7 Important Lessons from the 2016 Canadian Payroll Conference

Marlo Hertling

This year’s Canadian Payroll Association conference was amazing! As it was held in our hometown we were lucky enough to send several team members to go and experience it for themselves – and everyone came back to the office feeling energized, motivated and inspired from the great sessions and keynotes they saw.

Canadian Payroll Conference 2016

If you weren't able to attend this year, or you may have attended different sessions we’ve put together a list of our top 7 takeaways from the conference to share with you.

1) Paying Yourself First

At the opening keynote lunch bestselling author and former dragon, David Chilton reminded us that one of the most important things a Canadian Payroll Professional can do for their people is to encourage them to pay themselves first.

A pension, a registered or non-registered savings plans all of which can be set up through automatic payroll deductions. You can help educate your employees on how saving now, by paying themselves first every pay period, will help prepare them for uncertain times and to retire happy.

2) HR & Payroll: BFFs

Annie Chong and Brian Kreissl provided a great session on the importance of Payroll and HR partnerships.

When Payroll and HR work together everyone benefits through:

  • Ensuring employees are set-up and paid correctly right from the start
  • Planning together so paperwork is never late and deadlines aren’t missed
  • Understanding the impact of business decisions on payroll
  • Maintaining compliance through clear, shared communications

3) Change Your Perspective

Stephanie Staples provided some great ways to adjust your perspective. By simply changing “I have to” to “I get to” you can quickly change your focus. And the next time you have a moment when you think “someone should …,” remember that someone is YOU!


4) Identifying Payroll Fraud

Edward Nagel provided a great presentation on exploring payroll errors to identify fraud. He reminded everyone that having a prevention plan in place is important. Segregating duties of Payroll, HR, Finance and IT as well as limiting access to only what users actually need will help ensure you have secure processes in place.

Here are a few red flag items Edward recommends you watch out for:

  • Unusual period over period fluctuations in payroll
  • Payments made to employees without payroll files
  • Multiple employees with the same bank account number, address, SIN
  • Cash reimbursements for inadequate or altered receipts for expense reimbursements

5) Payroll Continuity in Times of Crisis

Gilles Champagne & Brenda Davies presented on Payroll Business Continuity Plans. They showed us how the City of Calgary was prepared for and managed through the 2013 flood. They also shared how they continue to prepare for unexpected events to ensure that city employees never have disruptions in their pay.

They shared a simple but powerful Payroll Emergency Toolkit:

  •  Contact Tree, always keep it close by!
  • Keep hard and soft copies of the plan at your home
  • Document and store all system access codes and passwords
  • Document special security and confidentiality procedures
  • Keep a “living” list of contacts at your payroll vendors and their contact information

6) Develop Your Talent

Jordan Rodney shared why it is important to develop your people. He provided a very thought-provoking question to ask your employees “What was the best day at work you’ve had in the last 3 months?” Asking this question will encourage your employees to start thinking about their interests and abilities and allows employers to identify their strengths for future development.

7) How to Prepare for a Payroll Audit

Cheryl Ball and Janet Spence provided a great session on getting ready for a payroll audit. They reviewed the types of audits payroll can be asked to participate in. They provided some helpful tips on planning for an audit ahead of time that included:

  • Determine who will be involved (payroll administrator, business owner, etc.)
  • Conduct a self-audit of your employee setup
  • Review the set-up of your earnings / deductions and benefit codes to ensure compliance
  • Make sure all payroll adjustments have been posted
  • Reconcile your remittance accounts

What Else Did We Learn?

One surprising thing we discovered is that payroll people look great in White Stetsons and are secretly very good at line dancing!

With such an impressive turnout at this year's Conference, Canadian Payroll Professionals continue to want to learn and connect with their colleagues to improve their skills and contribution to their organization.

At Avanti, we feel so privileged to be part of Conference every year. It’s an amazing opportunity to spend time with awesome thought leaders and Canadian Payroll Professionals.

Next year’s Conference will be in Niagara Falls from June 13th – 16th and the theme is Generating Momentum. With over 400 first time attendees at this year’s Conference – there's proof that the payroll profession continues to generate momentum across Canada. We hope to see you there!

PS: Thanks to everyone who dropped by our booth to transform into the Payroll Superhero they really are!


#superselfie2016 @avantisoftware #payroll2016

A photo posted by Laura Levy (@tedsagirl) on

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About the Author

Marlo Hertling

Marlo Hertling has worked with leading HCM organizations and has been helping Canadian companies implement HCM solutions for more than 15 years. She is the Vice President of People & Culture at Avanti Software Inc and serves as Avanti's HCM subject matter expert.

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