Making the on-demand workplace work for everyone

Hastee CEO James Herbert explains how employers can assist workers living in a demanding, and on-demand world.

We are living in an on-demand everything time. As consumers have learnt to enjoy online and fast mobile shopping and services, like banking, Netflix, Amazon Prime, Uber, and HelloFresh, their expectations for the pace of delivery have changed. The same trends have impacted the workplace too, and certain demands may become too pressing to ignore. The current pandemic has also shown an uptick in demand for all things instant and online for obvious social distancing reasons.

The modern on-demand economy was birthed from the internet. The early noughties saw the launch of iTunes offering on-demand music downloads. Then later we saw the inception of on-demand media steaming with the launches of both Netflix and Spotify. Uber followed for transportation. 2013 saw food ordering disrupted by Deliveroo and a year later Amazon began same-day delivery to Prime members.

What has followed is an on-demand culture, with consumer behaviour influenced towards a desire for instant gratification. This on-demand culture is even changing our relationship with the workplace too. With the constant challenges in recruitment, retention and workplace productivity, employers have been left wondering what actions can be taken to accommodate on-demand culture to ensure staff wellbeing and retention.

The workplace on-demand – beyond business-as-usual benefits

Businesses are readily accommodating those enhanced workplace benefits such as no-desk policies, flexible working and remote working for the same reason. The business experiences benefits too. These aren’t simply window dressing for the HR department when it comes to recruiting new talent. Each has its own tangible benefit for the business.

Social media has had a significant hand in changing the way we operate, and this is another area where savvy businesses have turned to. Where personal phones and Facebook access were once banned in many businesses, many of today’s leading businesses actively encourage workers to share their progressive cultures through their social media accounts.

While the corporate world’s embrace of on-demand culture is largely positive, the on-demand workplace is not without its disparities. The shift towards on-demand culture in the workplace has neglected to bring certain outdated business practices in-line with the always-on world we now find ourselves living in.

Take pay day frequencies – weekly or, more commonly, monthly payment of salary may seem like an age-old standard – but it’s only been law for around 60 years. And it doesn’t necessarily fit with modern financial demands, as there is evidence that most people think more in terms of weekly budgeting.

Always-on financial demands

We’re living in an age where even before the world changed with pandemic lockdowns, a third of middle-class families were struggling to pay the bills and couldn’t cope with an unexpected £500 bill. It’s harder than ever for young workers to afford to buy their own homes and face high and rising rents. Just over half of all adults aged between 21 and 35 have asked their parents for financial support in the past two years – pre-lockdown.

Meanwhile, targeted online advertising tracks our browsing activity, constantly encouraging us to buy items we’ve checked out. With a myriad of financial demands, from essential spending to ancillary spending to treat ourselves, managing personal finances is challenging. Payday loan companies exploited this, positioning high cost borrowing as the solution. Instead they exacerbated the problem with extortionate interest rates and unethical collection practices.

Read More: 5 ways to maintain your workplace culture remotely

Businesses embracing on-demand culture should consider workplace perks that directly address such issues that impact workers both inside and outside of working hours since financial stress can be so debilitating. Hastee’s Future of Pay report based on consumer research, revealed that one in four people in the UK say they struggle to concentrate at work when thinking about their finances. One in five workers said they have wasted working hours dealing with repayments. Clearly, lack of financial wellbeing impacts workplace productivity.

In an age where technology is increasingly making our lives easier, pay day frequencies dwell in the blind spot of flexible workplace transformation. By providing flexibility around pay, employers could offer workers the ultimate workplace perk – financial wellbeing.

The modern workplace demands flexible pay – or ‘earnings on demand’

Just like no-desk policies, on-demand training, flexible working and remote working, flexible pay works both ways, benefitting both the worker and the business. Whether faced with an emergency bill or trying to purchase flights on sale today only, employers can support their workers with safe access to the money they’ve already earned that pay period without waiting for pay day. By enabling greater financial wellbeing in the workforce, businesses can benefit from greater attendance and productivity.

Hastee’s research also revealed how workers across all salary levels are reliant on high cost credit to get by between days. According to the research, 82 per cent of workers have relied on finance options to source money quickly between pay days. Surprisingly, borrowing isn’t limited to lower paid workers, with 75 per cent of high earners in senior positions regularly relying on credit cards between pay days.

Earnings on demand is an on-demand perk that presents an ethical and discreet alternative to high cost credit options such as payday loans, credit cards and overdrafts. For employers, it presents an opportunity to ease financial stress, increase wellbeing in the workforce and ultimately protect and increase workplace productivity. And existing solutions offer zero impact on payroll processes, zero impact on the cashflow of the business and are designed for quick, simple integration.

In the on-demand world, rigid pay cycles simply don’t fit with modern financial demands. Combined with on-demand training, flexible and remote working policies and well-designed workspaces, businesses can comfortably embrace on-demand culture and benefit from a happier workforce. 

James Herbert

Founder and CEO of Hastee, a revolutionary fintech business that allows workers to receive their earned pay on demand.