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Money and Mental Health: How to Support Employees’ Wellbeing in 2020

Money and Mental Health: How to Support Employees’ Wellbeing in 2020
Posted on Friday, January 10, 2020 by Rae Shanahan
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It’s the start of a new decade. 

mental-and-financial-wellbeing

Although human resources professionals think about goal-setting year-round, at this time of year, everyone is considering how to improve over the next 12 months.

For HR, this makes the beginning of 2020 the perfect time to understand employees’ goals and to partner in helping reach them.

So, what do employees want to work on this year? The two most common New Year’s resolutions for 2020 likely won’t surprise you: folks report wanting to manage their finances better (51%) and develop healthier eating habits (51%). For conscientious employers, however, there’s another top-ten resolution to note that is intrinsically linked to the rest: 38% of people want to improve their mental well-being this year.

PwC’s Special Report: Financial stress and the bottom line shows that two 2020 resolution themes—finances and mental well-being—are directly correlated. When asked what causes them the most stress in general, the most popular answer was “financial or money matters/challenges” (46% of respondents), which significantly outpaced the next answer, “my job” (17%). For those who are financially stressed, money worries cause 47% of them to miss work occasionally or see their work productivity impacted.

Successfully supporting employees’ growth this year will require HR professionals to consider not only which tools will be most effective for financial stability, but also how to approach employees’ related stress and mental health issues with empathy and compassion.

Luckily, HR pros have plenty of smart approaches at their disposal to help employees scratch two major resolutions off the to-do list: financial security and mental well-being. Here are the trends to know and our recommendations for facing them head-on:

Provide employees with data to get started.

  • What’s the trend? It’s pretty hard to set a goal if you don’t know your starting point. For many Americans, an increasingly diversified benefits market means that tracking down the state of their paychecks, benefits, retirement, and savings requires multiple website logins and paper trails. In a stressed-out state, this obstacle alone can dissuade a person from taking the first step toward change.
  • How can employers help? Offering a one-stop solution for all workplace-related financial matters can make it easier for employees to see the big picture. Businessolver’s One Wallet approach, for example, shows employees how much of each paycheck they’re contributing toward individual benefits and therefore, how much is left for bills and discretionary spending.

Offer wellness solutions to improve health and relieve budgets.

  • What’s the trend? In 2018, a survey of adults ages 18 to 65 found that the average American spends $155 per month on health and fitness; separate research placed the average cost of an individual health insurance plan at $440 monthly. Combined, that means your employees may be spending nearly $600 a month for wellness alone!
  • How can employers help? Despite the price tag, spending in this area may be justified. Yet employers are in a unique position to make wellness much more accessible. Offering discounts on gym memberships both saves employees money and encourages exercise that’s linked to positive mental health outcomes. Likewise, wellness programs that reward healthy lifestyle choices can help employees catch health issues faster, saving them expenses down the line, and incentivize doctor exams where issues like mental health can be addressed. These programs do require an investment from employers, but they’re likely to pay off by reducing workplace absenteeism and improving productivity.

Help employees prepare for the future.

  • What’s the trend? In 2020, 30% of resolution-setters are seeking to save more money in general terms. More specifically, in PwC’s survey of the financially stressed out, 62% say they are postponing retirement because they haven’t saved enough. Uncertainty about retirement can be a major source of stress, which leads back to the mental health and absenteeism issues.
  • How can employers help? Guiding employees through the process of successfully setting up retirement or savings accounts can arm them with the resources they need to start thinking differently about allocating for the future. Education is often the first step, and starting off the year by sharing information will undoubtedly align with the money resolutions on employees’ minds.

The economy has shaped financial stress in ways that change every year, but one continual theme is that employers can do more to help their employees. Your company’s thoughtful consideration will go a long way, however. With employees overwhelmingly responding that they’re more likely to stay with an empathetic employer (93%), it could be the difference between stressed out employees or a robust, healthy workplace.

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