Making payroll is one of the most important things a company can do. Not only does it help to keep the business’ employees happy, but it helps the business to avoid major fines. Unfortunately, it can often seem like the best payroll security available online is geared towards massive businesses with huge budgets. There are, however, a few payroll security best practices that a business of any size can follow. If you have a small or mid-sized business, you can undertake a few changes to the way you deal with payroll in order to ensure that you are doing everything possible to keep this vital part of your business secure.
Payroll security best practices
When you start thinking about the best practice for payroll security, you might automatically begin picturing complicated technology and impressive-looking security devices. In truth, though, most of what you’ll be doing is very basic and ultimately very human. For most small businesses, payroll security is really just a matter of catching small mistakes and making sure that everyone in the company understands their own role in the security process. The tips below can help a company of any size to better manage its payroll and to keep its money – and the money of its employees – safe.
More eyes on the money
One of the simplest, but most important, steps a medium-size business can take to ensure payroll security is to make sure that its payroll department consists of more than a single person. The more power given to a single person over payroll, the more chances there are for mistakes – and for abuse. If your business can afford the financial burden of bringing in a second payroll employee, you can stop many potential problems before they are allowed to develop. This can be a costly, but appropriate, way to elevate payroll security without enacting any technological changes.
If your business cannot afford to hire a second payroll employee, it’s important that you put limits on the amount of power given to the sole member of the department. Someone in management should not only be made familiar with the payroll systems but should have the ability to sign off on the work of the payroll department. Payroll audits should also be done on a frequent basis to ensure that no problems occur during the tenure of the single employee. Not bringing in a second payroll employee may mean more work for management, but it’s a good way to stop fraud.
Listen to IT
If your mid-size business has an IT department, you should make it a point to involve them in the technological parts of the payroll process. While many businesses might consider these parts of the company separate, taking some time to listen to your IT professionals about security procedures might be the best way to avoid some types of security failure. Bring your IT staff in on the discussions of how the payroll technology works and listen to them when they tell you about potential security flaws in the process. You’ll have to decide what needs to be changed, but this department can give you valuable information.
It’s important to remember, though, that your IT staff is an information resource and not the last word on security. Listen and learn, but ultimately remember that you’ll only be able to take the suggestions that are reasonable for your business. If you notice further problems, always check with IT to figure out if what you’re seeing is on the tech end or if a human element is responsible. Keeping something in-house can help you to defray costs and to ultimately catch more problems.
Practice simple security
At some point, you have to step back from your payroll process and look at it through the eyes of a child. If you believe that someone from outside your business could easily spot a problem with the security of your payroll process, there’s a good chance that they have already done so. Your job is to identify these problems and to find simple ways for them to be fixed.
In most cases, this can be done by thinking about what you put on your employee’s checks. There is no need for addresses or phone numbers to be printed and there’s never a case in which printing a social security number is a good idea. This is basic security, but you’d be surprised by how rarely even big companies pay attention to the little things.
Following payroll security best practices means doing small things like keeping blank checks locked up or requiring written authorization before you make payroll changes. Again, these elements are basic but they are also quite important. If you can’t get the basics of payroll security down, there’s no way that you can expect your company to keep up with more complicated procedures.
Train your employees
Finally, it’s important to realize that ensuring payroll security best practices starts with your employees. The bulk of payroll problems don’t come from shadowy hackers or embezzling payroll employees – they come from rank-and-file employees who make basic mistakes when it comes to their information security. Take some time to train everyone in your company to recognize things like common social engineering tactics and when an e-mail is likely to contain a virus. You’ll be surprised by not only the number of problems you fix but the number of employees who didn’t understand that there were problems in the first place.
Take some time to talk about other major payroll problems while you’re doing this. Let your employees know that they can’t clock in other employees or claim time that hasn’t been worked on their time sheets. These are incredibly simple things to teach, but they’re good to reinforce from time to time. This should be part of every employee’s orientation process and should be something that is refreshed at least once a year. The more tools you give your employees to help with payroll security, the fewer problems you should ultimately have.
If you want to improve the security of your company’s payroll, you have to start with your employees. Bring in more eyes to view the payroll, talk to your IT team, keep your employees informed, and make sure to pay attention to the little things. This won’t make you invulnerable to payroll issues, but it will help you to avoid those which are avoidable. If you are ready to see how your company’s current practices stand up to scrutiny, make sure to contact PayTech for your free payroll security audit today.