Why your employees’ financial well-being matters

Money-related stress is at its highest recorded levels since 2015.

This troubling statistic comes from the American Psychological Association’s annual Stress in America survey at a challenging time for our country and our world. We have entered our third calendar year of the COVID-19 pandemic; a war is raging in Ukraine, mental health issues are on the rise, and amid all this, people are struggling to make ends meet.

 A recent survey from PwC found that 47% of Americans say they couldn’t meet basic expenses if they were out of work for an extended period.

  • 49% believe they’ll have to tap their retirement savings early

  • 42% of full-time workers find it difficult to pay for household expenses on time each month.

This is all taking shape despite our country being in a period of low unemployment and high job growth. It begs the question: Does this mean a significant portion of our population is financially unwell?

The short answer is, yes.

Financial well-being is defined as a state of financial security and financial freedom of choice, both now and in the future, and it’s a critical part of our overall well-being. Gallup identifies it as one of five core elements that play a role in personal well-being, alongside a career, social wellness, physical health and a sense of community. Trouble in any one of those areas jeopardizes your health and wellness, and there is no financial security or freedom when you’re struggling to pay standard household expenses month after month.

Experts often look at the state of our collective financial well-being in the context of an unexpected $400 expense. Every year, economists from the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System conduct the so-called SHED survey related to household financial well-being, and every year, they ask each participant the same question: If you were facing a $400 emergency expense, could you pay for it? At the end of 2020, 36% of adults said no.

Why does this matter for businesses?

Consider this: 45% of employees under increased financial stress report being distracted at work, according to the PwC survey. In addition, 57% said they avoided addressing a medical issue due to cost concerns. 72% said they would consider leaving their current organization for one that cares more about their financial well-being. And on the whole, financial stress costs businesses $300 billion a year in lost productivity.

Given all that, what can businesses do to help?

Employee relief programs are a powerful solution that accomplishes two important goals. First, employee relief programs create a safety net for your employees, providing financial assistance through grants during times of hardship or disaster. In the event of an unexpected medical expense, for instance, or the loss of a spouse, an employee relief grant can cover an employee’s immediate financial needs and eliminate the stress that comes with it.

Second, employee relief programs create a culture of support within your organization. As a result, your employees understand they work for an organization that cares about them. That, in turn, sets you apart from the competition while becoming an employer of choice because of your demonstrated commitment to your people and their lives, both inside and outside the workplace.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Given financial well-being's impact on our overall mental health, it’s a perfect time to start thinking about what your organization can do to support your employees during times of need.

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