How to better manage small business payroll and improve efficiency

Managing your business

Hiring employees may be a marker of growth and success for your business. But with that growth comes extra administrative tasks, such as payroll. Running a business requires a laser focus on productive activities that can generate growth, boost profitability, and please customers—the time spent inputting payroll, preparing quarterly reports, calculating and filing taxes, and making sure you’re compliant with laws and regulations only distracts you from your business goals. 

Who can I turn to for help?

“It’s typical for small businesses to start out doing payroll themselves—often through business owners (or a designee) who have the authority to approve expenses and write checks,” said Michael Eley, product manager for payroll solutions at Truist. At the early stages, some owners view payroll as a way to monitor costs and manage employees.

“But if you’re looking to maximize the time you invest in growth, or your company gets large enough that the demands of management (including payroll) start taking up more of your day, you need to look at ways to better handle payroll,” Eley said.

There are several options to offload payroll tasks, including: 

  • Payroll services. These software-based solutions are designed to make running payroll easier by automating the most labor-intensive processes. Providers may sell payroll management alone or as part of a larger suite of human resources (HR) functions. The cost depends on the complexity of your payroll and the features you need. 
  • CPAs offering a payroll service. Some CPAs sell payroll service and provide services to run that payroll service for you. They’ll ensure that your team is paid on time and your retirement withholdings are properly deducted. They can handle your payroll taxes and keep track of payroll reports, expense reimbursements, and profit-sharing disbursements. They often integrate with your accounting system and can help with reporting and advice.

    The added level of CPA service sometimes comes with an additional cost, so make sure you agree on what your CPA will do for you and how they will charge you. Are they billing you a fixed monthly fee? What does that include? Could there be additional hourly fees to handle payroll tasks, answer questions, or provide payroll information to your employees? 
  • Truist Online Payroll. Delivered through the Truist online banking application, Online Payroll gives organizations with one to 100 employees digital tools to maximize payroll process efficiency. The Truist Online Payroll solution is low-cost, easy to use, and provides robust tools to help you maintain your compliance with various state and federal payroll tax laws. Many functions and features are included in the monthly cost.

How can a payroll service help me?

  • Save time. We know you have a lot to do and even more to learn to manage and grow your business. Most small business owners work 50-60 hours a weekDisclosure 1 and are the primary salespeople for their businesses. If you didn’t have to spend 10 hoursDisclosure 2 a month on payroll, could you put that time to better use selling? Or maybe having more time to relax and recharge?
  • Stay in compliance. The federal government has a myriad of regulations regarding labor laws and tax payments. In addition, each state has its own requirements, and these laws are constantly changing. Non-compliance can result in severe fines. (For example, not posting the most current labor posters at a place of work can result in a $25,000 fine.) When you use Truist Online Payroll, the labor posters are free.
  • Predict future expenses. A good system with easy dashboard access and reporting can allow you to project upcoming payroll expenses—never an easy task with employees or contractors who work irregular hours.

How much should payroll processing cost?

The cost of payroll processing depends on the complexity and size of the task. Most providers will ask you for the following to calculate a base cost:

  • The number of employees and contractors
  • The number of payroll periods (per week, per month, etc.)
  • The number of state/local jurisdictions
  • Method of employee payment (direct deposit versus issuance of checks)

The Truist Online Payroll solution is a flat monthly fee of $55 for businesses with 50 employees or less, regardless of payroll periods, number of jurisdictions, or method of payment.Disclosure 3

In addition, some payroll services may add charges for the followingDisclosure 4

  • Transaction fees for sending money
  • Fees for employee questions
  • Fees for owner questions regarding HR, benefits, or financial questions
  • Reporting fees
  • Set up fees for adding or changing employees

Ask about how your service provider supports you in the event you’re audited or questioned by federal or state authorities. Government inquiries can require owner time and tax knowledge that are often in short supply. Truist Online Payroll works with you to resolve any tax notices.

How should I manage my payroll?

Putting it all together, there are several ways you can manage payroll. The following table provides the costs along with the pros and cons of each option to help you find the one that best fits your business. 

Managing payroll
Do-it-yourself Payroll outsourcing service (or with CPA) Truist Online Payroll
Base fee N/A $50-$200/month plus per employee charge; CPAs may charge additional fees $60/month for the first 50 employees; $2/employee for next 50 employeesDisclosure 3
Implementation or set up fee N/A One-time fee Included
Transaction fees for checks or direct deposit N/A Extra charge Included
Customer support or maintenance fees N/A Extra charge Included
Track and enter time worked Usually manual or spreadsheet May have automation to collect employee wage and timesheet data Integrates with time clock application
Calculate deductions for state and federal taxes, benefits, and other (garnishments, etc.) 1.5 hours per monthDisclosure 5 Automated Automated
Run payroll/pay employees 3.2 hours per payrollDisclosure 2 May charge transaction fees No fees
Integrate with accounting system Manual Depends on service Included
Make quarterly tax filings and payments 30-45 minutes/quarterDisclosure 4 Included Included
Benefits administration and retirement savings plans Varies based on plan composition Depends on service Included
Annual W-2 and 1099 tax filings 3.5 hours annuallyDisclosure 2 May charge additional fees Included
Respond to employee requests for documents and information Owner/designee responds as required Depends on service Employee portal for full access
Produce payroll reports Usually manual or spreadsheet May charge additional fees Included Included
Tax guarantee Not available Depends on service Included
Expert payroll/HR resource Not available Depends on service Included

Let us do the heavy lifting of payroll administration.

Truist Online Payroll helps you spend more time running your business and less time administering it. Call a small business banker at 844-279-8256, or schedule time for an in-person or virtual appointment to see how Truist Online Payroll can help your business.

This content does not constitute legal, tax, accounting, financial, or investment advice. You’re encouraged to consult with competent legal, tax, accounting, financial, or investment professionals based on your specific circumstances. We don’t make any warranties as to accuracy or completeness of this information. We don’t endorse any third-party companies, products, or services described here. And we take no liability for your use of this information.