How to manage payroll in a crisis
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, companies across the tourism sector have had to contend with the problem of how to manage payroll in an environment where revenues have collapsed as visitors are unable to travel and physical distancing has forced visitor attractions to close for an indefinite period. But you do have options, even if you may have to think more carefully than you usually do about how to keep staff paid.
Use government subsidies and ask employees to take vacation now, redistributing workload through voluntary hours reduction.
Consider loans, potentially accessing interest-free loans from the Canadian Emergency Business Account, while you pivot to new revenue-generating activity.
Manage costs, cutting executive pay or moving to 4 day a work week.
Improve payroll systems, potentially putting better payroll software in place rather than using cheques and Excel spreadsheets to allow you to focus more time on boosting business.
Debate layoffs but look at ways of helping staff – consider paying all laid off staff extra two weeks’ pay, talk to staff to understand their preferences, encourage employees to apply for available government benefits, then seek legal counsel to determine appropriate severance for terminated employees.
Managing efficient payroll in unstable times
Paying employees consistently and without delay is even more important to keep staff morale up during a crisis. There are a number of examples of good practice that are even more important for you to follow during unstable times when normal workflows and practices may be disrupted and employees need to be kept operational, upbeat and motivated.
Ensure your business continuity plan is up to date and covers payroll, with payroll processing guidance notes made available for all members of payroll team.
Prepare your payroll workload as early in the month as possible, reducing data processing within the busiest period; consider preparing a ‘ready to go’ data file based on the last payroll run as part of your contingency plan.
Hold daily update meetings to determine workloads due to come in, assigning team members to each piece of work.
Communicate to the wider business what is required of them, ensuring expense and overtime data is submitted before deadlines to minimize pay day questions.
Stay calm and focused, following a plan that is constantly reviewed by the team.