Driven by Data

Best Practices for Payroll – Part 2

As we prepare for an unusual start to the school year, we are striving to make staff feel like valued members of our communities. One element towards that is having routine operations running smoothly so that attention can be focused on the students and their learning experience. Payroll is a predictable element of running a school that, if done well, is hardly thought about by staff – except maybe on pay day! Payroll mistakes, however, can be upsetting, stressful, and take up a lot of administrative time and energy to rectify. This is the second in a series with tips on how to process an error-free payroll based on our extensive payroll experiences with schools. We hope these will be helpful in increasing the accuracy of your payroll.   


Payroll Documentation and Communication

Payroll documentation and communication is extremely important, especially if you are using a third party to process payrolls. A good process can help to avoid errors due to a rushed payroll. Here are some useful tips based on our experience:

  • Create a payroll calendar with important deadlines at the beginning of each fiscal year. 
    • Include pay period dates, paycheck dates, and payroll approval + processing deadlines. (Many payroll platforms include a customizable pay calendar in the system already.)

  • Establish a system to communicate payroll changes with relevant staff
    • Keep changes/notes in one place (e.g., Google Sheets) and make sure no change is made after the internal deadline. Ensure that all information is captured in this document before processing payroll.
    • Work with those who will be involved in the payroll process to set internal deadlines for providing payroll change notes, then set reminders on their individual calendars.
    • If needed, schedule payroll calls with this team to review the payroll notes. This helps to clarify any potential misunderstandings and certain calculations.
    • Review the “payroll preview” reports against the payroll notes to double-check for accuracy. Only after this is done is the payroll processed.

Previous posts in this series:

Time & Attendance Approval

[This series contributed by Zoe Chen, Senior Finance Analyst; Sarah Guthrie, Senior Finance Analyst; Jenny Huang, Finance Lead; Vika Jordan, Senior Finance Analyst;  and Brian Wolcott, Senior Finance Analyst .]