tips for Payroll Employees to Improve Productivity

If you find yourself consistently facing a deluge of data, with several payroll reports due in a short amount of time, there’s a better strategy than wishing for more time or habitually working overtime. The optimal approach is to boost your productivity at work.

Doing so will alleviate your anxiety and help prevent the dreaded working-while-tired syndrome. As an added bonus, learning how to become more efficient in your job may result in increased satisfaction with your payroll career and personal life.

Here are six tips for improving your productivity at work:

1. Plan ahead

Having a list of priorities for the week will help you improve your productivity at work. Every Monday morning, review your calendar and create your weekly to-do list, but keep it realistic. Don’t overestimate what you can accomplish in a given week — that can lead to frustration at work and, ultimately, be counterproductive.

Take it a step further by outlining shorter- and longer-term goals, giving priority to the most important tasks.

2. Stay organized

Ever lost valuable minutes and hours searching for misplaced timesheets or W-4 forms, or missed a reporting deadline because it wasn’t on your radar? If so, it’s time to get more organized. Create visible folders — on your computer and physical desktops — for important files and documents.

As for to-do lists, some people are partial to paper planners, while others prefer software and apps. Finding the best method that works for you will take some trial and error.

3. Get proper training

If your manager asks you to handle multi-state payroll using Ceridian HPL, and your expertise is with just one state or if you’re a Ceridian novice, then much of your workday might be consumed with figuring out how to do your job. To improve productivity at work, seek out education on the platforms and processes you encounter daily.

4. Minimize distractions

We’ve all fallen down the social media rabbit hole or spent more time on e-commerce than we should. These and other diversions run contrary to our productivity at work.

If this sounds like you, the answer is better discipline. Tame workplace email by turning off pop-up notifications, and then check it only at set times. If necessary, turn off WiFi so you won’t be distracted.

When it comes to personal issues and errands, reserve them for your breaks. Stow your personal phone where your attention won’t be constantly drawn to its pings and buzzes.

5. Know your peak periods

Some of us are more alert in the morning, while others don’t hit our stride until the afternoon. You may also find yourself sharper and more motivated on certain days: In an Accountemps survey, human resources managers said Tuesdays are generally when employees are most productive. Figure out when you work best, and reserve those times for your most challenging projects.

6. Take a break

You may think you’re more productive when working non-stop, but you’re actually sabotaging your long-term effectiveness when you don’t give yourself regular breaks. Stepping away from your desk can be reinvigorating and beneficial to your health; you might even discover solutions to complex problems when you’re not intently focused on work.

Try pausing every hour or so to stretch your legs, fill your water bottle and, at midday, eat a proper lunch and leave your office. Whether your take a walk across campus to catch up on current events or read a chapter in your favorite novel, your body and brain will thank you.

Your company and career rely on you to maintain productivity at work. And when you get more done in less time, you’ll also enjoy increased satisfaction with your payroll job.

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 – 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.