Imagine if, for every hour worked, you got a reward on top of your hourly wage.

For Reese Fleming and Rob Clairday, both full-time employees at hospitality parking services provider Parking Management Company (PMC) in Nashville, that’s been the case ever since their company’s recent partnership with workplace loyalty platform Salt Labs.

Hourly employees earn one “salt” – the value of which is determined by the employer – for each hour worked, and these virtual rewards add up on the Salt app until they can be redeemed with vendor partners for things like product purchases, gift cards, trips or savings options. Users can also set personal and financial goals, and earn badges for each one met.

“Some of my coworkers started talking about it, and once they showed me what it was, I hopped on it that same day,” says Clairday, a guest services coordinator who has been with the company for five years. He and Fleming started using Salt soon after it was first introduced as a pilot program to Nashville employees in November 2023. “It’s benefited me a lot because I work a lot – I’ve been using the redemptions on things like Target and Amazon, which is where we regularly shop.”

For Fleming, a college senior who has been with PMC for a year, these earned bonuses go toward “little things” that he wouldn’t otherwise be able to purchase. While the majority of his income goes toward school and rent, he was able to purchase Christmas gifts for his parents with his salt earnings. An audio engineering major, he is currently using the app to save up and purchase a new pair of headphones for class, he says.

“Having something like this makes me feel better about picking up shifts or working longer – it’s definitely an incentive to stay,” he says. “It’s nice to feel like I’m getting more out of it than just our standard hourly [pay].”

PMC adopted a multi-tiered approach to getting employees to engage with the app, and it’s paying off. Site managers share information with their teams, and in-person training has been offered to help employees navigate the program. It’s also part of employees’ onboarding experience, and digital marketing is done through text and social media, says Justin Hill, PMC’s VP of HR. The three-month pilot program saw a 36% active engagement level among Nashville’s roughly 900 eligible employees. Following its success, PMC will be rolling the benefit out to the rest of its workers – 6,500 nationwide – over the next few months.

“Anytime you get nearly 40% [of employees] participating, that’s a good day,” Hill says. “We’re tying everything we’re doing with Salt to engagement and retention. Most of our employees are between the ages of 18 and 26. It’s the college kid, it’s the firefighter looking for a second job, it’s the school teacher wanting to work in the summer. We pride ourselves on being that dynamic workforce, and we want their experience at PMC to be great when they are here.”

Among Salt’s employer partners, there is 72% higher tenure among Salt users versus non-users, and a 90% increase in users who volunteer to pick up extra shifts. Ninety-one percent of those who participate say it has made them feel more financially secure.

The opportunity to offer employees ownership – a chance to set long-term financial goals and see additional payoff for time spent at their job – played a role in why PMC partnered with Salt. It has also been very special to watch employees redeem their salt for experiences such as vacations – something a company can’t often provide by itself, Hill says.

“Employers want to enable their employees to become more financially healthy,” says Jason Lee, CEO of Salt. “[It’s] about effectiveness: What can we offer that is easy, transparent and just works, and how do we get folks to actually build savings and enjoy life outside of work?”

Lee equates the program to a frequent flier mile program, where you get rewarded for your loyalty and time – a view shared by Clairday.

“A lot of people were excited about it,” Clairday says. “It’s just additional compensation – a little added bonus that we get for the hours we work. Even part-time employees were talking about it. Companies offering things like this would definitely retain their employees because it shows they care.”

As published in: