a Slow payroll Pivotal HR Solutions Blog

Pay frequency, transparency, and overall pay experience more critical than the amount of pay or benefits to most employees

In seems like a no-brainer: to retain top employees offer competitive pay rates, benefits and opportunities for merit increases. Bonuses help. Right?

Wrong. Although these are given standards, and employees/team members care about them, they are more likely to stick with their employer-based on three unexpected criteria:

  • Pay frequency: flexibility or more choices is the most critical retention criterion.
  • Pay transparency is second only to frequency: with websites such as “Glassdoor” everyone can look up the going pay rates; team-members expect complete transparency
  • Pay experience: communications, flexibility and openness — and a fast, efficient review process — matter more than the raise, bonus or merit increase.

These observations are accaccording to a recent survey of employees.[1]

Flex Pay Pivotal HR Solutions Blog
Typical preferences when employees are offered choice of flex pay (according to FlexiTime).

It makes sense in the context of employee pay rates and bonus are a prominent factor in satisfaction — and therefore expected. Lack of frequency, transparency and communication, however, may be enough to push away a valued team member regardless of industry-leading pay and bonuses. Other factors, such as company culture and so on, are not considered in this survey, which only rates Payroll Management controllable aspects of compensation.

Number one payroll demand: Frequency

According to the survey, of the two-thirds of employees who are paid every two weeks, 40 percent of these would prefer a weekly pay cycle. Currently, according to the survey, 20 percent are already on weekly pay. In other words, 57 percent of employees in total, prefer weekly pay — even if they aren’t getting it now. Semi-monthly or monthly salary is not popular.

And, increasingly, flex pay is growing in appeal, with 35% of respondents preferring it. Amongst younger team members, this jumps to 56%. [Survey of 1891 workers in both Canada (983) and United States (909). Note 1.]


Payroll super hero Pivotal HR Solutions Blog
Payroll teams and processes can be the “superhero” of the workplace in terms of employee retention and satisfaction by deploying either flex pay of weekly pay.


When choosing between two employers, or deciding whether to stay or “shop the job,” a weekly pay cycle will almost always win out, all other factors being more-or-less equal. Particularly today, with cost-of-living increasing, cash flow tends to win out over total pay.

While it is true that increasing frequency may increase your processing fees and costs — although not always, with proper management — it is a minimal investment against the demand for pay frequency.

The classic example is Amazon. While it does not have the highest pay, one way they help retain team members is with a weekly salary. The younger the team members, the more important this can be considering the costs of starting a household.

Flex-pay: it’s viable, and maybe the future

Another option is to allow team members — at least those who are on salary — to choose frequency themselves. While this requires robust Payroll Management, or likely an external Payroll team to minimize costs, it increases job satisfaction. In this scenario, team members can choose between weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, semi-monthly.

According to a company that specializes in FlexiTime (in New Zealand) [2], the average chooses from employees are:

  • Weekly: 67%
  • Bi-weekly: 22%
  • Monthly: 8%
  • Other: 3%


a Slow payroll Pivotal HR Solutions Blog
One constant — no employee likes to wait for pay. Frequent pay reduces stress for everyone.


Even from the point of view of the employer, aside from employee satisfaction and retention, there are some management advantages to once-a-week pay frequency. According to FlexiTime:

“Paying staff weekly and balancing the books more regularly also allows you to more closely align the benefit derived from the labour with the cost of the wages. Where there are regular staff queries about hours and rates it can be advantageous running the pay as close to when the work happened – it’s hard to remember what happened 4 or even 2 weeks ago (I struggle to remember what happened yesterday!).” [2]

Does the frequency really cost more?

The increase in costs should be small in context, especially if the employer has the right payroll system, set up and managers in place. The efficiencies of scale matter. With external Payroll Management, the fees increase, of course, with frequency, but not substantially (in context of the benefit) — so this is still a viable benefit option for your team members.

When considering costs, remember that monthly pay would result in the lowest fee-based expenses — but it isn’t difficult to anticipate how unpopular that would be with your team members. The reverse is certainly true. For a relatively small investment, weekly pay may be the glue that keeps your valued team on their jobs for life.

Payroll Managers Matter

A team manager could go out of her way to create an incredible corporate culture and manage the team with genuine mentoring and warmth — only to be sabotaged by pay practices lead by Payroll Management. It is vital to any company serious about team retention to look at the overall Payroll Management system. Either a full outside review of competitiveness — a Payroll Management audit — or a move to an outsourced Payroll Management team can benefit workplaces in terms of retention. External professional Payroll Managers know what it takes to retain through efficient and well-managed systems because they manage other external clients. The diversity of industry experience matters.

Changing payroll frequency, for example, to retain your key employees can be logistically challenging, especially if you have different types of employees: for example, salespeople on a monthly commission, managers on semi-monthly, core team members bi-weekly, and so on.

Do you need an external Payroll Management team to review your processes, or streamline your systems? Contact the Payroll Management experts at Pivotal Solutions. Contact us below:

Payroll Contact



[1] Canadian Payroll Reporter

[2] “How often should you pay your employees” FlexiTime

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