Tackling the "Money Taboo"
Financial stress can reduce job productivity and increase employee turnover. Learn what employers are doing to prevent this.
Even before the pandemic, employers knew that many of their employees struggled with finances. Money has always been a sensitive topic. As such, employers are cautious about overstepping. However, employees are looking to their employers for solutions, and it is becoming evident how important workplace financial wellness programs are.
As companies expand their views beyond salaries and into overall employee wellness, employers are noticing how powerful their benefit programs are as an effective retention tool. Nearly three out of five employees say they’re more likely to stay at a job that offers useful financial wellness benefits.1 In other words, employers with benefit programs that focus on financial wellness have a competitive edge when it comes to attracting and retaining top talent.
The Money Distraction
Workers at every salary level need financial health resources — even higher wage-earners. Of households with income of more than $100,000 per year, 52% reported that their finances cause them stress.2 Essentially, everyone needs help.
When employees are stressed, they become distracted, which can affect work performance. When they can’t focus on the task at hand, mistakes are made, deadlines are missed and work productivity suffers. In a recent survey, three out of four employees with high financial stress said it distracts them at work.3
Financial Wellness Takes Center Stage
The year 2020 gave many a new perspective. Employers got a glimpse directly into the homes and lifestyles of their employees. From these candid views, employers could see how financial health encompasses more than just compensation. They learned that many employees struggle to make ends meet and need more workplace benefits to help them establish a financial safety net.
As businesses continue though the recovery phase, employers are using the knowledge gained from a challenging year to build stronger workplace solutions.
For 2021, employers plan to add these top financial health benefits:4
Finances are very personal, and, traditionally, it has been a taboo subject to discuss at work. However, employees are eager for support. Seventy-one percent say they’d be comfortable discussing financial matters at work with a financial professional unaffiliated with their employer.5
With schools and daycare centers closed, many parents are overwhelmed with juggling childcare and working from home. So it is not surprising that childcare/eldercare assistance is a highly sought-after benefit. Almost a quarter of companies are adding dependent care assistance to their benefit plan in 2021.6
The anticipation of unexpected expenses and inadequate savings to deal with them are significant stressors for employees. Prior to the pandemic, over 70% of employers believed that employees struggled with emergency savings.7 Now, as part of the recovery plan, one out of four companies are preparing to offer an emergency savings fund through payroll deduction.8
Financial apps and websites are gaining popularity, especially those that offer budgeting and savings tools and calculators. More than half of the employees who have free access to a financial planning app/website via their employers use them.9
Millennials and Generation Xers make up much of the workforce, and many of them have college debt on their minds. Whether they are working to pay off student loans or saving for their children's education, this is an opportunity for employers to help alleviate a common stressor by implementing student loan repayment programs or 529 plans.
Connecting to the Whole Employee
Financial wellness programs started out as a “nice to have” employee benefit, but have become the cornerstone of cultivating an overall wellness strategy.
Offering a financial wellness program is a win-win. Employees have a safe and confidential outlet to get the help they need to relieve financial stress and work towards their financial goals. And employers can build loyal teams of talented and productive workers.