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The disruption employees have experienced in recent years has fundamentally shifted their needs and the expectations of employers. Mercer’s 2023 Inside Employees’ Minds Survey shows that covering monthly expenses is the #1 concern for workers for the second year in a row. This is a big jump from 2021, where it was ranked ninth.
Unlike years past, financial security extends beyond compensation, financial wellness, and retirement readiness. It’s about the ability to afford care for not just physical well-being, but mental well-being too.
How can you successfully address financial well-being for your employees?
Addressing healthcare affordability is essential. The #4 concern of workers in the Inside Employees’ Mind study is being able to afford healthcare without financial hardship.
Looking at the data from Mercer’s Health on Demand survey, which includes more than 2,000 US workers, we see that some workers are significantly more worried about affording the healthcare they need. These workers are typically part of low-income families. Thirty-four percent of those whose household income is below the median (reported at $69,994 in the survey) are not sure they will be able to afford their healthcare needs. Only 7% of workers with a household income at or above the median share the same concern.
Because of the ongoing gender pay gap, the worries about being able to afford healthcare are more significant for women. Our data shows that 29% of women are worried about this issue, compared to only 10% of men.
To better meet employee needs, 64% of organizations are enhancing 2024 health and well-being offerings, but just 3% will shift cost to employees via plan design changes to reduce projected cost increase*. Some are taking even more progressive strategies to boost healthcare affordability by offering:
Beyond healthcare, employers are increasing planned support and financial wellness offerings, including:
While some companies have traditionally provided one-on-one financial guidance to their higher level employees, recent trends point toward a shift in offering financial advice or coaching to all employees, with the thought that regardless of income, financial advice from trained professionals is a benefit that can lead to healthier financial lives. This option is a way to democratize access to financial advice.
Some employers, especially in the healthcare, technology, and retail spaces, are using employer paid student loan contributions as a recruiting and retention tool. There are also employers who have budget concerns focused on providing student loan specific advice to their employees, with the goal of optimizing their current situation. In many cases, employees have options to restructure their federal student loans, which is different from refinancing. This would optimize the repayment stream and put the employee in a better financial position.
There are a few reasons employers should consider offering fully integrated tuition assistance. Most importantly, this option can create pathways to high-demand roles, reduce the cost of education for both the employee and the employer, and remove barriers to entry for many employees. Some major retailers like Walmart, Target, and Home Depot are starting to use this type of financial assistance.
Personal savings for emergency situations remain a pain point for many Americans. Employers are listening to their employees and are trying to help identify ways to provide emergency savings and cash relief during disasters.
Results from Mercer’s Health & Benefit Strategies for 2024 Survey Report show that employers are looking for other ways to alleviate the financial strain on their employees, including:
Not only do these options offer financial flexibility, but they can also encourage employees to work on-site. Employers can also help their remote workers with options like:
Beyond the option of working from home, organizations are thinking more broadly about flexibility, paid leaves, and paid time off to be more inclusive of all kinds of families. Mercer’s Health & Benefit Strategies for 2024 Survey Report results show recent program offerings include:
Employee listening is a foundational component of a winning strategy and must be integrated throughout all processes to ensure the outcome truly meets the needs of your workers. When you incorporate the right listening tools, you gain access to data-driven insights to help you identify targeted opportunities to address gaps across your total rewards offerings.
Want to learn more about how employee listening can benefit your organization? Contact us at email@example.com or 855-224-0483 or visit imercer.com/engagement-us.