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Do you need to pay staff so often?

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There is no button you can push to make a paycheck pop out, yet almost everyone in your company thinks payroll processing is automatic. That can lead to problems at every level of the organization if you’re thinking of switching pay frequencies, according to Lisa Poole, CPP, VP, HR Payroll Operations for Sun Trust Bank. Poole gave attendees at the American Payroll Association’s annual Congress some helpful suggestions for handling the change process.

Why change? Changing pay frequencies can create efficiencies and reduce expenses, Poole said, but it can also aggravate employees’ concerns. Such a change may negatively impact employees’ financial situations, especially if they’re being paid weekly. And if employees aren’t happy, their productivity will decrease. One way to allay employees’ fears is to offer them bridge loans at the start of the new pay schedule, Poole noted.

Change can also involve moving the cutoff date and time for processing checks, or increasing or decreasing the number of days between the end of a pay period and payday, she added.

Make change a nonevent. Communicating the change and establishing good relationships at all levels of the organization are the key parts of your plan, Poole said.

Whom to talk to: employees, managers, creditors with outstanding garnishment orders, IT, the mailroom and third-party providers.

Poole’s tip: You don’t need everyone to buy into the change immediately; you do need to partner with one employee who can take your message to everyone else.

You also have to form a team to steer the change. In addition to Payroll staff, Poole advised including HR, Finance, IT, Managers and Legal. The team will set milestones along the way. Payroll staff should be sensitive to how the change will impact employees’ deductions, workload planning and scheduling changes. It’s helpful, Poole said, to sketch out what your pay cycle looks like now and what it will look like after the change.

You should communicate with employees early (six to nine months prior to the change is ideal, she said) and often, on many platforms—employee newsletters, posters, Web postings, FAQs. And be sure to let employees know where more information can be obtained (possibly on a website, Poole suggested).

Also good: Prepare talking points for employees’ managers, who are your point people with ­employees.

WRAPPING IT ALL UP: The big questions to ask when the change is complete, according to Poole, is would you do it again? And if you would do it again, what, if anything, would you do ­differently?

A reminder for payroll pros: Did you know that a step-by-step payroll compliance guide to each pay period, month and calendar quarter of the year is now available? Download it free here.

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