Want to keep employees happy? Pay them on time: survey

Dragons' Den star Manjit Minhas weighs in on a new poll showing that Canadian workers of all ages value well-managed payroll above other benefits.

Manjit Minhas is co-founder and CEO of Minas Breweries, Distilleries and Wineries

Dragons’ Den star Manjit Minhas weighs in on a new poll showing that Canadian workers of all ages value well-managed payroll above other benefits

Manjit Minhas knows how important is it for employees to get paid on time.

Twenty-one years ago, [my brother and I] had a breakdown in our own payroll. We were late two payrolls in a row, and I heard about it from many employees,” recalls the co-founder and CEO of Minhas Breweries, Distilleries and Wineries and Dragons’ Den judge.

For Minhas, whose company has operations in Calgary and Wisconsin, it was a valuable lesson that many employees count on timely pay to cover their mortgages, rent and other financial commitments. After that, I definitely paid attention to payroll myself, and our company did, by investing in our payroll practices.”

The pandemic has transformed the working world in many ways, but one thing that hasnt changed is employeesneed for reliable payroll—no matter how old they are. If anything, COVID has made them prize that service even more.

Thats the takeaway from a new survey by the Canadian Payroll Association. The poll, conducted in April with more than a little self-interest on the part of the Toronto-based CPA, asked about 1,500 Canadian workers what they value most in their employer.

Rather than salary or wage levels, the survey defined payroll as accurate and on-time pay that lets employees budget for expenses and avoid an unexpected tax bill. Nearly four out of five respondents called payroll an essential workplace benefit.

The results were consistent across generations, with 78 percent of Gen Z respondents, 83 percent of millennials, 79 percent of Gen Xers and 74 percent of baby boomers agreeing that well-managed payroll is essential.

Further down the list: health and dental benefits (deemed essential by 61 percent of respondents), RRSP programs and pension plans (43 percent), flexible working arrangements (38 percent), training and development opportunities (35 percent), extra vacation time (30 percent) and work perks (just 12 percent).

Free lunches and casual dress are nice, but only 36 percent of respondents said theyd trust their employer less or feel less valued if those perks disappeared. Compare that to 87 percent of respondents who reported that theyd feel the same way if pay were withdrawn, changed or disrupted.

Some employers might be surprised to hear that because they have been investing over the last many years in those work perks, rather than the benefit of consistent, timed pay,” Minhas says. Its pretty consistent from baby boomers to the younger generation.”

Strengthening employer-employee relations

Surveys like the CPA poll help to highlight workersneeds so that employers can improve relations with them, Minhas explains. Organizations wondering how to crack the code” when it comes to attracting and retaining younger workers should pay attention to payroll, she argues. In the CPA survey, 74 percent of millennial respondents said theyd consider finding a new job if their employer didnt make consistent and accurate pay a priority.

Payroll is a benefit of employment, and if other benefits are part of an employees total compensation, then its fair to consider payroll to be part of an overall benefits package,” Minhas says. I think that it hasnt been seen like that in the past, and I think it should.”

To ensure that their payroll procedures are strong, Minhas suggests that employers stay up-to-date on current standards and best practices, and well as government regulations.

Payroll during the pandemic

How has COVID affected working Canadians attitudes toward payroll? In the CPA survey, roughly three out of five Gen Z respondents said they valued accurate and timely pay more than before the pandemic. COVID has emphasized the importance of financial health for employees, Minhas says.

Tellingly, at 74 percent versus 87 percent, survey respondents were less concerned about mismanagement or cancellation of medical and dental benefits than about payroll problems.

At the same time, 80 percent said that accurate and consistent payroll gives them peace of mind. Asked what would happen if they didnt get their pay when expected, 52 percent said theyd feel more stressed and 35 percent said theyd struggle to meet basic financial commitments.

Minhas acknowledges that its a difficult time for employers as well as their workers. My heart goes out to all those employees that have been furloughed or let go,” she says. Theres no question the last year has presented challenges for employers and employees and businesses of all shapes and sizes, but Im positive that this moment won’t last forever. Im an optimist through and through; I think all entrepreneurs have to be.

It wont last forever, and so when Canada does bounce back—and it will—employers will be looking to staff up,” Minhas adds. I think that a great strategic advantage for them is to highlight their payroll, their procedures.”