Aged care sector turns to financial wellbeing tools to attract staff: Wagestream
Financial wellbeing fintech Wagestream has signed with Southern Cross Care, Vacenti, and CareChoice in quick succession this month, as Australian aged care and caring businesses increasingly turn to innovative tech-based financial wellbeing tools to address the current talent and hiring crises.
Across the board, Southern Cross Care Queensland, Vacenti, and CareChoice employ around 2,500 staff caring for over 10,000 vulnerable Australians.
They will join a cohort of over 500,000 aged and health care employees on the Wagestream platform globally, which already services Bupa and 300,000 National Health Service (NHS) employees in the UK alone.
The adoption of a tech-based ‘financial wellbeing’ strategy for Australian aged care workers could help to address a growing national staffing crisis plus the unique structural challenges faced by the industry.
Aged care is notoriously low paid, with many (predominantly female) workers living paycheck to paycheck, struggling to align income with expenses, and being hit with an added “poor penalty” from late fees and the use of costly credit cards or payday loans to get by.
There has also been a significant lengthening of pay periods for employees – sometimes even beyond a month – as a result of widespread part-time shift work and reliance on agencies for work placement.
And its large proportion of older, English-as-a-Second language (ESL), and immigrant staff can also struggle with financial literacy and reading proficiency, and extra financial commitments like remittance payments.
To combat this, the Wagestream “Flexible Pay” feature gives users access to a percentage of their earned wages when facing a shortfall at a transaction cost of just $2.49 to avoid the poor penalty, while its “Track” feature (the most-used feature globally) lets employees see their earnings in real-time, so they know when to pick up extra shifts.
The “Grow” feature lets employees automate transfers to bridge savings gaps incurred through caring obligations and part-time work, while “Coach” offers live chat with money coaches to work through financial behaviours, goal setting, action plans, and any unique financial queries.
All of these tools in tandem could help to improve the financial security, engagement, education, literacy, and overall wellbeing of employees in the caring sector according to Wagestream.
Josh Vernon, Wagestream Australia CEO, said, “The aged care sector has been hard hit by COVID-19, which is now stretching into its third year. We are witnessing the effects of years of overwork, stress, fear, loss, and sadness. Many workers are exhausted and reassessing what is truly important – including their place of employment.
“But many of the issues in the sector also existed prior to the pandemic, which simply exacerbated them. Workers were also always harder hit by economic challenges like the current cost of living pressures.
“Employers in the caring sector must urgently recognise that the financial wellbeing of their employees is inextricably linked to their job satisfaction and productivity. Forward-thinking employers will therefore find ways to offer practical tools and actionable tips that address these unique challenges and allow employees to live more comfortably, so they can better enjoy their work.”
Australia Case Study: Southern Cross Care Queensland
Southern Cross Care Queensland (SCCQ) partnered with Wagestream in July 2022, and now offers the app to over 1,100 staff caring for more than 2,000 vulnerable Australians. One in every four SCCQ team members has already used the Wagestream app in the short time it’s been available.
SCCQ Head of People and Culture, Adam Priest, said, “Engagement with your staff has to be more than ‘thanks for coming to our monthly barbeque’. Staff are looking for employers who understand their unique struggles, and offer tangible ways to support their physical, mental, and financial wellbeing.
“As an example, our female-dominated workforce comes from many diverse backgrounds, so their financial circumstances might involve additional caring obligations, or remittance payments to family abroad. When approaching their financial wellbeing, these different circumstances must be considered.
“We believe the Wagestream financial wellbeing app will absolutely be useful for the majority of our frontline workers at some point in their time with us. It offers ways to grow your savings and set goals, and as we head into quite a turbulent time with inflation and interest rate rises, people are obviously also looking for support in this space. We’re really pleased and not at all surprised that a quarter of our staff have already had a go on the app, and we expect this number to increase.”
“We strongly believe that looking after and caring for our staff and their families will naturally lead to better talent attraction and retention. Wagestream is certainly a part of our strategy towards achieving this.”