Woman with bill More companiesare recognizing that immediate access to wages is critical duringthe pandemic, as many essential workers and families are livingpaycheck to paycheck.

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Preparing to "head back to the office" — whatever that mightmean — shouldn't mean a return to business as usual. Ourunderstanding of workplaces, and the way we live and work, has beenfundamentally shattered, and employers must use this time as anopportunity to reconsider their relationshipswith employees.

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In recent months, workers redefined work-life balance andstarted to lean on managers for support beyond the boundaries ofwork. Employees rely on their employers for consistent income tosupport their families and pay for critical health care and otherservices. During the crisis, many employers have responded toemployees' needs by temporarily offering more flexible payoptions.

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Related: Will new flexible pay models lureemployees?

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But temporary pay flexibility isn't enough. Our paymentstructures must now change permanently to respond to theever-growing list of stressors that drive attrition and burnout. Byusing the coronavirus pandemic as a chance to deliver flexible,on-demand payment solutions, employers can boost retention andimprove employee well-being — and as a result, their bottomlines.

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Rebuilding worker compensation for the new decade

Deploying tools that offer fair compensation for workers byincreasing autonomy should be a top business priority for allleaders. But many employers delay adopting new systems because theyare cost-prohibitive and involve significant upskilling.

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Prior to COVID-19, a few Fortune 500 companies at the cuttingedge of digital transformation recognized the need for a payexperience that creates a deeper connection between employees andemployers. By giving employees control over the timing of their ownpaychecks, these companies empowered workers with the financialflexibility and freedom that is vital to frontline employees.

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More companies are recognizing that immediate access to wages iscritical during the pandemic, as many essential workers andfamilies are living paycheck to paycheck and require funds foressential PPE and supplies. But you should plan for a morepermanent shift as we move out of pandemic restrictions andemployees begin to expect more flexible solutions.

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Employee pay is most often viewed by employers as a rote,transactional effort. But with digital cost-savings programs thatallow employees to immediately access their pay, you can usepayment as a strategic lever to drive cost savings, efficiency,productivity and employee financial well-being.

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Benefits of flexible employee pay technologies include:

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Mental health benefits: Employees who useflexible pay solutions report feeling reduced financial stress andincreased time with their families. According to our recent report,which surveyed nearly 2,500 DailyPay users across the country abouttheir on-demand pay habits, employees using DailyPay benefits savean average of $1,205 each year. In addition, 78% say they avoidlate fees and 70% say they no longer have to take predatory paydayloans.

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Improved employer-employee relations: Bydemonstrating that you value flexibility and work-life balance, youcan improve your relationship with employees. In addition,implementing these systems can be critical to both recruitment andretention. One in six employees at companies using a DailyPaybenefit say they search for "daily pay" as their primary employercriteria.

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Increased efficiency and productivity:Psychology shows that financial stress takes a mental toll on work.Because daily pay functionality gives employees more control overtheir future, 74% of employees using this feature report reducedfinancial stress. Helping employees make bills and other expensepayments on time allows them to be more engaged and productive atwork because they're able to disconnect from home stress.

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In the current business environment, your organization needs toprioritize operational efficiency and find creative ways to reducecosts, while maintaining an effective and engaged workforce.

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You can't afford to move backward as the working world movesforward. To attract and retain top talent — and demonstrate youcare about your frontline workers — empower your employees withinstant access to pay as they earn it.

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Jason Lee is CEO of DailyPay.

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