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3 Scenes of Traditional Payroll Nightmares

An air of mystery might make for a compelling crime thriller, but it has no place in payroll. The drama spurred by an uncertain check or slow-moving HR processes is far from exciting — it’s downright frustrating. But are the pains of a traditional payroll really a production nightmare, or is there a need for a self-service sequel? Take a sneak peek at these terrifying payroll scenarios and decide for yourself.

Scene 1: Identity theft turns Carol’s payday into a horror film

After a night of online shopping, the alarm that wakes Carol up the next morning wasn’t one she set herself. Instead, she received a message from her bank detailing suspected fraudulent activity after her last purchase, forcing them to change her account number.

Given payday is this week, Carol has to contact HR by phone to modify her direct deposit info because they don’t have a self-service option. When she asks her payroll administrator when her new information will be updated, she receives just one word — “soon.”

But “soon,” isn’t soon enough. After payday passes, Carol’s horrified to learn her changes won’t take effect until next pay period. Even worse, a manual, paper check won’t be finalized and approved until next week. Carol’s episode of payroll woes just cascaded into a maniacal marathon of frustration.

For Carol and thousands of workers just like her, instances like these are far more than just mild frustrations. In a survey conducted on behalf of National Payroll Week (NPW), 69% of U.S. employees reported living paycheck to paycheck, and 68.7% of the respondents said it would be difficult for them to meet their financial obligations if their paycheck was delayed.

But with the right HR tech backed by an employee-driven payroll experience, the common cause of Carol’s predicament could have been resolved quickly, securely and, perhaps best of all, by Carol herself. While employee-driven payroll doesn’t mean your workforce sets their own compensation, it does mean they have greater access to their paycheck, including the ability to verify and troubleshoot it, before payroll runs. If Carol’s company had deployed such tech, she would have been able to cancel the approval of her check, adjust her direct deposit information herself and then reapprove her pay as soon as her bank gave her the new account information, long before her current HR team could start the update through a paper-based, employee-removed process.

Scene 2: Scott’s wages don’t make the final cut

Scott is having a rough week. He and his camera crew were abruptly asked to record several long, drawn-out interviews on the set of a new movie. Because Scott’s employers only use traditional, stationary time clocks, his manager requests that he email his hours at the end of each day. Scott complies, and his manager confirms his receipt of each message. Come payday, however, Scott learns his manager didn’t enter any of Scott’s time, so his paycheck was missing half of the hours he worked even though Scott clearly documented them.

Because the manager didn’t properly enter his hours, Scott’s stressful shoot was effectively a deleted scene. While Scott waits for the approval of a wire transfer, which could take days per his payroll admin, he wonders who else across the country might be in his shoes. According to the results of a survey commissioned by Paycom and conducted by Harris Poll, 48% of U.S. employees report they are uncertain what the amount of their paycheck will be on payday.

Employee-driven payroll not only gives your workforce the power to see and approve their paychecks in advance so there’s no question about the amount, it also allows them to identify and report errors so they can be fixed before the need for a costly and inconvenient correction.

In Scott’s case, he would’ve been able to point out his missing hours in advance and his employer would’ve been able to easily address this issue, even from their mobile devices, eliminating the need for the bank wire — not to mention Scott’s frustration.

Scene 3: Columbia’s weekend double feature gets canceled

Columbia takes pride in her role. Over the years, the operation she works for went from a modest few mobile notary publics to the nation’s premier online title company. While it’s all about the details for Columbia, her branch manager wasn’t quite as careful when they forgot to submit her entire team’s timecards.

As HR informs her that payroll won’t be correctly processed until the following Monday, derailing the weekend she planned with her colleagues, Columbia considers how this could’ve all been avoided. After all, unexpected paycheck delays do more than just sour a fun outing. Per NPW, 68.7% of U.S. workers said it would be tough for them to meet their financial obligations — let alone budget for entertainment — if their next paycheck was delayed for a week.

If Columbia’s employer used employee-driven payroll, there wouldn’t be a need for her manager to individually approve timecards because she and her team would be doing that for them. Columbia is the one impacted the most by her paycheck, so it makes sense she would be the one to approve, preventing the bottleneck that ultimately triggered this mistake. Even better, the insight she would gain from a self-service experience would also allow her to better plan for the natural income volatility that occurs with her line of work, allowing her better focus on her well-being.

While movie monsters stay firmly within fiction, inaccurate payroll haunts employees long after they submit their timesheets. Are you curious how Beti®, Paycom’s award-winning, employee-driven payroll experience, is revolutionizing compensation through the ease of a single software? Say “cut” to a scene filled with paycheck-related problems and experience Beti today!


DISCLAIMER: The information provided herein does not constitute the provision of legal advice, tax advice, accounting services or professional consulting of any kind. The information provided herein should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional legal, tax, accounting or other professional advisers. Before making any decision or taking any action, you should consult a professional adviser who has been provided with all pertinent facts relevant to your particular situation and for your particular state(s) of operation.