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Beyond better health: renewing focus on wellness
next issue no. 6: On the horizon
Along with almost everything else in the world, employees’ needs have changed over the past year. The physical, mental and financial toll of the pandemic continues to weigh heavily, creating significant implications for employers. While corporate wellness programs have historically focused on physical health, the pandemic has revealed gaps in strategies to more holistically address physical, mental and financial well-being.
A bridge from health to well-being
Even when compared to major events like September 11, nearly 70% of U.S. workers have stated that the pandemic has been the most stressful period in their entire professional careers. Issues relating to mental health and burnout are true threats to an organization’s performance. According to data from the American Psychiatric Association, employees with unresolved depression experience a 35% reduction in productivity, contributing to a loss to the U.S. economy of $210.5 billion a year in absenteeism, reduced productivity and medical cost.
Nearly 70% U.S. workers have stated that the pandemic has been the most stressful period in their entire professional careers.
And unfortunately these high stress levels won’t be disappearing anytime soon. Mental and emotional well-being need to be placed at the forefront of a holistic wellness offering. Employers should consider what actions they can take to improve employee well-being in their everyday lives, and how to provide easy access to resources when professional assistance is needed.
Addressing financial insecurity
In addition to physical and mental wellbeing, our society’s financial stability and resilience has been put to the test over the past year. Throughout the pandemic, employers have been extremely attentive to physical and mental health needs with more than 80% of employers stating an increased focus on health and safety of the workforce. This heightened focus on health seems to be paralleled by an increased focus on financial well-being with 69% of employers stating they now have a greater focus on improving financial wellness and 60% say the same about retirement preparedness. While employees recognize the newfound attention to health, they are not making the connection between health and financial wellness. Only a third of employees recognize this connection and only 1 in 4 have increased focus on retirement preparedness.
77% of outperforming company CEOs surveyed report they plan to prioritize employee well-being even if it affects near-term profitability.2
Financially stressed employees leads to:
- 3 hours lost per week on money worries
- 10x more likely to not be able to finish daily tasks
- 13-18% increase in annual payroll due to additional training and recruitment costs
Now is the time to address this disconnect as employer-provided resources are seemingly going unused, while issues relating to financial insecurity among employees continue to rise. The negative downstream effects of employee financial stress can be significant: According to Salary Finance, this sort of stress can cost a company between 13% and 18% of their annual payrolls.1 As employees look to rebuild their financial well-being, there will be a demand for not just information, but also guidance from employers. As highlighted in the next section, the workplace will be a key area to start.
Strategies employers can leverage to support employees’ financial well-being
- Enhance your virtual capabilities: With digital engagement here to stay, employees are much more likely to participate in a virtual interaction than ever before. Interactive tools, seminars and even financial coaching are now scalable offerings that can make a meaningful impact.
- Beef up your benefits: Look beyond a retirement plan match or health savings account and consider programs to address common personal finance concerns such as emergency savings funds or student loan payment programs.
- Focus on financial literacy: Achieving and maintaining financial well-being is not simply having enough money. It is the knowledge and understanding that enable sound financial decision making. Consider offering a series that focus on financial literacy to promote long-term financial wellness.
- Build awareness: Communication is key. Create a plan to ensure that all employees know what benefits are available to them, where to access those benefits and most importantly how to use them. And this isn’t a one and done effort. Studies have suggested that people need to hear a message seven times before they consider taking action.
39% of underperformers, reflecting that the surveyed leaders of top organizations are heavily focused on their people in this moment.2
Employers have a key opportunity to create happier and more engaged employees. A holistic wellness offering that addresses not only physical health, but also mental, emotional and financial health can be major component to strengthening your overall employee engagement.
In this issue
1 Salary Finance, “Inside the Wallets of Working Americans: The 2nd Annual Salary Finance Report,” 2020
2 IBM, “2021 CEO Study: Find your essential. How to thrive in a post-pandemic reality,” 2021.
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