A Restauranteurs Guide to Understanding Early Wage Access

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Stephanie Graham
June 8, 2022
Early Wage Access for Restaurants

Hey restaurant owner's have you ever heard of instant pay, aka early wage access? Yes? No? Maybe? Don't worry — in this article we'll cover EWA 101 - and why you should consider using it for your business. 

As a restaurant or business owner, you understand that hiring the right employees is the key to success. Employees are the most valuable asset to a company as they work towards supporting the business to attain its long-term goals, mission and vision.

Employees also represent human capital - holding valuable company knowledge the longer they stay - so it pays to treat them right! 
With the restaurant industry struggling with a high employee turnover due to circumstances like the great resignation, it's essential to not only find the best people to work and run the stores but also to invest in retaining them - enter EWA.

In this article, you will learn about Early Wage Access (EWA) and how it supports staff retention - we'll cover:

  • What is EWA?
  • Why should restaurant owners consider EWA?
  • Does offering Instant Pay cost me? 
  • How does restaurant payroll work with EWA?
  • How do I set up EWA? 
  • How does EWA  help with retaining great employees? 


What is Instant Pay, aka EWA?

Early Wage Access (EWA), also known as Instant Pay is where employees have access to their earned wages when they need them outside of the business' pay cycle.

Since most businesses' pay is on a two week or monthly cycle, EWA allows employees to access the money they have already earned when they need it, even before the official payday. These funds are not loans/advances to employees as it is money that is already earned. 

Let's say an employee needs money to pay for an emergency and has worked two weeks with payday due at the end of the month. Instant Pay gives the employee the ability to access the wages they have worked for before payday. 

Leading Instant Pay service providers like KOHO provide a free payroll benefit that gives staff on-demand cash payment access of up to 50% of their pay earned every workday on a daily basis.

Why should restaurant owners consider EWA?

After suffering through the 2020 COVID-19 global pandemic, the world economy is yet to recover. The current rising inflation and high cost of living mean that 47% of Canadians and 64% of Americans are living paycheque to paycheque. And while businesses are increasing wages, they can't keep up with the inflation rate which means that the value of a dollar can only stretch so far. 

These challenging economic circumstances have translated into employees having to constantly worry about their ability to pay bills and meet deadline payments, which hinders their ability to be productive and perform at their jobs. To resolve this challenge, restaurant owners should consider Instant Pay for these two reasons:

  • For Employees: It allows employees to access interest-free cash from their earned wages to handle their financial responsibilities, giving them peace of mind. 
  • For Restaurants: Benefits like Instant Pay are an excellent incentive for both attracting prospective employees and retaining current workers as it indicates a positive work environment that supports staff. 

Restaurants that partner with Fintech platforms like KOHO allow employees to have early access to their earned wages to meet their financial needs without having to take out a payday loan, creating a conducive work environment. This works favorably for restaurant owners as supporting employees' early access to earned wages leads to increased productivity and staff retention. 


Does offering EWA or Instant Pay cost me? 

This is the best part - there is no cost for the restaurant owner. Instant Pay or EWA is free! It's really a win win we're telling ya.

In addition to incurring no costs, KOHO EWA offers additioinal benefits such as:

  • It differentiates your restaurant from your competitors and attracts the best talent with a unique employee benefit. 
  • It boosts employee loyalty and retention by increasing performance while reducing turnover. 
  • It integrates seamlessly and quickly with existing payroll technology. 
  • It handles funding requests and provides platform support. 

How does restaurant payroll work with Instant Pay or EWA?

One of the best features of Instant Pay platforms like KOHO is its capacity to seamlessly and quickly integrate with payroll technology with no added costs or changes to existing systems. You will be able to run payroll normally. 

Restaurant payroll software like Push integrates seamlessly with KOHO, allows restaurant owners to quickly and easily run payroll when employees request access to their wages. Push restaurant payroll software runs payroll within minutes, identifies the hours worked and automates payroll calculations to provide an accurate pay earned/due statement for the employee. 

When an employee requests Instant Pay, a restaurant owner will use the payroll software to display the amount earned and due and prompt payment to be made based on the request.  

EWA restaurant owners

How do I set up Instant Pay or EWA for restaurants? 

Setting up Instant Pay platforms like KOHO is quick, easy, and done in 3 steps:

  • Sign up for KOHO. 
  • Link your existing bank account 
  • Cash-out part of your daily pay in just a few clicks

That's it, and your employees have instant access to your daily pay. 

How does Instant Pay help with retaining great employees?

While there are different reasons why employees quit, prioritizing staff members needs and creating a positive work environment where employees feel supported and valued is the key.

For Instant Pay to support staff retention, it must be beneficial for both the restaurant owners and the employees. While offering a competitive salary and benefits is a tremendous financial incentive for employees to remain loyal to the business, Instant Pay takes this to another level by:

Offering unique financial opportunities

Instant Pay services such as KOHO offer unique financial opportunities to employees. Equipped with a mobile app, a reloadable prepaid Visa card and money management features, KOHO gives employees the opportunity to:

a) Earn 0.5% instant cashback on all purchases and up to an extra 5% cashback at KOHO brand partners that can be cashed out on the mobile app at any time. In addition, employees can earn 1.2% interest on both their spending and savings account. 

b) Build on or improve their credit history by taking out a credit-building line of credit with KOHO and making on-time payments of $7 per month, which will enhance credit scores. 

Supporting employee growth and learning  

One of the best ways to engage and retain great employees is investing in their growth and learning in financial literacy and tools. PwC reports that financial matters are the top cause of stress and a major distraction at work as employees seek to manage their finances better. 

As we mentioned earlier, financial distress can hinder productivity and job performance, so business owners need to invest in Instant Pay platforms like KOHO that come with money management capabilities and access to free financial coaching. 

KOHO's prepaid Visa card is connected to a smart budgeting app that simplifies day-to-day finances with spending insights and helps users spend more mindfully, saving an average of 7% of money loaded onto their accounts. 

KOHO promotes better money management with:  

  • Saving and earning with cashback and interest on spending and savings accounts 
  • Safe financial transactions that provide a loadable prepaid Visa card and an intuitive app 
  • Ability to budget and track with preloading to make budgeting easy, with balance updates after purchase and spending insights to stay on track.


The best part is that KOHO is free with no hidden monthly, e-Transfer and interest charges, giving employees free and easy access to their funds. 

Financial education programs have positive results and have been known to boost employee engagement, morale and retention. This is why signing up for Instant Pay platforms like KOHO, which provide early wage access, money management features, and access to free financial coaching, is an excellent course of action for restaurant owners. 

Seamless integration with existing systems

Nothing makes adapting to new technology easier for businesses than when it seamlessly integrates with the currently used systems. For example, EWA apps such as KOHO are built with intuitive technology to enable easy connection with existing restaurant payroll systems. 

Restaurants that use payroll systems like Push can run payroll within minutes giving employees quick access to their funds. KOHO is an excellent Instant Pay platform as it brings no extra costs, additional workload or system changes to the business. 

Choosing an Instant platform like KOHO, which is so easy to use, shows employees that resaturant owners care about making it a quick and easy process for them to access earned wages when they need them, thus earning employee loyalty. 

EWA for restaurants

Attract and retain the best talent

In the competitive market trying to attract the best talent, your restaurant has to differentiate itself from the competitors to stand out. 

Employees in the current job market are vocal about their needs and want to know how businesses are going to support them. In a world where restaurants offer the same standard industry salary and benefits, offering Early Wage Access will attract 1.9x more applicants than your competitors in the hiring process. Attracting more applicants increases the chances of hiring top talent in the market and applicants are more inclined to sign with employers whose policies support employees. 

Having Instant Pay options like KOHO available for employees to use when they have financial needs before the payday cycle reduces turnover by 32%. This is because employees are more inclined to engage with and remain at a restaurant that supports their early access to earned wages to fulfill financial responsibilities. 

With Instant Pay, or EWA restaurant owners can attract and retain top talent to support the business's growth. 

Why choose EWA aka Instant Pay?

As a restaurant owner, it makes sense to search for new and unique ways to attract and retain good employees in the current competitive business climate. Understanding that employees keep the business alive, and taking intentional steps to support them, builds a culture of loyalty to the restaurant. 

As a benefit for both employees and the business, Instant Pay is a game-changer. Allowing employees to access their earned wages to meet their financial obligations quickly makes employees happy. Happy employees are productive, engaging, highly motivated, and loyal, which helps a restaurant attract and retain its staff. 

Instant Pay services like KOHO make early wage access easy and, in addition, provide financial management advantages like budgeting, tracking, cashback, data insights and access to free financial coaching. 

The best part is that Instant Pay platforms like KOHO integrate with payroll systems such as making running payroll and making payments easy. In addition, EWA is free and accessible to your employees and has zero impact on your cash flow. 

There you have it, all the basics of Instant Pay or EWA and how it can be beneficial for both employees and business owners.

Want to learn more about how restaurant payroll works for Canadian restaurant owners? Download our free guide below!

EWA for restaurants

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