Walmart’s Digital Early Pay Perk Offers Mixed Results

Employees that accessed early pay through a specialized employee app tend to leave the company faster.

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Need to Know

  • Walmart employees who used its early pay app tool, launched three years ago, had a higher-than-average turnover, the company has reported.
  • The tool, first launched in 2018, allows employees to access earned wages before the normal pay period.
  • However, employees who combined the early pay tool with other app functions, such as budgeting and saving tools, stayed with the company longer.
  • Walmart is investigating how to re-pitch the app to its employees, prioritizing features that lead to greater retention.

Analysis

Walmart is reevaluating its early pay app after a review of the perk showed that employees who used it tended to quit the company faster.

The early pay app, which Walmart debuted in 2018, was “beloved by employees and copied by rivals,” according to Bloomberg. But employees who used the tool have actually been quitting faster than usual, an internal review showed. However, employees who used the app’s other features, which included budgeting and saving tools, stayed with the company longer, leading Walmart to rethink how it pitches the app to its workers.

“At the end of the day, most consumers don’t want access to their pay every day; what they want is financial stability,” Leslie Parrish, a senior analyst at Aite Group, told Bloomberg of the Walmart app results. “So earned wage access is providing that in the short term but they really need a broader set of tools to become financially sufficient.”

In order to evaluate the app, Walmart looked at 269,000 employees hired over a seven-month stretch in 2018. A quarter of employees who were eligible to enroll in the early pay program did so within the first 60 days of work; the tool is Walmart’s second most popular benefit, behind its 401(k). When Walmart focused on employees who used the early pay feature only every other pay period, it found that half of those who checked the app less frequently were expected to quit within their first six months with the company. However, among employees who checked the app more often, that number dropped to 30%.

Adam Stavinsky, senior VP for US benefits at Walmart, said the results were “encouraging,” because they demonstrated that the app offered more value than “access to earned wages.”

“The combination of support seems to be the most helpful,” he continued. “And we found that virtually all associates across all income levels want help managing their money.” Stavinsky said the company would now be reevaluating how it advertises financial literacy perks to employees, planning to increase its focus on credit-building and financial counseling, rather than early access to funds.

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