What is Payroll (Definition)

By Dan Doherty

What is payroll? Payroll is a term used to define several related things for your business:

  • The process used to calculate and distribute wages and taxes
  • A list of employees at a company and the amount of money they are to be paid
  • The total amount of wages paid by a company to its employees

The payroll definition most relevant to saving your business money would be the first item above, since there are multiple options available to simplify how you calculate and pay out employee wages.

How to run payroll for your business

There are three ways that companies typically run payroll:

  • Manually
  • Outsourcing
  • Using payroll software

Doing payroll manually

Manual payroll processing is very time consuming and can lead to payroll and tax errors.

Manual payroll processing is typically very time consuming for a business owner, and requires that you track your employees hours and stay up-to-date on IRS rules, withholding amounts, and labor laws. Manual processing is not scalable for most small businesses, so growing businesses often look for payroll outsourcing solutions or to use software to simplify the process.

Outsourcing payroll

Outsourcing is a preferred option for business owners looking to spend more time on growing their business. There are a few payroll outsourcing solutions available. Many small businesses rely on their accountant to manage this process. An accountant can manage payroll execution and taxes, making it a typical first step for small business owners.

Outsourcing payroll to an HR service provider such as a Professional Employer Organization (PEO) is a great option for business owners looking to further reduce the time spend managing payroll and HR for their company. A PEO can also help you manage other HR issues such as finding and hiring employees, providing benefits, and providing time and labor tracking software. What is a PEO?

Using payroll software

Payroll software automates the process of calculating employee wages and taxes. What is payroll software’s biggest benefit? It reduces time spent managing payroll and ensures that you’re tracking payments and taxes accurately, easily, and efficiently. 

This software will let employees keep their personal and tax information up-to-date, as well as letting them log their hours and manage time off requests so you can ensure they’re paid accurately and on time.

HR outsourcing + payroll software = a complete solution

Are you a business owner looking to reduce time and headaches managing payroll, benefits, hiring employees, and other HR tasks?  Outsourcing HR through a PEO is your best option. 

A PEO will provide access to HR software that reduces paperwork and ensures accuracy of payroll data. Employees will be able to track hours worked and time off, update tax and direct deposit information, and manage other critical HR tasks such as selecting and managing healthcare and other benefits.

Want to learn more about PrismHR payroll software and how outsourcing HR through a PEO will save you time and money?

We partner with the largest network of HR service providers that support over 80,000 businesses in the US. Our PEO network is a trusted solution for over 2 million employees and over $80 billion in payroll each year.

Learn more about outsourcing payroll and HR


What can HR outsourcing do for your company?

Outsourcing HR will help streamline all the elements involved in managing payroll, including:

  • Employee information, including new hire paperwork such as Form W-4 tax exemptions
  • Tracking hours worked and overtime pay
  • Time off requests: vacation time, sick time, and holidays
  • Salaries and wages
  • Cost of benefits such as health insurance, retirement plans, etc.
  • Managing deductions and payroll taxes and automating Form W-2

Most business owners are not HR experts. Don’t rely on Google searches for “what is payroll?” or “payroll definition” to provide your HR expertise.

Outsourcing with an HR service provider gets these time-consuming tasks off your plate you can reduce headaches and spend more time growing your core business. 

We can help match you to the best HR Service Provider based on your location and your business’s needs.

Find an HR Service Provider