Would You Run Payroll For $160000 A Year?

I attended a panel discussion on the future of work today, and an interesting anecdote emerged. One consultant specialising in payroll said she had been contacted by a building company in Queensland which was offering a job managing its payroll at $160,000 a year (plus super and benefits), but hadn't got any takers. Is payroll such an utterly hideous job that no-one would do it for that kind of money?

Picture by Kheel Centre, Cornell University

Obviously, salary alone doesn't tell the whole story here. Presumably this job required a certain level of payroll experience; we don't know if the job was in a terrible location or the boss was a psycho; and we don't know the conditions associated. As the consultant pointed out, managing payroll in a rapidly growing business with timesheet-based workers where turnover exceeds 100 per cent is a lot harder than in a business with a stable workforce where everyone is on a monthly salary. And payroll isn't a job that lends itself to flexible hours particularly; if you don't get paid at a fixed time, chances are you will complain.

Is there any way payroll can be made more sexy as a career? Craig Osborne, Australian managing director for Sage MicrOpay, suggested that making the job less administrative might help. "The role has to evolve to start being more meaningful. It has to be more than just payroll. For a lot people, the mundane tasks are not appealing. You need to put a lot of technology in it." That all makes sense, but at the end of the day someone has to make sure the time sheet data is accurate.

Nonetheless, I'm wondering: would you be happy managing payroll for that sum, or would you prefer a more "meaningful" job? Tell us in the comments.


    i thought this was mostly automated.i thought this roll died out years ago

      I used to work for a very large (5000+ employees) government organisation... timesheets were still done BY HAND, overtime and penalties were a daily occurance (so each time sheet was fairly complicated) and - naturally - mistakes were aplenty. The payroll team was made up of I think 5 people? The fortnightly phone call of "Hi, I've noticed an error was made in my pay this week" was qued with hundreds of others.

      I was with them 3 years until last year, the system was never updated from hand written forms.

        ofcourse they didn't change it. This is their way of creating jobs. however meaningless

    My advice: outsource it.

    To do payroll you need to be able to handle a lot of responsibility and stress, be incredibly detail-oriented, and stay focused doing repetitive tasks over a long period. You need to know a lot about tax and superannuation so you can tell when things aren't adding up right. People like that aren't too common.

    Payroll outsourcing companies already have all the software, staff, and knowledge. You don't have somebody within your company you can blame when things go wrong, but you should get more accuracy for less money.

    Disclaimer: I know some software/payroll people at a local payroll outsourcing company. I could not do their jobs.

    I'm in. where's the job?

    For that coin, I would say it is more about managing HR than managing payroll.

    Either that or it is for an industry/area where there are some PITA awards and penalty rates etc where you've got to be half psychic to get it right.

      +1 re management.

      I actually think this would make the job easier, although you would be ultimately responsible if anyone in your team stuffed something up (just like any manager). Managing the team that does payroll sounds heaps easier than being a pleb in the team that processes payroll. I'd do the job for that price + super

    I make software which does payroll all automatically specifically for building companies. It's so damn easy! $160k/year? Wut?

      Well poedgirl, unless you work for the one company in Australia that makes a perfect, working payroll system that strangely no-one has heard about then nothing is automated. Even if the system works and a payroll person isn't fixing the mistakes of your automated system there are still many, many non-automated tasks that need doing. There is entering data in the system, making sure people are on the right awards, talking to staff members who come to you and say "I want to salary sacrifice this abacus while working 3.67 days a week and can you make sure I don't go over tax threshold x while blah blah blah". It is an ever changing, high stress, high workload job where no-one even knows you're there when things go right (which takes a lot of work) but suddenly accuse you of being responsible for third world famine when things go wrong.

    I'd pick up crap with my bare hands for 160k /year

    I'm just not motivated by money. the prospect of doing a high-stress job with very little satisfaction doesn't appeal to me at all.

    Yeah just automate it....

    Ask Queensland Health how that went....

      mate, a student friend of mine on centrelink was paid twice as much as me during that fiasco, i was just another voice in the crowd when they didn't pay me each fortnight, i'd work a week and get part of a days wage. lived off staples, fell behind in rent, whilst working 4 days a week.

    If I thought I could handle the job then 160K would be pretty enticing.

    You gotta wonder though just how big the job is if it's more economical for them to pay 160k for someone to manage payroll in-house instead of out-sourcing.

    I would NOT do it for a million dollars a year. My pay is constantly wrong and I feel mean every time i ring the payroll team. There is no one person to blame and the stress just at my end is massive. I feel like i have to claw and fight just for my money. I've thought many times, I dont envy that job for anything in the world.

    As a former payroll officer (now resident IT dude) for a rapidly expanding company, I must say yes, it's an horrendous job. Hand-filled timesheets from 350 employees each week is far too much stress for one person. I loathe to think of the poor sods that perform the role with more pays to worry about.

    I'm sure automation and streamlining of the procedures would help some, and that's certainly an attractive pricetag. But there's no way I'd be caught dead going back to that job. I love where I'm at, and what I'm doing.

    Queensland health payroll employees have had rocks thrown at their houses and persons due to the mass fuckups with their payroll solution. That automation project went spectacularly. I turned down a tech role with them a while back, at about $700 a day as a tech contractor because money isn't worth that kind of hassle.

    Payroll System Admin for about 15000 Employees with about 15 in the payroll team, process goes similar to this:
    -Employees at site complete paper timesheets (even though we have electronic availible which I have been harping on about for years)
    -Site Mgr submits those times into software
    -Payroll Team process and pay
    -Payslips go live through online portal

    We don't really handle any paper timesheets and any errors fall back to site for not entering correctly.

    Have working in payroll admin and consulting I have yet to see a one product meets all solutions perfectly. What we use is great sure but it is still not perfect.

    It can be a really unforgiving line of work however that is usually comes down to company practices for all we know this company could still be calculating everything by hand and depositing the cash into their banks.

    I don't think it is as simple as $160k a year to manage it's payroll - there must be some other responsibilities included in that (such as HR) or the company must be massive.

    Have worked in construction for years and the biggest area for major drama on site is screwing up someone's pay. I have great respect for payroll officers who do their job well, because fixing up mistakes is a massive headache.

    I'd probably give it a miss...

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