There is a lot you don’t see... Most of the blogs and information you will have read are all about what happens in the 'front office' or the public face of a recruitment company. However, there is a whole other world of work that goes on behind the scenes, which you never see and which you maybe only occasionally come into contact with. I am referring to people2people's invaluable accounting and administration team.
They are the people who process your weekly temp payroll (sounds so easy when you write it like that, doesn’t it?!), pay your super, your PAYG and all the other sundry insurances and tax obligations. The image of the duck swimming smoothly on the surface while paddling furiously underwater pretty much sums it up.
In addition to over 300 temps paid each week, the people2people payroll and accounts team are also responsible for processing a separate group of clients who outsource their payrolls to people2people on a weekly, fortnightly and monthly basis. With the complexity and constantly changing statutory requirements affecting payroll processing, outsourcing an entire payroll function is becoming more popular and more commercially astute. It also makes the 'back office' of people2people a very busy place indeed! Nothing hits the nerve (particularly the hip pocket variety) more than not being paid correctly, on time or at all! No one ever rings a payroll team to tell them what a great job they are doing if all is running smoothly.
You only get the phone calls when something has gone wrong, very wrong. And a lot can – and does – go wrong, but in nearly every instance, you would never know that a disaster was averted – and only just. Tuesday is our main payroll day for our temps. Christmas Eve 2013 was on a Tuesday, and therefore, timesheets and their authorisation were kept to our usual schedule. We figured there was already enough disruption for people to cope with at this very busy time of the year, so changing around the payroll payment schedule was one less distraction. Everything was tracking very well. It was 3.00pm, Christmas Eve, and the Christmas/New Year break was tantalisingly close. Our half dozen or so payrolls had been processed and paid, and there was only the main temp payroll of over 260 people for that week to be completed.
And then it happened... the payroll system, for no reason whatsoever, CRASHED. Yep, you read that correctly. At 3.00pm, on Christmas Eve, the day prior to two public holidays, we were looking at having to contact over 260 people to tell them personally that they would not have their money for Christmas! Of course, the consultants (and I) did what we do best: we panicked. But not Amit and Grant in the payroll team!
They were calm and methodical and knew what had to be done. The software had to go through an optimisation, or, in other words, be cleaned up and purged. Sounds simple? It took 2 hours and 51 minutes. So at 5.51pm on Christmas Eve, with the bank cut off looming for 6.00pm, the payroll went through, without a hitch! Not one person had left to start their Christmas break, no one left to be with their family and friends; everyone stayed until it was absolutely confirmed that all of our temps had been paid. And no one who wasn't in our office that afternoon knew anything about it.