What Self-Service Payroll Means in the New Millennial World

Oct 8, 2019  | Topic: Strategy

Millennials are expected to represent more than 35% of the global workforce by 2020 according to Manpower Group - whilst in the US, that figure was reached way back in 2016.

This trend is driving an increasing sense of urgency for employers who are currently failing to meet the needs of this younger workforce.

But beyond the cliches and stereotypes, what do millennials really want and expect from their employers? How has this generation influenced older workers in terms of elevating the expected level of digital workplace experiences? And how can payroll play its part in delivering this experience to keep all generations feeling engaged, motivated and appreciated?

In this article, we’ll look at the evolution of self-service payroll and explore what it should look like in today’s millennial world.

Meeting Millennial Expectations

Having grown up with the Internet, smartphones and social media, the millennial generation is built on the promise of ‘instant and on-demand’. Whether it’s a ride from Uber or a film via Netflix, most things are available at the touch of a button, whenever and wherever it’s required.

These autonomous, tech-driven experiences are driving millennial expectations in the workplace too. And as the rest of the working population is rapidly embracing the self-service mentality, the opportunities extend beyond appealing to just the younger percentage of your workforce.

Most organizations are already trying to improve the overall employee experience, with various initiatives to digitize the workplace, including self-service HR and payroll. At a basic level, this takes the form of employee access to their own portal of information and the ability to view payslips (both new and historic) online.

Yet, the effectiveness of self-service ultimately relies on adoption. And adoption rates are normally increased by an organization’s ability to deliver a digital experience seamlessly across multiple touch-points. Convenience and flexibility are crucial factors in meeting an employee’s expectations of instant, anytime access to the information that matters to them.

And make no mistake, millennials are just as keen to keep a close eye on their finances as any other age group.

That’s despite often being branded as a generation happy to spend its income on brunch and designer coffees. A significant study by the UK mobile banking service, Revolut suggests ‘saving’ is far higher on the millennials’ agenda than they are given credit for.

With 70% of young adults putting money into savings every month, it illustrates a generation placing significant value on financial control - something a fit-for-purpose payroll system should help to support.

What Modern Self-Service Payroll Looks Like

While the provision of any payroll self-service platform might seem a clear step forward for many businesses, it may not necessarily be enough to meet millennial-level expectations.

Indeed, your solution will need to provide a range of benefits if it’s to feel the full embrace of an expectant workforce.

For starters, a modern payroll experience must be mobile. As drivers for enhanced collaboration and always-on communication, smartphones are increasingly being integrated into the workplace - and they’re central to modern self-service payroll.

Employees want access to information at their fingertips, whenever and wherever they need it - not just in the office. And payroll information is no exception. Employees from the millennial generation are also accustomed to receiving push notifications for things that are important to them.

So, much like the modern banking ‘in-app’ experience, notifications when salary or a bonus payment has been made is another small but impactful way to keep all employees engaged via payroll. And this can be integrated with other benefits applications too.

Payroll self-service should take its lead from the ‘Ubers’ of the world - providing a service that’s not only always available, but one that is delivered through a sleek and intuitive user interface.

If the log-in or update process takes more than a few clicks, it’s simply taking too long. And regardless of best intentions, a clunky, hard-to-use self-service payroll platform is more likely to go unused.

In the same spirit of timeliness and productivity, organizations should also seek to investigate other ways in which self-service can speed-up common payroll processes. Fielding typical payroll queries via AI chatbots for instance, can give employees instant access to answers they don’t want to wait for - while relieving the manual burden on your HR and payroll teams.

You can read more on this subject in our recent blog - ‘The empowering benefits of single-source data and employee self-service.’

The Wider Business Benefits of a Modern Payroll Experience

By meeting the needs of the new-look workforce, enhanced self-service payroll can play a role in the retention of employees - providing a degree of staffing stability in an otherwise volatile job market.

The ILM’s Workforce 2020 survey even suggests that 57% of millennials in work today expect to move jobs within the next two years.

Reducing this ‘millennial churn’ clearly extends far beyond payroll’s remit. And, it’s largely accepted that employer attitudes to inclusion, freedom and a job’s sense of purpose are all as important to millennials than what’s on their payslip. Yet payroll can help set the tone for wider engagement, positioning the business as a forward-thinking organization in touch with the wants and needs of its workforce. While the opportunities for interaction are limited, few are as important to employees as receiving their pay. So why not make the most of that experience?

The business benefits of self-service payroll go further than talent retention, also offering significant administrative savings through paperless payments and the reduced strain on payroll teams, who no longer have to respond to basic payroll queries.

Self-service also responds to the modern-day requirement for tighter data security. It means private pay information is stored in a password-protected, cloud-based portal for each employee, rather than into an easily opened envelope or legacy on-premise system. Learn how we’ve helped Groupon digitise payroll as part of its global payroll consolidation.

Small improvements perhaps, but all add up to the potential for a significantly enhanced business reputation, at a time when employer review sites like Glassdoor are becoming increasingly influential in attracting top talent.

With millennials fully prepared to jump from job to job in search of the most fulfilling, engaging roles, it’s now up to employers to sell themselves to candidates. Forward-thinking self-service strategies - across payroll and beyond - may be one way to set your organization apart.


Clearly it is not all about keeping millennials engaged. But they are arguably the best yardstick for the level of digital and self-service innovation organizations need to create to meet the expectations of the workforce as a whole.