After years of American economic growth in the wake of the 2008 housing market crash, experts are increasingly worried that another downturn looms on the horizon. According to a recent CNBC Fed survey, there is a 23 percent chance of a recession in the next 12 months, the highest mark at any point in the Trump presidency and higher than the 19 percent long-run average for the 7-year-old survey.

For the modern U.S. household, there are real causes for alarm.

The Federal Reserve Bank’s latest Report on the Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households found that while economic well-being has generally improved over the past five years, 40 percent of U.S. households still say they cannot cover a $400 emergency expense. Additionally, roughly 78 percent of U.S. workers live paycheck to paycheck, according to a 2017 CareerBuilder survey, including one in 10 workers earning at least $100,000 per year.

Twenty-seven percent of workers globally report severe stress, anxiety or depression over the past two years due to their financial situation, with worsening financial well-being diminishing employee productivity, engagement, and health.

“It’s pretty sobering. People are living well beyond their means,” said Dr. Bruce Sherman, Medical Director for Population Health Management, Conduent HR Services. And for employers, “there is a direct cost and an indirect cost directly related to financial stress: lost productivity, worker turnover, performance, absenteeism and presenteeism. But at least half the costs are associated with poor health.”

The last recession decimated financial security for many employees, with an unemployment rate that peaked at about 10 percent and nearly matched a 1981-82 postwar high. At one point at the beginning of the economic recovery, there were seven people looking for work per every job opening that existed.

Without the right preparation, a repeat scenario could spell disaster for American workers unaware of how to effectively manage and maximize their financial wellbeing. In the case of a life-altering event like the loss of a job, the foreclosure of a home or the forced liquidation of important assets, unsuspecting employees can often be forced to handle serious fiscal situations with long-lasting consequences — and have little to no reliable, unbiased information on which to base their decisions.

As an employer, this is where you can make a difference, easing the financial stress of your employees while increasing productivity and retention and reducing workplace accidents.

In today’s increasingly divisive world there aren’t a lot of things everyone can agree on, but the effectiveness of financial wellness programs seems to be the exception to the rule for employers and employees. A recent Bank of America study found that over 90 percent of employees who’ve participated in workplace financial wellness programs say they’ve been effective, and 95 percent of employers who offer them say that their programs have helped the company to reach its goals.

Employers who have offered them have seen greater employee satisfaction, less employee turnover, improvement in employee productivity and potentially lower healthcare costs for the company.

By giving your staffers the tools they need to take control of their financial lives, not only are you providing a benefit that will boost your bottom line, you’re arming your employees with the knowledge they need to make the best possible decisions when the stakes are the highest.

Best Money Moves is a mobile-first financial wellness program. It combines technology, information, smart tools and live money coaches to help employees measure their level of financial stress in 15 categories, and then sends relevant information and tools to help them reduce that stress.

Employees use the program’s point-based rewards system, which assigns point values to every action possible on the site from setting up income and expenses with the budgeting tool to reading articles and measuring stress. Each month Best Money Moves hosts a global contest with a cash prize for the user who has earned the most points during the month. This ongoing engagement strategy keeps usage at 25 to 51 percent.

Employers can view reports that provide a statistical look at usage, including: unique visitors; minutes online per visit; an overview of those who have measured stress; what categories of stress they’re measuring; money coach sessions; and, a snapshot of the overall financial health of employees. No individual data can be accessed which ensures employee privacy while allowing employers to have an overall understanding of their employees’ financial health.

What sets Best Money Moves apart? We aren’t trying to sell your employees anything and we aren’t a “robo-investment” platform because we believe that employees need unbiased information they can trust.

Learn more about how Best Money Moves can make a difference for your employees by contacting Preston Theilig at [email protected].