The Other Green: Paperless Payroll
You can't blame most HR executives and managers for reflexively associating the word "green" with money — and payroll. But many HR leaders are also beginning to "think green" in terms of both money and protecting the environment.
Perhaps the biggest resource-wasting activity in which HR departments routinely engage is the needless generation of paper checks and advice forms. Each year, an untold number of trees are cut down simply to create payroll-related documents that are typically used once and thrown away.
While paper documents can be recycled, it requires fuel-burning, pollution-generating factories to convert waste paper into usable material. Paper documents also require the use of printing equipment that consumes expensive ink or toner, as well as cartridges that must also be recycled. Finally, the printers themselves must be either recycled or sent to a landfill after they become outdated. In all, paper documents are costly and wasteful.
A better alternative to printed documents is to use computers and the Internet to create a paperless payroll system, one that eliminates the production and distribution of payroll checks and associated documents. Besides helping the environment, a paperless payroll can reduce or eliminate the costs associated with paper forms, printers and consumables lost and/or stolen checks, and document distribution.
Analyze your current payroll system.
If your payroll process hasn't had a major overhaul in several years, switching to a paperless approach is a good time to take care of outdated processes and other shortcomings. On the other hand, if your current payroll system is up-to-date, you'll have to take steps to blend the new technology into your existing environment.
As with any other major HR technology initiative, the devil is in the details when it comes to planning a paperless payroll system. The first step is to educate senior management about the approach's business and environmental benefits. Next, you'll have to sit down with your company's payroll and IT team to work out a system blueprint and timeline.
Check your payroll data.
Most companies will have to collect additional information from their employees before launching a paperless payroll system. To arrange for direct deposits, for example, you'll have to ask employees for the names and addresses of their financial institutions as well as their checking or savings account numbers and routing information. For employees that have no financial institution affiliation (the "unbanked"), you'll need to use an alternate payment technique, such as pay-cards.
You'll also have to collect your employees' email addresses so you can electronically send them their annual W2 forms and various other payroll-related documents. You may unfortunately still have to snail mail documents to the homes of employees who have no Internet access.
Why Consider Paperless Payroll?
Paperless payroll has countless benefits, especially from an environmental and sustenance perspective.
- Paperless payroll is good for the environment as you require lesser paper and printing resources, reducing your carbon footprint and enabling the conservation of the environment.
- It is an efficient system that helps you save time otherwise spent on preparing and delivering checks, resolving problems regarding cashing checks, lost and undelivered checks, fixing, and managing fraud.
- Paperless payroll enables businesses to cut down costs of purchasing payroll resources and printing.
- Paperless payroll safeguards your business by streamlining your tax processes.
- It is easier to access your employees’ payroll data both online and via mobile devices, even after hours. Not only employers but employees can also conveniently access their payroll data, such as direct deposit information.
With paperless payroll, you can make payments on time irrespective of sudden unplanned events or holidays. Employees can rely on timely payments and plan accordingly.
Typically, paperless payroll services offer digital storage of records and offer easy access to them.
Find the right fit.
Few businesses have the internal expertise needed to implement a paperless payroll system. Fortunately, spotting a budding trend, the number of paperless payroll service providers is growing rapidly. But before you commit to any particular provider, check to see that the company offers competitive pricing, has experience with businesses in your field and supports the features you need, such as:
- Payroll processing
- Time/attendance tracking
- Employee invoice and timesheet submission
- Direct deposit/paycards
- Tax forms and filing
Standard Services Offered by Payroll Software Companies
- Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) allows you to transfer salaries without the need for physical checks, as long as you have the required bank details of your employees.
- Electronic Payroll Records enable you to avoid wasting paper and save your office from the mess of paper records. However, the Fair Labor Standards Act requires businesses to keep all payroll records for a minimum of three years.
- Employee Self-service (ESS) models enable employees to check-in and out of work digitally and also access employee handbooks, benefit options, and company history online. This way attendance data is accurate as well.
If your organization is considering switching to paperless payroll, then here is a payroll software list featuring the top payroll software solutions for 2022:
- ADP Workforce Now
- EPAY Systems
- QuickBooks Payroll
- Sage 50Cloud
- Vibe HCM
Those in search of payroll software for large companies can find a decent fit from the above-mentioned list of payroll software.
Get ready to deploy.
There's no sugarcoating the fact that implementing a paperless payroll system is a major project, one that's fraught with pitfalls. You and your service provider will need to carefully test the system for gaps and bugs before taking it live. To limit any potential startup damage, it's best, to begin with, a trial deployment covering only a small group of employees before applying the new system to the entire workforce.
Once the system is up and running, encourage employees to offer their opinions about the process as well as any suggestions they may have for improvements. Most employees with negative opinions won't hesitate to let you know what they think, but to get a full picture of the system's impact, you'll also want to know what you're doing right.