Employee Financial Stress Costs U.S. Companies Nearly $5 Billion Per Week

  • BrightPlan survey evaluates the state of employee well-being and finances; employees give companies high marks for COVID response

BrightPlan, a leader in Total Financial Wellness, announced the results of its annual Wellness Barometer Survey which delves into employee well-being during the COVID-19 pandemic, especially as it relates to financial wellness. The data provides a roadmap to employers regarding what employees need and want in a post-COVID workplace.

The survey reveals that while employees struggled with their personal finances during the COVID-19 pandemic (65% reported they were stressed about finances), the financial impact on organizations is even greater. Financially stressed employees reported an average of 15.3 hours of reduced productivity and engagement each week, leading to an estimated $4.7 billion loss per week* for employers due to worsening employee financial health.

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While governments and other institutions struggled with the pandemic response, the survey reveals that employees gave companies high marks for their pandemic response, particularly human resources (HR). However, the survey also shows a divide between associate-level employees and c-suite executives. According to survey respondents:

  • 91% say their company handled pandemic-related issues well.
  • 84% say their company pivoted benefits well.
    • A divide exists between levels: only 21% of associates said that their overall benefits improved, less than one-third the rate of c-suite executives (65%).
  • 61% say their company has seen growth throughout the pandemic.
  • 60% say the pandemic brought employees across the company closer together.
    • However only 38% of associate-level employees agree, while 74% of the c-suite agrees.
  • Employers did win employee trust, with 93% of employees reporting their trust in HR has increased or stayed the same.

While companies did well, the data shows that the pandemic hit some groups of employees harder than others both mentally and financially―exacerbating existing gaps:

  • Women and people of color reported that their mental health, engagement at work, and work/life balance worsened more than other groups.
    • Worsened mental health: women 37% vs. men 24%, people of color 35% vs. white 28%.
    • Lower engagement at work: women 26% vs. men 20%, people of color 30% vs. white 21%.
    • Worsened work/life balance: women 24% vs. men 19%, people of color 27% vs. white 20%.
  • Those making under $75K a year and manager-level employees are more likely to say all areas except work productivity have worsened.
  • Blacks are more likely to say that their emergency savings decreased during the pandemic (65% of Black vs. 54% of white, 46% of Hispanic, 35% of Asian).

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“Our recent survey shows that despite the upheaval of the past year, companies and HR teams outperformed many other institutions when pivoting due to the pandemic,” said Marthin De Beer, BrightPlan founder and CEO. “The data makes it clear that as we move into a post-COVID work environment, companies need to continue to invest in breakthrough solutions to help reduce employee stress, engage their workforce and bridge the $5B gap.”

The survey also examines savings, financial literacy and how employees plan to spend following the pandemic. Fifty-six percent of respondents contributed more to retirement savings during the pandemic and 64% are planning a post-pandemic splurge. However, only 20% of those surveyed could answer three out of four basic finance questions correctly.

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