- Half of all employees received a raise or promotion in the prior year, according to a recent study by the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. The Report on the Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households in 2018 interviewed over 11,000 individuals via an online survey in October and November 2018 to determine “financial fragility” in several areas, including employment. While most adults are working as much as they want to — an indicator of full employment — Fed researchers noted that many adults are financially vulnerable and would have difficulty handling an emergency expense as small as $400.
- Those wanting to work more, those with unpredictable work schedules, and those who rely on gig activities as a main source of income report lower economic wellbeing, Fed researchers said. Unpredictable work schedules are associated with financial stress. Twenty-five percent of surveyed employees report having a varying work schedule, including 17% whose schedule varies based on their employer’s needs. One-third of workers who do not control their schedule are "not doing okay" financially, versus only one-fifth of workers who set their schedule or have stable hours.
- Three in 10 adults report they engaged in at least one gig activity in the prior month, with a median time spent on gig work of five hours, but only 3% of adults say they used a website or an app to arrange gig work, Fed researchers said. Financial fragility “is slightly more common for those engaged in gig work, but markedly higher for those who do so as a main source of income.”
The financial status of employees affects employers’ bottom line with lost productivity. A Colonial Life study earlier this year indicated that employers are losing billions because of workers who are disengaged or unproductive due to stress. The workers' biggest worries, the study showed, are jobs and health; in fact, 15% of those surveyed said stress made them look for a new job.
Colonial Life's assistant VP for global wellbeing and health, Laurie Mitchell, said employers can help workers by offering access to financial well-being programs and promoting work-life balance by offering flexible work options, paid time off, paid parental leave and other paid leave programs, among other things.
Employers could also be doing more to help workers with their post-work financial lives. Almost 60% of workers have no retirement account assets, according to a report from the National Institute on Retirement Security (NIRS). When researchers accounted for all working-age individuals, the median retirement account balance came to $0. And among workers who have saved for retirement, the average amount leveled off at just $40,000. About 70% of employees age 55 to 64 have a retirement account equal to or smaller than their annual income.
Diane Oakley, report author and NIRS executive director, suggested that employers encourage employees to start saving for retirement as early as possible using automatic enrollment.