By JD Farrugia
Nov. 11, 2022
In a bid to improve employee retention in the current landscape, employers are turning to advancements in payment technology and alternative payroll processes. One solution that is gaining momentum is earned wage access (EWA), also known as on-demand pay.
Earned wage access programs allow employees early access to parts of their salaries before their scheduled pay period. Unlike payday loans and advances, EWA solutions only grant employees access to money that they have already earned.
Initially a concept that gained popularity in the gig economy, EWA programs have now drawn the attention of employers and employees across all industries. Research shows that access to EWA has become a priority for job seekers around the country.
From small businesses to large corporations, there are a number of things to consider before adding EWA as an employee benefit to your retention strategy. Employers must understand the different EWA models out there as well as the common features across EWA providers, integrating it into their payroll system and remaining in line with any regulatory requirements.
Earned wage access products generally require employees to download a mobile app that they will later use to gain on-demand access to their salaries. These advances are paid directly into the employees’ account or to a dedicated pay card. EWA products function in one of two ways.
Although there are differences between earned wage access services, there are four core features that are common in any solution out there.
Earned wage access has gained popularity with employees over the last few years as a great way to ease the financial stress of trying to survive between paychecks. Rising inflation over the past few years continues to worsen as experts believe that we are hurtling toward a cost of living crisis. Forty-one percent of employees have received pay raises this year. Of these, only 28% claim to have received a raise higher than the current inflation rate.
One study found that the reasons for utilizing EWA varied between employees from different age groups. Gen Z workers tend to use it to pay for everyday expenses like groceries or make loan or rent payments. It reduces the stress of not having the cash flow available until the next payday.
Millennials also used EWA to cover family-related expenses, bills, and unexpected expenses related to vehicle maintenance. Gen X and boomers rely on EWA for family expenses, bills, and groceries but also use it to cover any emergency medical expenses. Either way, EWA has broad appeal across all age groups.
The COVID-19 pandemic and the uncertainty that followed meant that more people started to prioritize building up a financial safety net. Earned wage access makes this easier to do. Unlike payday loans and advances, employees are less likely to accumulate debt from high-interest rates and overdraft fees.
Signing up for an EWA program means more work for your human resources team, but the benefits of offering your employees more flexible access to their paychecks could outweigh the effort required.
Employees continue to struggle with inflation and trying to keep up with the high costs of living. Research shows that 78% of employees are seeking alternative employment in hopes of achieving better financial well-being.
By offering your staff the option of EWA and contributing to their financial wellness, you are more likely to attract top talent. In fact, 76% of employees agree that it is important for employers to offer EWA. Besides attracting talent, looking out for your staff’s financial health through EWA helps you improve your employee retention.
A lack of financial well-being is a major cause of stress for many employees. Furthermore, stress is the third-leading cause of long-term workplace absence and the fourth cause of short-term absence. Improving this situation means your employees will also be more present at work.
When looking at integrating an EWA program into your company, there are two things to consider: the associated fees for you or your employees and the legal implications of doing so based on where you are based.
It is important to understand your state’s direct deposit laws. Some states only allow employers to pay via direct deposit when the employee gives their consent through a written agreement. If the EWA program you have signed up for requires a separate bank account to be set up, this might not be applicable within that agreement. You may need to obtain additional written authorization to ensure compliance with laws and regulations.
The charges associated with EWA programs vary from one provider to another. Some involve charging employers a flat fee, while others charge employees per transaction. Before contracting an EWA service provider, you need to budget for any charges you will absorb or analyze whether or not your staff are willing to pay transaction fees themselves.
If you are going to offer EWA, you need to ensure that the wages employees have access to are accurate as soon as they are recorded. After all, fixing pay errors is much harder when employees have already spent their money. With automated time and attendance software, you can record accurate timesheets in real-time before they even reach your payroll or EWA system. This way, you can give your employees immediate access to their funds with peace of mind.
Workforce.com’s time and attendance is also synced with an employee scheduling system, meaning you can see wage and hour variances in real-time and on timesheets. With this visibility, you’ll be able to immediately catch where and when an employee’s pay doesn’t match up to their scheduled hours.
To find out more about how to lock in accurate wages BEFORE employees get access to them, check out our whitepaper on timekeeping below, or get in touch with us today.
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