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.

Accountemps Monthly Newsletter – September

Collaboration Across the Enterprise

Payroll is one of the few departments that works with everyone else in a company. Collaborating with these diverse internal clients can be challenging at times. In a recent Robert Half survey, 39 percent of chief financial officers (CFOs) polled said dealing with a wide range of personalities is the greatest challenge for accounting and finance professionals when working with colleagues in other departments. In fact, the respondents considered this aspect of their job to be more difficult than managing stress, prioritizing conflicting deadlines and explaining financial information to a layperson.

 

With the increased touch-points payroll staff have with others, effective collaboration can be even more of a problem. Here are three tips for productive relationships:

 

  1. Make customer service a priority.

When employees contact payroll, it’s usually because they need to update their financial information or, worse, there’s a problem. Different personalities have different ways of expressing a personal — and potentially emotional — matter like their paycheck. Listen to the issue they present, ask clarifying questions and take responsibility for resolving the matter. Let payroll be known as a department that provides excellent customer service.

 

  1. Communicate clearly.

When you compile reports and require information from other departments, use your best writing skills: Tell colleagues what you need, making sure to include format guidelines and due dates. Clear communication is vital to reducing misunderstandings, preventing crises and, in turn, managing stress.

 

  1. Get to know your non-payroll colleagues.

With your heavy, deadline-driven workload, you may think you don’t have time to get to know employees outside of accounting and finance. However, it can be very helpful to learn the pressures others are under. To improve communication and collaboration, get out of the department and network. Volunteer for enterprise-wide service projects. Attend work-related social events. Make it a point to mingle with non-payroll colleagues when circumstances permit.

 

A payroll department is most successful when staff get along with everyone, of course. Even if your greatest challenge is working with colleagues who have abrasive personalities or trouble prioritizing deadlines, aim for a professional and cordial work relationship. Strive for clear communication, take the high road and build interdepartmental bridges; when you do, the entire enterprise will run more efficiently.

 

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.

Accountempts Monthly Newsletter – August

Quitting Your Payroll Job Without Harming Your Career

 

Most employees, at one stage or another in their career, have thought of quitting a job. Perhaps it’s to seek career advancement and a better salary, or to get away from a toxic boss. If and when that moment comes for you, it’s the manner in which you resign that matters. According to a Robert Half survey, 86 percent of human resources managers interviewed said the way an employee quits a job affects his or her future career prospects.

 

Word gets around. If you burn bridges at one company, it could sabotage your chances for a solid reference check. Here are examples, from the same OfficeTeam survey, of flamboyant ways some employees have chosen to resign:

 

  • “An employee baked a cake with her resignation letter written on top.”
  • “A marching band accompanied one guy in his announcement.”
  • “The worker threw a brick through the window with the words ‘I quit’ written on it.”
  • “One woman created a music video to explain she was leaving.”

 

Others simply left without a word, while a few had their parents or spouse deliver the news, or announced it on social media.

 

Even if you’re deeply frustrated at work, there’s no need for theatrics or vengeance when handing in your letter of resignation. Here’s how to quit with class:

 

  1. Time your exit

Proper business etiquette is to give your manager at least two weeks’ notice. Ten business days is an appropriate amount of time for your employer to manage the transition and possibly find a replacement.

 

  1. Write a formal resignation

While cakes and videos might make a splash, quitting does not require that much time and creativity. Give your boss and HR department a formal letter thanking them for the career opportunity, and mention your last day on the job. A few lines will do.

 

  1. Maintain productivity

This tip is key to maintaining your reputation. You may be on your way out, but there’s still work to be done. Wrap up the projects you can, and bring your payroll tasks to a point where you can hand them off to colleagues or your replacement. Make the transition as seamless and painless as possible.

 

There are many wrong ways to leave a job, but only one good way: by keeping it classy. Quitting with grace not only helps you preserve important professional relationships, but protects your future payroll career.

 

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 – July

Job-hopping: Good or Bad for Your Career?

It was once common for employees to stay with a single company from the outset of their careers until retirement. Today, that’s a rare event. Younger generations are viewing job-hopping as the new normal. According to a U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report, Americans stay with an employer a median of 4.6 years, and that number drops to three years for workers age 25-34 — suggesting millennials are more likely to change jobs than the general population. A survey from temporary staffing agency Accountemps survey found a similar result: 57 percent of respondents age 18-34 believe changing jobs frequently benefits their career, whereas the majority of those ages 35 and older disagree.

While job-hopping could put you on a fast track to promotions and higher salaries, it’s not without drawbacks. Before launching your next job search, keep these risks in mind:

1. Red flag on resume
Some hiring managers are wary of applicants with a series of short stints. To them, changing jobs too often — more than five jobs in 10 years, according to a Robert Half survey — could be an indication of flightiness and irresponsibility. Employers don’t want to invest in the career development of workers who have a history of coming and going.

2. Lack of seniority
Starting a new job involves an element of risk: Being the newest hire could mean you’re the first one out in the event of an economic downturn or reorganization. On the other hand, when you stay with one company for several years, you have the opportunity to demonstrate your indispensability and loyalty.

3. Shallower relationships
Job hopping may net you a larger network, but those relationships tend to be more superficial. And if your boss, mentor or coworkers don’t have the time to really get to know you before you head to the next new job, they won’t be able to serve as good professional references.

Changing employers isn’t a bad idea. In fact, it’s a good way to acquire new skills, make valuable contacts and move up the ladder. But frequent job-hopping can also have negative repercussions on your career. If you’re getting restless before you’ve put in at least two years with a company, consider ways to challenge yourself professionally without resorting to yet another job search.

Accountemps, a Robert Half company, is the world’s first and largest specialized staffing firm for temporary accounting, finance and bookkeeping professionals. The staffing firm has more than 345 locations worldwide. More resources, including online job search services and the Accountemps blog, can be found at accountemps.com.

Accountemps Monthly Newsletter – June

Crisis Management: 5 Ways to Come Out on Top

How well payroll specialists handle crises says much about their leadership skills and management potential. Perhaps you entered the wrong data, which resulted in improper withholdings — and angry employees. Or maybe your department didn’t file quarterly returns on time.

Next time there’s an emergency work situation, turn it into an opportunity to demonstrate leadership by following these crisis management tips:

  1. Keep your cool. It’s easy to panic when something bad happens. Be the person who stays calm and approaches the situation with a level head. Take some deep breaths before going into action. You don’t want to make the problem worse by overreacting and making poor decisions.
  2. Don’t assign blame. It’s natural to make excuses and point fingers. But doing so is unproductive, slows down crisis management and creates a poisonous workplace environment. If you made the mistake, take responsibility, apologize and help fix the problem. Even when someone else is at fault, the wise next step is to work toward a solution as a team, not to play the blame game.
  3. Gather data. To solve the problem, you need to know exactly what went wrong. Retrace your steps or, if other people were responsible for the crisis, help them discover the source of the mistake. The sooner you find the source of the mistake, the sooner you can suggest ways to fix it (see the next step).
  4. Offer solutions. During a crisis, management does not need hand-wringers. If you were the one who discovered the mess, approach your boss with not just the problem, but also possible next steps. Being a problem solver will show leadership potential.
  5. Do a postmortem. After the emergency has passed, speak to your manager about gathering the payroll team to discuss ways to prevent it from happening again. To cut down on human error, for example, suggest a checklist for commonly performed payroll tasks.

Emergencies at work can happen at any time. By drawing on your crisis management skills, your department can get back to business with minimal disruption, and you can impress your supervisor with your leadership potential.

 

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 – May

The Daily Telecommute:

How Payroll Professionals Can Excel at Remote Work
 
A recent Accountemps survey showed 36 percent of CFOs polled reported an increase in remote work opportunities over the past three years at their firms. This is good news for payroll professionals who desire more flexibility. However, this perk comes with the responsibility of showing employers you’re just as productive and efficient from home as you are in-office. These five tips can help you make the most of remote work.

  1. Set a schedule

The increased flexibility of remote work makes it easy to procrastinate. Set a solid routine for each day to stay on top of tasks. By being disciplined, not only will you get all your work done on time, you’ll also show your boss that you’re trustworthy and self-motivated. Keeping a regular schedule provides career benefits whether you’re working from home or in the office. ou

  1. Keep regular office hours

Just because you can telecommute doesn’t mean you can set your own hours. You need to be available for questions and collaboration, so start and stop each day around the same time as your boss and colleagues. If you need to be away for a large chunk of time, inform your team so they won’t wonder why you’re not responding to messages.

  1. Be visible

Because your manager and coworkers can’t see you, you have to be proactive about letting them know you’re active and engaged. In practical terms, speak up during staff meetings and conference calls and ask questions when appropriate. If you don’t have one-on-ones scheduled with your boss, suggest regular check-in meetings.

  1. Take advantage of technology

The trend that has made telecommuting possible is technology. If you’re not already, make the most of remote work by using appropriate technology. In addition to email and phone, there are many apps and services — HipChat, Basecamp, Google Hangouts and Teambox, for example — that connect remote workforces. Tech tools allow you to be more productive and collaborative. You’ll also feel less like a loner when you’re connected virtually.

  1. Get in some face time

Though you telecommute, you should still go into the office regularly. Be there in person for major meetings, company-wide events and performance reviews. Don’t forget social outings. A little face time is essential for making sure you’re not “out of sight, out of mind.”

The ability to telecommute can offer payroll professionals better work-life balance and greater career satisfaction. Do it right, and your career will stay on the fast track.

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 – April

3 Ways to Improve Your Business Meeting Etiquette

For better or worse, smartphones are everywhere in the modern workplace — including the meeting room. In a recent Robert Half survey, 67 percent of managers polled said it’s at least somewhat common for employees to check and respond to emails on their mobile devices during meetings. However, only 6 percent fully endorsed this behavior.

If you have your sights on a promotion and leadership development opportunities, poor manners can come back to haunt you. Here are three tips for improving your business meeting etiquette.

1. Stow the phone.
Many of us reflexively check our smartphones when we’re bored, which happens more than we’d care to admit during meetings. Some even take out their devices and have them at the ready on the conference table. Avoid the temptation to glance at your phone by keeping it in your (locked) desk. Coming to a meeting device-free lets managers know you are ready to get down to business. If you must bring it, turn off the ringer and keep it out of sight.

2. Pay attention.
Show the boss that you’re not just phoning it in by being an active listener. Maintain eye contact with whomever is speaking, and ask good questions throughout the discussion. Be a full participant. While your colleagues practice poor business meeting etiquette by tapping away on their devices, you’ll be accruing valuable information and making a good impression with your manager.

3. Take notes — on paper.
We’re so used to typing that it’s hard to use a pen and paper for extensive writing. However, unless your job is to take minutes or give a PowerPoint presentation, don’t bring your laptop to the meeting. Screens are distracting, especially if you receive frequent pop-up notifications. Demonstrate your professionalism and courtesy by focusing on the meeting, and one way to do that is to take notes the old-fashioned way.

Whether you realize it or not, your supervisors pay attention to your actions to see if you’re leadership development material. When you practice good business meeting etiquette, you’re letting them know you’re ready.

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 – March

Hiring Advice: How to Survive a Group Interview

It’s thrilling and scary at the same time: You’ve been invited for an in-person interview, which means you’re one step closer to that great payroll position. To make the experience even more interesting, the hiring manager mentions that you’ll be evaluated alongside other candidates who’ve made the first cut.

“Oh, great,” you say. “I’ve made it this far, and now I have to throw out all I’ve learned about preparing for a one-on-one interview.”

Well, not exactly. The hiring advice for a group interview is much the same as for a one-on-one — with some twists along the way. Make a great first impression by being impeccably groomed and greeting each interviewer with a smile and firm handshake. During the interview, speak clearly and confidently, and don’t be afraid to let your personality shine through. Here are some other interview preparation tips that will help you stand out on that big day:

  1.  Get smart about the employer

As part of your job preparation, you may have already researched the organization when you customized your cover letter, but now is the time to do it again. You want to be the best-informed candidate in that room.

  1. Prepare for the questions

 Rehearse responses to typical interview questions, but get ready for some fastballs, too:

 Behavioral — e.g., Tell us about a time when you had to deal with an angry employee whose paycheck was calculated incorrectly.

Situational — e.g., What would you do if you knew a colleague was engaged in unethical activity?

Curveball    — e.g., Which superhero do you identify with the most, and why?

  1. Anticipate possible scenarios

    To test interpersonal and problem-solving skills, interviewers may ask candidates to role-play payroll situations or to           work together to give a short presentation. This is where your collaboration skills come in.
  2. Be a team player 

    Aim for a good balance between individuality and collegiality. When answering questions, address the interviewer — but    also engage other candidates. Wait until other interviewees have finished speaking before adding your opinion. Validate    their comments when making your own. If you disagree, do so politely and professionally before explaining your point of view.

The best hiring advice for a group interview is to be ready for anything and have a positive attitude. You’ll be nervous when waiting in the reception room with a crowd of other candidates, but you’ve already made it this far — and you’ll do great because of your interview preparation. Good luck!

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.

January Meeting Venue Changed

Please note that the location of the January meeting occurring on Thursday, January 15th and covering the Oregon Department of Revenue updates has changed.  It is now located at the Payroll Specialties NW office at 2300 Oakmont Way, Ste 102, Eugene, OR, 97401.