Financial wellness benefits aren’t just a “nice to have” anymore. The skyrocketing popularity of this holistic approach to employee benefits presents a challenge — and an opportunity — for benefits administrators who always need to make sure their plans target the intersection of participant expectations and company needs.

More nuanced than traditional benefits, financial wellness encompasses employee mental stress related to all aspects of personal finances, and mandates employers to provide support. But rather than simply adding a new product or vendor to your offerings, consider a gut check on vision: Are you positioned to help address the complete range of participant financial, mental and physical health needs? If not, your bottom line may be poised for pain.

Dollars and stress
In a 2019 MetLife report, one in three employees said that personal financial stress interfered with their job performance — and overall, employees flagged personal finance as the main source of stress in their lives.

Employers reported a loss of $250 billion in 2019 due to employee stress. It’s estimated that financial stress costs roughly 1,922 hours and $28,830 in lost weekly productivity in a company of 10,000 — that’s 99,944 hours and $1,499,160 a year down the drain.

Untapped resources
The key lies in understanding the needs behind the financial stress employees feel so keenly.

Not having an emergency fund is the top cited worry for Millennials and Gen Xers, while half of all employees across generations live paycheck to paycheck. Employees clearly see benefits as an answer for at least some of their problems: 37% of Millennials said student loan repayment was the perk they most wanted from employers, while 30% of Gen Xers and 28% of Baby Boomers most wanted financial wellness benefits with access to financial counselors.

From short-term budgeting to long-term saving — and everything in between — participants are looking to their benefit plans for help. Increasing participant offerings and promoting engagement could be a powerful step toward helping participants achieve their financial goals.

Read the rest of Craig Rubino’s article at Employee Benefit News.