According to PYMNTS’ pandemic research, over 41 percent of workers in lower-income positions are earning even less since COVID-19 descended. That’s not unexpected, all things considered – just another eye-popping statistic from the next normal. What’s surprising is how conspicuously antiquated “payday” suddenly seems in an economy that went digital-first without hesitation.
Nowhere is this more striking than among frontline healthcare personnel and essential workers in various industries, like thousands of nurses and nurse’s aides – many who are basically gig workers for staffing firms, who risked exposure to the COVID-stricken and saved countless lives – and even the mobile order-ahead drivers we thanked for food deliveries while society sheltered in place.
A central theme running through PYMNTS’ June 2020 Next-Gen Payroll Tracker®, done in collaboration with ADP®, is the work being done to nix traditional payday for more responsiveness in payroll – and the positive outcomes that increasingly ensue.
“The traditional two-week paycheck cycle is more insufficient than ever to meet workers’ needs. New digital solutions offer a path forward, allowing workers to get paid the same day they work — or even in advance — through payment methods that are far faster and convenient than paper checks,” the Next-Gen Payroll Tracker states.
Five Generations of Workers, One Breakthrough
Everything lately is COVID, COVID and more COVID, but reasons to jettison your grandfather’s idea of payday predate this pandemic by at least a couple of years.
“For the first time in history, there are five generations in the workforce at the same time, and each segment’s needs vary, so businesses need to offer different payment methods to appeal to a range of employees,” George Mavrantzas, vice president of strategy and thought leadership at Wisely by ADP, told PYMNTS in the June Next-Gen Payroll Tracker®.
“For example, Gen Z will likely be attracted to pay card methods, whereas Baby Boomers may want other pay options, such as direct deposit or paper checks. To determine your organization’s preparedness for alternative payment methods, you’ll first want to figure out the composition of your workforce’s pay preferences,” Mavrantzas said. “You can do this by calculating your pay-by-check population or direct deposit percentage. You could also examine any employee requests for faster access to funds.”
The lure of alternative payments for gig workers (and, frankly, most workers) is manifold, with most seeing superior control of financial resources and bill payment consistency as key.
“Workers believe such payment options reduce financial stress and improve overall wellness, while employers consider them important incentives in retaining and attracting workers,” the Next-Gen Payroll Tracker® states. “Eighty-five of percent of employees consider financial wellness important to their overall well-being, according to ADP’s Evolution of Pay Report, while 84 percent of employers believe wellness-related offerings help them attract top talent.
Flexibility Takes Shape
Until recently, disintermediating payday felt either like a TED Talk (aspirational at best) or an abject lesson in the mostly unchallenged domain of predatory payday lenders.
World-changing events also change business as usual, however – and COVID is no exception.
“The pandemic has dramatically shown why firms and their employees need more flexible compensation capabilities, especially those on the front lines of the crisis, like nurses or delivery drivers,” according to the latest Next-Gen Payroll Tracker®. “Many of these workers are now being required to work irregular shifts due to social distancing policies or unprecedented demand. Employers in certain industry segments may also have to manage hazard and overtime pay or offer other financial incentives in addition to paying workers off-cycle.”
Closing cash flow gaps – and helping people get caught up and able to cover unforeseen expenses – equates to happy, productive workers, irrespective of freelance or full-time status. Alternative and flexible payments options can be a payroll manager’s new best friend at times like this.
“Alongside … new flexible payment offerings are highly functional mobile tools, like the ADP Mobile App, which put a host of vital tools at employees’ fingertips, including paycheck status, time-off requests and HR inquiries,” the Tracker states.
“Such apps often work in tandem with cloud-based HR platforms, which administrators and employees can use anywhere they have access to the internet — a vital capability at a time when HR teams may not have access to on-premise software systems.”