It’s no mystery that COVID-19 has compromised — and even upended — the financial well-being of companies and individuals across the world.
In a recent survey, 9 out of 10 Americans say the pandemic is causing them financial stress. Half of those report that they’re worried about paying bills. Additionally, new research from MetLife found that 52% of U.S. employees are more concerned about finances than any other aspect of their well-being — including physical, mental or social health.
The cost of financial stress at work
An employee’s financial stress at work can also affect the employer’s net productivity. According to a 2017 study by Mercer, financial stress at work cost employers an estimated $250 billion per year.
In an effort to support employee well-being and business performance, managers should invest time and resources in their teams’ financial well-being at work. The following tools and suggestions will help managers support their employees during economic hardship.
1. Encourage planning
Encourage your employees to take time to understand their financial situation. Proactive planning, budgeting and research can prepare employees for both short- and long-term financial well-being. These simple practices offer a baseline defense against unexpected financial stress. Share this checklist with employees to help them get started on their path to financial health.
2. Set challenges around saving
This is an easy way to help employees think about financial health. For example, challenge your team to reduce impulse shopping, and come together as a team at the end to celebrate your successes. You can also use a mobile well-being app to encourage participation from your entire workforce, regardless of their location.
3. Educate employees about available support
Make sure your employees are aware of the resources available to help families affected by the coronavirus. Help disseminate information about the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which provides paid emergency family leave and paid sick leave in certain circumstances.
4. Set up online financial well-being sessions
Host a virtual Q&A or town hall meeting where employees can ask questions and get helpful information. Connect with your HR or finance departments, who will be well-equipped to present on these topics.
5. Spotlight employee benefits
During financial hardship, employee benefits can be particularly helpful. Make sure your direct reports understand how their health, child care or paid time off benefits have changed — or remained the same — during recent months.
6. Send self-service resources
There are many quality resources that will help employees manage their financial health on their own terms. Consider the following websites, as recommended by SHRM:
- MyMoney.gov: Learn about the five building blocks for growing and managing your money.
- MoneyManagement.org: This resource gives 30 steps that will help employees identify their financial weaknesses and turn them into strengths.
- ConsumerFinance.gov: This site offers a number of steps employees can take to help protect themselves or their loved ones financially, in both the short and long terms, from the impact of the coronavirus.
- Debt.org: View lists of relief services that employees can take advantage of at specific banks and credit card companies.
Times of uncertainty are an opportunity for managers and leaders to support employees’ stress wellness at work. Maintaining open communication and providing helpful resources shows a sense of sincere care, and will build mutual loyalty between companies and their employees.