Annual survey reveals economic uncertainty tied to rising inflation, retirement concerns and market volatility leading to sizable increase in stress
A new survey found a significant increase in employee financial stress since 2021, with 72% of employees reporting they are stressed about their finances—which in turn has affected workers’ mental and physical health as well as workplace productivity.
Rising inflation (79%) is employees’ top financial concern, followed by adequate retirement planning (59%), with employees currently contributing significantly more to retirement. In addition, market volatility (56%), having sufficient emergency savings (55%), and paying off debt (44%) rank high, according to the BrightPlan survey.
With an 11% increase over the past year, employee financial stress is at an all-time high. Deteriorating financial health is impacting both mental health (77%) and physical well-being (52%). Those reporting financial stress state they lose, on average, 11.4 hours in productivity every week—this translates into over $4 billion in lost productivity weekly for U.S. employers.*
“As the pandemic’s impact on the workplace lessens and economic uncertainty increases, financial wellness is top of mind,” said Marthin De Beer, BrightPlan founder and CEO. “Employees are more concerned and stressed about their finances than ever before. Fortunately, companies have gained trust among their workforce. By offering innovative wellness benefits, employers can leverage that trust to attract, retain and engage their best workers.”
Increased financial stress is shifting employee priorities. Financial wellness-related benefits are now the most desired innovative benefit, rising from No. 3 (29%) in 2021 to No. 1 (54%) this year. The desire for financial wellness benefits is followed by mental health benefits (33%) and flexible time off (30%). Nearly 9 out of 10 employees (88%) expect their employers to provide tools and resources to help them with their finances. The effect of offering enhanced benefits is strong, with 95% of workers saying they have a positive impact:
- 60% say they would work harder
- 59% would feel more financially secure
- 58% would be more engaged and productive
- 34% would be more committed and stay longer
The waning of the global pandemic has presented a new set of priorities and challenges for employers. 86% of HR leaders say their biggest challenge is attracting or retaining talent; engaging employees is also high on the list (65%). The continuing Great Resignation is causing employees to reassess their priorities:
- 78% seek better work/life balance
- 38% are seeking greater mission and purpose (52% among Black respondents)
- 1 in 4 wish to take a break from work altogether (40% among ages 18-25)
In terms of trust, safety and belonging, 89% of employees feel their company is doing a good job with diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) initiatives. Yet one-third feel only somewhat safe and accepted. Groups most likely to feel only somewhat safe include Asian-Americans (49%), those working in healthcare (42%), LGBTQIA workers (42%) and females (36%, versus 28% of males).
“Two years of COVID-19 upheaval have caused employees to reexamine the influence that work is having on their life, and whether that influence is a positive or negative one,” said Danielle Posa, founder of Workplace Wellbeing Advisors. “As a result, it is understandable that well-being, in all its forms, has emerged as a C-suite priority. Companies can lessen the negative impact of the Great Resignation by putting well-being front and center and making it a part of the entire employee experience. In fact, when well-being is strategically ingrained into the fabric of the culture, it can be a real competitive advantage in today’s market.”
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