My office manager is doing our payroll now. We have seven internal employees and about 40 external part-time to full-time people. It takes about two days now, but the problem is that we’re growing. Should I hire a payroll specialist or outsource it?
Sincerely, Growing Pains
This is a tough question that I have personally encountered. I utilized a payroll company for five years, then brought payroll in-house, outsourced it for several more, and now have it back inside, forever.
It all came down to control and cost for me. Please consider all costs, including software, hardware, paper, toner, W4s, W2s, mailings, postage, employee time and wage, office space, desks, and anything else associated with the cost of completing the payroll when searching for answers. Make sure you know your company’s costs, and also know the charges you will pay if you outsource your payroll.
As you grow, you will have more unemployment claims, garnishments, social services requests for information, etc., which are all related to payroll. The paperwork alone could add hours upon hours per day. If your office manager makes over the soon-to-be $47,476 threshold to be exempt, and thus not be eligible for overtime pay, you may just want to keep it in-house for a while, but watch for signs of burnout. If they do not, watch how many hours it’s truly taking to get the work done. Perhaps you only need a part-time or temporary payroll specialist.
I hope that when you are ready to start searching for answers, you will look at your local payroll companies instead of the mighty national names. Make sure to ask them the hard questions on costs and benefits, and get a breakdown before buying. From my experience, I know that local companies will have more patience with you and your growing pains. And call me if I can answer any more questions!
I need to check references on a couple of candidates but don’t know what to ask. Can you help me decide what’s important?
Sincerely, Needing Help
Reference checking is not for the faint of heart. It is not easy and takes a vast amount of time, and the results often get skewed because you, the employer, already have a favorite.
One of the first things to do when reference checking is to promise yourself you will ask each reference the same questions about each candidate. When you do this, you will be able to compare apples to apples when the time for the final decision comes.
The second important thing is to make sure you talk to the right people. Don’t rely only on the names that the job candidate gives you. They may give you names of people who like them and want them to get the job you are offering. Instead, do a little homework to find out the “who’s who” in the department or the company you are contacting and call them. Remember, many HR departments cannot give any information except dates of hire when you contact them. Don’t stop there: do some networking and social media research, or call department heads to get to the right people for answers.
Anne Williams is not an attorney. All content in this column is not guaranteed for accuracy and legality and is not to be construed as legal advice.