Searching for Payroll

Somebody else's grannyIf you are an employee with a query about your pay, you may be told to check with payroll. Googling the word “payroll” will bring up a list of companies but, when you ring them, you’ll discover that none of them can help. So, how can it be possible that your trusted search engine has let you down?

The reason Google can’t give you a helpful answer is that it doesn’t know the context. It’s a bit like trying to look up your grandmother’s phone number by searching the internet for the word “granny”. As with grandmothers, there are lots of payroll teams, but most of them are not relevant to you. Assuming Google can’t get the number from your phone book, it needs to know a bit about you before it can choose the appropriate answer.

The Google search engine is such a convenient way of finding answers that it has become the first tool many of us try, leading to billions of searches per day, worldwide. In the UK, hundreds of people search for the word “payroll” every day. Some of these are employers looking for payroll solutions and some are employees with queries about their payslips. Others may be looking for a definition, for training, statistics, a job, forms or even a 1961 film.

Our website appears high up in the search results and our phone number is on our home page. Consequently, we get a few calls each week from employees who have questions about their wages and have Googled “payroll”. Our customer service team thanks them for their calls and politely points them in the right direction. Fortunately, we don’t get many calls about the film.

There isn’t one payroll organisation that works out payslips for the whole of the UK: it’s a function carried out by each employer. If it’s a big company, it may have a payroll department in its head office, or it may outsource this work to a specialist firm. If it’s a small company, one of the directors might do it, or they may pass it to their accountant. If you have trouble working out who to contact about your payslips, you are better off asking your line manager than asking Google. This is because your manager’s payslips come from the same place as yours do, whereas Google doesn’t know much about your company’s payroll arrangements.

Google is a very powerful tool that has undoubtedly made our lives easier. Using it all of the time will sometimes lead you astray and you could end up speaking to the wrong payroll team, or to somebody else’s granny.

Steven Tucker

By Steven Tucker - Co-founder

Steven is one of the founders of The Payroll Site. He writes about things affecting small businesses, especially those things connected with payroll. He's also a Maths graduate and a Chartered IT Professional and has a few views about technology, maths and the misuse of both.