Employees want financial help; why aren’t employers providing it?

Despite ongoing pressures of talent shortages and realigning of employee priorities, many employers still aren’t attuned to the holistic health needs of their workforce. In particular, only about one in three large employers (those with more than 1,000 workers) say they are prioritizing support for workers’ financial health, according to the latest survey from the Institute for Corporate Productivity, a human capital research firm. In addition, 36% of business leaders who participated in its Financial Wellbeing survey said their organizations are not investing in employees’ financial wellbeing at all or only to a low extent.

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What it means to HR leaders

Considering soaring inflation (which hit a 40-year-high of a 9.1% increase year-over-year in June), coupled with fears of a recession and significant employee stress over finances, the new i4cp finding that employers aren’t prioritizing efforts to improve employee financial health is fairly surprising. And it’s data that might spell a call to action for employers and HR leaders, especially those concerned about retaining and recruiting employees in a hot job market.

The survey finds that instead, employers are more likely to prioritize other aspects of wellbeing, including mental health, physical health and career health (like professional development opportunities). When asked about their organizations’ ongoing support for different aspects of wellbeing, most respondents reported that employees’ mental health would receive their greatest levels of investment in the year ahead. Even amid the highest inflation in decades, only four in 10 expect their companies to up investments in the financial wellbeing of their employees, according to the survey.

A lack of investment in all aspects of employee wellbeing though, notably financial health, is a mistake, industry experts say. That’s also because employee stress over finances is rising, a factor that also takes a toll on productivity.

Some of the things employers can do in the financial health arena? Among the popular offerings employers are embracing, i4cp says, are discount programs; financial training; personal financial coaching; commuting assistance; childcare assistance; free post-secondary education; student loan benefits; caregiving assistance and emergency savings accounts.

“Given the gravity of current economic conditions and uncertainty worldwide, combined with ongoing recession fears, this is an ideal time for organizations to heighten support for the financial wellbeing of their workforces,” says Carol Morrison, i4cp senior research analyst.

Learn more at the upcoming HR Tech Conference, including the session “Win the Battle for Talent and Loyalty with Next-Gen Payroll” featuring J.D. Barnes, vice president of global workforce innovation and optimization for Hilton, on Sept. 13.

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Kathryn Mayer
Kathryn Mayer is HRE’s former benefits editor and chair of the Health & Benefits Leadership Conference. She has covered benefits for the better part of a decade, and her stories have won multiple awards, including a Jesse H. Neal Award and honors from the American Society of Business Publication Editors and the National Federation of Press Women. She holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Denver.