During the Great Depression, Americans had to adapt to survive the most trying time of their lives. Workers would travel, often with their loved ones in tow, hundreds of miles to wherever there was available employment.
In order to stretch every dollar, families would make and repair their own clothing, grow their own fruits and vegetables, and raise their own poultry and livestock. Stores implemented layaway-style payment plans and credit policies. Increasingly desperate people sometimes slept in cars or parks, and panhandled for money or food.
A June, 2022 Gallup survey found 8 in 10 people are working hybrid or remote, enabling them to pursue more job opportunities without having to pick up stakes. The American Pet Product Association’s 2021-2022 National Pet Owners Survey showed a 5% increase in the number of homes raising backyard chickens from 2018 to 2020, and according to the National Gardening Association, 2021 saw the number of new gardeners increase by 18.3 million.
Insider Intelligence predicts that nearly 40% of US internet users will utilize “Buy Now Pay Later” solutions like Affirm or Klarna by 2026. The 2022 Annual Homelessness Assessment Report estimates over 580,000 Americans are experiencing homelessness.
Depression-induced absenteeism costs US businesses $51 billion a year, and treating the conditions racks up another $26 billion annually, according to career research site Zippia. The same study shows companies in the US spend roughly 75% of a worker’s annual salary covering lost productivity or replacing disengaged employees.
The convergence of remote work and increasing the percentage of our time spent online has opened the door to one big stressor that can debilitate workers’ productivity: identity theft.
According to the 2022 Identity Fraud Study from Javelin Strategy & Research, US consumers lost $52 billion to identity theft and fraud scams in 2021, affecting over 42 million people. The strain of financial damages like this can obviously be distracting, but also consider the time it takes to address or undo the damage. The Identity Theft Resource Center’s 2022 Consumer Impact Report shows that for 55% of victims, their identity theft issues remain unresolved more than a year later.
“Losing money to fraud or theft is stressful” seems like a no-brainer; however, that stress can manifest as much more than just anxiety. Sixty-eight percent of respondents to the ITRC Consumer Impact Report said they experienced physical maladies due to their stress — sleep problems, headaches, and changes in eating or drinking habits were the most commonly reported.
Those effects ripple outward. The same ITRC survey showed 58% of victims develop problems with their employer due to the effects of their incident; another 76% have conflicts with family. In total over two thirds of victims report experiencing negative emotions, and 3% of general victims report having suicidal ideation.
Supporting your team’s physical, mental, and financial wellbeing is a balancing act, however it doesn’t have to be overly complicated. One option is to consider adding identity theft protection to your benefits package to protect all three phases of health. Most providers offer reimbursement for theft and fraud-related expenses; which will ease the financial burden and minimize stress employees may feel if they are victimized.
While some voluntary benefits may not appeal or apply to everyone, identity theft protection makes the ultimate inclusivity offering — everyone has an identity worth protecting, and everyone from entry-level to executive can use the protection and peace of mind.
When looking for an identity theft protection provider, make sure you’re getting comprehensive protection. Some free solutions offer little more than a credit alert that employees could easily set themselves. Others may offer narrow protections that leave critical areas of vulnerability exposed.
Remember to ask your broker about providers’ customer satisfaction scores to ensure they offer quality service. Last but certainly not least, don’t forget about your own wellbeing; consider providers that offer low-lift, headache-free implementation and year-round support to your entire benefits team.
We’re in a time of flux, and that presents challenges for each of us. It also presents opportunities for growth, process improvement, and the chance to better support one another.
Consider adding identity theft protection to your benefits mix to protect employees in today’s increasingly digital world.