Schropp, assistant director of the payroll department in UI Human Resources, is a frequent presence in faculty and staff inboxes, delivering a friendly reminder: please submit your time records.
The man behind the payroll reminder is a Williamsburg, Iowa, native who is in his 17th year as a University employee. His work deals specifically with monthly and biweekly payroll, workflow, and workers’ compensation. When he’s not handling dollar signs and decimal points, he enjoys taking in his two sons’ sporting events and collecting coins.
Schropp sat down with fyi to talk about how his status as the “payroll police” serves as a good conversation starter around campus, what inspired him to work in payroll, and whether he’s ever had to send himself one of those time record reminders.
The mere mention of your name draws nods, smiles, and admissions along the lines of “That guy sends me e-mail every month.” What’s it like being so widely recognized, at least in name?
It’s a nice icebreaker when I’m conducting training around campus. I will introduce myself, and people say, “Oh, I know you! You’re the one that sends me that e-mail!” My wife and I like to attend antique auctions, and even there, I’ve had people mention the payroll reminder to me.
How many reminders go out each month?
It depends on the month. I’d say somewhere around 2,000 reminders go out each month. I’ve had people tell me they use the reminder as a scheduler of sorts—they get it and then go to the HR Self-Service web site and submit their record.
Do people reply with excuses like “the check is in the mail”?
I do see an occasional reply, usually something that says, “I’m sorry, I was on vacation. I’ll get that in right now.”
Have you ever had to send yourself a reminder?
I have not, although I’ve cut it close. I stay organized through Outlook, making notes for each day—that keeps me on track. Without my organization system, I’d be in trouble!
A few of my favorite things …
Food: fried chicken
Drink: Diet Pepsi
Reading: Sports Illustrated; John Grisham novels
Movies: the original Star Wars trilogy
TV show: SportsCenter
Music: ’80s, country…I listen to a little bit of everything
Sports teams: the Hawkeyes, across the board
How did you become interested in this line of work?
I can’t say I woke up one day and said, “Hey! I want to grow up and be in payroll!” But I’ve always enjoyed numbers and thought a career working with numbers was a possibility. While I was going to school in Kansas City, I worked for an ice cream company—that was my first foray into payroll taxes. It just appealed to me. The field frequently sees new regulations, and we must implement, follow, and track new compliance matters. It never feels routine to me.
What brought you to Iowa?
I grew up in Williamsburg. My wife and I wanted to start a family and be close to grandparents. We like the state, and I’m a big Iowa sports fan—go Hawks!
What do you like best about your job?
I get to meet so many folks around campus. Whether I’m out there for departmental training or just speaking with people, I like the interaction. I’m a people person, and I like putting faces to names. We recently rolled out an electronic I-9 (a federally mandated employment eligibility verification form that all employees must complete), so I’ve been able to get out more often.
Do you feel a special responsibility, working in a department dealing with people’s income?
Naturally, we want to make sure 100 percent of the checks go out correctly. Our main focus is to get the taxes taken out correctly and get the work done efficiently. I see payroll as a service unit that’s here to help employees. We’ve got a great team that works well together.
What is the biggest risk you’ve ever taken, and did it pay off?
I am not the most spontaneous person, so moving to Kansas City without a job was a risk for me. It paid off—this was where I got into the payroll field, and I attended Rockhurst College where I received degrees in management and finance and economics.