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6 Steps to a Happier Payroll Job

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Few organizations can function without payroll professionals. And with businesses adding new jobs and hiring, payroll managers and clerks are in high demand. That’s the good news. On the flip side, job satisfaction may be elusive. People in finance and accounting experience the least happiness, according to a recent Robert Half study of 12,000 workers in the U.S. and Canada.

Drivers of workplace happiness

What makes one person ecstatic may be sheer drudgery to another. But in general, the research finds that these three factors determine whether accounting professionals experience on-the-job happiness:

  1. Feeling appreciated for the work they do
  2. Being treated with fairness and respect
  3. A sense of accomplishment from their work

Payroll specialists likely spend a lot of time entering data and other tasks that seem mundane. And when employees get upset about mistakes or withholdings that reduce the size of their paychecks, those specialists can be at the receiving end of their wrath — furthering their unhappiness.

If you’re no longer excited about your payroll position, it’s time to take steps toward greater job satisfaction. Here are some happiness tips for improving your workplace experience:

If you’re a job seeker

Make sure the role is a good fit. While no job is sunshine and roses all day long, you will experience greater job satisfaction if your responsibilities align with your skills, interests and personality. For greater workplace happiness, apply for jobs that excite you.

Scrutinize potential employers. Each organization has a unique workplace culture. Shrewd job seekers research companies before applying to see if they’d enjoy working there. During on-site interviews, gauge whether workers look content or harried. At the end of the meeting, ask questions about the corporate culture and why people enjoy working there.

If you’re already employed

Focus on career growth. Have you been in the same payroll position for a while? Lack of career mobility contributes to a sense of unhappiness. Talk to your manager about your career path and continuing education options, such as payroll certification, a college degree or professional training courses. And if you feel you aren’t being sufficiently challenged, ask for bigger projects.

Request more money. Being underpaid is unfair and makes you feel unappreciated. Check the 2018 Robert Half Salary Guide for Accounting and Finance to ensure you’re receiving competitive compensation for your job title, experience level and geographic location. If not, it’s time to ask for a raise.

Develop positive workplace relationships. The Robert Half study finds employees who get along with their coworkers are 2.5 times more likely to be happy at work. Even making small talk can help create a stronger rapport with your fellow payroll employees, which can boost your mood and increase your happiness.

Get back in balance. If you frequently work late, your work-life balance is off-kilter. Taking better care of yourself leads to greater workplace happiness. So don’t feel guilty about getting away for a long vacation. Ask your boss about flextime and telecommuting options. And if the workload becomes overwhelming, see if a temporary payroll professional can be hired to assist.

Even though many finance and accounting professionals rank themselves relatively low on the happiness scale, you don’t have to be among them. Take action now toward greater job satisfaction.


Accountemps, a Robert Half company, is the world’s first and largest specialized staffing firm for temporary accounting, finance and bookkeeping professionals. Accountemps has more than 325 locations worldwide. More resources, including job search services and the Accountemps blog, can be found at roberthalf.com/accountemps.