Company health and employees’ sense of financial wellness are interconnected; and when workers feel financially secure, they are happier and more productive.
While there has been a move away from company-funded benefits toward more self-directed ones, employers realize that they need to provide tools and guidance to support employees in their efforts to achieve financial health.
Among the findings of a new study:
- 62% of employers say they feel “extreme responsibility” for their employees’ financial wellness, up from 13% in 2013.
- 83% of employers believe that financial wellness tools lead to greater productivity.
- 49% of employees report they feel financially well today, down from 61% just two years ago.
- 67% of eligible employees contribute to their Health Savings Account.
- 59% of employees report that they don’t have control over their debt, which likely contributes to reduced feelings of financial wellness.
- 47% of employers are promoting workplace wellness with established diversity and inclusion programs.
Not surprisingly, the COVID pandemic has heightened everyone’s concerns about financial wellbeing. Between news about layoffs, added costs for home-schooling and PPE, and concerns about an uncertain future, employees are under more stress (both financially and emotionally) than ever. The study authors say, “While the effects of these unprecedented times have yet to be fully understood, employees have already noted an increased strain on their physical and mental health, a greater impact on the interactions between all aspects of their wellbeing and increased impact of overall wellbeing on productivity.” These trends are likely to continue for the foreseeable future, driving employers to prioritize their efforts to help and support workers.
Employers have broadened their efforts to support workers’ financial wellness. In addition to helping or encouraging them to save for retirement, employers see the following as important financial issues to address with workers:
- Planning for healthcare costs (71%, up from 38% in 2013)
- Budgeting (63%, up from 14% in 2013)
- Saving for college (55%, up from 13% in 2013)
- Debt (54%, up from 15% in 2013)
According to the study, employers of all sizes across industry sectors see supporting employee wellness as win-win. More than 8 in 10 employers say they believe that employee financial wellness helps deliver more loyal employees, greater productivity, and more satisfied and engaged workers.
The study authors conclude, “The most impactful programs are those that are comprehensive and address the full range of employee needs. This requires a more responsive plan design as well as tools and access to advice that can help address each employee’s unique needs….”