Many studies have shown how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted financial wellness of different employee generations. These rising financial insecurity levels have affected employee mental health. Almost 48% of employees in the high-stress zone said that finances were the key reason for the stress and exacerbated mental health issues.
Although 2021 seems to be a breeze of new air, there is no doubt that the layoffs and income reductions will intensify, raising the financial and mental health issues of the employees. Amidst all these stress, the economic meltdown is adding equally to the anxiety arising from the fear to keep oneself healthy in the pandemic.
There is enough evidence proving employee mental health directly impacts workplace wellness and employee productivity. And so, employers are now looking to take steps to reduce employee stress to ensure better organizational productivity and business growth. Considering that financial wellness is one of the major stressors, employers focus to offer financial wellness initiatives, which being interconnected with other life aspects can contribute towards holistic wellbeing of the employees.
Research shows financial wellness programs improve employee health and workplace wellness. This is definitely a silver lining to employees who are caught in the mental health spiral due to financial stress. Effective utilization of financial wellness programs can help employees make the right decisions for their financial wellbeing, keep a check on their work responsibilities, and reduce their mental health issues too.
Offering Financial Security Benefits
There are plenty of reasons why employers must offer financial security benefits to their employees, and embracing their holistic wellbeing is one of the key ones. A recent Business Group survey showed that almost 24% of employers were adding financial wellbeing programs to boost employee financial security. Additionally, few were making amendments in their policies like –
- Programs to help repay student loans
· Employee 401(k) Retirement Plans
· 100% reimbursement of employee benefits to furloughed employees
· Allowing for negative PTO balances
Furthermore, employers are supporting employee financial wellness through their employee wellness programs and are addressing different workplace and personal financial aspects, including –
Offering Financial Consultation
Like Wellness360, many employee wellness programs offer one-on-one financial consultation with experts and advisors. Through such counseling sessions, employees can evaluate their financial conditions and make better decisions. Studies show that financial consultations are one of the best employee benefits offered at the workplace. However, according to reports, although 52% of employers offer personal financial consultation, only 16% of employees are aware of it or make use of the benefits. And so, employers need to communicate about their workplace benefits with their employees to help them overcome their financial crisis.
Exploring Fintech Programs
Advancing digital technology has changed the way almost every field works. Right from the e-commerce industry to healthcare and financial fields, technology has paved the way to making operations easier, especially during uncertain times like the COVID-19 pandemic. Employers must explore the latest financial technology programs and offer trending workplace benefits to their employees. Be it offering low-interest personal loans, payday loans, or student loans, employers can offer options to employees to help them overcome their monetary emergencies without having to run to the banks or lenders.
Leveraging Employee Assistance Programs (EAP)
According to a Global Financial Well-being survey, almost 88% of global employers are leveraging employee assistance programs for financial wellness. As per reports, EAP providers hold a better position to address financial wellbeing and its related mental wellness concerns. To ensure these benefits reach and are utilized by employees, employers can partner with suitable EAP providers who offer the needed financial and mental health resources.
Reducing the Financial Insecurity Stigma
Like mental health issues, financial insecurity also carries the burden of societal stigma. Such barriers discourage employees from talking about their issues and engaging in suitable corporate wellness programs that help with financial wellbeing. Employers must take lessons from how mental health stigma is being reduced, and raise similar awareness about financial wellbeing programs. They can promote the importance of financial wellness and offer testimonials or modules that support and motivate employees to adopt financial wellbeing initiatives.
Uncertain times like the pandemic and times of desperate need are the right opportunities for employers to grow their trust factor with the employees. While it is wise to make use of such times, failing to utilize it could cost the company. Studies show that 43% of employees who graded their employer a low ‘C’ for their poor response towards managing the COVID-19 situation planned on moving on to a better company once the situation got better.
It is quite evident that financial insecurities and issues not only impact the individual, but also cost their companies. The pandemic has taught many lessons including the need to be financially educated and ready to meet emergencies. And so, 72% of employers are now taking steps to ensure employees are trained about financial wellness and are providing the needed resources. The bonus point here is that 81% of employees from such companies who offered financial wellness programs said they were going to work for their company for the next 5 years. Clearly, supporting employee needs during uncertain crises is a great way to reduce employee turnover, boost their holistic wellbeing, and aid in business growth.