Confessions of a payroll manager “And now, the news”
Another anonymous episode revealing the world of payroll featuring payroll avatar, Penelope Fortham (‘Penny’), who is payroll manager at the nation’s favourite biscuit makers Crumbitt’s Confections. A few years ago, after an hour of keeping my cool on a call to HMRC, I was informed I had ‘a Radio 4’ voice. I soon forgot the compliment but remembered it a couple of weeks ago when my dulcet tones were unexpectedly called upon for a brand-new payroll initiative. In a weekly team meeting, Tom brought up the significant increase in queries coming into the department. No matter how ‘funky’ the newsletter, or how often we sent staff email updates, the information wasn’t cutting through. We were being inundated with questions around home working allowances, sickness pay and annual leave accrual. As suggestions for new ways of communicating were flung around, one idea really took hold – a payroll podcast! It was Billie and Jace’s suggestion based on the parenting podcasts they’d listened to during lockdown. Apparently, it was an easier way of learning new things. Billie suggested that short, sharp news updates could be recorded, like a bulletin, which could be hosted on the web, readily available for employees to listen to any time. We’d have a better idea of engagement too, as we could record and analyse listener stats. I confess to feeling a bit old as the younger members of the team started discussing various podcasts, web analytics and social media channels. Jace shared an article he’d seen on a blog explaining that
generation Z want to access information when and how they want, so it could be a positive addition for staff who don’t read the staff newsletters. We settled on a monthly podcast. Willing members of the team – and I stress ‘willing’ because Evie nearly hyperventilated at the thought of being recorded – would read a variety of payroll-related updates and include any relevant articles from the CIPP or HMRC. The couch in the main reception out of hours was the perfect place to record – and it would feel a little like being on the One Show . I confess, after the Radio-4-voice comment back in 2018, I’d started imagining myself as a bit of a TV newsreader. I remembered as a child, walking around the playground with a hairbrush as a microphone interviewing dinner ladies about the most recent first aid incident (usually Jeremy Dingle puking up jelly snakes). Tom, Evie, and I drafted a script for the first bulletin and Stevie produced theme music to start and end the recording. I should’ve known given his penchant for Strictly Come Dancing that the tune would have a tango feel, but thankfully Jace was able to transform it into something really catchy (and not at all ‘ballroom’). Script ready, recording equipment set up, presenters sound checked, the factory emptied of everyone but the payroll podcast team, we were ready to record. It took longer than any of us anticipated, but that was mainly due to several inexplicable bouts of giggling that only got worse as we tried to hold them in. Thankfully, even we have a limit on how much laughter we can take;
so, we started to concentrate and record the show properly. Tony and Tom covered new benefits, sounding more than a little like QVC as they discussed new bikes available in the cycle to work scheme. Billie recorded a piece about staff discounts on takeaway meals and groceries, which turned into an impromptu cookery class as she provided a recipe for ‘toddler tagliatelle’. I was honoured to wrap up the bulletin with an interview with a colleague who had recently joined the pension scheme, as they talked about saving to cruise the world in retirement. It took all my strength not to shove a hairbrush in front of them and turn it into a full-blown travel show. And that was a wrap! Since the first payroll podcast was added to the new payroll web channel a week ago, we’ve been glued to the analytics watching the number of hits gradually increasing. Approximately 70% of staff listened to the podcast, but I think I probably accounted for at least ten of those. We’ve absolutely loved making the podcast and it’s given me back that creative spark that I’d been missing for the last few months. Sometimes we all need a spark of innovation from a colleague to inspire us to explore something new. Let’s hope there will be many podcasts to follow – indeed, the team have already started planning for the Christmas special! o The Editor: Any resemblance to any payroll manager or professional alive or dead, or any payroll department or organisation whether apparently or actually portrayed in this article is simply fortuitous.
| Professional in Payroll, Pensions and Reward | September 2021 | Issue 73 48
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