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Employer Disconnect: Why Employers Need to Prioritize Employee Care and Financial Wellness

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Last Update: July 17, 2023

As an employer, it is crucial to provide a work environment where employees feel cared for, as this has a measurable impact on their holistic health and happiness. 

However, a new study reveals that many employers are grossly overestimating how satisfied their employees are with their workplace benefits and culture. This disconnect can lead to a lack of understanding of what employees truly need to feel fulfilled and supported in their work lives.

As an employer, it's time to take a closer look at what your employees really need to feel fulfilled and supported in their work lives, so they can be as healthy and productive as possible. 

Employer Disconnect

The new annual MetLife U.S. Employee Benefit Trends Study found there is a growing gap between the actual satisfaction of employees and employer perceptions of worker well-being, which has increased to 22 percentage points in 2023 from just 3 percentage points in 2018.1

Employee satisfaction with employer benefits stood at 61%, based on the survey, compared to 83% of employers that say employees are satisfied with the benefits they receive, MetLife found.1

The study found that employers are not only getting it wrong about financial wellness, but they are also overestimating employee well-being across several aspects, including, mental, physical, and social health.

Financial Health and Employee Care

When looking at overall employee well-being, financial wellness is one of the most significant aspects that should not be overlooked. 

However, the findings related to financial wellness in this study were shocking. 

This study found that 55% of workers surveyed reported living paycheck-to-paycheck, up from 43% in 2022. Meanwhile, only 55% of workers reported feeling in control of their finances, down from 61% in 2022. And 52% of employees reported having a three-month saving cushion, which was also down from 62% in 2022.1

Additionally, employees citing financial concerns as a cause of lower mental health increased to 48% in 2023, from 31% in 2022, driving down lower rates of holistic health.1

This means, greater employer attention to employee care is essential if we want to restore holistic worker health. 

The Power of Employee Care

Although it is difficult, it is vital to provide a work environment that prioritizes employee care across several elements – including career development and training, purposeful work, social and supportive cultures, flexibility and work-life balance, and wellness programs and benefits.

According to MetLife's findings, by demonstrating care effectively across these elements, employers will find themselves with a happier workforce, and individual workers will feel more successful, more appreciated, and have a greater sense of belonging.1

The report also showed strong correlations between employee holistic health, happiness, and job satisfaction. 

Employees who feel cared for by their employers are more likely to report feeling holistically healthy. In fact, studies have found that employees who feel cared for are three times more likely to report feeling holistically healthy than those who don't feel cared for.2

Employers have a real opportunity to demonstrate care through offerings like financial wellness. This is a key aspect of employee care that is often overlooked, and offering support in this area can have significant benefits. 

According to a survey by the National Endowment for Financial Education, 90% of employees say that financial stress affects their work, and 34% say they spend at least three hours per week dealing with personal financial issues during work hours.3

Implications for Employers

The MetLife U.S. Employee Benefit Trends Study has significant implications for employers, especially those who are keen on maintaining a productive and healthy workforce. 

The study highlights the importance of understanding employee needs and perceptions of the workplace, which can be quite different from what employers may assume. 

Failing to bridge the gap between employer perceptions and employee satisfaction could lead to many things including: 

  • Reduced productivity and employee engagement due to lower job satisfaction and overall well-being
  • Difficulty in attracting and retaining top talent due to dissatisfaction with benefits and workplace culture
  • Increased healthcare costs due to lower employee health and wellness
  • Higher turnover rates and associated costs due to unhappy employees leaving the organization
  • Negative impact on the company's brand and reputation as an employer

Strategies for Employers

To address the gap between employer perceptions and employee satisfaction, employers need to focus on strategies that prioritize employee care, and in particular, financial literacy. 

There are several strategies that employers can use to do this, here are some of them: 

Financial Literacy and Support

Employers can help alleviate employees' financial pressures by increasing contribution levels, providing access to financial tools, and offering resources to reduce financial stress. 

Financial programs can educate employees on money management, budgeting, and retirement planning. 

By providing financial support, employers can help employees reduce their financial anxiety and focus more on their work.

Offer Personalized Financial Education Programs

Employers can offer personalized financial education programs that cater to the unique financial needs of their employees. These programs can cover a wide range of topics, such as budgeting, saving for retirement, managing debt, and investing. 

By providing personalized financial education, employers can help employees improve their financial programs and help their employees build healthy financial habits.

Employee Well-Being and Support

Employers need to demonstrate care across multiple elements that contribute to employees' well-being, including career development and training, purposeful work, social and supportive cultures, flexibility and work-life balance, and wellness programs and benefits. 

By creating a culture of support, employees feel valued and supported, leading to a happier and more engaged workforce.

Data-Driven Decision Making

Employers need to invest in predictive, analytical models developed using Bayesian statistical techniques to understand the correlations between employee holistic health, happiness, and job satisfaction. This approach can help employers make informed decisions and optimize their benefit offerings to better meet employees' needs. 

By using data to make decisions, employers can ensure that their benefit offerings are aligned with employees' needs, leading to higher levels of satisfaction and productivity.

Bridging the Gap

Employers who prioritize employee care and financial wellness will benefit from a more engaged and productive workforce. By understanding and addressing employees' needs, employers can bridge the gap between perceptions and employee satisfaction, resulting in a more fulfilling work environment for everyone involved.

One way to promote financial wellness among employees is by utilizing Enrich financial wellness. This program offers employees access to financial education, tools, and resources to help them make informed decisions about their financial health. 

With Enrich, employers can help their employees reduce financial stress, improve their financial literacy, and increase their overall sense of well-being.

Investing in employee care and financial wellness is not only beneficial for individual workers but also for employers as a whole. It can lead to increased productivity, reduced absenteeism, and improved job satisfaction, making it a win-win situation for everyone involved.



1 - https://www.metlife.com/workforce-insights/2023-employee-benefit-trends/

2 - https://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2012/03/well-being

3 - https://www.nefe.org/impact/NEFE-Annual-Report-2021.pdf 

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