It’s Payroll Day- A Day In The Life of an Accountant

By PRETTY BOOKS ON October 1, 2020
DAY IN THE LIFE is a snapshot of the life of an accountant, taken one day at a time. If you ask an accountant what they do, they will probably tell you “it depends on the day.” Because an accountant’s scope of responsibilities is vast and integrated into the decision making and operations of a business, it frequently shifts depending on the time of month, day of the year, and the needs of their clients. While you can’t pinpoint a typical day for an accountant, there are some days that pay out similarly throughout the year.

Today is payroll day. It is the day accountants clean up employee timecards, get in touch with managers to verify that hours are correct, check paid time off, and submit payroll. While payroll day is not usually too complicated, it can be nerve wracking knowing you’re the one in charge of making sure people receive the correct paychecks on time.

6:30 AM: Wake up and immediately make coffee. It’s an early morning. I like to be in the office by 7:45 AM on payroll days so I can send an email out to managers at 8:00 AM sharp.

7:45 AM: Arrive at the office. Make another coffee because I only drank half of mine this morning.

8:00 AM: Open the expertly written email draft I wrote last night. “Hi everyone, I hope you had a good weekend. It’s time to run payroll. Please review all employee hours and let me know if everything is correct by noon. Any adjustments made after that time will have to be processed through off-cycle payroll. Thank you, and have a great day!” *Send*. And now we wait.

8:01 AM: Check my email. Surprisingly, I only received a few emails over the weekend, and they were all for my clients. I usually get a few emails that should go to them, so I start to click through to make sure they’re not accounting related before I forward them.

8:03 AM: Uh-oh. This email said they received a package Saturday at their building’s front door. Should I forward it? It’s 8:00 AM on Monday; they’re in the office. They probably already picked it up. *move to trash*

8:20 AM: All done with emails. Time to move on to another task due today, paying their rent, while I wait for payroll confirmations. I visit the online rent portal website and type in the client’s email address and password. Error: wrong email address. Interesting. Try another email address. Error: Wrong email address. Weird. I try another, then another, and soon I’m trying the CEO’s email address and each individual manager’s. They must have changed the email address again and forgot to let me know.

8:25 AM: Write email to the property management company: “Hello again Jim, I hope you’re having a good Monday. I am trying to get into my client’s account again to pay rent and can’t seem to be able to access it. Could you look into it and let me know what’s going on? Thank you, have a great day!” *send*

8:30 AM: Check to see if the client emailed me back about payroll. Nope.

8:31 AM: Start reconciling some bank accounts against credit cards and PayPal. Just normal accounting stuff.

9:31 AM: Check to see if I received an email from A) my client or B) the property management company. I didn’t.

9:32 AM: I wonder if the CEO came into his office through the back door today. If he did, he definitely missed the package. I better forward that email just in case. I’ll just move it out of the trash and send it after I answer a few more emails.

10:32 AM: Still nothing in my inbox. Start getting a little anxious. I would much rather start processing payroll early so I don’t have to rush at the end of the day. That way I can be sure to triple-check everything for mistakes. Processing payroll makes me nervous. This is someone’s livelihood. If I make a mistake, the consequences could be dire.

11:32 AM: Still no email. They have 28 minutes to let me know if it’s right or wrong before I start processing it anyway. And I can’t believe Jim hasn’t gotten back to me yet. All I’m trying to do is pay my client’s rent…. Oh no… I haven’t paid MY rent yet!

12:00 PM: Time’s up. I hope we don’t miss anything. I download one employee’s time sheet, input the employee’s regular and overtime hours into our payroll system, and check for paid time off hours. There are none, so I upload the time sheet into the payroll system and move on to the next employee. Repeat.

12:15 PM: Run into an employee with paid time off hours. Uh-oh. Draft quick email: “Hello again Mary, Could you verify that this employee has 8 paid time off hours this week? Please let me know by 3:30 PM so I can submit payroll. Thank you.” Send. I hope it doesn’t take until 3:30 to get a response. I’d rather have this out of the way soon!

12:55 PM: Wow, that was quick. Receive an email approving the employee’s PTO. I can submit payroll early today!

1:00 PM: Double and triple check everything. Get a second set of eyes on it just to be sure.

1:30 PM: Press the ‘submit’ button in slow motion. The moment my finger presses down on the mouse, the nervousness sets in. What if I missed something? This is someone’s pay I’m dealing with. If something is wrong, they won’t get paid on time. What if they can’t pay their rent? *Click*

1:45 PM: Take a quick lunch and get right back to business (and bookkeeping). If I don’t occupy my time, I know I’ll keep worrying about payroll.

1:55 PM: Open up my email and forward the package notification I forgot about. Just in case.

2:45 PM: Oh no, did I put in that one employee’s overtime? Let’s see, she worked a regular week, I know I got her regular hours in, how much overtime did she work? 2 hours? That sounds right. Oh, it was 2, I remember now. I remember thinking about how that’s the same number of coffees I’ve had today. Maybe that’s why my heart is beating so fast.

3:15 PM: Did only one employee have paid time off? What if I missed someone and they don’t get paid for it? I mean, we can pay them off cycle, it’ll just be late. What if they have to pay rent on payday? OH SHOOT RENT.

3:15:30 PM: Check email, nothing from the property managers. Today is just not the day for email communication.

4:55 PM: Receive an email! Jim got back to me! I hop onto the portal and pay their rent.

5:00 PM: Get out right on time and pay my rent on the bus ride home.

11:32 PM: Wake up from a nightmare. I dreamt that I missed payroll day. At least I know that I didn’t miss that. All the rest of my worries, though, will only be solved two days from now when the employees get paid. I hope everyone was direct deposit and didn’t need a check. No way. I would have caught that.

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The information provided in this post is for general informational and educational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional advice. Consult your financial, business, or tax advisor with respect to matters referenced in this post. Pretty Books assumes no liability for actions taken in reliance upon this information.
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