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Why you should prioritize the financial wellbeing of your employees — now more than ever

Since the pandemic, there has been a decline in the general wellbeing of the workforce — from new anxieties to financial concerns. But employers can help improve their situation with the right support services and benefits.

As employees return to the workplace after the pandemic’s work-from-home requirement, they may return with more than just their physical presence. The pandemic has had an impact on many people beyond just the fear of contracting the coronavirus. Your workers are likely experiencing everything from a lower sense of wellbeing to greater financial worries.

Overall, in the U.S., families and workers are feeling more stress than before the pandemic. Much of this stems from issues such as how they will maintain a work-life balance in the “new normal” and a greater uncertainty for what the future holds. One of the major issues facing workers today is the impact of current events on their family finances, according to our September 2021 Mental Health Index™ report.

The report showed a massive decline in the collective mental health of the working population. It revealed a three-point decline in people’s sense of wellbeing from the pre-2020 benchmark.

Nearly 34% of the working population is considered to be in the high-risk mental health category as of spring 2021. That’s considerably higher than the 13% at high-risk in 2019.

These results reveal a troubling reality. Workers’ lack of wellbeing can have a significant negative impact on your workplace — including everything from an increase in sick days to higher turnover to difficulties in new employee recruitment. However, organizations can take action to improve this outcome. They can take specific steps to help their employees better manage their wellbeing by better managing their health and finances.

By taking these steps, organizations can improve the lives of their employees and improve their businesses.

How is your organization supporting your employees?

Financial wellbeing is understood to be as important as physical and mental wellness. It’s about more than having money in the bank. Financial wellbeing means feeling in control of your finances, being able to handle a financial setback, and being on track to achieve life goals, such as having a plan for retirement.

Among the many ways that today’s employers are helping support their employees' feelings of financial wellbeing are by providing voluntary benefits programs, supporting their workers during major life events, up-leveling employee onboarding, and thinking generationally about providing support services.

These services support employees’ ability to enjoy a healthy work-life balance, expand their savings opportunities and get the benefits they need at their specific life stage.

Supporting Workers During Major Life Events: Workers have lives outside of work and what happens there can impact how they perform on the job site. In particular, major life events that impact mental health include starting a new job, getting married, having or adopting a child, divorcing, going on disability, retiring and death in the family. Showing respect for them at every juncture will help them make smoother transitions. There are ways employers can provide optimum support during these life events, such as through pension, healthcare and voluntary benefits.

Providing Voluntary Benefits: At the onset of COVID-19, people were faced with multiple uncertainties in their lives — from financial to health. Voluntary benefits helped bridge the gap of uncertainty for many workers by providing them with lower-cost access to the services they needed to feel better prepared and more financially secure — including everything from disability insurance to fitness club membership discounts. 

Up-Leveling Employee Onboarding: Gallup reported that only 12% of U.S. employers do a great job of employee onboarding. One addition that could help add an impressive component to the onboarding process would be clearly communicating to new employees all of the many resources available to them that can significantly support their financial wellbeing. 

Thinking Generationally About Support: Diverse workforces are 21% more likely to have above-average profit margins compared to companies with a more homogenous employee population. To build a benefits program that appeals to all generations, HR must find ways to balance high-cost benefits that serve everyone, such as health insurance and legally required benefits, with low-cost benefits that appeal to each generation, such as pet insurance, ID theft prevention or critical illness coverage.

4 ways to financially support your workers

Employers have many opportunities to help their employees thrive emotionally and financially. For example, many companies are offering financial support services such as innovative perks and savings programs, spending accounts, and financial and legal resources through progressive and modern Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs).

Innovative perks and savings programs help employees save money on daily essentials and during life events by offering them budget-friendly lift-me-ups. The perks, such as gift cards and cashback offers, can help them improve their financial wellbeing with savings on everyday purchases and during important life events, such as getting married, buying a home or car, family outings, and holidays.

Spending account services offer employees benefits that can help them transform the way they save, spend, pay and invest in healthcare. For example, health savings accounts (HSAs) present a variety of cost-saving opportunities for employees with a high-deductible health plan (HDHP). They also give participants maximum control over their healthcare decisions, valuable tax savings and long-term investment options.

Progressive EAP programs let you provide your workers with free access to counseling and assessments for a wide range of personal and work-related issues. They can seek assistance from thousands of master’s-level specialists in a wide range of specialties such as financial and legal, childcare and eldercare, debt support and more.

Another employee support resource offered by many organizations is a Disaster & Hardship Employee Relief Fund. These funds are established by the employer to ensure financial relief is accessible to eligible employees with demonstrated financial emergency needs. Typically employees apply for a grant from the fund to help cover financial gaps in the event of catastrophic disasters, personal financial hardships and personal crises.

Support your employees’ financial health

Now more than ever, employees face financial pressures that impact their wellbeing and need the support of their employers. LifeWorks goes beyond traditional employee benefits programs to provide the tools and services needed to get employees through difficult financial times. We provide the financial and mental health relief tools and programs so many are searching for today. These tools and services can make all the difference to their job performance and satisfaction — which can significantly boost their engagement and retention. Help your employees achieve financial wellness now and into the future, so they feel better prepared to overcome their personal challenges and focus on your business success.