The Key Differences: Payroll vs. Human Resources

 In Ubuntu News

So what’s the difference between Payroll & Human Resources?

“Payroll” and “Human Resources” are two common terms that pop up in the day-to-day dealings of any South African business. While the former deals with compensation of employees and related tasks only, the latter encompasses a broader scope of employee relations within an organisation. While each has their own set of notable differences, it is useful to note that they do share functions between them that are somewhat critical to the successful operation of an organisation. Today we’ll look at both sides of the spectrum, providing detail and insight about what the two fields encompass respectively. 


Payroll directly refers to the process by which employees receive their salary at the end of the month. This typically includes more than just basic bank transfers, as businesses have to keep thorough records for compliance purposes, as well as ensure that they are keeping abreast of tax and other obligations. A payroll department usually delivers the salaries to each employee, works hard at compliance maintenance, records paperwork for new hires and edits existing employee files. The department may also be required to calculate reimbursements from travel expenses, as well as deliver bonuses, overtime and any holiday pay that might be due. The term refers to the list of employees receiving compensation at the business, as well as a department within a corporation.

Human Resources

Human Resources, on the other hand, is responsible for the management of people across the entire organisation. This includes bringing out the best in existing employees, working to find and hire new employees, as well as attracting the right candidates to various roles within the organisation. HR departments are responsible for employee motivation and often need to set up reward and incentive schemes coupled with compensation packages. Salary increments typically run through Human Resources, as well as training initiatives, usually involving professional development of employees within the hierarchy of the business in line with greater operational goals set out by management. 

Where The Two Overlap With Each Other

As you will now have realised, payroll spans across the HR and the finance department, and is often a branch of the Human Resources department at a corporation. Many payroll activities overlap with HR and in this way, there is some coordination to be done across these shared functions. This includes detailing and dealing with recruitment, salary increases, vacation time and even the processes that should be followed when an employee has to be let go. Both facets are subject to confidential employee data, which is perhaps where the two overlap the most. This means that both have to be hyper alert to security threats, and both should operate under systems that speak to each other, in order to avoid data leaks, breaches and more. 

Learning More From Experts That Handle Both

If you own a small business that has been trying to juggle day-to-day business alongside payroll and human resources related functions, it may be time to think about a way that you can outsource one or both of these facets to free up more of your (or your existing teams’) time. Ubuntu Resource Management is an expert in the field, with over two decades of experience as one of South Africa’s top HR outsourcing firms. They bring together key services with trusted experience, to help their clients get down to their core business. Ubuntu covers payroll management, recruitment, training and more. They are a good place to start even if you’re just looking for some advice about how to streamline these areas in your business. You’ll be less inundated with compliance paperwork and more focused on growing the business in next to no time. 

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