Financial Wellness
August 5, 2020

The Complete Guide to Launching a Better Financial Wellness Benefit at Your Company

One simple, crucial way to empower your people, show them their value, and help them prepare for whatever comes next is by offering better financial wellness benefits. This includes hourly employee benefits, too. Because hourly workers don’t traditionally receive the benefits full-time or salaried employees may, they can often struggle with unique problems that you, as their employer, can help them with. Not only does offering financial wellness benefits help your employees manage their finances, but it actually helps your bottom line. Let’s dive into what these benefits look like and how to determine what’s best for your organization. 

Gaps in today's financial wellness programs

When most employees—and employers—think about financial wellness, they think of benefits that require a lot of planning and anticipation like 401Ks and occasionally health savings accounts.  But many of your hourly workers are living paycheck to paycheck and are just breaking even within each pay cycle.They don’t have the funds to address basic expenses and emergencies, let alone set aside money for some of those  longer-term financial goals like a 401k or savings account.

Plus, traditional financial services often come with fees (such as overdraft or late fees) that can completely derail the budget of someone who is living paycheck to paycheck. As you’re starting to see, there are huge gaps in today’s financial wellness programs for hourly workers. 

Before they can take advantage of the mid to longer-term benefits, it’s important that your employees feel secure in addressing their short-term needs.

Thinking about your employees' finances more holistically

Ultimately, the power to address the financial wellness gap lies with you, the employer. You have the potential to offer more than just a paycheck to people. Don’t just provide them with wages, but take a holistic approach to helping them manage their finances. Make your company a place where people want to stick around, and truly feel safe, supported, and valued.

Why employers are a natural gateway to financial wellness for employees

Empowering your employees financially starts with offering them benefits that actually improve their lives.You might be asking yourself: Why? Why are financial wellness benefits something that working Americans want from their employers? Well, employers are naturally the first entry point into the financial system for most people.

For example...a 401K is often people’s first exposure to stocks and investments. Their W2 or 1099 is their first experience with tax forms and tax filings.And, alongside their paycheck, many people are prompted to open their first bank accounts when their job requires direct deposit or they need to cash their check. Plus, your employees spend most of their time at work. It makes sense to reward or assist with this time commitment.

And finally, people are underserved by traditional financial institutions. Many of your workers are struggling, living paycheck to paycheck, and get hit with excessive fees that can put them in a worse financial situation.

What to look for in a financial wellness benefit

Knowing that your business is the natural gateway into the financial wellness world for your employees, You may ask, “What makes a financial wellness benefit useful and compelling?” or “What makes it right for my organization and employees?”

As you reevaluate what kind of financial wellness benefits to offer your employees, use the 4 key factors below to ensure what you’re providing will make an impact on their day-to-day lives and help address their short-term financial needs, too. 

  1. Experience. Is the benefit easy for your employees to use and access? Is it inclusive of all employees, no matter the situation outside of work?
  2. Speed: The timing of a paycheck or transaction can make or break a bank account. If you’re offering financial services to your employees, make sure they allow for faster pay when possible, like earned wage access or early direct deposit. 
  3. Flexibility: There are over 11,000 banks and credit unions out there, so it’s important to find an option that will either let them connect with their existing account or an option that’s easy to sign-up for. Your benefits should be flexible enough to mold to the needs of the employee.
  4. Cost: Financial wellness should eliminate costs for employees and help them get ahead. Many financial wellness benefits claim to be free, but have subscription or transaction fees associated with them that are either passed on to the employer or employee

These same factors apply to businesses when they consider implementing a solution like this on the backend:

Experience/Speed: Are they easy and quick for you, as the employer, to implement? Just like your employees, you don’t want to implement a cumbersome benefit that’s going to take a lot of work or time. Find a solution that’s fairly turnkey and complements existing processes and systems.

Flexibility: Is it flexible? Can it be easily set up and tailored for your employees? Benefits and financial tools you provide should be flexible and be able to integrate with your current workforce or HCM system easily.

Cost: benefits shouldn’t be costly for you to distribute. You want to offer the best possible benefits package, at the lowest possible cost. There are many options for employee financial wellness out there that won’t break your bank - many in fact, are free to implement and offer to employees.

Build a business case for offering your new benefit

Once you have evaluated your employees, and your potential financial wellness options with those last 4 factors, you may be ready to implement a new tool or benefit.If you find a compelling financial tool you want to move forward with, it is crucial to be prepared for the steps to take to get approval. Maybe it’s as simple as you saying “I want this benefit!”But, for the majority of us, adding on new resources will mean getting other key stakeholders involved and going through presentations and processes. To do this, we recommend building an official business case.

This involves outlining some important key areas. And by this, I mean truly outline—bullet points are perfect for a business case—no need to spend hours writing full paragraphs. First, explain what tool or benefit you are recommending. Discuss the issue within your organization that you are trying to combat or solve with this solution. Or, talk about what improvements the solution will bring.Then, add a few key points about the current status. Where is the organization at currently - what other tools have been evaluated to attempt to solve this problem? Outline the options you’ve looked into and show clearly that the solution you’re presenting is the best.

After that, you’ll want to outline some potential roadblocks. Are there things that could slow this process down? This could include things like having to wait to implement new tools until a new year or until open enrollment. It could also involve the length of the onboarding process or any work you would need to do to prepare to implement.

Finally, outline those next steps.after approval, what is needed to move forward? Do you need to get anyone else on board? Do you need to phase out an old benefit? Is there any sort of contracting process with the solution you want to implement? All of these are very important to demonstrate to stakeholders so they fully understand the work and timeline that you’ll be on.

Here are a couple resources and templates to help you with those business case outlines:

The benefits of benefits

After you have considered your benefits and financial wellness tools with those factors, you’ll of course, want to know the benefits of your benefits. We’ve laid out four common benefits that stem from offering your employees those financial resources, education, and tools.

  1. Increased shift coverage
  2. Higher employee satisfaction
  3. Improved productivity
  4. Reduced turnover

1. Increased shift coverage

We’ve found that companies that offer some sort of program that helps those short-term financial needs result in up to 60% additional shift coverage. This is because common barriers to coming into work or picking up those extra shifts, like transportation costs or emergency costs, become less pressing. And, better budgeting makes employees more empowered and track how much those additional shifts can help. Better shift coverage is good for you as a business, means less stress for your management, and is an additional perk for your employees who need that extra money. 

2. Higher employee satisfaction

Another benefit is higher employee satisfaction. Your benefits and your shown appreciation of your employees makes them feel connected to the company and happier at work. In a recent survey by the Financial Health Network, 60% of people said that if their employer offering better financial benefits that fit to help their everyday lives and short term needs, they would be more likely to stay with that employer.

60% of workers said they would be more likely to stay at a job if their employer offered financial benefits that helped their day-to-day lives.

As you know, employee satisfaction is crucial to a company’s culture, operations, and success. By providing better benefits, you are showing, not just telling, employees how important and valued they are.

3. Improved productivity

Better benefits also lead to higher productivity for your employees, which is a pretty big plus for your organization. Studies show that employees who are empowered financially, and are more educated about their finances, end up having less stress in their day to day lives, and are better able to focus on work. Less stress really helps with people’s physical health as well, like we touched on earlier. But ultimately, that greater focus and more relaxed attitude will make your team more productive during the workday.Plus, higher employee productivity helps your profits in the long run, which will make your leadership team incredibly happy.

4. Reduced turnover

Lastly, all of these things lead to reduced turnover. Replacing employees can be incredibly costly—with studies showing that it costs about one-third of an employee’s annual salary just to replace them. Turnover can quickly become a massive cost to your organization and put more stress on your teams, while costing you more time spent on continuously hiring. 

On average, it costs 33% of an employees’ annual salary to replace them.

This cost can be greatly reduced by offering the right benefits. In fact, companies that are offering more flexible financial wellness options have seen a 25% reduction in turnover. Less turnover means less stress and lower costs—and more time for your team to focus on employees and important workplace needs.Better benefits improve your employee’s lives, make them feel important and valued, and are actually much better for your company and your bottom line.

How to set employees on the path to financial wellness

Our mantra at Branch is to set employees on a path that offers more flexible wage access, eliminates unnecessary fees, and ultimately increases their emergency savings. We’ve laid this path out in four steps to help business set employees on a path to financial wellness:

  1. Give employees access to their earned wages when they need them, with the goal of decreasing reliance on this access over time
  2. Eliminate unnecessary fees, such as overdraft fees, account maintenance fees, and transaction fees
  3. Share financial insight and education to help employees better plan ahead and manage their money for upcoming expenses
  4. Increase every employees’ savings balance to $400

Why $400? Because so many employees’ bank accounts hover around $0 saved, we’ve set an initial savings goal of $400. We ultimately want users to use earned wage access less over time because they’ll have greater financial stability and the savings to meet their financial needs.

Meet the future of financial wellness benefits from Branch

Branch offers a digital wallet for working Americans, an on-demand hub that helps them meet their everyday financial needs. To do this, we work directly with businesses as a trusted financial wellness benefit for employees to find financial stability and access fair, transparent financial services. For employers, along with financial wellness, we provide value as a more cost-effective banking/pay card alternative and method of moving money faster.

Inside the Branch app, employees will find:

  • Free financial services, including a no-fee debit card and direct deposit, with no overdraft or account minimum fees
  • Instant access to earned wages, so they can avoid taking out high-interest payday loans
  • Flexible ways to access money, depending on when and where they need it

Let’s dive deeper into how these elements combine to create a truly impactful financial wellness tool.

Branch Wallet

Unlike traditional banking services, we offer a no-fee debit card and direct deposit that makes banking accessible for all workers.With Branch, you can pay your employees digitally—and immediately—after each shift, through their Branch Wallet. You also get to streamline payroll processes, eliminate costly checks and paycards, and give your employees tools to help them become more financially secure.

Branch Card

Waiting for a card to arrive in the mail creates inherent problems for employees wanting to get paid out right away. We wanted to provide a way for the employer to provide a physical piece of plastic to the employees the day they start working.

The Branch Card can be offered as a paycard alternative, and comes with these features:

  • Ready for use: Pre-printed cards you can order and stock, hand out to new or existing employees for immediate activation.
  • Fully functional: Works just like a debit card and allows employees to get paid immediately, making them a great paycard replacement.
  • Enterprise Onboarding: KYC, Payroll Admin Direct Deposit data collection processes
  • Order cards: Sent directly to you to hand out to your employees on day 1

Psst: Here are 5 Reasons to Ditch Your Pay Card for a Branch Card.

Onboarding or transitioning people over to Branch from an existing solution is also a challenge most employers face. With our solution, you will be able to create Branch wallet accounts and mail out cards to employees before launch date by simply uploading a spreadsheet to our web portal, we’ll take care of the rest.

Cashless Tips & Mileage

Branch is now proud to offer tips and mileage via the Branch Card, so employees can access these earnings digitally after each shift.No need for cash. No paper checks. No extra trips to the bank or waiting for the right amount of change to tip out employees. Just quick, digital access to the money your employees earn each shift.

This offering is perfect for delivery services, quick-serve restaurants, and any worker on the go in today’s contactless world. It’s as simple as giving your employees access to a Branch Card, and then pushing funds to their cards right after each shift.

Instant Pay (Earned Wage Access)

In case of emergencies, your employees can access earned wages ahead of their scheduled payday.To do this, we work with businesses to get an estimate of wages earned and let employees take out 50% limits - we are flexible enough to receive flat files or API integrations. We have two options for payback: deduction from payroll or an auto-remittance process, for customers who have a hard time managing the remittance process for paying back advances.

When your employees put their direct deposit on Branch, we will be able to payback any earned wages accessed by employees by pulling any advances directly from the employees’ wallet. This means that a payroll administrator won’t have to do any remittance process with Branch to pay us back for the advance amounts.All it takes is us getting T&A files from the employer - and the employees will get access to 50% of their earned wages as long as they put their direct deposit information on the Branch Account.

With Instant Pay, you can pay your employees faster—and safer.

  • No handling of cash or paper checks (contactless payment)
  • No payroll hassle or changes needed
  • Start paying new hires on day one

There are no hidden fees or setup hassles for you or your employees. We’re free to employers and employees, with no payroll changes needed and an easy onboarding process.

Getting started with Branch is fast, flexible, and free

Branch integrates seamlessly with many workforce management and payroll systems. Because Branch requires no changes to your pay process, that means you can offer financial benefits to your employees almost instantly. After an Enrollment Form is signed, the rollout process typically requires minimal internal resources. Below are 4 easy steps we go through with you to get started with Branch.

1. Kick-off

During kick-off, we gather required data and confirm system configurations (location listing, employee roster, T&A, Payout types. Provide deployment overview and best practices.

2. Pre-launch

In pre-launch, Branch provides onboarding materials to our Branch champions. This our chance to test and optimize configurations and data formats.

3. Launch

Once onboarding materials are ready, we roll out mass communications and the launch of Branch to your workers.

4. Adoption and evaluation

In the last step, we work with you to drive sign-ups and follow up with site leaders for feedback. We hold regular check-ins to discuss progress and trends, adjust as needed.

Adding Branch is a no-cost way to add financial wellness options to your employees benefits for all employees. Our experienced Customer Success leaders are ready to help your team reduce payroll administration costs and offer on demand pay options employees want. Contact your Branch Sales Rep to set up your pre-launch call.

Comprehensive support

In addition to your assigned Customer success manager, Branch comes with comprehensive support to ensure you get the most out of our solution.

Comprehensive support includes:

  • A Customer success manager: Your customer success manager owns the implementation and project  management of rolling out Branch. 
  • Customer support: Branch offers a fully dedicated team of in-house general and technical support agents to help your employees with any technical issues related to Branch.
  • Account owner: Your account owner is the go-to resource to review goals and progress.

How does Branch make money if it's free?

A question we hear often is, “How does Branch make money?” 

That’s valid! We don’t charge employers OR employees for using our solutions, because we don’t want to monetize emergencies or keep employees locked into a punitive cycle of low savings.

We built Branch to align with the interests of our users—both employers and their workers.
We’re able to do this because of something called an interchange fee, which is one of the “merchant fees” that vendors, store owners, and other businesses pay to be able to accept credit cards.

Enroll your company for free today

Branch is working directly with businesses to provide financial tools and services that help working Americans meet their short-term financial expenses and grow financially. Set up your pre-launch call today to learn more Branch and get a free product demo.

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