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.

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.