Nearly 3 In 5 Americans Agree Working 9-5 On Weekdays Is ‘Outdated’

NEW YORK — The American workplace is long overdue for a makeover. According to a new survey, more than 70% of employees believe the current work setup is stuck in the 20th century. The study of 2,000 employed Americans shows that many agree that traditional aspects of work, such as the hours (54%) and even the way employees are paid (41%), are in desperate need of modernization.

The Monday to Friday, 9-5 work week, which has been the norm for nearly a century, no longer suits the needs of 57% of respondents. Additionally, 67% believe that the traditional pay period of once or twice a month is outdated, with 51% stating that a rigid structure is a thing of the past and that a lack of flexibility in the workplace is no longer acceptable.

infographic on paycheck schedule and how often employees prefer to receive wages

When given the choice between more frequent pay or a more flexible work schedule, employed Americans are more likely to opt for the former (50% vs 44%). Currently, 51% of respondents are paid every other week, 23% receive their paycheck weekly, 14% are paid monthly, and only 7% are paid daily or upon completion of their work.

The survey also reveals that 62% of respondents feel their current pay cycle doesn’t align with their financial situation, with 61% attributing this to living paycheck to paycheck or running out of money too quickly (52%). A staggering 56% of employees “always” or “often” find themselves stretching their income between pay periods, with the average employee running out of funds just 12 days after receiving their paycheck.

In an ideal scenario, employees would prefer to be paid either weekly (64%) or daily (19%) to better suit their current financial needs. The consequences of the current pay structure are evident, with 35% of respondents admitting they are unprepared for an unexpected $400 expense, and 59% believing they wouldn’t be able to afford necessities if their pay were delayed by just one week.

Over the past five years, respondents have missed payments on credit cards (28%), electric and gas bills (22%), and medical bills (20%) due to insufficient funds. Furthermore, one-quarter have forgone purchasing groceries for the same reason.

To make ends meet, employees have resorted to continue using credit cards (34%), working multiple jobs (31%), and borrowing money from family and friends (28%). However, 30% of respondents would rather keep their financial struggles private and take out a high-interest loan instead of seeking help from loved ones.

The survey also finds that 58% of respondents believe they would benefit from receiving their paycheck upon completing their daily work. In fact, 74% agree that a job is more appealing if they can access their wages sooner. Despite this, only 35% are familiar with the concept of “earned wage access,” a financial tool that allows employees to receive part or all of their paychecks before payday. While 27% have access to an earned wage access program through their employer, only 16% have used it.

Job salaries file
The survey reveals American workers believe the current pay period is outdated and 58 percent prefer to be paid upon completing daily work. (© tashatuvango –

According to respondents, the appeal of earned wage access lies in its potential to reduce financial stress (24%), allow for better budgeting (19%), and better prepare them for unexpected expenses (19%).

“It’s no secret that Americans across the country are struggling to make ends meet. With so many respondents living paycheck to paycheck, it’s time to find a modern solution,” says Penny Lee, President and CEO of the Financial Technology Association. “Earned wage access appeals to workers by letting them tap into wages they have already earned to make ends meet. Our payroll cycle is broken, and getting paid once or twice just doesn’t work for most Americans. People are opting for Earned Wage Access over other products on the market to meet their needs, budget responsibly and reduce financial stress.”

As the survey reveals, the American workforce is ready for a significant shift in the way they are compensated and the structure of their work week. By embracing modern solutions like earned wage access and increased flexibility, employers can help alleviate the financial stress that plagues so many workers and create a more appealing and supportive work environment for their employees.

Sign Up For StudyFinds' Free Daily "Nutshells" Newsletter

Survey methodology:

This random double-opt-in survey of 2,000 employed Americans was commissioned by The Financial Technology Association between Feb. 23 and Feb. 29, 2024. It was conducted by market research company OnePoll, whose team members are members of the Market Research Society and have corporate membership to the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) and the European Society for Opinion and Marketing Research (ESOMAR).