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The Onbe Blog

Original Insights Into Fintech Culture

As the Workforce Changes, Freelancer Platforms Must Build a Better Payday

Sean Healey is Chief Product Officer at Onbe, where he’s focused on bringing our teams and technology together to deliver best-in-class payment experiences. 

For many US companies, our continuing economic recovery goes hand in hand with a new challenge: attracting and retaining talent. The conditions of the current worker shortage may not be permanent, but some of the drivers behind this shakeup—including workers’ demand for remote, flexible, and freelance opportunities—are likely here to stay. Nontraditional avenues for finding talent, such as freelancer platforms, play a key role in this changing labor market. To meet both temporary and long-term staffing needs, more companies are turning to third-party sites like Freelancer, Upwork, and the growing number of platforms for freelancers in professional fields, including InCloudCounsel and Toptal. For these freelancer platforms to compete in today’s booming global market, building a better worker experience is crucial. And that starts with payday.

Yes, attracting and retaining freelancers calls for a multipronged approach, and a lot needs to change to build more attractive and equitable experiences for nontraditional workers. But the payment experience is one major factor many freelancer platforms overlook. Currently, it’s far from perfect, since workers may need to wait ten days or more to withdraw the funds they’ve earned in a given pay cycle.

For freelancers, a timely payday is likely to be a major factor in choosing and remaining loyal to a platform. According to 2021 data, 54% of Americans—and 70% of millennials, who comprise a large portion of the freelance economy—live paycheck to paycheck. Also note that the Workforce Institute at UKG found that 49% of workers would begin a new job search after just two paycheck issues. For freelancers, payday tends to be less predictable than it is for nine-to-five employees. At the same time, these workers have more flexibility to seek new opportunities if something goes wrong. They may be less compelled to remain loyal to a platform or client that can’t deliver on their expectations for fast, reliable payment. 

Automating payroll processes or outsourcing these functions to third-party experts like Onbe can help eliminate errors and enable secure, real-time payments. Beyond resolving routine payday complaints, organizations should think of payroll as part of a strategy that supports workforce growth and aligns with changing ideas and attitudes about work. That means choosing a payroll solution that doesn’t just meet basic expectations but offers flexibility, choice, and added value for workers. 

For example, one option growing in popularity is to issue digital, reloadable pay cards to freelancers, gig workers, and independent sales representatives, empowering them to spend funds immediately and with no hassle. Workers then have the option to transfer their earnings, remit funds to an international bank account, cash out at an ATM, or spend their payment cards in person, online, and via mobile wallet. Companies even have the option to integrate loyalty programs within the pay card solution, further engaging freelancers. The best part is that freelancer platforms don’t have to reinvent the wheel. These organizations excel at creating innovative ways to connect companies with talented professionals—not building payments technology. By outsourcing payday, they can deliver payment experiences as engaging as the services they offer.

And as freelancer platforms enter new markets and tap into the global talent pool, a third-party partner can help them handle the complexities of cross-border payments. To be ready, platforms need the digital, global payment options necessary to pay workers from around the world in an array of international currencies. When freelancer platforms are prepared to break down barriers to paying workers across borders, they will be better equipped to attract and retain workforces even in a tight labor market. That ensures both the platforms and their corporate clients will be ready for the challenges of our changing global economy. 

The current worker shortage and retention difficulties putting pressure on organizations may not be a problem for long. But solving these temporary challenges can lead to new insights into the needs and preferences of today’s diverse workforce. Finding new ways to add value for workers at every touchpoint—including payday—will help businesses not only weather today’s staffing challenges but shape the future of the modern workplace.  

To learn more about designing a simple, flexible, and fully compliant payday experience that adds value for workers, discover Onbe Workforce.