Inflation, debt and economic uncertainty are affecting US workers’ finances, adding distractions and undercutting their workplace productivity. Many employers now consider financial wellness in their benefits policies and are seeking to establish programs that can help reduce workers’ economic stress. This 2023 survey from professionals at PwC offers company executives insights into the issues concerning employee financial well-being and ideas on how to make these programs more effective.
- Workers are experiencing heightened financial stress.
- Major economic stressors can affect employee well-being.
- Employers can implement specific measures to ensure their employees’ financial wellness.
Workers are experiencing heightened financial stress.
In January 2023, PwC conducted an online survey of 3,638 full-time employees working in various industries to query them about their financial well-being. The results show that economic uncertainty is affecting employee finances in the United States. Uneven compensation increases, high inflation and spiking credit card debt put workers under extreme financial pressure.
“While several of this year’s findings echo themes we’ve seen in the past, they underscore that, now more than ever, employees are looking to their employers for help.”
Most businesses are reducing costs in the face of an increasingly volatile global economic environment. More than four-fifths of companies are cutting their workforces through terminations and offers of early retirement packages. This organizational disruption wreaks havoc on employees’ overall wellness: Almost two-thirds report experiencing stress-related health issues that include lack of sleep, impaired mental health, decreased self-esteem, physical concerns and greater tensions in their domestic relationships.
Major economic stressors can affect employee well-being.
Employees are increasingly experiencing the corrosive effects of heightened inflation. Almost half report failing to meet household outlays in a timely fashion, while nearly one-third barely survive between paychecks. Economic strain often translates into reduced work productivity. Employees experiencing financial distress tend to identify less with their companies and their values than employees who are financially comfortable. Many respondents reported being open to the possibility of leaving their current positions for firms offering greater alignment with the employees’ core beliefs and concerns.
“What’s more, financial stress impacts a wide range of employee health and well-being areas from mental health to sleep to self-esteem.”
Many employees want assistance with their personal financial situations and unbiased financial advice. The survey found that asking for help is becoming increasingly acceptable and that employees no longer fear their colleagues stigmatizing them as failures or as weak.
Employers can implement specific measures to ensure their employees’ financial wellness.
Employers can actively engage with their employees regarding their financial conditions. Companies considering reducing their workforces should provide objective financial counsel to help those affected consider their options and make prudent choices. Businesses can institute programs that help workers navigate financial obstacles, such as the effects of inflation on purchasing power.
“Why should employers care about employees’ financial well-being? Financially stressed employees tend to be more distracted, less engaged and more likely to seek another job.”
Employers should tailor financial wellness benefits – such as “coaching, workshops, webinars and online tools” – to employees’ specific life and work situations. People’s interest in such programs has increased: In 2012 – the first year of PwC’s survey – only 51% of employees who had access to these benefits used them. As of January 2023, however, some 68% of employees took advantage of employer-offered programs.
About the Author
PwC has tracked US employee financial well-being through its annual survey since 2012.