GUEST COLUMN: How ‘fintech’ can support care workers’ financial health

Credit cards

By James Herbert, founder & CEO, Hastee

It’s safe to say I’m nowhere near qualified or knowledgeable enough to fully comprehend and evaluate what many home care workers have been through in the last 12 months, but it’s no secret this has been (and continues to be) an incredibly tough period for the industry.

Covid-19 has increased the demands on carers in the UK, meaning many more are now feeling the impact, when it comes to their own mental, physical and financial health.

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This has been particularly highlighted in a global study from pharmaceutical experts Merck called the Carer Wellbeing Index, which spoke to over 9,000 informal carers across 12 countries. Their research uncovered that many carers are not only feeling significant emotional and technological pressure points, but also financial ones too – in fact, 54% stated the pandemic had worsened their financial health. The figures are undoubtedly stark, and they don’t even take into account the impacts also felt by carers in paid positions. 

This trend also appears in our own broader research, which shows the pandemic has had a seismic impact on the liquidity of many UK workers in general. Nearly half (41%) are now relying on at least one new loan, credit card or overdraft, and two-thirds (66%) are regularly suffering from personal finance-related stress. Overall, this can have a detrimental effect on a worker’s performance and wellbeing. 

While I can’t provide answers for all the serious challenges mentioned above, Merck’s study caught my attention because I do believe the industry I specialise in, the fintech sector, can play a particularly positive role in helping to support the financial health of paid home carers and voluntary carers.

Whether it’s changing the way employees access their pay, or providing better access to financial education and management tools, employers can equip their staff with the smart technology they need to better take charge of their finances.

One way employers can start to embrace more flexibility is by offering an ‘earnings on demand’ (EoD) payment model. Not only does this give employees the chance to access a portion of their monthly pay in real time, it also provides them with greater flexibility and liquidity to navigate financially challenging times of the year. EoD solutions are ethical alternatives to high-cost credit options such as payday loans, credit cards and overdrafts. This increased liquidity can help avoid the use of these other options and means they can more flexibly access their own money on demand without accruing debt. 

At Hastee, we work with many care homes and home care businesses including Bluebird Care, Avondale Care Scotland and Avery Healthcare. All three organisations found many of their staff were requesting more flexible access to their pay, so we’ve been able to support them all by offering tools that positively affect their employees’ liquidity.

The technology has meant staff can access their pay flexibly and discreetly without feeling any sort of embarrassment. The ability to draw down earnings has also increased the number of staff picking up additional shifts knowing they can access the money before payday. These are just some of the benefits these businesses are noticing; overall it is having a significant impact on wellbeing, productivity and motivation across their workforces. 

Yet, while EoD can provide a real lifeline to ensure a worker doesn’t need to rely on high-cost credit, it is also just one way employers can support. There is also potential for them to go further and provide their employees with better financial management tools, such as savings, rewards and budgeting tools. 

This can help workers better understand their finances and empower them to make decisions that ultimately make their money go further. At a particularly challenging time for many home care workers, if employers in the industry can take advantage of some of the cost-effective fintech solutions available to them, it could undoubtedly help to address some of the particular financial health challenges many of their staff members are facing during the pandemic.

Julie McLellan, director at Bluebird Care North Tyneside commented: “It is a pretty common situation that staff at Bluebird, and across the home care industry in general, operate on flexible contracts. As a result, many of our employees have been asking us as their employer how we can better support them with their finances, so they can more effectively manage their liquidity.

“Our partnership with Hastee has been a real plus for us in that respect, as it’s enabled us to offer this support at a time when many of our workers have really needed it. In addition to bolstering staff financial health, we’ve also noticed it’s had a really positive impact on the morale and productivity of our workforce.”

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Sarah Clarke

The author Sarah Clarke

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