Now more than ever, employers are investing in wellness programs to improve the physical health of their workforce. According to a recent report, more than 80% of U.S. employers1 offer some type of workplace wellness benefit, adding fuel to the already $8 billion corporate wellness industry. From subsidized gym memberships to smoking-cessation programs, businesses are spending money in hopes of decreasing costs associated with healthcare, absenteeism, and productivity loss.
Various studies, however, offer conflicting results on whether workplace wellness programs actually provide cost savings and improved worker health. And while just over half of employers2 say their wellness programs help workers live healthier lives, only 32% of employees feel the same. This has caused businesses to rethink their workplace wellness strategies and nix fitness discounts and weight-loss competitions for programs that actually address the real needs of today’s workforce. And with that, a new trend in benefits has emerged: financial wellness programs that address precarity.
Employers are realizing that for employees to be well at work (thus more present and productive), they need to be free from the stress and health implications that stem from financial precarity. Employees spend an average of 13 hours/month worrying about money at work.3 And those employees with high financial stress are twice as likely to report poor health (and four times as likely to suffer from fatigue, headaches, depression, or other ailments).4 All of this resulting in a high price tag for employers—with some studies citing $1 million/year/business as a conservative estimate.
Workers are struggling despite a historically low unemployment rate. Many are unable to build up emergency savings, pay down debt, or even afford food. This is especially true for hourly workers. According to a study that surveyed 3,000+ hourly workers, 75% of respondents had less than $500 in emergency savings. And 40% of total respondents admitted they had no money saved for an emergency.5 Workers also said that affording basic living expenses were their biggest financial stressor.
To address financial precarity, financial wellness programs must be holistic and innovative. (This means going beyond simply offering 401(k) matches.) Here are four programs to consider rolling into your wellness strategy program in 2020:
If you need support in making financial health a priority in 2020, don’t hesitate to contact us.
1. Employers with 50 or more employees.
2. Employers who participated in the 22nd annual Willis Towers Watson Best Practices in Health Care Employer Survey.
3. Mercer, “Inside Employee’s Minds – Financial Wellness”, 2017.
4. Don Hess, “Finding the Links Between Retirement, Stress, and Health,” Lockton, 2016.
5. The Branch Report: “A look at the financial, work, and lifestyle interests of today’s hourly workers.”
6. Program only available to Colorado employees.