By Jessie Dowd
Keeping retail hourly workers engaged and motivated is a tough challenge at any time, and the stresses on frontline workers from the coronavirus pandemic have not made it any easier. But OSL Retail Services, Walmart’s wireless partner, has found success with an on-demand pay offering that has quickly achieved an 80% adoption rate by its employees.
During an Oct. 28 webinar titled A Motivated Workforce: The Key to Success for Holiday 2020, now available on demand, speakers revealed why the on-demand pay benefit has proven so appealing, as well as lessons for other retailers seeking hourly workforce “perks” that will really make a positive difference in employees’ lives.
Webinar presenters included:
- Cynthia Reale, VP of Human Resources, North America for OSL Retail Services, which hires 300 to 500 employees a month;
- Jeanniey Walden, Chief Innovation and Marketing Officer at DailyPay; and
- Andrew Gaffney, Editorial Director, Retail TouchPoints.
Reale shared insights regarding what they’ve been doing to keep their employees safe, motivated and productive. Part of OSL’s strategy to help ease worker stress includes on-demand pay using DailyPay, empowering employees to better plan for the future and pay bills on time — a capability that’s of extra importance during these challenging times.
Heading into the holiday season, 70% of Americans working for hourly wages are struggling to make ends meet due to ramifications of the global pandemic, according to a survey conducted online from Sept. 30 to Oct. 1, 2020 by The Harris Poll on behalf of DailyPay. Among the 2,042 adults aged 18 or older surveyed, 47% are taking extra steps this year, compared to last, to make ends meet: 22% are working extra hours, and 18%are taking seasonal jobs.
The survey also foundthat 45% are looking for an on-demand pay benefit to help them with their finances. Among this group:
- 21% would be able to manage holiday spending better;
- 17% would be able to make monthly payments on purchases easier; and
- 13% would require fewer loans to make holiday purchases.
“I wasn’t surprised by the number of people who were struggling,” Walden said regarding the stats from their poll. “But the thing that struck me most out of this entire study was a reliance on the employer — 47% of people who took this poll are turning to their employer to look for advice on better financial management, and some sense of financial relief over the holidays, so that they can avoid taking a second job. [That reliance] then turns into offering things like on-demand pay, holiday bonuses or increasing the hourly minimum during the holidays. The revelation that I see is since COIVD, the employee has started to really see the employer as the leader in supporting their financial wellness.”
Employees Displayed Immediate Interest in On-Demand Pay Option
At the beginning of 2020, when Reale joined OSL, she was exploring ways to increase services for employees, and began looking into on-demand pay for the company’s 3,000-person employee base. While OSL was in the midst of deciding on implementing a plan, COVID-19’s debut created uncertainty about deploying a new system.
“I remember thinking, ‘Is this the right time to go out with a new system when we don’t know what we’re dealing with?’ But the more I thought about it, it was the exact time that we should have gone out with this, because employees were having problems getting access to the funds and they had expenses that they’d never seen before,” Reale said. “The day that it went live, by noon we had 900 employees already registered for DailyPay. So we knew that this was what they needed. It was satisfying to know that we were able to do it and do it when it was needed most.”
When OSL first deployed the service, communication with employees was key. “We need to make sure that when we’re rolling something out that there is a good story to it, and that we’re speaking to the employees,” Reale said. “The vast majority of our employees are millennials, so we decided to make a video and we just had fun with it. We were looking for some stuff to just change the dynamic in the conversation in the middle of what everybody was dealing with. The millennials gravitated to it because it spoke to them, it talked about ‘You are in control of your own time and the access to funds.’”
Now, OSL has 63% of its employees using DailyPay on a regular basis — and the feedback is always positive, Reale said. “We hear real-life stories of how it’s improved their situation of financial access and just being able to address those things that come up in the middle of everyday life, and everyday life is different for us all now. It’s been a huge positive experience for everybody,” she added.
Additionally, the on-demand pay service has helped OSL in the recruitment and onboarding process for new employees as well as with worker retention, a perennial problem in retail. Since launching Daily Pay in April, the company surveyed its employees to get direct feedback, and the results continue to be positive. A majority (80.2%) of employees said they are more able to plan for the future and pay their regular bills on time since using DailyPay.
The service also has helped improve the employee-employer bond, with 80.6% of employees reporting that their opinion of OSL has improved since the company implemented DailyPay. And a whopping 97.5% of DailyPay users said they are either likely or highly likely to recommend the service to a coworker, friend or family member.
“A lot of the comments that we heard back from employees were heartwarming, like some people saying, ‘I’m helping my mom who was affected by COVID,’ ‘I’m using this to pay for my brother’s textbooks when he went back to school because he didn’t have a summer job,’” Reale said. “You realize it’s more than just having cash in hand. People are using it to really help out others, whether it be family or even coworkers. So there’s just so many positive things that come out of that. I hear about it every day when I’m talking to individuals, but the survey results just magnified it and provided us with good data that it’s making a difference for our employees.”