Employment and Jobs

How can I support my employees’ financial stability?

November 18, 2020  • Vivian Vázquez, Ranita Jain & Jenny Weissbourd

Seven Workforce Questions that Are Top of Mind During COVID-19: A Resource for Small Businesses

#7. How can I support my employees’ financial stability?

This question is an excerpt from our downloadable brief, “Seven Workforce Questions that Are Top of Mind During COVID-19: A Resource for Small Businesses.”


The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in an economic crisis for workers, especially Black workers and other workers of color. Your employees may be supporting family members who have lost their jobs or are coping with increased financial strain and uncertainty, such as mounting medical, rent, and credit card bills. Below, we offer tools and approaches small business owners can use to support their employees’ financial security.

Provide financial assistance to help your employees manage emergencies

Assistance can include launching programs like income advance to provide short-term advances and emergency loans to workers facing cash flow issues so they can avoid turning to high-cost lenders. Another option, if financially feasible, is to offer hazard pay or bonuses to employees to signal that you understand they are taking on additional risk and expenses to continue working in your business. For example, Forever Wireless, a mobile phone vendor and repair franchise in Baltimore, provided weekly hazard bonuses, as well as a bonus tied to sales during the pandemic. This financial assistance allowed workers to reap the benefits of their hard work and compensated them for taking the risk of coming into work. You may also be able to apply for loans and other forms of relief to be able to continue to provide steady income to workers and retain their positions. Pacific Community Ventures has compiled a list of resources for small business relief here. COVIDCap from Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business also offers relief resources that can be filtered by state.

Connect workers to community resources

You can also share resources that help workers connect to financial assistance programs (see AFL-CIO – Resources for Workers Impacted by COVID-19). Your employees may be eligible for help from the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program, which can determine eligibility for tax credits and refunds. For employees that are not U.S. citizens, consider researching and sharing information about non-profits that offer relief programs, such as United We Dream’s NationalUndocuFund. Finally, local community development financial institutions and community development credit unions may be willing to come on-site to help your employees set up free checking accounts and get information about loan programs and other financial products. Learn more about trusted local financial partners here.

Practice financial transparency with employees

Many small businesses would like to increase wages but are cash-strapped and uncertain about the future. In the meantime, some are turning to open book management, sharing the business’ financials and profits with workers to help them build the organization’s financial intelligence and take advantage of more business opportunities.

Small Business Perspectives

“We’ve been thinking a lot about how we can shift our pay structure and explore different models of tipping and non-tipping. We’ve also thought a lot about what would profit sharing look like? Something that we want to dip our toes into is to be more transparent in offering financial information to our team and engaging them in our financials. We want to give them optimism. They have their own concerns and stressors at home.” –Laura Wagner, Co-Owner, Well Crafted Kitchen


IMPORTANT: Please note that this resource is not legal guidance about workplace safety. This guide does not provide technical information about regulations that businesses must comply with for reopening. Individual business owners are responsible for complying with their local jurisdiction’s evolving guidance related to COVID-19. The National Safety Council provides a range of resources that you may find helpful, including federal guidelines and state-specific resources regarding COVID-19 and the workplace.


Seven Workforce Questions that Are Top of Mind During COVID-19

  1. How can I reassure my workers that we are following appropriate safety guidelines?
  2. How can I create an equitable and inclusive environment for my employees and customers?
  3. How can I help my employees communicate and implement safety measures with customers?
  4. How can I help my employees manage increased stress?
  5. How can I help my employees get to work safely?
  6. How can I recognize and respond to my employees’ caregiving responsibilities?
  7. How can I support my employees’ financial stability? (you are here)

Learn More

The Economic Opportunities Program advances strategies, policies, and ideas to help low- and moderate-income people thrive in a changing economy. Follow us on social media and join our mailing list to stay up-to-date on publications, blog posts, events, and other announcements.