At Zenefits, we know that payroll can be a complicated, tedious, and at times confusing process. That’s why we’re starting a column dedicated to payroll and accounting. In this column, our payroll specialist, Matt, will dive into all things numbers – from taxes and fringe benefits to deductions and data validations.
Hello! My name is Matthew Keller, and I am a Senior Payroll Specialist at Zenefits. I know payroll can be complicated and confusing with frequent law changes, special tax and W2 reporting requirements, and unique employee circumstances. But that’s what I’m here for – to be your helpful payroll advisor. Let’s journey together to navigate this complex, sometimes esoteric payroll world and make sure payroll runs smoothly.
Like many of you, I never expected payroll to play such a significant role in my life. I graduated from UC Berkeley from the Haas School of Business in 1989 with a job in hand, working for the public accounting firm of Deloitte and Touche. Working as an independent auditor was great experience, but I wanted a client-facing role where I was an actual teammate instead of a referee.
In 1993, when an opportunity with a payroll start-up called ProBusiness presented itself, I jumped. I started by guiding clients onto the ProBusiness payroll platform, but then – in an unusual move – also became the primary payroll contact for these same clients. That meant I could maintain my relationships with my clients long after they started. I loved that part of my job – not just because I was better able to understand the payroll challenges that arise as a company changes and grows, but because I could help solve those challenges.
For example, after bringing about 150 employees onto our system, one of my clients grew to over 8,000 domestic, and over 23,000 employees worldwide during our twenty-year relationship. We tackled payroll issues like accounting integrations, paid time off policy changes, pay period and pay cycle changes, every-day employee and pay challenges, as well as company acquisitions and the challenges with employee on-boarding, and tax and W2 reporting.
My career took another turn in 2003, when ADP purchased ProBusiness, allowing me more exposure to other payroll systems, different experts, and a new set of clients to assist.
Why I Joined Zenefits
In the summer of 2015, I learned about an industry-changing start-up, and applied for and accepted my position with Zenefits. It has been the opportunity of a lifetime to work with incredible people and on a payroll system that makes up a single platform, fully integrated with Human Resources, Benefits, Time and Attendance, and Paid Time Off.
Having begun my career in a world of blue screens and DOS prompts, I am amazed at how much things have changed with both payroll and technology. Back then, confused clients called in because when prompted to “press any key to continue,” they could not find the “any key.” I sat next to a co-worker, who asked a client to send a copy of a file, only to receive a photocopy of a floppy disk in the mail. As you can see, technology has come a very long way, and in the case of Zenefits, it’s become revolutionary.
But while payroll, regulations, and technology have changed, what hasn’t changed is our purpose. Behind the technology are real people with important lives, and incredible businesses with aspirations and visions that will one day captivate the world. Being a part of that is exciting.
I often think about how working in payroll is like being an offensive lineman in football. If done well, the job is hardly noticed. But if the rules are not understood, or if out of sync with the team, the errors stand out to everyone.
Also like a lineman, payroll is not beautiful. It works in the background so that the “stars” of the team, the skill players, can perform the primary work of the business. Being in the background does not make payroll unimportant. To the contrary, there is real satisfaction in being one of the critical components in the economics of business: paying your employees in an accurate, timely fashion for a job well done.
But because payroll is behind the scenes, finding critical payroll advice and information can be elusive or non-existent. Through this blog (and my work at Zenefits) I want to help make payroll easier and more understandable for everyday business people.
Now that you know my background, let’s start tackling some payroll challenges. Since the holidays are coming, next week I want to share some important considerations about holiday and year-end bonuses. I am here if you need me.