Advice on employing and managing people

8 tips for managing your small business payroll

27 April 2015

Is payroll driving you mad? Payroll is typically the number one concern for many small business owners worried about getting it right. But it needn’t be difficult – here are our 8 top tips to make payroll easier.

1Know your big deadlines

"Dealing with accounting deadlines and employee returns is much less stressful when you know what you need to action well in advance,” advises Rachel Parkin, creative director at the Balagan Group and a Sage Business Expert.

Make sure you have a good system in place that alerts you to important dates and if you need to do anything. Working ahead gives you time to sort out any blips or problems.

2Invest in a payroll software

Payroll systems such as Sage Instant Payroll or Sage One Payroll will automate the whole process for you, taking care of things like NI and tax calculations, generating payslips for employees, keeping up with legislation and providing information for end of year tax returns.

3Get good support for your payroll software

If you use a software or online package, and a technical glitch is preventing staff from being paid, you’ll want help at hand to save stress and embarrassment.

Always check that online or telephone support is part of the deal and easily available.

4Be a stickler for detail 

Take time to set up your employee details correctly on your payroll system, such as start dates, up to date addresses, and dates of birth and so on. Sloppy mistakes will only lead to problems down the line.

5Keep up with payroll legislation

Changes in regulation may affect how you need to run your payroll, so it pays to keep abreast of major new laws.

Benefits and tax change frequently and while you don’t necessarily need to know all the details, it’s worth staying informed and getting advice when you're not sure.

Visit for a comprehensive guide to employment, or the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development.

6Invest in payroll software training

If you use payroll software, taking a short training course could help you save time and be more efficient.

Sage runs flexible training, including online courses aimed at helping you get the most out of your payroll system.

7Have a financial back-up plan

Keeping on top of payments is crucial in any growing business.

Setting up a good credit control system, sending out invoices promptly and always chasing late payments firmly as soon as they become due will help avoid cash flow disruption.

If one of your customers doesn't pay on time and you can’t pay your staff, your business could be in trouble. Always try to keep some surplus cash for a rainy day.

8And if all else fails…Payroll outsourcing

If managing payroll yourself is proving a real headache, consider outsourcing to a payroll company. They're experts at what they do, and can save you the hassle of managing everything yourself and staying on top of regulations and paperwork.

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