Why financial wellness is the topic you cannot afford to ignore

What do you think of when you read the words: financial wellness? Are you immediately met with a pile of worries such as how to pay for your mortgage, cover your credit card debt, save for retirement or even meet your childcare bills? Or do the words conjure up a present in which you ‘have it all’ – and a future filled with sunsets and walks on the beach?

Associations and definitions

Financial wellness means different things to different people. The associations it sparks and the realities surrounding it are based on generation, experiences as young adults and even country of residence. The term is not just a collection of financial products for building up retirement savings like a pension or 401K – nor a catch-all for ‘what if’ protections such as life, disability or supplemental health insurances.

The phrase means freedoms from financial worry, stress and depression – but also what having those freedoms means: work/life balance, quality experiences, ability to spend time with family and even regular holidays.

For employers, financial wellness means an impactful way to communicate and support employees with everything from specific benefits to extra services and even counselling.

The employee mindset

Would it surprise you to learn that 57 per cent of employees say they are very or somewhat stressed about their financial situation, according to Prudential’s Financial Wellness Study (2017)? The top three stress factors are:

  • saving for the future – 67 per cent
  • paying monthly bills – 57 per cent
  • credit card debt – 42 per cent.

What is (and isn't) financial wellness?

Our latest e-book, Financial Wellness: The Topic You Can't Afford to Ignore, uncovers the number one threat to business performance and how today’s employers can win.

In fact, it shows that in some parts of the world, ‘financial wellness’ is not a recognised phrase. More than that – it is a foreign, unreachable ideal because the amount of stress in not feeling secure makes feeling any kind of ‘well’ almost impossible. In many parts of the world living paycheck to paycheck is the reality. Wellness means having the basics – not the extras. And reaching self-actualisation is a luxury that not everyone in the world has.

Lack of wealth = poor health. PwC’s Employee Wellness survey (2018) found that 25 per cent of employees say their health has been impacted by their financial worries. Among employees at the lowest level of financial wellness, just 39 per cent said they were in excellent or very good health; for the most financially well, the share was 81 per cent, according Mercer’s Inside Employees’ Minds (2017) research.

Wider health implications

Employees with a lot of financial concerns are also twice as likely to be obese, and seven times more likely to suffer from depression than those without any financial concerns, found Vitality’s Britain’s Healthiest Workplace report (2017).

Furthermore, 30 per cent of employees are distracted by their finances at work, while 46 per cent of the distracted employees say they spend three hours or more at work each week dealing with issues related to their personal finances, according to PwC’s special report into Financial stress and the bottom line (2017).

An actionable item for reward professionals

Your employees experience life both inside and outside of work. And the life they experience ‘on the outside’ often affects their ability to focus and perform when they’re on the job. It would seem logical to treat them as humans who may have real financial worries, future hopes and present struggles. This is an area that, armed with a little education and insight, HR leaders can make a big impact. Especially in light of the cost of recruitment and low levels of engagement worldwide, bringing together a programme, a series of benefits or even counselling may be money well spent.

Download Financial Wellness: The Topic You Can't Afford to Ignore for an overview of financial wellness, employee profiles, statistics and tips for HR when developing initiatives, programmes, and communication.

This is a sponsored article from Benify.

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