Businessolver Blog

The Bigger Picture: HR Needs to Consider Employees’ Financial Outlook

The Bigger Picture: HR Needs to Consider Employees’ Financial Outlook
Posted on Friday, March 16, 2018 by Jon Shanahan

The economy is growing, unemployment is low, and the stock market shows no signs of slowing down. OnBlog Template-01-4.jpg the surface, things seem pretty rosy.

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But, dig a little deeper, and you’ll start to see how American workers really feel about money and their overall financial situation. That picture is far from ideal, as this infographic shows.

The Issue: One Wallet, One Paycheck – Many Demands

Americans are worrying about money at an ever-increasing rate. They are concerned about their living expenses, personal debt, and their retirement, among other things. They appreciate and rely on their employee benefits, but they want more information about how to balance competing demands on their income. Student debt is impacting both younger workers and their parents who want to retire. There’s plenty of stress to go around, but millennials seem to be faring the worst.

The reality is, most people only have a single source of income to fund everything they want and need — their paycheck. It not only covers groceries and rent or mortgage, it’s also how employees pay for their portion of benefits costs. When living expenses are high, employees struggle with how to balance all the items competing for the dollars in their “one wallet.”

So, why is this so important for HR?

Knowledge Is Power

Tasked with helping employees engage with and be knowledgeable about their benefits so they make good decisions, HR pros need to be aware that there’s a significant backstory. The context in which employees make benefits decisions is a larger one, and it might be different than we assume. We may scratch our collective heads about how employees use, or don’t use, their benefits without understanding that rationality often goes out the window in the face of financial pressure.

And, what about the impact to productivity that this stress is causing? More than half of all employees feel that it’s affecting their careers.1 This is certainly something HR needs to get its collective arms around.

There are a few actions you can implement now to help:

  1. Talk to your employees: Use a survey to ask employees how they’re feeling about their benefits. Set up a digital drop box for employees to submit their feelings anonymously.
  2. Provide resources: Try creating easy tip sheets to inform your employees about their benefits. Never assume they know what you know.
  3. Have an open door policy: Be sure to always keep a mindset that is focused on empathy, and listen to your employees. Studies show that employees would work longer hours for an empathetic employer, so project empathy when you’re interacting with your employees.

Understanding the context in which employees are learning and using benefits can help you create and deliver better solutions to help them more efficiently and effectively manage their health and wealth benefits.

You are not alone in seeking to help employees. We’re also working on solutions for this issue. We recently announced a strategic partnership with Transamerica that will combine users’ health and retirement information on a single platform, making it easier for them to make informed benefits decisions and helping to increase their financial literacy.