Digital HRFixing financial wellbeing with pay on-demand: James Herbert, Founder & CEO, Hastee

Fixing financial wellbeing with pay on-demand: James Herbert, Founder & CEO, Hastee

In this installment of our HRD Tech Founders Q&A series, James Herbert, Founder & CEO, Hastee, discusses the huge negative impact of financial stress at work, and how giving employees greater financial freedom can improve engagement, retention, and overall employee wellbeing.

What is the true potential of HR and how can technology help us to achieve it?

In this installment of our HRD Tech Founders Q&A series, James Herbert, Founder & CEO, Hastee, discusses the huge negative impact of financial stress at work, and how giving employees greater financial freedom can improve engagement, retention, and overall employee wellbeing.


James Herbert, Founder & CEO, Hastee
James Herbert, Founder & CEO, Hastee

What is Hastee?

Hastee is an award-winning digital financial wellbeing workplace benefit tool that allows workers to withdraw a portion of their earned pay at any point between pay days. We call this Earnings on Demand and it takes place via our smartphone app which syncs with your payroll system through our open API. Employers that implement Hastee benefit from improved recruitment, engagement and retention because it reduces financial stress in the workforce. Research shows financial stress negatively impacts engagement, productivity and attendance. Addressing this challenge can reduce churn by up to 54%, and will encourage employees to stay with their current employer. The current average across UK is 15.5%, and as such we can reduce that to 7.1%.

By giving greater financial freedom and more control over the finances, Hastee reduces reliance on high cost credit such as credit cards, overdrafts and payday loans so workers aren’t borrowing to get by or accruing interest when they simply want to treat themselves or pay an unexpected bill. Hastee is the safe, fair, ethical and risk-free alternative to borrowing that simply gives workers access to their own earnings without having to wait. We don’t replace existing pay cycles – our solution simply sits alongside side them, giving workers the freedom to withdraw a portion of their earnings should they want or need to do so.

Hastee is completely free for employers to implement and has zero impact on business cashflow. Workers who choose to use Hastee have their first withdrawal every month, free of charge to ensure that if that unexpected cost comes in they can access up to £100 of their earned pay with no fee. After that first withdrawal, users simply pay a small 2.5% transaction charge. There is no interest and absolutely no impact on their credit score because they’re simply accessing money that is rightfully theirs and that they have earned ahead of pay day. We also provide a financial education programme as part of Hastee’s service. This helps workers to really make the most of their money and increase their understanding of what can be a very complex subject.

Why was it necessary to create Hastee?

When I was running my events staffing agency, Brightsparks, I became aware of the fact casual workers were turning down paid work because they didn’t have the funds to travel to the events where work was available. Even though they had already worked at events within the same month, they couldn’t access the money they had earned until the next pay day. The traditional pay cycle was obstructing them from getting more paid work.

Hastee was created as a solution to this, but its use isn’t limited to casual workers. It’s infinitely scalable because no matter whether you’re a casual worker, full time, part time or part of the gig economy, there’s always going to be that point between pay days when you need to access a bit of extra cash. We are solving a liquidity/cashflow problem. Having to wait until a set weekly or monthly pay day is the reason why so many people rely on high cost credit and find themselves trapped in disastrous debt cycles. For two years in a row we’ve run our Workplace Wellbeing Study which this year revealed that 82% of workers across all levels of the workforce use high cost credit between pay days while just 21% of workers say they’re able to budget and live within their means. It paints a bleak picture but Hastee is here to change that.

Why is HR technology crucial to the success of a business?

Because your people are crucial to the success of your business so their wellbeing matters. People’s expectations of their employers have changed dramatically thanks to the likes of all those destination employers. The likes of Apple, Facebook and Google have worked hard at disrupting what a workplace can be. By offering more valuable, convenient and sometimes zany benefits, they’ve become the go-to employers that attract the best talent. But smaller business that don’t have the budget to offer benefits like free dry cleaning, meals and massages have an opportunity to compete by exploring the HR technologies on offer.

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How can an organisation most effectively implement new HR technology?

Work with technology providers that manage the solution end to end. Hastee manages the entire implementation of our solution which is fast, hassle free and cost free for employers. We only require minimal time from their HR or payroll staff. Avoiding disruption for our customers has been important to us from the outset, which is why we’ve made the solution completely seamless, from implementation through to the ongoing management of Hastee as part of your business.

What do you think is the biggest challenge affecting organisations today?

Financial stress in the workforce because so many employers simply aren’t aware of it so it’s not getting solved, and this is impacting productivity and causing people to look for better paid jobs elsewhere. In the UK, we’re culturally stunted when it comes to talking about personal finance. People aren’t comfortable talking about money, especially when it comes to talking to their employers about money. There’s a huge stigma around it. So you’ve got the majority of workers across all pay grades in the average UK business using high cost credit options between pay days.

The Workplace Wellbeing Study found workers are more comfortable dealing with a third party when it comes to their finances, so it makes sense to give them a solution that empowers them to manage how and when they access their pay that doesn’t involve directly going to their line manager or payroll manager to have an awkward chat about getting a pay advance.

Workers see a lot of value in using digital financial tools. In fact, 66% of workers who responded to the study said digital money management tools make them feel more productive, so it’s well within employers’ interests to implement tools that can give workers that support.

Which emerging technologies do you think will transform HR in the future?

I’ve read a lot about the impact AI will have on recruitment, making it easier to find the right talent to interview from seas of applicants. But employers also need to think about how they can support that talent. There’s no doubting we’ll continue to see a huge uptake in cloud technologies supporting businesses as they increasingly embrace flexibility. Flexibility has become a transformative force in how people work, when they work, where they work and how they’re paid. HR managers can ensure their companies are ahead of the competition and becoming perceived as destination employers by exploring the technologies readily available.

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