Let’s Kill Direct Deposit

Remember the excitement of getting a birthday card and feeling a little cash fall out? I know we all felt it.

In the past, payday used to be the same. It was a big deal. You’d get your paycheck handed to you in person, maybe chat a bit with your boss or HR, and it felt good. If you’re too young to remember, just ask someone older than 30—they’ll fill you in.

Picture this: a physical piece of paper you’d take to the bank, sign, and walk out with cash. It was a whole event! But now, that tradition has pretty much vanished.

These paycheck deliveries did some very motivating things that we have now lost:

  1. The thrill of payday! Back in the day, as paychecks circulated, you could practically sense the excitement rippling through the workplace. Managers or HR reps would stroll around, engaging in light conversation, and offering cheerful remarks like, “Enjoy your weekend!” or “Don’t splurge it all at once!”—or, my personal favorite, “Can I borrow a buck?”
  2. Building bridges with leadership. Handing out paychecks compelled many leaders to step out and personally deliver earnings for the week. It created opportunities for them to talk with each team member and drop a couple of dad jokes asking if they’d like their paycheck with extra zeros this time around.
  3. A symbol of achievement. Holding that paycheck was like clutching a trophy. And everyone got one. It felt like tangible proof of your hard work and dedication. There’s something special about seeing, touching, and yes, even smelling the ink on that piece of paper—it’s a sentiment that resonates, especially for those of us who grew up in the ’70s.

The switch to direct deposit might be more efficient, but it’s lost some of the personal touch. No more Friday visits from HR, no more chats with coworkers, and no more physical evidence of your earnings.

Would you ever consider going back to handing out physical paychecks? I’m sold – show me the cash!

5 thoughts on “Let’s Kill Direct Deposit

  1. I like the sentiment behind your thought of going back to paper paychecks, however unfeasible it is in this day and age. I do wish we could find a way to incorporate the leaders making an effort to say hello and connect with employees. Five minutes of acknowledgment goes a very long way!

    Thank you for your thought provoking, Blog!

  2. i remember fondly a lot of things that are long gone, and getting an actual, physical paycheck is one of them. But it is crazy to think we can go back to those days again.

    In a world of remote and hybrid work, where people have Zoom meetings with colleagues all over the planet — my last gig was with teammates in New Zealand and beyond — getting a physical paycheck again would be a sweet blast from the past exactly once. After that, I’d gripe about all the downsides to it and wish I had not gotten caught up in the nostalgia craze.

    Tim, this is not a good idea, as others here have pointed out. I’m guessing this is a Good Friday blog post that got written quickly without enough logical thinking involved. I’ve been there too, so I get it, but it’s a terribly bad idea for our 21st Century world of work.

  3. Respectfully, no thank you. This would actually cause more of a headache for employees, employers, and payroll processing vendors. The possibility of chaos far outweighs the benefits.

    I am, however, in favor of periodically printed and mailed total rewards statements, on a nice, glossy, weighted paper worthy of hanging on the refrigerator with pride.

  4. DD is just too convenient for me to want to go back…paycheck were cool but, losing them, trips to the bank (oh man, they closed at 4pm!!), issues with no so bright tellers..maybe it’s bank I want to avoid and not the check….but -I’ll take it automatically showing up in my account as opposed to having to take 20 minutes to put it there….

  5. I get where you are headed and can see the benefit however, from an HR leader perspective, I only have nightmares of employees and managers loosing their checks and me tracking down replacement checks. It was the most inefficient and ineffective task of my career. In addition to this, banks charge customers for not having direct deposit so in the end, employee engagement may go down and it’s not fair to the employee. Please don’t kill direct deposit.

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