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Alicia East

3 ways we’re improving the client experience

3 ways we’re improving the client experience 2560 1707 Alicia East

We are all about providing you with the tools that will make your job easier and more effective. Independent contractor payroll management can be complicated: We simplify it so you can get back to the work you do best. We spent a lot of 2019 improving your experience and now we have our sights set on what we can do next.

Here’s some of what Payreel did in 2019 to improve client experience:

Standardized the un-standardizable to keep you on sure legal ground 

Worker classification is a hot topic right now. And for good reason. With California’s AB5 and the subsequent shockwaves it has sent through the industry, everyone has their eye on where things are and where they’re going. We do, too! We’ve developed AI-based software to take much of the subjectivity out of classifying workers. While there’s no way to truly standardize something with so much gray area, what we can do is put a set of parameters in place to make sure that your organization makes the decision the same way every time based on a set of measurable rules rather than someone’s opinion. The biggest benefit here is that it gives you a solid leg to stand on if you ever have to justify your decisions in a court of law. We’ve also made it easier, quicker, and more efficient for you to see where an IC classification case stands as well as each worker’s IC population in PRO.

Software development may not seem very sexy until you realize how much time, money, and headache it can save you!  

Matrix-ed our system so it can “learn” your system’s language with no human translation necessary 

We developed an Application Programming Interface (API) that bridges the gap between your software and ours. This is extra special because it means PayReel software can communicate with your time-tracking (or any other kind of) software without any human intervention. That means you can fulfill changing needs on your end quickly without having to rewire/recode (i.e. without disruption), intuitively connect your people to critical information, forms, and reports, and skip maddening double data entry/typing. Sexy, right? 

Take a client with a self-developed proprietary system for time tracking, for example. When we plug their Enterprise Relationship Program into our API, it sends everything needed for a project or a job and updates all 32 necessary fields automatically. That allows us to forego bulk uploads and manual data entry with absolutely zero human involvement required in the middle.

Sound good? Contact us here or reach out to your Client Relationship Manager to get started. 

Doubled our team 

We really like solid software, but it’s still good people who make our world go around. We doubled our team in 2019 so that each Client Relationship Manager (CRM) can continue to offer the same quality of service to each of our clients even as we grow. We’ve also transitioned Michelle (our longest-standing CRM) into a new role that allows her to maximize her many years of knowledge and client experience. She’ll now be using all of her experience to directly channel the voice of the customer to the team as we continue developing the solutions. 

Okay, so what’s ahead? 

You guessed it: Software updates

Now that you’re as in love with them as we are, we can tell you we’re focusing on improving operational efficiencies with PayReel Online, our dashboard, and with our Sick Leave Accrual Management application (SLAM). More states have added sick leave and FMLA compliance regulations into law. We enhanced our proprietary tool to manage the rapid changes to the paid sick leave (PSL) laws and all their many new complexities being implemented on both the state and local levels. That’s good news for you because you can rest assured we are staying up to speed with where the laws go into effect in 2020. 

The visibility reports you asked for! 

It’s true. We saved the best for last. You asked for more reports to give you insight into your backend payroll information and we listened! Soon, supervisors and managers will have better visibility to see where workers are in the process. We’re also working on a report writer that can put together the specific info you’re looking for.

Thanks for a great year! Get excited because 2020 is shaping up to be even better! 


Meet your client relationship manager: Michael Harder

Meet your client relationship manager: Michael Harder 1002 1399 Alicia East

Like all of our Client Relationship Managers (CRMs), Michael is here for you.

MICHAEL HARDER: Client Relationship Manager

Where there’s a will, there’s a way. Whether that’s relocating to Colorado before finding a job, revamping payroll tracking from a thousand separate sheets into one big master spreadsheet, or brewing his own beer, Michael is going to figure out how to do it. Day to day, he manages onboarding new hires, processing payroll, and invoicing. All while keeping a notoriously spotless desk, to boot.

On the evenings and weekends, things might get a little messy in his pursuit of the perfect homemade pasta noodle or smoked meat. You’ll have to go somewhere else for your favorite baked goods though. Looking for Michael? You’ll often find him outdoors —snowboarding in the winter or camping and hiking in the summer.

Something else: As a certified bbq judge through the Kansas City BBQ Society (KCBS), Micheal’s stamp of approval at your next neighborhood bbq carries a little extra weight.

Looking for some help with your independent contractor payroll management?

Connect with Michael or any of the CRMs here. Their name is true: They’re here for you!

Last-minute gift guide for the self-proclaimed geek in your life

Last-minute gift guide for the self-proclaimed geek in your life 5897 3937 Alicia East

From Star Wars Arcade games to everyone’s favorite force whisperer: Everything old is new (or in the case of baby Yoda—young) again. We work with self-proclaimed geeks both inside and outside the office every day and these are some of the gifts causing a buzz in our corner of the world.

  • One of the most beloved Star Wars characters of all time upped the ante by going back in time to the very cute and cuddly past. There will be some PJ-clad Star Wars fans (and maybe their kids) wishing for their very own Yoda merch as soon as they can get their hands on it. Truth be told: much of the official merch isn’t ready yet (here’s why). Next best option: an outing to the movie itself (it officially opens tomorrow!). This checks two boxes: giving experiences over the things that could become future clutter (✅) and enjoying time together (✅).
  • Coffee lovers have been foiled by one nemesis since the beginning of time: a tepid cup of joe. Believe it or not, these mug heaters are popular enough to warrant their own top ten list. Compare features and ensure you get the hot beverage experience you’re looking for over and over again—sans the microwave.
  • Whether you’re going for the sleek and stylish bluetooth speakers or a retro turntable with an updated twist, this time of year will be bringing the latest in smart, stylish speaker systems into many homes. Here’s another top 10 list to help you decide.
  • For the super tech-forward home, consider lighting that pretends you’re home when you’re not, refrigerators that’ll order you a six pack, and thermostats that learn your patterns and adjust accordingly. Smart everything is supposed to make your life easier. Just be sure to do your due diligence to make your devices as secure as possible.
  • If all the technology has you longing for a renaissance of good ol’ pen and paper, this Bullet Journal might be the ticket. Like pen and paper, the journal has been around awhile, but judging by its fans’ enthusiasm, it ain’t going anywhere. The journal itself isn’t the revolution, it’s the system. Paired with a favorite pen, it promises to increase your productivity. It’s enough to convince even a dedicated paperless fan to reconsider. According to some millennials, it will change your life.
  • And if you just need a laugh and a break from the hectic season, check out some of this year’s gifts designed just for laughs (and warm feet in the case of heated corgi slippers).

Whether it’s smart and sustainable technology or pizza socks just for fun, stock up on gifts for your favorite techie or for yourself. While you’re in the shopping mood, you can visit Wirecutter for a full-on glut of options for every category of human (everyone from your favorite toddler to the technology disinclined parent) in your life. Go ahead, put something for yourself under the tree while you’re at it. Say it’s from Santa. We won’t tell.


Looking for payroll options for your independent contractors and freelancers? You can depend on PayReel to assume all of the risks that are associated with worker classification because we make sure every worker gets paid quickly and easily. We even have Client Relationship Managers on call around the clock to answer your questions. Call us today 303-526-4900 or email us. We handle payroll solutions for video production, live events, media, and entertainment.

You Misclassified an Employee. Now What?

You Misclassified an Employee. Now What? 4464 2966 Alicia East

In the aftermath of the landmark California Supreme Court ruling, there’s much more attention on the W2 employee v. independent contractor debate. That makes it all the more important that companies don’t misclassify a worker — and more costly when they do.

Here’s what you need to know about misclassifying employees:


The gig economy, start-up culture and the rapid growth of the independent workforce combined have caused a dramatic increase in scrutiny by government agencies to ensure workers are appropriately classified. 

Updates to the ABC test for worker classification have resulted in the narrowest definition of an independent contractor to date. It’s now even more crucial for companies to evaluate or reevaluate the way they classify employees and get on the right side of the law before the ruling’s ripple effect reaches their headquarters.


You can’t ignore worker classification rules. And for the companies that do, there’s a potential multimillion-dollar price tag.

Unfortunately, “We didn’t mean to” doesn’t hold up in court. Whether you knowingly or accidentally misclassify employees as independent contractors (ICs), it’s considered wage theft.

Committing wage theft has some serious consequences. According to the ruling, businesses that misclassify workers as independent contractors deprive federal and state governments of billions of dollars in tax revenue. Big Brother is watching and Big Brother wants its money.

Misclassifying an employee puts your business at risks of an IRS audit. In addition to monetary fines like back pay, back taxes, severance and healthcare coverage for misclassified workers, you could also be looking at legal fees, reputation damage and even criminal and civil penalties.

For example, if you’re found guilty of fraud or intentional misclassification in Colorado, you “may be fined up to $5,000 per misclassified employee for the first misclassification and up to $25,000 per misclassified employee for a second or subsequent misclassification.” 

Oops, I misclassified an employee. Now what?


Conduct an internal audit on your company’s policies and documentation process. Run each worker through the ABC test to determine if they really are an IC or not. Look for areas that need improvement. If you’re missing any documentation (like signed contracts), take any steps to get what you need. If you think you’ve misclassified a worker, make sure you carefully document any changes you make. 

Sometimes, you can run your internal audits and still not feel confident you have the right status. If that happens, you can file Form SS-8, Determination of Worker Status for Purposes of Federal Employment Taxes and Income Tax Withholding. To be safe, you should treat the worker in question as an employee.

Not sure if you’re classifying your employees the right way? Take our five-minute worker classification self-audit and review our worker classification compliance best practices to determine just how independent your ICs are.


Worker roles can evolve over time, as do the rules around worker classifications, so it’s a good idea to review each worker’s classification annually and make adjustments as needed.

That’s a lot of work, which is why many organizations that contract ICs partner with an Employer of Record—a firm specializing in independent contractor compliance and engagement. An Employer of Record helps your company meet compliance standards, reduce misclassification risk and successfully manage independent workers. That’s exactly what we do at PayReel.


PayReel will help you manage your workers so your business can focus on doing what it does best. As your Employer of Record, PayReel will help ensure that all your freelance ICs are properly classified and your business stays ahead of the compliance curve. There’s no need to gamble with something so important. Contact us today! You can call us or email.


From glee to gratitude, here are our 10 emotions of Thanksgiving week

From glee to gratitude, here are our 10 emotions of Thanksgiving week 6024 4024 Alicia East

Once a year, a holiday whose very name specifically calls to mind all we have to be grateful for rolls around. And every year, we think of you–the clients and customers who make our work possible. We also think of pie, every form of potato, and stretchy pants.

Here are 10 emotions of Thanksgiving week


On Monday, with a short workweek ahead and the comforting knowledge that nobody’s calling a meeting on Wednesday.


On Tuesday, when we realize that if the year keeps going at this speed, 2020 is basically tomorrow.



When we count the days and conclude we still have 26 shopping days between turkey and ham days, respectively.


When it’s finally Thursday and for the first time all year, nobody’s in a hurry.


As we strategize our meal–knowing we need to leave room for Aunt Ida’s corn soufflé and Grandma’s cookies with the “secret” ingredient (everybody knows it’s almond extract).


When the conversation inevitably turns to politics and we have to decide whether to body slam Aunt Ida or hand her a drink and gracefully change the subject.


When carpool karaoke comes on and gives us something we can all agree on. Even Aunt Ida.


When we eat the first middle and last pieces of pumpkin pie and then opt to plop down in front of the football game.


Did someone say stretchy pants?


For family, friends, and a little time to just sit and be.

photo of Liz - Payreel

Meet the team: Liz Kendrick

Meet the team: Liz Kendrick 1002 1399 Alicia East

We’re continuing our “meet the team” series with Liz, another wonderful Client Relationship Manager.

Here’s what makes Liz an extra special member of our team

Liz has never lived far from the mountains. She grew up in Aspen, Colorado and then ventured to the foothills for school at CU Boulder. There, she studied human resource management. The major points to another great passion in her life—helping people reach their goals. Her daily work with PayReel means Liz spends her days right in the midst of the mountains she loves and supporting clients through events, projects, and new roles.

Outside of work, she enjoys electronic dance music and spending time with her two big dogs—Pryva and Juna—both appropriately named after musicians.

Something else: Don’t be surprised if you see Liz standing around with a seemingly random group of people in a seemingly random place. Pokemon Go has a way of making funny situations for its players.

Give our client relationship team a call at 303-526-4900. Elizabeth or one of the other team members will help you find solutions for your worker classification or payroll challenges. Go ahead. Try us.


At PayReel, we minimize the time and effort it takes to get you ready for your project. Rely on PayReel to assume all of the risk associated with worker classification and get back to the business at hand. We make sure everyone gets paid quickly and easily and have Client Relationship Managers on call around the clock to answer your questions. All you have to do is call 303-526-4900 or email us. The PayReel team makes video production, live events, media, and entertainment payroll easier, faster, and seamless

photo of Elizabeth - Payreel

Meet the team: Elizabeth Lewis

Meet the team: Elizabeth Lewis 2163 2727 Alicia East

Elizabeth Lewis is a client relationship manager. If you have a problem, she has a solution.

Before joining the team at PayReel, Elizabeth spent seven years working with a diverse set of clients and organizations at The Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts in Philadelphia. She has a natural passion for building relationships and spreading joy to those around her. This has become a cornerstone to her commitment to excellence in customer care.

A native of The Garden State, Elizabeth will grow things wherever she can find the space. She also loves animals, especially horses, and is looking forward to fishing in the mountains of Colorado.

Something else: Elizabeth thinks there’s nothing tastier than steaming hot fries dipped in a vanilla milkshake!

Give our client relationship team a call at 303-526-4900. Elizabeth or one of the other team members will help you find solutions for your worker classification or payroll challenges. Go ahead. Try us.


At PayReel, we minimize the time and effort it takes to get you ready for your project. Rely on PayReel to assume all of the risks associated with worker classification and get back to the business at hand. We make sure everyone gets paid quickly and easily and have Client Relationship Managers on call around the clock to answer your questions. All you have to do is call 303-526-4900 or email us. The PayReel team makes video production, live events, media, and entertainment payroll easier, faster, and seamless

cup of fruit loops - Payreel

How to Maintain Company Culture with a Remote Workforce

How to Maintain Company Culture with a Remote Workforce 2281 1456 Alicia East

Pixar’s cereal bar is the stuff of legend. The famous first stop for anyone who tours the studio isn’t what the company culture is built on, but it is a noteworthy expression of a company culture that cultivates creative expression, communication, and a feeling of purpose among workers.

You don’t need a cereal bar, but that feeling? That’s worth emulating. After all, the experience your workers have working with and for your company affects not just their quality of lives but your business overall, too.

Don’t misunderstand: A positive company culture is more than ping pong in the break room, nap pods, or free bagels day. In fact, you don’t need a break room, or even a workplace at all, to have a company culture.

You already work hard to foster the culture within your physical space. Here’s how you can maintain that company culture with a remote workforce.

Integrate culture into interviews and on-boarding

One way to maintain and strengthen your company’s culture when working with a variable, contract, or remote workforce is to start from day one. Provide a culture orientation that introduces new team members to the culture. Whatever form the message takes it should do the following:

Explain what your culture is
Define your mission statement and core values
Give examples of the culture in action

Share this information with new team members as part of the on-boarding process. Make it available for all employees to reference. Train your hiring managers and staffing or crewing agency to make sure potential workers are a good fit for both the role and the culture. You could also create a peer mentoring program where teammates on-board each other and train new members on the brand.

By integrating your culture from the very first touchpoint, you can set it up for success — no matter how many miles separate teammates.

Foster communication

In co-located offices, important information often gets exchanged in break rooms, hallways, impromptu meetings, and at after-work drinks. With a remote team, you have to go out of your way to overcome the “watercooler gap.” Create digital opportunities for teammates to connect and collaborate.

Tools such as video conferencing, instant messaging, and online collaboration methods like Zoom, Slack, and Google Hangouts can help shrink the miles. Detailed meeting notes and recorded discussions can help make sure the right people are in the loop, even if they’re in different time zones.

Use tools that reflect and support your culture

Just like connections, the personality and culture of co-located offices develop through the interactions they’re home to. It evolves through the proverbial watercooler talks, whiteboard sessions, inside jokes, and shared experiences. Your remote team (or team of short-term contractors) can develop something similar through the tools you use every day.

As Nick Francis said, “A culture’s effectiveness revolves around how information flows.” That means you need to adopt tools and processes that will foster communication and that will also serve as an extension and vehicle of the culture.

Engage workers

Another way you can help maintain company culture across your remote workforce is by creating opportunities for social interaction and employee engagement. While a weekly happy hour wouldn’t be realistic, something like a virtual book club could be. Or if you’re aiming to build camaraderie or foster teamwork, you could host a monthly game night where workers team up for an online video game tournament.

It doesn’t have to be all fun and games. You could host monthly lunch-and-learns over Zoom or Google Hangouts, or you could create a Slack channel where workers can recognize and give each other kudos. You might also consider implementing weekly video updates where you share company-wide news, birthday announcements, or whatever’s culturally relevant to your organization. There are countless ways you can engage remote workers. Find what works for your team and make it a habit.

The bottom line

It’s worth investing your remote workforce’s culture. Companies with strong cultures tend to see higher rates of productivity, be more profitable, and retain top talent. Thankfully, you don’t need a headquarters to reap the benefits of positive company culture.

Learn how partnering with PayReel to manage your contingent workforce can free up your resources to focus on strengthening your culture and bottom line.


At PayReel, we minimize the time and effort it takes to get you ready for your project. Rely on PayReel to assume all of the risk associated with worker classification and get back to the business at hand. We make sure everyone gets paid quickly and easily and have Client Relationship Managers on call around the clock to answer your questions. All you have to do is call 303-526-4900 or email us. The PayReel team makes video production, live events, media, and entertainment payroll easier, faster, and seamless.

money to burn - Payreel

When a payroll company steals—and what you can do to protect yourself

When a payroll company steals—and what you can do to protect yourself 5472 3648 Alicia East

Here we are again: Fraud. Lives disrupted. An FBI investigation.

This time, a New York State-based payroll company is accused of diverting $35 million from employee accounts. As the details come together, it’s worth asking how you can protect yourself.

Why might a business trust a payroll company in the first place?

Trusting a company to handle huge chunks of change (along with your reputation) ain’t no small thing. So why would employers process payroll through a third party?

While paying people may seem like a simple task, it can actually be very complicated, time-consuming, and laden with risk. In many cases, employers hand off payroll to third-party companies to avoid having to navigate the minefield of laws governing taxes, family leave, and other regulations that come with running a business and paying employees. Outsourcing payroll is a way for companies to mitigate risks and offload a time-consuming, labor-intensive task to a company that specializes in that area. It’s like having a whole HR team without having to hire an internal HR team.

How could $35 million just disappear?

When businesses outsource payroll, they send a sum to cover all expenses (including payroll and taxes) to the payroll company who then distributes the paychecks.

A simple typo could lead to an employee receiving extra pay. In that case, a payroll company has the authority to retroactively cancel the check or even withdraw the overage from the account directly. It seems in this case, the company not only withdrew funds specified for legitimate paychecks, but went even further by withdrawing higher amounts than the original paychecks. The result: $35 million in missing funds.

If the investigation confirms the surface facts of this case, this is one egregious scandal. The offending company has since shuttered its doors and scrubbed social media accounts, leaving individuals scrambling for answers and companies figuring out how to pay their employees.

That. Sucks. So how do I find a reputable company?

Good question. Employers trust payroll companies to manage huge sums of money and, as this case shows, problems can have cascading effects. If the money doesn’t make it into an employee’s account or shows up late, said employee may face overdraft/late fees. From there, the frustration and time to fix the problems only build. What’s worse: even if they’ve hired a payroll company, employers can still be held responsible for payroll issues. So yeah, you could say it’s pretty important to get it right. It’s worth doing your due diligence to make sure you’re dealing with a legitimate company.

Here are some factors to consider:

Longevity: A company that’s been around for 30 years without scandal is a good sign. Chances are they’re not running a long game of doing the hard work to build a solid reputation and systems that work just to defraud people later.

Security measures: Payroll companies have HUGE amounts of personally identifiable information (PII) running through their systems on a daily basis. With that level of info, they must have rock solid security measures in place. Make sure your company:

  • Encrypts everything at multiple levels
  • Treats all sensitive information as Personally Identifiable Information (PII) and in accordance with HIPAA recommendations
  • Doesn’t allow any sensitive data to go offshore
  • Has regular third-party security checks and an annual penetration test
  • Has a redundancy system that backs up and saves data if something goes wrong

Insurance/guarantees: Even once you’ve done the work of ensuring the above, you still want to find out exactly who is on the hook if a mistake does happen. If a payroll company doesn’t submit payroll taxes on time, for example, the company could be held responsible. You need some assurance that if the payroll company messes something up, it will also clean it up.

Ask questions: Corrupt behaviors tend to start with warning signs. If you think something may be awry, start asking questions or hire someone to look into it.

Bottom line

Most of this kind of fraud, while incredibly frustrating and costly, is highly preventable. As usual, the best approach for protecting yourself is preventing problems in the first place. Any cost or perceived hassle of doing your research and hiring a reputable company (👋 ) in the first place pales in comparison to the potential cost of lax research.


About PayReel:

At PayReel, we minimize the time and effort it takes to get you ready for your project. Rely on PayReel to assume all of the risk associated with worker classification and get back to the business at hand. We make sure everyone gets paid quickly and easily and have Client Relationship Managers on call around the clock to answer your questions. All you have to do is call 303-526-4900 or email us. The PayReel team makes video production, live events, media, and entertainment payroll easier, faster, and seamless.

Lightbox question mark - Payreel

Mythbusters: Two truths and two lies about worker classification

Mythbusters: Two truths and two lies about worker classification 2766 2766 Alicia East

Laws around worker classification are getting extra attention right now. Some people are even expressing concern that proposed changes threaten free press. We thought it was high time to address some of the myths that get businesses in trouble. Read to the end for the super good news!

Worker classification myth #1:

After a certain amount of time working for you, an independent contractor must be reclassified as an employee.

It’s true that rules can be complicated and vary from state to state. Still, this perception overly complicates the issue. We think this myth likely comes from one-time best practices wrongly interpreted as hard and fast rules. Wherever the myth comes from, we’ve seen clients build all sorts of policies to get around the supposed law. We’ve seen them hire workers for six months, drop them for a period of time, and then rehire them, for example. Some companies even refuse to rehire independent contractors after working with them for a certain amount of time because they’re afraid they’ll have to provide all of the benefits associated with hiring an employee. Not only are these policies time consuming, they can hurt businesses that rely on trustworthy freelancers.

There is a fine line between an employee and an independent contractor and laws surrounding worker classification are confusing. Still, we’ve seen companies get unnecessarily complicated—going to great lengths to comply with nonexistent rules. We think it’s time for everyone to bust the myth and bust free from self-imposed restrictions.

Here’s the liberating truth: If you find a good contractor and want to use them over and over, you can. There are rules, which vary by location, but there are also legal ways to keep your best people working for you.

Worker classification myth #2: I don’t need to waste my brain space on this

Maybe this one persists not because of misinformation but simply because we want to believe it. Sort of like the 5-second rule? Both are bogus, btw.

When laws change frequently, big money is on the line, and rules are complicated/vary from state to state, it’s tempting to ignore the issue until it shows up on your doorstep dressed in red with a pitchfork and horns. So.much.braining.

Sorry to burst your bubble, but even if you’re not in California, this thing affects you. That’s not only because other states, including New York and Michigan, are thinking about making changes too, but also because every state has its own rules. These rules can affect everything from the price you pay on a ride-sharing app to where and how you get your haircut.

The consequences for businesses who don’t comply can be damaging to your reputation and pocketbook (fines, fees, and lawsuits, oh my!).

The truth that can save your brain (along with your wallet and your reputation):

No matter where you are, you cannot afford to ignore worker classification rules, but here’s another happy truth: If you don’t want to/can’t get into the nitty gritty details yourself, you can rely on a qualified partner (👋) to do it for you. Reach out to our team of experts on all things freelance. Get away from the burden of onboarding, payrolling and classifying your workers and focus on what you love.