I’ve been the president and CEO of Nazareth Home for 17 years, and throughout my tenure, I’ve seen time and time again how a surprise expense can be devastating for hourly workers.

In Kentucky, there’s no limit to the interest that can be charged by payday lenders, and I’ve seen people fall into a lengthy cycle of debt to meet a short-term emergency. A few years ago, I also was hearing from agency workers in one of our facilities that they didn’t want to become employees of Nazareth because they wanted to have the ability to access their wages as they’re earned.

As a business leader, I always am looking for innovative workforce solutions. We pay fair wages, and our employees can benefit from being able to better manage their finances — and I soon discovered the idea of earned wage access.

In 2016, Nazareth Home implemented a program with PayActiv to allow employees to access money they’ve already earned before the designated pay day. For us, as a Catholic organization, the program aligned closely with our values to empower all people, and our human resources team was drawn into the innovative and disruptive technology.

Here’s why timely earned wage access is an important offering for employees, and the effect we’ve seen at Nazareth Home.

1. Lessens financial burden – The employee has less financial stress.

According to the Federal Reserve Board, more than 40% of American households could not cover a $400 emergency expense. When unexpected expenses hit, many hardworking Americans are forced to consider alternative options, such as high-interest payday loans, with a national average annual percentage rate of 400%. To help employees avoid getting caught in this vicious cycle, employers can offer solutions that help mitigate financial stress for employees, such as timely earned wage access, savings and budgeting tools, bill payment, financial literacy, access to Uber and many other affordable financial inclusion services.

PayActiv found that timely access to earned wages can help avoid nearly 31% of bank overdraft fees and 22% of payday loans. At Nazareth Home, we’ve heard from employees that they are better able to manage their finances when they have timely access to earned wages.

2. Provides employees with autonomy – The employee is in control.

Timely earned wage access provides a critical service to employees to help them avoid various long and short-term financing expenses as well as the indignity of not having access to their own earned income. In the event of an unexpected emergency expense, employees are able to stay within their “dignity zone” when they are able to access their earned wages without involving their supervisor and co-workers.

The beauty is in the privacy, which belongs to the users. Giving employees every bit of autonomy helps make for a meaningful workplace.

3. Supports employee engagement – The employee feels appreciated and understood.

Nazareth Home’s decision to offer earned wage access services stemmed from what employees and prospective employees wanted: to be paid the day they work. Agencies offer this ability, so it can be difficult to attract talent that already is contracted with an agency. Offering earned wage access removed the obstacle for people who desired a full-time employment situation coupled with the ability to be paid more often.

Offering timely earned wage access continues to be a differentiator that is an important part of the culture for our post-acute and long-term care workplace. By removing the obstacle of pay timing for agency workers, the program provides great value to workers and lifts them up.

With two campuses totaling almost 400 employees, 334 Nazareth Home employees are enrolled in PayActiv. At no cost to the us, it provides great value and reduces turnover. We’ve always done well with retention, but businesses that offer PayActiv to their employees see employee turnover reduce by 30% among hourly workers.

This summer, Nazareth Home was featured in a short documentary from PayActiv titled It’s About Time, showcasing the effect of timely earned wage access on working Americans. Our decision to take part in the documentary was to share the stories of hardworking employees in the industry.

Employers who are interested in learning more about the impact of earned wage access can check out the film and hear from other CEOs, workers and academic experts.