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Qualities of a Good Payroll Employee

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The goal of payroll is to ensure that employees are paid correctly and timely. Consequently, employers hire payroll professionals. Payroll processing is an intricate task, operating under crucial time constraints. Employers like to know that the ideal employee is handling payroll.

Mathematical Abilities

A good payroll employee has solid mathematical capabilities. This trait is necessary because payroll involves the calculations of employees’ wages and taxes. Furthermore, the payroll employee has to ensure that the employer’s taxes are deducted and employees’ benefits (e.g. vacation days) and voluntary deductions (e.g. retirement plan) are accurately computed. Without good mathematical skills, the payroll person is apt to make an abundance of errors, which can lead to incorrect paychecks and tax issues.

Analytical Skills

The payroll professional should have above-average problem-solving and analytical skills. Regardless of whether an error is the result of the payroll person, supervisor, employee or a system glitch, the payroll person must have keen analytical skills to understand the problem and solve it quickly. If complex tax errors arise, the payroll employee must be knowledgeable enough to work with the accounting department to fix them.


The payroll employee with experience is often well sought after. If you have at least five years payroll experience, particularly with one company, employers will view you as dependable and knowledgeable. If you are new to the payroll field, for an employer to be willing to train you, your other skills and attributes must be top-notch.

Software Knowledge

Most companies use payroll software to simplify payroll processing. There are many types of software available, so the more you know, the more beneficial you are to an employer. For example, if you know ADP, Quickbooks and Ultipro, you will most likely stand out more than the individual with only ADP experience. A good payroll employee is willing to learn as many types of payroll software as possible.

Honesty and Confidentiality

The payroll professional must be trustworthy and able to keep information confidential. Payroll includes handling employees' personal information (e.g. bank accounts) and having access to the company’s funds. A good payroll employee remains honest, never indulging in embezzlement or theft. She understands that revealing employees’ payroll information, such as pay rate and garnishments, is a violation of trust and is unfair to all employees.

Client/Employee Service

An efficient payroll employee is always courteous to clients and other employees. She must be even-tempered, particularly when employees are upset about payroll matters. She needs to be patient, understanding and always willing to help those who require her services.


Grace Ferguson has been writing professionally since 2009. With 10 years of experience in employee benefits and payroll administration, Ferguson has written extensively on topics relating to employment and finance. A research writer as well, she has been published in The Sage Encyclopedia and Mission Bell Media.

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