Is Earned Wage Access Right For Your Workplace?

What would you do to help employees avoid financial predators when they face an emergency?

Giving workers access to their wages before payday means that when a situation pops up, they can get the money they’ve earned the moment they need it, instead of waiting a few weeks or a month. Whether you call it on-demand pay, instant pay, or earned wage access, it’s gaining popularity across the country. 

Earned wage access can keep your employees out of shark-infested waters, so to speak, because it gives them an alternative to predatory solutions. They won’t have to rack up high-interest credit card debt or turn to payday lenders.

You can get some benefits from it, too, all with next to no real costs for your bottom line.

In this incredibly tight labor market, it’s yet another way to provide freedom and flexibility to your employees. These types of benefits are always a competitive advantage when you’re trying to attract new workers. These benefits can also keep your current employees happy. 

Before making the leap into earned wage access, you need to know a bit more about it so you can determine if it’s right for you and your business. We’ll give you an overview, including the pros and cons of offering this system, as well as some basic steps to implementation.

Plus, we have some great news for you at the very end (hint: it’s a way to simplify everything).

How does earned wage access work?

Life happens, and sometimes your employees can’t wait until payday to get what they’ve earned. A Federal Reserve study found that more than 40% of households would not be able to handle a $400 dollar emergency.

Some might decide to turn to payday lenders to get their cash sooner. Others rely on using credit cards to buy now and pay later. Earned wage access is better for your employees—instead of stressing over a financial emergency that drives poor financial decisions, they can use money they’ve already worked for.

They’re not borrowing someone else’s money at high fees. Earned wage access is not a loan. 

At its most basic, the pay card gives access to employees to the money they’ve already earned. At any time, they can pull out that money. In that sense, they are banking their wages and can draw from that balance at any time. 

Should your business try it?

It’s important to understand the pros and cons of on-demand pay before you decide to try it. Not every business makes a good candidate for it.

Benefits

Improve productivity and focus. Over half of surveyed employees report financial stress as their key concern. Financial stress is real, especially for your employees. They spend a lot of time worrying about finances, and many end up missing work to deal with financial difficulties. That hurts productivity. Earned wage access can help relieve that stress and get their minds back on their work.

Add another level of flexibility and control. Millennial workers prefer flexibility when it comes to their work. Earned wage access is yet another piece of that puzzle, giving them more control over how and when they’ll get the money they’ve earned. They also get the sense that the work they just did has immediate financial return. Instead of waiting a few weeks to get a return on their work investment, the connection is more immediate and direct.

Create financially stable employees. Without earned wage access, employees who need their money to fund an emergency may have to turn to credit cards or payday lenders. These are high-interest, high-fee options that put your employees under a lot of stress. That not only hurts them, but it also hurts you in the long run. Earned wage access empowers your workers to manage their finances in a way that works for them. Happier and more relaxed employees are good for your business.

Drawbacks

Manual application is unwieldy. If your payroll system isn’t ready to handle regular requests for payment, and you have to handle each of these requests manually, earned wage access will become a massive burden for your payroll team. The structure of your work schedule (e.g. rotating shifts, 9/80 work schedule, etc.) could make calculating payroll manually with earned wage access in play fairly difficult.  

Costs associated with an earned wage access program. Depending on the program you set up, or the provider you choose to use, there could be associated costs. These can be paid by you or passed on to your employees (which we’ll cover next).

How to implement earned wage access for your business 

Before implementing, you need to ask a few questions first.

  1. Will this be for all employees, or just a section of them? While it’s probably best and easiest to manage earned wage access for all employees, you may have reasons for only offering it to some of your shift workers. If you operate in several states, for example, differing payroll laws might make it challenging.
  2. What vendor will you use? There are many available, with different types of apps and fees. You’ll want to find one that integrates with your current scheduling and payroll platforms.
  3. Will you offer a pay card? You may choose to offer a pay card, which allows the money to be moved into a different account associated with a card to access it. You might partner with earned wage access companies who provide the cards, cloud accounts, and associated services.
  4. Will I help my employees become financially stable? Some employee-funded earned wage access programs work to reduce employee reliance on getting paid earlier, either through providing budgeting apps and services, or automatic incremental savings.
  5. Am I meeting legal requirements? Whatever system you choose to set up, it must meet the legal payroll requirements for your state and country.

As you can see, there are quite a few things you have to consider to make this happen.

Remember that the goal of earned wage access is to help your employees. Whether that’s through the convenience of flexibility and control over their earnings, or to help them answer emergencies, earned wage access is a simple way to achieve it.

When you understand that financially stable employees are happier, less stressed, more productive, and less likely to always be looking for a bigger paycheck, the value of offering earned wage access to your team is clear.

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