How does financial wellness affect health? Recent research looks at the link between financial stress, health and how financial wellness programs can help.

Several recent studies ask how finances affect the health of employees and some researchers took it a step further to examine how financial wellness programs correlate with better health outcomes.

According to a new survey by Bankrate, money worries are the biggest cause of sleep loss and it’s getting worse. Seventy-eight percent of U.S. adults are losing sleep worrying about everyday expenses, saving for retirement and healthcare costs. 

“Sleep greatly impacts mental health and physical health, and mental health also impacts sleep,” Dr. Gail Saltz, a clinical associate professor of psychiatry at the New York Presbyterian Hospital Weill Cornell Medical College, “Not getting enough sleep can impact mood, increase depression and increase anxiety.”

Financial Stress Affects the Health of Employees

Money causes the most stress in the lives of almost 60 percent of employees, according to a report by PwC. It was the top choice for life stressor across all generations, well ahead of issues with jobs, relationships, and health. More than 30 percent of employees say their health has been impacted by their financial worries.

Merrill Edge looked at how Americans with significant investable assets feel about their finances for their recent report. The majority of these relatively financially secure Americans say managing their finances impacts their mental and physical health (59 percent and 56 percent, respectively). Roughly 40 percent of mass affluent Americans would give up all social media platforms forever or cut carbs, sugar and/or alcohol if they never have to manage their personal finances again. 

Financial Wellness Programs for Better Health

When PwC asked respondents what employer benefit they don’t currently have but would like, one in four employees said they want a financial wellness program with an unbiased counselor. Financial wellness programs are in high demand but the one thing employers want to know is if they work and recent research suggests they do. 

Close to 30 percent of employees without access to financial wellness benefits say they worry a lot about current and future finances, according to research by Prudential. Among those with access to financial wellness, worries about current and future finances drop to less than 20 percent. Nearly 60 percent of workers who use financial wellness programs consider their overall mental health  “good,” and those numbers fall to 55 percent for those who don’t use financial wellness programs. 

According to the Prudential report, “These findings add to the body of literature that suggests that financial and physical health are often intertwined, and that employers who help their employees on both fronts stand the best chance of achieving the benefits that wellness programs can offer: healthier, happier, more productive employees whose physical and emotional health may lead to lower rates of absenteeism, fewer delayed retirements, and reduced levels of employee turnover, healthcare costs and employee disability.”

More on Financial Wellness and Employee Health

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Financial Wellbeing & Its Role in a Complete Employee Wellbeing Program