Gen Z is Used to Everything On-Demand and They Want Access to Their Paychecks On-Demand Too

Generation Z is the fastest growing generation in the workforce today. At the same time, employers are urgently trying to recruit and retain workers during the current labor shortage, which makes Gen Z even more valuable than before. Along with a new perspective on work, technology, and the future, Gen Z brings tremendous workplace potential and new expectations, from recruiting and retention to communications and payroll frequency. Yes, payroll frequency. It’s a thing and an important one!

At The Center for Generational Kinetics, we have been studying Gen Z and payroll frequency since 2017! This is when we led our first collaborative study with Instant Financial, a pioneer in Earned Wage Access. In fact, Instant just released our follow-up national study this summer. The findings are shocking, actionable, and a must-know for all HR, workforce, and organizational leaders. 

As the first modern generation to come of age with the option to receive a portion of their earnings every day, it is now a clear expectation and behavioral driver for the generation. In fact, in our State of Gen Z annual study, we found that the majority (61%) of Gen Zers would like the option of taking home a portion of their earned wages every day! Why is this so important to Gen Z? 

On-demand pay, also known as Earned Wage Access, gained its appeal from employees needing faster access to the money they’ve already earned than the typical bi-weekly or monthly payroll frequencies deliver. In addition, being able to access a portion of earned wages daily enables employees (of all generations!) to avoid payday lending, overdraft fees, and other fees that often are expensive and non-value-add. Going even further, with the rapid rise in inflation, more employees are finding themselves living paycheck to paycheck, but that doesn’t mean their paychecks align with their bills—and that is the problem earned wage access solves. By giving Gen Z employees—and all employees for that matter—the ability to get up to 50% of the wages they earn each day, they can then put that money into the expenses themselves versus fees, interest, and other charges. 

But the question on everyone’s mind is, does having the option to get a portion of your pay every day make a difference? And do the recipients of the pay just spend on things they really don’t need? The data we’ve seen proves convincingly that having the option but not the obligation to access a portion of each day’s wages will get Gen Z to apply for jobs, accept jobs, stay longer at jobs, feel more valuable as employees, feel less financial stress, and feel more in control over their personal finances. 

The benefits of Earned Wage Access couldn’t come at a better time for Gen Z as well as employers of all sizes and industries. For employees, inflation is rampant, with the price of rent, gas, and groceries having gone up dramatically over the last 12 months. Being able to access their earned wages sooner enables Gen Z to better plan, pay for, and save money because they can control when they receive their earnings rather than someone else limiting their ability to access funds they’ve already earned. 

At the same time, employers are urgently looking for new, cost-efficient ways to improve their recruiting, retention, and engagement efforts. Adding Earned Wage Access as a feature is a very low-cost, low-effort way to provide an immediate benefit that is highly valuable, can positively impact every employee, and delivers a tangible result that employees positively connect back to their employer. 

Throw in the uncertainty of the stock market decline, crypto winter, economic recession, and more, and it’s easy to see why Gen Z is leading the trend of making Earned Wage Access a core benefit that employers should offer to help not only the emerging generation but every generation. 

Gen Z has grown up in an on-demand world, unlike any previous generation. They are used to having everything accessible to them at their fingertips, from entertainment to banking, learning, dating, and investing. They can instantly exchange money with friends via Apple Pay, Venmo, Cash App, Zelle, and so on, all of which make Earned Wage Access not only normal to Gen Z but expected. In fact, in our research, Gen Z feels like they can better reach their financial goals when they have more influence on the ability to receive the money they’ve earned every day. 

Only time will tell what lies in store for this generation, but one thing is for sure, we will continue keeping a close eye on Gen Z, their workforce expectations, and new trends they’re driving, and then share our latest research and discoveries with you. If you want to learn more about Gen Z and their views, beliefs, and attitudes toward money and personal finance, download our most recent State of Gen Z® annual research studies here.

As always, I am grateful to each of YOU for being on this journey of research, insights, and discoveries with us and Generation Z. 

Please reach out if there is a meeting or event where I can speak to you and your stakeholders about the hidden generational trends and step-by-step solutions leaders, marketers, and employers need to know now!

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