With the pension era over and Social Security projected to be tapped out within two decades, employers in every industry are stepping up efforts to help ease financial stress on employees by providing desperately needed financial wellness solutions.
This is smart: The majority of Americans report that money is a “somewhat or very significant” source of stress, with parents and younger adults reporting high levels of financial stress, according to the American Psychological Association.
The issue is bleeding into the workplace as nearly half of employees report that financial challenges cause the most significant stress in their lives, according to the 2017 Employee Financial Wellness Survey. “Stressed employees are found to be less productive, take more time off to deal with financial matters, are more likely to leave the company for higher compensation, and are more likely to cite health issues caused by financial stress,” the survey reported. This shows “a direct correlation between an employee’s financial well-being and a company’s bottom line.”
That’s why savvy companies are adding and boosting financial wellness benefits as a win-win. Nearly 60 percent of employers are “very likely” to and another third are “moderately likely” to focus on the financial well-being of workers beyond retirement decisions, according to Aon’s 2017 Hot Topics in Retirement and Financial Well-being report. While the subject has been on the radar for several years, more than half of employers say the importance has increased in the last two years.
Here are some fields where adding financial well-being programs can be particularly effective:
- Healthcare. These professionals may be struggling with large amounts of debt while juggling nontraditional hours. In some cases, student loan bills can equal or top a mortgage.
- Nonprofits. This sector has a bottom line focused on change, so employees may be paid less, grapple with modest resources and be asked to juggle tasks beyond their job description. Meanwhile, many nonprofits constantly seek new and additional funding, which can make the future unstable.
- Startups. Building a startup is hot, but keeping them running can be stressful. What’s more, employees may need to figure out stock options and, in some cases, how to properly manage a sudden windfall.
- Retail. These workers largely deal with wages lower than $10 an hour and sporadic schedules. With average rental rates nationwide topping $1,200 a month, paying the rent requires significant work.
- Manufacturing. This sector’s employers may be stressed about looming automation and the increased need for college degrees. Factories also continue to close nationwide, creating additional concerns.
Dawn Wotapka is a financial writer.