Supporting Payroll Workers During LockdownA recent internal study at Paycheck Plus revealed that the core underlying needs of payrollers is security and safety and that when these needs come under threat, their behaviours switch to “defend and define” whereby they become protective, somewhat defensive about themselves, their family and friends and their ideas and beliefs about external threats.

This short article will consider what payroll leaders can do to support their virtual workforce as they steer their way through wage subsidy and furlough schemes, relentless deadlines, lone working, home schooling and deficient broadband connectivity.

With the onset of Covid-19, the payroll function has been unprecedently pushed into the spotlight at a pace of change that has been overwhelming. Before this, payroll was taken for granted – considered a back-office function. As we continue to navigate our way through various levels of Covid-19 lockdowns, payroll leaders need to remain alert to their team’s needs and expectations particularly their emotional and mental well-being, morale and motivation.

It is not yet known what the economic, health, societal and environmental impact of Covid-19 will be, only that the disruption caused by the pandemic is devastating. Bearing in mind that the payroll community thrive on structure, standard operating processes and procedures, team-collaboration and ongoing support, the steps outlined below should provide some guidance on supporting our essentials workers during lockdown.

- Check in with Payroll Managers

Managing a payroll team onsite is vastly different to managing a virtual payroll team. Open up communications with payroll managers to ensure they have the technological, social and psychological supports and training they need to enable them to manage their teams

- Celebrate the occasions

Pay attention to what your team are doing, personally and professionally and recognise their accomplishments in a timely manner. It doesn’t have to be a grand spectacle, simply signing a virtual card, giving them a call or sending a care package will let your team know you “see” them - boosting morale, engagement and motivation.

- Coaching and Mentoring

Never before has it been more important to create a safe, psychological space for team members to reach out if they are going through a difficult time. Payrollers are typically considered introverts so it is imperative a coaching and mentoring environment is fostered for those days and weeks that seem to be crawling by.

- Conflict Resolution

Without the luxury of proximity to work through potential client and peer conflict, seek commitment that issues won’t fester and agree upon a virtual process for conflict resolution appointing an escalation team where necessary.

- Cultivate Trust and Intimacy

In the absence of face-to-face and “water cooler” conversations, establish and contract with your team how you will communicate – how often, what medium will be used. Create a daily huddle for all team members to check in with each other or perhaps a group coffee break on a Friday afternoon before the weekend. Payroll deadlines offer little room for casual chats, so consider introducing some form of informality to help people relax and connect at a deeper level.

- Expect the unexpected

With the vaccination rollout programme underway, it is expected this current pandemic will resolve itself in the near future, but we can be assured it’s not the last time that we will be exposed to unforeseen events. Therefore build some time into your schedule to consider “what if” scenarios to ensure you have factored in contingency in terms of payroll service continuity.

- Keep Technology Simple

Regularly ensure that all team members have the required access to perform their roles and that it is a straightforward process to log on to virtual servers. Implement clear escalation procedures in the event a team member is having IT issues.

- Lead by Example

Use the same tools as your payroll team ensuring limited exceptions. Maintain presence in spite of being remote – be accessible and available to your payroll managers and payroll team, actively listen to their concerns. Considering the needs of a payroller, adopt a BAU stance but be honest with your team about any potential concerns.

- Roles and Responsibilities

With the transition to remote working, perhaps roles have been modified in some way. Re-define those with your payroll team so that there are clear expectations around deliverables mitigating any role ambiguity.

Virtual working with dispersed teams is likely here to stay, so finding ways to work effectively while channelling the collective energy of payroll teams is critical to individual, team and organisational success.

By Morgan Campbell of Paycheck Plus.