The economy is great. Jobs are plentiful.
...And yet many employees are anxious, depressed, living paycheck to paycheck, and feeling financial stress that far outweighs stress in other areas of their lives.
If this all seems incongruous, it may well be - but it’s the reality nearly half of American workers are living. Salary Finance worked with an independent third party to survey nearly 3,000 American workers and the findings were sobering: 42 percent of workers are financially stressed. While we can all recognize this as a larger societal problem, there are also ramifications for your business. These workers are 11 times more likely to have sleepless nights, 10 times more likely to not finish daily tasks on the job, nine times more likely to have troubled relationships with their coworkers, and two times more likely to be looking for a new job.
Pause for a moment and let that data sink in. Workers with financial struggles are less productive at work and more likely to seek another job, costing you up to 13 to 18 percent of annual salary cost. Put another way: while some argue that we should cut the workweek to four days, you’re likely only getting that in production from your employees because of the financial pressures they are feeling.
You may be inclined to think this is only impacting a certain population of workers. You’d be wrong. Salary Finance’s survey found that money worries show up in different ways for people with different incomes, ages, or educational backgrounds -- but one thing is clear: it’s not just those who take home less money that are having trouble making ends meet. Of those employees that make more than $100,000 a year, over 30 percent of them regularly run out of money between paychecks -- keep in mind, these are people with incomes that are eight times the poverty threshold in the United States.
If you were previously inclined to think the financial pressures of your employees are not your problem, that’s clearly not the case. Financial strain is costing your business money.
There is a silver lining, however - and that is that your employees trust you and believe that you care about their wellbeing. Nearly 80 percent of workers with financial stress trust their employer to keep their personal financial situation private, and almost three-quarters of them say they feel their employer cares about them and their wellbeing.
This creates a powerful role for the employer, putting you in a unique position to help your employees improve their financial situation. The Salary Finance survey asked what benefits employees would like to see that are not currently being offered to them. The results reflected the areas employees want to improve in financially: with salary-linked savings, access to affordable credit, and paid leave for caregiving among the most mentioned benefits.
Salary-linked benefits - whether it be those that provide access to affordable credit or help employees save money in a more automated way - are wanted by your workforce. These benefits are powerful, because they can help shortcut, or hack, an individual’s natural behavior to help them achieve greater financial wellness, all by leveraging the power of the already-in-place payroll deduction system. Employees recognize the value of accessing these types of benefits through the workplace, and the helpfulness of the connection with their paycheck.
The interest level in these types of financial wellness benefits cuts across income and age groups, as well. Over half of employees under the age of 45 are said it would be of value to them if their employer offered access to more responsible credit options that could help them pay down existing debt, like low-cost loans repaid through salary. For those getting closer to retirement - ages 45-54 - salary-linked savings is a top request, as it is for those making $100,000 or more a year.
Your employees are facing dire financial challenges, but they have you to lean on to help them through it. Now is the time to step up and help your employees - and in the process, your bottom line.
Dan Macklin is CEO of Salary Finance Inc, the leading global provider of financial education and salary-linked financial wellness solutions for employees.