Payroll options for SMEs: different ways to pay your staff

by | Nov 8, 2023

If you run a small to medium enterprise (SME), managing payroll efficiently is essential for employee satisfaction and smooth business operations. It’s not just about paying your team’s wages – it’s about maintaining trust, boosting morale and staying compliant.

Let’s explore various payroll options SMES can use to make the process more efficient and stress-free.

Automating with payroll software

Many small business owners choose to administer payroll themselves, and using software can simplify the process. You can use payroll platforms to automate various functions, saving you time and stress.

Today’s payroll software solutions are intuitive, easy to navigate and designed with the user in mind, no matter whether you’re a tech whiz or still prefer pen and paper.

Most platforms come with clear dashboards, step-by-step guides and helpful tools. You don’t need to be an accountant to operate them, and they make the process of running payroll more straightforward.

However, out of all the payroll options, this is perhaps the most hands-on, as you’ll still be responsible for administering payroll correctly and on time.
If you have more complicated payroll needs, you should consider hiring a payroll professional.

In-house payroll: keeping it close

If you want someone to manage payroll for you, the most traditional option is hiring an in-house payroll professional.

What are the benefits?

  • Full control: Employing a full-time payroll professional can give you greater visibility over the process, allowing for quicker decision-making.
  • Tailored to your needs: Every business has its quirks and unique requirements. A dedicated in-house payroll administrator can tailor processes and solutions with your business’s needs, ensuring your payroll operations are as efficient as possible.
  • Access to expertise: Hiring an internal payroll manager can bring unparalleled expertise to your doorstep. They’ll also be able to share their knowledge with you and your team.

However, hiring a full-time employee can also be too expensive and time-consuming for many SMEs. If you need someone to take on your payroll for you but lack the resources for an in-house expert, you may need to consider other payroll options.

Outsourced payroll

Many SMEs choose to outsource their payroll to an expert outside their organisation — and it’s easy to see why. An outsourced payroll professional can offer the same level of expertise as an in-house payroll team at the fraction of the cost.

Scalability of payroll options for growth and change

  • Flexibility: External experts can adjust their offering depending on your circumstances, so you’ll only pay for services you actually need. Many outsourced firms will also let you scale your payroll support up or down as your business evolves.
  • Integration with evolving tech: As technology propels businesses to new horizons, payroll systems must keep up. External professionals are at the forefront of integrating new software and tools to ensure payroll processes remain streamlined.

Precision in compliance and regulation

  • Stay ahead of changes: With legislation and payroll regulations frequently changing, remaining compliant can feel like a full-time job. A payroll expert can anticipate and adapt to these changes so you don’t need to worry.
  • Risk mitigation: An oversight in your payroll can be costly. A specialist will use checks and balances to ensure every detail is accurate and all benefits and deductions accounted for, reducing the risk of errors.

Cost considerations and efficiency

  • Operational savings: At first glance, outsourcing may seem more expensive than handling your payroll function by yourself. But factor in the expense of software and potential non-compliance penalties, and it may be more cost-efficient to outsource. Handing the responsibility over to experts also means you’ll have more time to focus on growing your business – meaning outsourced payroll could pay for itself.
  • Access to top-tier expertise: Instead of the overheads involved in hiring and retaining in-house specialists, SMEs can tap into a pool of experts with years of experience for a fraction of the cost.
  • Strategic insights: Beyond the routine processes, experienced payroll professionals can provide valuable insights – from employee benefits and ensuring pension scheme compliance to tax-saving strategies.

At some point, managing payroll on your own becomes too tough, and in-house hiring doesn’t always tick the boxes. Bringing in external help is the perfect remedy, enabling businesses to tap into professional payroll services without clunky internal hiring processes.


Whichever path you choose, remember the goal: timely and accurate payments that keep your team happy and your business on the right side of regulations.

So, if administering payroll becomes too much of a burden, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We can talk you through your payroll options and take on time-consuming tasks so you can focus on what matters most.


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If you’re curious about how we can help you, please reach out: our team is very keen to hear from you.

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