A Day in the Life of a Payroll Professional: Cheri Greene

What does an HR person do all day? Every HR professional knows there’s no such thing as a “typical” day at work. In our Day in the Life series, we speak with pros from a variety of cities and industries to get a snapshot of their work lives.

Title: Accounting Specialist

Company: CarePayment

Location: Nashville, TN

Industry: Medical Debt Management

Number of Employees: 95

Accounting Team Size: 3

Years of Experience: 3 months

College Major: Accounting

Favorite part of Accounting: “Every day brings a new challenge and opportunity to learn. I love getting to know people on the team. The bulk of our employees are in our Oregon location so haven’t had the chance to meet everyone in person, but I love learning more about them when they reach out for help.”

Cheri Greene is self-confessed “later-in-life career changer.” After running her own dog grooming business for 13 years—where she did all of her own bookkeeping—she went back to school to get an Associate’s degree for Applied Science in Accounting and her bookkeeping certification. While studying, she worked on an accounting team for two years, where she prepared and processed invoices. Once she got her certification, she was hired as an Accounting Specialist with CarePayment.

In her new role, Cheri works closely with the HR department to process the company’s payroll. Each pay cycle comes with a unique set of challenges, but Cheri isn’t afraid to jump in with both feet. Here she gives us a look at a typical day in the life of an Accounting Specialist:

7:30 a.m.: I typically get started between 7:30 and 8:30 a.m., depending on whether or not I’m working from home. The first thing I do is check my three email inboxes—personal, payroll, and accounts payable. I see if there is anything urgent that needs to be prioritized, and if not I start with my payroll inbox.

8:00 a.m.:  As I go through my email, I’m constantly adding to my “payroll tracker,” which is a spreadsheet that I use to keep track of any important changes pertaining to the upcoming pay cycle. Today, someone wanted to make a change to their 401(k), so I made the update, but also noted it in my payroll tracker to make sure I double-check it when I go to process payroll.

9:00 a.m.: After I add specific employee changes to my payroll tracker, I update it with any additional income that employees are set to receive in their next paycheck. For example, recently started an incentive program that offers them monetary rewards for goals achieved in customer satisfaction and cost efficiency.

Thankfully, the manager sent me a very well-organized file for the employees who qualified this month for the new program. He made it easy for me to copy and paste the names and amounts into my tracker, so when I process payroll I can just check them off the list.

11:00 a.m.: I often get emails from employees with payroll questions. Sometimes employees don’t receive their direct deposit, so I work with closely with our HR team to make sure the employee’s account number is accurate. I’m constantly communicating over Skype and email to answer any questions that come up and get them resolved.

12:00 p.m.: I resurface from my inbox and tracker around noon to take a much needed lunch break.

1:00 p.m.: Time to process payroll! I like to get a head start on this because you never know what issues might come up (or how long they’ll take to resolve). My first payroll took me a day and a half, but as I gain experience, I’ve been able to complete them in 2-3 hours. First, I double-check my payroll email inbox to make sure everything is on the tracker. I then move any notes for that pay cycle into a folder specifically for that payroll date.

CarePayment has a mix of hourly and salaried employees. Commissions, bonuses, incentives, and pay raises must be entered for both salary and hourly employees. When it comes to final checks, PTO, hours worked, and salary due must be calculated for each individual. Every payroll process is a little different depending on what factors need to be taken into account that week.

2:00p.m.: After making sure I have everything I need, I open up the submitted employee timesheets and do a very cursory scan to make sure that everyone seems to have entered all of their hours. We’re on a semimonthly pay cycle, so if a pay period has 11 days, for example, I check to make sure everyone has reported about 88 hours worked. I want to make sure there aren’t any double entries for holidays or gaps where employees forgot to enter their PTO on the timesheet. These are frequent errors, so I always double-check.

3:30 p.m.: Once I’m sure everything is in good shape, I check that managers have approved all reported hours and then lock the timesheets for processing. At this stage, I run payroll, making sure that all changes have been recorded, like an employee recently leaving or being promoted.

5:00 p.m.: Once everything is in tip top shape, I submit the payroll and head home for the day!

Stay tuned for more in our Day in the Life series, where we showcase the minute-by-minute responsibilities of real HR professionals.

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