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Financial health is workers’ biggest wellness concern

Workers are more concerned about their finances than they are about mental or physical health.
By: | April 29, 2020 • 2 min read

Financial health is employees’ biggest wellness concern in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic—and most are looking to their employers for help.

That’s according to new research out Tuesday from MetLife, which found that 52% of U.S. employees say finances are their biggest concern, more than any other aspect of their wellbeing, including physical (44%), mental (44%) and social health (44%).

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The insurer’s study, fielded among more than 2,300 U.S. employees with full-time positions, measured the impact COVID-19 is having on employees’ financial wellbeing. It reveals that 29% now earn less as a result of the virus. Meanwhile, 38% say their employment status has been directly impacted by the pandemic, and an additional 36% expect to be impacted in the future.

“The coronavirus is clearly contributing to employees’ overall stress, especially as it relates to their financial wellbeing,” says Todd Katz, MetLife’s executive vice president of group benefits. “It should come as no surprise that this is particularly true among those with incomes below $50,000, and those in healthcare.”

Two out of three employees say they’re feeling more stressed than before the pandemic began, including 72% of women and 61% of men, according to the survey.

The research points to an opportunity for employers to step up with resources and benefits to help ease financial stress and improve employee wellbeing, especially as more workers expect the aid.

Related: 8 benefits employers should zero in on during the COVID-19 pandemic

An analysis of pre-COVID-19 data from late 2019, compared to data from April 2020, shows that employees are now more likely to believe their employers have a responsibility to address their health and wellbeing (73% pre-COVID-19 versus 80% during COVID-19), MetLife says. That’s particularly true when it comes to financial wellbeing (40% pre-COVID-19 versus 47% during COVID-19).

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“Across industries, employers have an opportunity to be a source of support for employees facing unprecedented challenges by offering tools and resources to address their immediate concerns,” Katz says.

Kathryn Mayer is HRE’s 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. She can be reached at kmayer@lrp.com.

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