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Rebuild a Financially Stable Workforce by Embracing Payments Technology

By Andrew M. Garner

Embracing_InsideBusinesses today are unable to fill their hourly worker positions because there is a disconnect in what employers are offering and what employees need. Increasingly, research shows the financial needs of employees, who are either subjected to traditional pay periods or are paid by check or in cash, aren’t always able to be met.

In fact, many companies are experiencing unprecedented hiring and retention challenges. According to a recent “State of the Industry” report with the National Restaurant Association, approximately 75% of operators surveyed said recruiting and retaining workers was among their top business challenges. Payments technology can act as a powerful recruitment and retention tool by providing workers with access to their wages through faster, digital access.

The demand by employees for faster and more efficient payment methods is redefining relationships between employers and employees. Hourly workers are increasingly motivated by how and when they get paid. Payments technology holds the key to combating these challenges. By removing barriers that slow wage payments, such as paying workers by cash or paper check, businesses can build a financially stable workforce and a profitable business with faster, more efficient digital methods.

In a December 2020 Netspend survey, research indicated that 61% of employers surveyed said adapting their payroll processes to provide faster digital payment access has made it easier to pay their workers more consistently and reliably. The same survey showed that 58% of those surveyed believed going digital has streamlined the payroll process.

Technology Transforms How Workforce Is Paid, Recruited, Retained

More than 900 tipped employees across the restaurant, food delivery, hospitality, transportation, and salon and spa industries, as well as 1,000 full-time, part-time, and gig workers across several industries were surveyed in 2020. The research was conducted to understand how businesses could adapt their payment processes to provide better financial security to hourly workers.

Netspend’s “Employee Health and Wellness” survey also indicates that digital payments technology is the gateway to providing a better payment experience that can help employers recruit and retain workers.

Research from late 2020 showed that more than half (57%) of hourly workers were financially insecure. Those same results indicate that evolving the way companies pay their workforce not only provides faster access to wages, but also helps decrease financial stress, while reducing employee turnover and increasing job applicants.

Meanwhile, in a Netspend 2021 report “The Restaurant Recovery: Three Pandemic Trends-Turned Opportunities,” nearly 31% of financially insecure workers surveyed reported having quit a job due to a lack of financial wellness. More financially stable employees (87%) are likely to remain with their current employer for the next year compared to only 58% of those who are financially unstable.

Increasingly, employees are more interested in faster wager access with 77% of workers surveyed saying they are interested in early access to earned wages, while 37% of workers said they would switch jobs for early access to earned wages.

Earned wage access (EWA) matters for many workers, especially those who are financially insecure, but employers can deliver faster access to earned wages to offer a safety net against these situations, which can quickly spiral out of control.

Financial stress, which directly affects workforce performance and retention, can cause disruptions in the workplace. According Netspend’s data, about 50% of workers polled say their financial situation disrupts their work, while 48% have lost or quit a job due to lack of financial wellness. Similarly, 65% of workers are more likely to run out of funds prior to their next paycheck when paid via cash or check.

Employers that want to leverage payments technology to give their workforce faster access to earned wages must look toward EWA payment solutions. Digital payments give workers more stability and control, which in turn helps the business attract and retain workers and helps drive better performance leading to a more profitable outcome.

Digital Payments Are Efficient, Close Access Gap for Workers

During the early stages of the pandemic in mid-2020, it became clear that the rise in remote work presented exceptional opportunities to eliminate costs. Digital payments became part of that equation as employers learned how and where to leverage EWA payment solutions to streamline how they paid hourly workers. More importantly, employers began to shift how employees could access their wages in ways that benefited everyone.

For hourly workers who are still paid via cash or paper check, bridging the gap from cash or checks to digital, contactless transactions has been challenging, time consuming, and costly, or simply not possible. The time spent digitizing funds often takes the place of budgeting or other activities that could improve their financial situation. In fact, 54% of employees being paid by cash or check find it difficult to keep track of their spending—twice as many as those who are paid digitally.

The adoption of digital payment methods also creates major time and resource efficiencies for employers. Digital payments are making it easier for employers to pay their workers more consistently and reliably, according to 61% of the employers we surveyed in April 2021 (“Power of the Pivot: Embracing Three Major Pandemic-Driven Trends,”) and going digital has streamlined the payroll process for 58% of employer respondents, according to a DailyPay blog article.

More than just adding efficiencies across employers’ payroll systems, pivoting to digital wage payments or offering EWA helped companies adapt payments as needed and close the digital access gap for workers.

For hourly workers, particularly those who traditionally received wages via cash or check, the risk of delayed or lost payments is an unnecessary burden. Digital wage payments eliminate the disruption of inconsistent or late payments, and provides a faster and more secure way for workers to access their wages, so they can better control their financial future.

Rebuilding a financially stable workforce can’t be done overnight, especially as employers continue grappling with shifting economic challenges and ongoing pandemic impacts. But embracing payments technology that eliminates inefficiencies, streamlines payroll processes, and provides greater choice and access for workers creates a clearer path toward a more equitable financial future for employees.

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Andrew Garner is Senior Vice President and General Manager of Business Partnerships at Netspend and is responsible for paycard, digital tips, disbursement, and incentive product sets. This includes all sales and business development efforts, implementation, account management, operations, and strategy. Learn more at