Addressing employee financial stress

Employers partner with BrightFi to improve retention and job satisfaction among their workers.

A regional grocer employs hourly wage employees as cashiers and stock clerks in its 20 grocery stores across the southwest. Its centralized human resources department cuts checks every two weeks for these employees. Several years ago it also rolled out a payroll card program that deposits the checks onto the card; employees then can use it like a debit card to purchase everyday items, or to cash the funds out at an in-network ATM for free. Other activities will require a fee, and employees have complained about the card program not being easy to use and costing a lot of money. Many have switched back to paper checks.

The grocer’s executive team knows that many staff are financially stressed. While the stores have done well during the coronavirus pandemic and they have not cut staff, they know that employees’ family members have been affected, and there is more stress for their workers. Having quick access to their wages is important, and not losing wages to hidden fees – either from check cashers or the payroll cards – will be helpful in easing this stress.

The BrightFi account was appealing to the human resources team, because they could easily send employees a link to register. Employees could sign up in minutes, link direct deposit to it, and then be able to start transacting as soon as funds were in the account. When they began talking with staff about the BrightFi account, the staff liked the straightforward notion of knowing there was one monthly fee and no other charges. They felt the app worked well but most of all loved that other checks they could cash and have in their accounts instantly – just like going to the check casher but for much less money.

The grocer chose to subsidize the monthly cost of the BrightFi account to encourage sign-up and covered it for the first 3 months. BrightFi staff came on-site and met with staff in small groups to show them how the account worked and answered questions staff had. About ten percent of the staff signed up, which was actually more than were on the payroll card – and even some staff who were already on direct deposit signed up for the account and switched over to the BrightFi program.

Today, the grocer is hearing anecdotally that staff are much happier with the BrightFi account, and it has shut down its payroll card program entirely. Many staff are earning BrightFi referral rewards for introducing the account to other staff and family members.