How to Set a Salary Frequency: Discussing Pay Regularity and Raises


As more Americans return to work, employers are having to try hard to lure back in their labor force. After all, health concerns are keeping people that can afford it at home and those concerns may persist for months.

As employers assess ways they can make working more attractive, salary frequency has started to bubble up in conversations.

For the uninitiated, salary frequency typically refers to two things in a place of business. Those two things are how often one gets paid and how often a salary is inflated (raises). In this post, we discuss factors that will allow you to better set your salary frequency in both of those regards which should help you create a better and more enticing workplace for employees to come back to.

Setting Pay Regularity

Salary frequency regarding the regularity in which a person receives a paycheck varies from business to business. Some businesses pay weekly. Others bi-weekly or monthly.

The following are considerations that will enable you to go with a pay regularity structure that works for your team:

Assess Need

People that are living paycheck to paycheck are more eager to receive their pay on a weekly schedule than employees with savings. For that reason, you must assess the makeup of your workforce to determine if need is a factor that should be weighed in your salary frequency conversations.

Are your workers getting paid relatively small amounts and are what you would consider to be below middle class? If you answered yes to those questions, a weekly salary frequency could go a long way for them.

Consider Industry Comps

Industry comps are how comparable industries do things. For example, if you ran a burger restaurant and were curious to know which pay frequency to land on with your team, see what competing burger restaurants in your area are offering.

If your employees don’t like that you pay bi-weekly but find that every other business in the area does the same thing, they’ll be more likely to be okay with your structure as opposed to if they found that others were paying more frequently.

Look at Potential Software Limitations

Do you use software to cut checks to your employees in the way of direct deposit? If you do, in some cases, your software provider may have limits on pay frequency per the number of transfers they’re managing.

Talk to your payment provider if you’re not cutting paper checks to see what’s possible.

The Question of Affordability

It’s always going to be more costly for you to break out your payroll check template and compensate employees more frequently.

When you get to hold onto your payroll money for an additional week or longer, you can have that cash sitting in an interest-bearing account that can generate an income for you. That’s hard to do if you’re having to rotate pay out every week.

There are other expenses associated with cutting checks frequently such as the time it takes to write checks (opportunity cost) or transaction fees imposed by your software provider.

Salary Adjustment Frequency (Raises)

For the second part of our salary frequency question, we’re going to talk about the regularity that a business should adjust employee’s salaries in the way of a raise. As we discuss factors that might affect your decision to adjust an employee’s salary below, note that many of these factors can also be applied to our previous conversations of pay regularity.

Below are three key elements to look at on the subject of raises:


Comps are one of the primary drivers behind the frequency in which employees see salary adjustments. That’s because setting salaries competitively makes it difficult for employees to leave for better opportunities.

Figuring out average pay ranges for your employees may be as easy as looking up information on salary sites. You may also be able to discuss your questions with an industry consultant that may have better, more localized data for you to lean on.

Keep an Eye on the Economy

Looking at the economy to gauge the frequency in which an employee’s salary should change is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, a down economy may mean your business wanting to keep things tight and avoid increasing employee pay. On the other hand, down economies often mean team members needing money more than ever.

Which path you choose to take in reaction to down economic times depends on what you can afford. Keep your team and their needs in mind as you navigate possibilities. Disappointing them could result in costly turnover.

Driving Value Without Driving Salary

You can substantially curb the frequency in which you award raises by driving value in other, cheaper ways. For example, a company that allows team members to work 4-day work weeks or that offers competitive health benefits won’t be under as much duress to award merit pay increases.

Get creative when it comes to topics surrounding salaries and find good compromises that work for both you and your team.

Salary Frequency Can Have a Big Impact on Your Near-Term Success

Businesses are at a pivotal juncture today with the state of the economy. Given that fact, putting thought into your salary frequency and all of its facets can have large near-term implications on whether or not your business can thrive.

We hope our points help you shape your conversations on this subject. You can explore additional content on our blog for guidance on related topics.