Why Employers Must Prioritize Both Physical and Financial Wellness in 2021

The past year has transformed nearly every aspect of work. Companies have had to stay up-to-date on ever-changing regulations. Whether it meant switching to curbside services, expanding delivery capabilities, or offering ecommerce, they’ve had to modify operations to keep employees and customers safe. But beyond physical wellness, this year has also emphasized the fact that the financial wellness of many working Americans is in a precarious position. 


We recently hosted a webinar with one of our technology partners, UKG, a leading provider of workforce management and human capital management software. Together, we shared how physical and financial wellness are now more interrelated than ever—and how employers have the power to help improve both of these states for their employees. Doing so can not only benefit your employees, but it's becoming imperative to your business success, too. Read on to find out what tactics have proven successful for boosting both the physical and financial wellness of working Americans—and how assisting with financial wellness can lead to operational success in 2021.

Physical Wellness: What Can Businesses Continue to Do to Keep People Safe?

As we close out the year, most businesses continue to follow safety regulations as outlined by their states, requiring masks in stores, increasing their cleaning procedures, and enforcing social distancing measures. And, technology partners have had to get creative with ways to enforce these guidelines and keep people safe. For example, UKG created several new features this year which helped businesses keep their employees and customers safe:

  • Health checks. UKG rolled out health checks via their attestation module, which gives employers the ability to ask simple yes or no questions of employees. They added new COVID questions about whether or not someone had any symptoms or had been exposed to anyone who tested positive.
  • Employee contact tracing. Looking for a way to automate the process for employers, UKG discovered they could generate reports based on time and attendance data for companies and group together employees who had worked together on any given shift. This allowed them to automate any contact tracing that would have to be done after a potential exposure.
  • New scheduling strategies. They also implemented more robust scheduling strategies to work within the new regulations, like schedule groups, labor sharing, flexible scheduling, and employee self-service. Schedule groups, for example, allowed companies to schedule employees in the same groups for the same shifts, so if a team member got sick, they could easily quarantine the schedule group. 

Finding ways to use technology to keep people safe and streamline scheduling is a great consideration to take into 2021. Not only do these strategies safeguard the physical health of your customers and employees, but scheduling strategies like the ones above can make it easier for your employees to pick up shifts to earn more income. Because in addition to physical safety measures, the financial wellness of your employees is also at stake right now. 

Financial Wellness: What’s the Current State of Financial Health for Hourly Employees?

The past year has highlighted the need to give better access to financial services to working Americans. Even before the pandemic, 78% of hourly workers were living paycheck to paycheck. A shocking number of Americans remained unbanked or underbanked. And many were struggling to make ends meet. COVID further exacerbated that financial instability. Many people had to make increasingly hard choices between unemployment and reduced hours; caring for their children or advancing their career; and figuring out new ways to make ends meet by picking up additional jobs while still trying to stay healthy. 

Though 11.4 million jobs have returned since May, our country is still down 10.7 million jobs. And the pace of hiring is expected to slow. But this financial situation is not hopeless. There are things you can do to support your employees’ financial wellbeing right now—things that can also benefit your organization.

Empowering Employees Financially

Much of what it means to look after your employees’ financial wellness these days is to give them tools to break the cycle of living paycheck to paycheck. To provide them free and fair financial services, faster access to their wages and tips, and empower them financially at every turn. Here are some payment methods that can help you accomplish these goals. 

1. Move away from outdated pay processes

Paying people via paper check or paycard, tipping out via cash, and sticking to a two-week paycycle are all methods that people have been using for a long time. But these methods haven’t caught up to the other workplace changes of the past several years. And these practices can be economically detrimental to your workers—and your organization.


  • Paper checks are inconvenient. They cost your company money, and they require more hassle than they’re worth.

  • Paycards are often riddled with fees for employees and take management time from your day.
  • Cash tips are inconsistent in a time when most people pay with a card. Not to mention carrying cash on you is risky for theft reasons.
  • And waiting two weeks for any wages is unbearably long for most people—especially when the pandemic has heightened the need to pay people faster and give them access to the wages they’ve already earned, including tips and other one-off disbursements.

2. Provide early access to pay 

Earned wage access (EWA) is becoming table stakes to offer your employees, in a world where so many people continue to live paycheck to paycheck. Unlike high interest payday loans, EWA is simply the ability for your employees to access the wages they’ve already earned, for shifts already worked, ahead of payday. This service can be incredibly useful in emergencies, when an unexpected car repair or medical bill would otherwise threaten an overdraft fee and a cycle of debt. Instead, employees are able to get access to wages in advance and get back on track. When we surveyed 3,000 hourly workers for our Branch report earlier this year, 94% said accessing pay early would help their financial situation.

3. Allow for quicker reimbursements

Allowing for easier, faster, reimbursements—for example, paying employees mileage reimbursements after each shift rather than deferring to a paycheck, or pushing tips digitally to employees after each shift—can drastically improve your employees’ financial wellbeing. Getting paid what they’ve earned right after they’ve earned it can help them break the cycle of overdrafting or taking on debt. 

How employee financial wellness leads to operational success

Ensuring your pay practices are designed to boost your employees’ financial wellness isn’t just good for their wellbeing—it’s also good for business. Here are some benefits of improving your employees’ financial wellness:

1. Increased shift coverage

Employees that are more financially stable result in lower rates of absenteeism. And the incentive to get paid after your employees’ clock out can result in more eagerness to pick up shifts.

2. Higher employee satisfaction + reduced turnover

Offering faster pay, access to earned wages, and other financial benefits leads to more satisfied employees, helping you retain more talent—and even attract new applicants away from the competition.

3. Improved productivity

When someone doesn’t have to constantly be thinking about or worrying about their finances, they’re in a better headspace to focus on work in a productive, engaged way.

4. Cost-savings

When you switch to more modernized payment methods that benefit your employees, it also helps your business save money. (Use our ROI calculator to find out just how much your organization could save when you replace paper checks, for instance!)

Reaping these rewards should be on the top of your list for 2021. Branch is proud to partner with UKG; together we’ve been able to help businesses save time and money with their daily processes while empowering their employees. By integrating together, UKG and Branch allow you to easily see time and attendance data, create innovative scheduling strategies, and pay employees faster—in a more secure way that empowers them to create financial stability for the future. 

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