Jane works for a midsized firm. She lives in a bustling metropolis, is well paid and enjoys her role running the Benefits team. But she worries. Even prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, she’d been hearing talk from her team about financial stress taking its toll. Now, Jane’s husband is worried about losing his job due to the crisis, and they’re both concerned about how stock market volatility is impacting their retirement savings.
Sound familiar? You might have picked up on the same concerns among your employees, who are especially worried about their own financial security, savings and retirement plans during these uncertain times. More than half of employees at midsized and large U.S. firms say that financial concerns are a source of stress—even more than family or work-related problems. Of those employees reporting high financial stress, 78% say this anxiety affects their work, according to a survey conducted by the Financial Health Network on behalf of Morgan Stanley.1
The survey also reveals a surprising fact about financial stress: Employees at all levels of income deal with money woes. For example, 52% of all workers who earn more than $100,000 a year in household income say that their finances cause them stress. Overall, respondents cited a need for long-term planning around savings, as well as help with budgeting, managing debt and building emergency savings.
Employers have an opportunity to help their employees handle money issues—and many employees are receptive to the idea. According to the Financial Health Network survey, nearly 75% of employees believe it’s important for employers to offer financial wellness benefits, 71% would be open to receiving personal finance support at work from a financial professional and 60% would be more likely to stay with an employer that offered useful financial wellness programs.1
The new workplace financial tools that employers may offer include free access to a financial-planning app or website, tools to help with investments, emergency savings with an employer match or even employer contributions toward student loan repayments. For employees, these tools can help with common money concerns, including long-term savings and planning as well as budgeting, managing debt and making better decisions around their financial well-being. Plus, employers can offer these resources online and make them available remotely.
Your organization has a clear opportunity to help improve employee well-being and satisfaction by offering financial wellness programs at work. Fewer than one-third of employees surveyed said they had access to benefits that could help them with their everyday finances. Yet when those benefits are offered, between 40% and 60% of employees take advantage of them.1
But simply offering holistic financial wellness benefits to employees isn’t always enough; these benefits need to be clearly communicated and easy for employees to use. Many employees (42%) in the Financial Health Network’s survey said they didn’t feel adequately informed about the benefits and programs their employer offered. In fact, the survey also found that a clearer explanation of benefits and easy access were the two most important factors in encouraging employees to use their benefits—even more than incentives.1
For Jane and her Benefits team, easily accessible reporting and metrics can highlight which resources and tools employees are using as well as where there are opportunities to increase engagement, thereby helping the team focus on where to apply their best efforts.
For your employees, accept that the impact of financial stress on productivity and job satisfaction is real, particularly at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic is bringing money concerns to the forefront. The good news is there are solutions that can help provide relief and boost confidence. By offering a one-stop suite of holistic financial wellness solutions, your organization can set itself apart in the marketplace, provide the help people need right now, and continue to attract and retain great talent for the long term.