Are your workers worried about their personal finances? Unfortunately, they most likely are. A 2022 survey from BrightPlan found that a whopping 72% of employees are worried about money — an 11% year-over-year increase from 2021 findings.
What’s driving this surge? Respondents pointed to a variety of factors, including ballooning inflation (79%), market volatility (56%), and debt (44%). In short, employees are more stressed about money because their earnings don’t go as far as they once did — as evidenced by the fact that more people are living paycheck to paycheck. In August 2022, for example, 41% of consumers said they didn’t have any cash left over at the end of the month after their bills were paid; only 31% of people said the same in September 2021.
Prolonged stress is never good for the body (or the mind), which explains why 77% and 52% of BrightPlan respondents said mounting economic pressures have damaged their mental and physical health, respectively. But it doesn’t stop there. When employees’ financial well-being suffers, employers also deal with the consequences.
A survey from Salary Finance found that stressed-out workers are 5.8 times more likely to eschew daily tasks, 4.9 times more likely to produce low-quality work, and 4.5 times more likely to have poor relationships with colleagues. On average, employees dealing with financial stress report losing more than 11 hours per week in productivity.
4 Ways to Relieve Employee Financial Stress
How can HR leaders address and alleviate employee financial stress? While employees might like the idea of across-the-board raises, that’s more of a Band-Aid than a solution. Instead, employers need to incorporate financial wellness solutions into their benefits offerings.
Here are four ways you can help:
1. Pay attention to employee expectations.
It’s not just that employees want financial-focused benefits — they expect them. Delivering on those expectations can make a huge impact. For instance, 60% of employees told BrightPlan they would work harder if they had access to financial wellness benefits; another 34% said those benefits would incentivize them to stay with their employers longer.
But what, exactly, are financial wellness benefits? They’re tools and resources that help employees navigate financial stress and cultivate better financial well-being. What resources do employees want? These could include investing tools, additional financial education, and access to a financial professional. The right offering will vary by company, so don’t be afraid to survey your employees to gauge their needs.
2. Improve financial literacy.
There’s a reason almost 90% of employees crave financial education: Most Americans have low financial literacy. They might lack the knowledge and skills to make savvy financial decisions, but you have the power to change that.
Tap a financial expert to educate employees and promote financial wellness in the workplace. Again, survey employees beforehand to see what topics they’re interested in exploring. You might host one session on retirement savings and another on monthly budgeting. As their financial literacy increases, employees’ financial wellness will follow.
3. Educate employees on benefit offerings.
Do your employees understand the full scope of your benefits package? Even if you do a yearly presentation during benefits renewal, there’s a good chance gaps in knowledge persist. A Morgan Stanley at Work study found that 96% of HR leaders felt their companies needed to do a better job of providing education related to their financial wellness benefits for employees.
Make sure you’re breaking this information down into digestible chunks. For example, do you match employee 401(k) contributions? If so, you need to highlight this offering and explain why it behooves employees to contribute the maximum amount each month. Consider creating one-pagers that break down individual benefits offerings — and explain how they help support employees’ financial well-being.
4. Offer additional financial relief.
If you have the means to do so, right now is a great time to offer your employees financial relief. With inflation increasing the price of everything from gas to groceries, people have less wallet space available for things like healthcare. This is part of the reason medical debt is such a widespread problem in our country. There’s a good chance your employees are dealing with medical debt — or making dangerous decisions like delaying necessary treatment.
With a patient financing solution like Paytient, you can give your employees the power to pay for medical, dental, vision, pharmacy, and even veterinary care. Adding Paytient Health Payment Accounts to your benefits package makes it easy for your employees to turn out-of-pocket healthcare costs into interest-free payment plans that meet their budget.
At this point, promoting financial wellness in the workplace has become an expectation rather than a novelty. Research shows that finances are the top cause of stress for employees — more than on-the-job, health, and family stress combined. Employees dealing with anxiety about money will struggle to bring their best selves to work, which ultimately hurts the companies that employ them.
To address some of this anxiety and support employees on their personal journeys toward better financial well-being, employers need to find ways to offer education and support. Whether it’s bringing in outside experts to further financial literacy, educating team members on existing benefits, or providing financial relief through a benefit like Paytient, HR leaders have numerous options when it comes to lending a helping hand.