HRE’s number of the day: financial health

Here’s how many employees say the pandemic is making them feel worse about their financial health—and what it means for HR leaders.
By: | April 16, 2020 • 2 min read


41: Percentage of employees who say the coronavirus pandemic is making them feel worse about their financial health.

About 4 in 10 employees say COVID-19-related work/life changes are negatively impacting their financial wellbeing, according to a survey of 500 employees conducted by Optum. Fifteen percent of those surveyed said the current environment is making them feel “much worse” about their financial wellbeing.

What it means to HR leaders

Employees are affected by the coronavirus pandemic in a number of ways. In addition to mental health issues and declining social and physical health, employees also are taking a hit to their financial health. Even employees who currently have jobs and paychecks have a plethora of financial concerns as a result of the pandemic. Many are taking a hit on their 401(k) balances or other investments and are losing retirement confidence. Others are spending more on healthcare, dealing with a spouse or family member who has lost a job due to the pandemic, or might have incremental costs by working from home.

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As a result, smart HR leaders should help employees by offering—and touting—financial programs, emergency funds, financial counseling and other wellness components. They also should provide messaging to employees to keep them updated—and calm—about their fluctuating retirement accounts, experts say.

While some employers already have such programs in place, many employees may not be aware of them or have forgotten and need reminders about the details of the programs. Financial wellness and education “is all the more important in this moment,” says Edward Gottfried, group product manager for Betterment, a retirement provider that works with 500 employer clients. Providing resources may help encourage smart behaviors and ease financial stress.

Employers also can consider offering bonuses or one-time financial assistance payments to help employees. That approach has been taken by companies like Ally Financial, Facebook, Kroger and JPMorgan Chase.

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.