HRE’s number of the day: lack of employee savings

52%: Percentage of hourly workers who have $0 saved

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Eighty percent of hourly workers have less than $500 saved for an emergency, according to a survey of 3,000 hourly employees by instant pay company Branch. What’s more, the percentage of hourly workers who had $0 saved increased 12% from last year to 52%.

See also: Employees are stressed about finances. How employers can help

What it means to HR leaders

The survey results are the latest to paint a bleak picture of employees’ finances during the pandemic. Even with stimulus checks, 76% of hourly workers had already delayed or missed a bill payment, with another 10% expecting to because of coronavirus, Branch found. Basic living costs continued to rank among hourly workers’ top concerns, but shorter-term costs such as utility bills (62%) overtook last year’s top concern of home/rent affordability (60%).

“Even before the pandemic, the vast majority of hourly workers had been living paycheck to paycheck and had very little saved,” says Branch CEO Atif Siddiqi. “The decrease in hours and economic uncertainty have created even more challenges for hourly workers trying to create financial stability.”

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So what can employers and HR leaders do? Not surprisingly, higher wages are a priority for hourly workers, as are stable, predictable schedules. Employees also say accessing their pay before payday would be helpful.

Meanwhile, some retailers like Walmart, McDonald’s and Kroger have handed out bonuses for frontline workers to thank them for working during the pandemic–and to help with unforeseen costs associated to COVID.

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Kathryn Mayer
Kathryn Mayer is HRE’s former benefits editor and chair of the Health & Benefits Leadership Conference. She has covered benefits for the better part of a decade, and her stories have won multiple awards, including a Jesse H. Neal Award and honors from the American Society of Business Publication Editors and the National Federation of Press Women. She holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Denver.