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Payroll Professionals - America's Lifeblood

Payroll professionals are responsible for the lifeblood of America’s workers—their paychecks. In addition to withholding for child support payments, Social Security, health insurance premiums, and retirement plans, payroll professionals—to put it plainly—put money in people’s pockets every payday. Whether it’s cash in an envelope, an electronic deposit, or a paycheck, this is where the buck stops, or from a worker’s perspective, where it begins. America’s workers rely on and trust the nation’s payroll system and the people who administer it. In addition to paying workers accurately and on time, these men and women work tirelessly to maintain compliance with ever-changing federal, state, and local regulations, helping their employers avoid costly penalties.

National Payroll Week (NPW), established by the American Payroll Association in 1996, was created to increase awareness of the payroll and payroll accounting processes. NPW provides a focal point to build awareness of how processes are changing and becoming more cost-effective and efficient. Automation, employee self-service, and advances in systems technology are significantly changing payroll. Today’s payroll professionals are leading the way in discovering new ways to save money and increase efficiency.

In 2003, the American Payroll Association, in partnership with BearingPoint, conducted a benchmarking study to compare payroll processes and observe trends. Among the findings from companies with average payrolls of 21,086 employees:
  • The study showed a continued improvement in the efficiency of the payroll professional’s work. For 2003, the median company’s full time equivalent (FTE) payroll employee paid 1,405 employees, a 60% increase since the 2000 study. When looking at the number of payments processed in a year, the payroll professional continues to shine. In 2003, the mean number of payments processed rose from the 2000 total of 25,212 to the 2003 figure of 35,690—a full 42% increase in three years.
  • The median cost to produce a check for one employee is $3.16 compared to the 2002 figure of $2.64. The study showed that larger organizations generally showed a decreasing cost per payment. Economies of scale seen in companies with more than 100,000 employees were a major factor in the per payment increase between the 2002 and 2003 studies.
  • Participating companies continue to focus on reducing costs in time collection, filing, check creation, and direct deposit. Direct deposit continues to be one of the lowest cost areas in the payroll operation, while the customer service process is the highest.
  • The study shows that payroll professionals continue to excel in error rate reduction. The median error rate dropped to 0.43% in 2003 from the 0.86% rate of 2000.
  • An increasing number of payroll departments are reporting to shared services, according to the study’s findings. For example, in 2000 almost two-thirds of participants reported to the finance department; in 2003, slightly less than 40% reported to finance. Payroll departments reporting to human resources (HR) are little changed from 2000 when 27% reported to HR; 23% reported to HR in 2003.


Founded by the American Payroll Association.
The American Payroll Association is the professional society for Payroll Professionals.

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