Professional December 2017/January 2018

Confessions of a payroll manager – It’s Chriiiiistmaaaaaas!

Another episode in a series of occasional yet insightful / inciteful, anonymous and whimsical reports revealing the arcane, weird and sometimes torturous world of payroll frequented by payroll professionals. T here are so many times in payroll where I wish I had access to a real Delorean-style time machine. Not to go far back or forward but to stretch and elongate time a bit. In payroll, there are never enough hours in the day in a regular month but come December it’s like all the hours are minutes speeding at dizzying velocity. So – as you can imagine – the sight of advent calendars in the queue at Freshcos or the switch from mindless, droning muzak to endless repeats of decades’ old Christmas songs in the local shops doesn’t exactly fill me with festive joy. While everyone else screams “It’s Chriiiiiiistmaaaaaaas!” in poor impressions of Noddy Holder, I can only watch and sigh as all my well-planned beautifully structured processes fly out the window. Bank holidays every other day (or so it feels) and suddenly I’m trying to fit a month’s worth of processing into what seems like six days. The payroll team and I have therefore deemed this month (which actually starts in mid-November) as ‘Christmas Chaos’. As Tom had been such a solid, calm member of the team this year (and hadn’t yet been through a Crumbitt’s Christmas so had no idea what was coming) I ‘gifted’ him the privilege of helping me work out a special festive timetable of deadlines – real and imagined. The fool – I mean, lovely, generous man – accepted the challenge

with gusto and set about creating the first draft which unfortunately made little sense as he’d added an entire non-existent week. (I blame the new eggnog cream crunchies which the payroll team were devouring with alarming ferocity.) When I explained that this was a time when the team had to really stretch themselves and probably work over a weekend to ensure staff were paid on time, Tom nodded sagely and within minutes had re-jigged the calendar into a flawless (albeit demanding) plan. Tom made a good point when questioning why banks couldn’t process BACS payments on bank holidays, as surely with modern technology it didn’t really need humans running around like little elves to process the files. I struggled to answer and ended murmuring something lame (and slightly crackers) about even robots need to do their Christmas shopping at some point. Anyway, we shared the ‘festive’ calendar with the factory amid the usual grumbles I’ve heard year in year out. Team leaders tutting loudly about needing to get timesheets in quickly; and the real Scrooges of the factory blaming the entire institution of Christmas for the fact they couldn’t come to work for nearly two weeks. They rolled their eyes and carried on picking misshapen doo-dads from a conveyer belt of Crumbitt’s Christmas Cracklins while grumbling about ‘liberties’ and ‘not in my day’. The crunch point for our team came a few days ago – the weekend before Christmas – and I had to pull out all the stops to ensure my usually happy team remained as cheerful as possible. In return for working on the Saturday I promised

festive treats. Before they arrived, I set up a table of Christmas nibbles (not just biscuits as we’d all gone overboard on various Crumbitt’s Christmas specials and were heartily sick of all things cookie), decorated the office with some retro decorations I’d found at the back of the storage cupboard – and which would definitely have been classed as ‘revolting junk’ a few years ago but, hey ho, everything comes back around, right? – and made sure Radio ‘Yes it Really Is Christmas’ FM was playing at a reasonable singing along volume. I’m glad I put in the effort because the atmosphere that day was rather special. Most of the team came in their Christmas jumpers, nearly all sang along happily to carols and pop classics and the food went down a storm. Before long we had all the processing done and I let them all go home. As ever I was the last to leave as I like time to reflect. Inevitably I think about how lucky I am to have such a great team and how fortunate the other employees are that their payroll colleagues are so committed to their jobs. Because of the payroll team Crumbitt’s employees will be paid in plenty of time for Christmas and will be able to get that little extra something for a loved one when they go shopping. Which is where I’m going now. Well, after I’ve written a letter to the bank asking why the computers need Christmas off. n 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 | December 2017/January 2018 | Issue 36 52

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