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How Financial Wellness Programs Reduce Employee Financial Stress

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How Financial Wellness Affects Employee Health


Last Update: March 16, 2020

According to recent national data, the bulk of U.S. employees are under tremendous financial stress. 

Seventy-two percent of adults surveyed by the American Psychological Association cite money as a major stressor in their life. 

The Planning and Progress Study1 found that the biggest financial concerns are:

  • 59 percent - Healthcare costs
  • 55 percent - Being able to afford a financial emergency
  • 53 percent - Being able to afford a health emergency
  • 48 percent - Income level
  • 48 percent - Amount of savings on hand
  • 42 percent - Level of debt
  • 41 percent - Planning for retirement

The State of U.S. Financial Capability found that Americans are barely getting by financially. In fact, nearly a third of Americans are unable to pay for a $2,000 unplanned financial expense during the month.

Additionally, 59 percent of Americans have no idea what they will need in retirement and have little to no savings despite fears of running out of money as seniors.2

Unfortunately, financial stress takes a toll on employee health, and this, in turn, takes a toll on a company’s bottom line.

How Financial Stress Affects Employees

Financial stress can also create unhealthy coping strategies that deteriorate physical and mental health even further.

  • The Mayo Clinic states that stress can cause headaches, chest pain, fatigue, stomach upset, sleep problems and more. These stress symptoms can lead to more debilitating illnesses and diseases such as obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease.3 
  • Studies have shown a direct link between financial health and mental health, particularly showing increased depression and anxiety for those with high stress.4
  • Data from surveys found that people with poor coping mechanisms tend to deal with stress through unhealthy behaviors such as overeating, skipping meals, drinking alcohol and smoking.5

Millennials (aged 24 to 39 in 2020) appear to have more stress than older generations.

A recent Blue Cross Blue Shield report found some alarming statistics, including the fact that millennials are seeing their health, both mental and physical, decline faster than previous generations.

In fact, the report suggests that the mortality rate could increase as much as 40 percent compared to Gen X.6

Companies with stressed workers will have more absenteeism, turnover, lack of punctuality, interpersonal relationship issues and poor work quality.

The Employer’s Guide to Financial Wellness found that stress costs businesses $500 billion per year, which equates to $2800 per employee.7

That’s why so many organizations and their employees look for ways to tackle these issues.

Employees Want Holistic Wellness Benefits

HR experts believe that holistic wellness will rank high in the top benefits of 20208, including:

  • Student loan repayment programs to help pay off and/or consolidate student loans
  • Expanded Employee Assistance Programs (EAP)
  • Savings programs in addition to the 401(k)
  • Caregiver policies and leaves
  • More flexible healthcare plans
  • Mindfulness training
  • Commuting reimbursements
  • Infertility benefits
  • Tuition reimbursement
  • Volunteer time off
  • Pet insurance
  • Child care benefits

In general, companies need to focus on more than one aspect of an employee’s wellbeing and look at a variety of issues that can cause stress in an employee’s life.

Employee Financial Wellness Programs As Part of the Solution

Adding the right financial wellness program can help employees manage their financial situations and help lower financial stress

Financial wellness programs also help employees:

  • Develop and stick to a budget
  • Get financial coaching
  • Understand employer-sponsored retirement benefits
  • Learn new financial habits
  • Save for emergencies
  • Get student debt under control

Offering financial wellness as part of your company’s holistic wellness benefits shows that you are willing to invest in your employees’ overall wellbeing.

In turn, employees will be more engaged and committed.

They will have improved physical and mental health and be more productive, all while lowering company costs.


Download full report on The Effects of Financial Literacy on Health




1 - https://news.northwesternmutual.com/planning-and-progress-2018

2 - https://www.usfinancialcapability.org/downloads/NFCS_2018_Report_Natl_Findings.pdf

3 - https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/stress-symptoms/art-20050987

4 - https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0272735813001256?via%3Dihub

5 - https://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/stress/2014/stress-report.pdf

6 - https://www.bcbs.com/sites/default/files/file-attachments/health-of-america-report/HOA-Moodys-Millennial-10-30.pdf

7 - https://www.salaryfinance.com/us/financial-wellness-guide-2019/

8 - https://www.benefitnews.com/list/experts-predict-2020s-most-in-demand-benefits

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