Most of us have been affected in a number of ways by the pandemic in both our personal and professional lives. Across all industries and salary levels, workplace changes have ranged from layoffs and cutbacks in hours to working remotely and more. Perhaps the biggest impact for employees in all this disruption has been on their finances. With 2022 just around the corner and 95% of employees reporting they have financial stress, what can we expect the new year to mean for employee finances?

According to a recent survey1 by The Harris Poll on behalf of Purchasing Power, while over half of full-time employees expect their household financial situation will be better by January 2022, they anticipate their financial stress level will be the same or worse than it was earlier this year.

What do they worry about most?

  • Over one-third (37%) surveyed worry about having enough in emergency savings to cover unexpected expenses that might come up such as car repair, home repair, a broken appliance, etc.
  • Those responses ranged from employees making less than $50,000 (44%) to those making over $100,000 (34%) and all points in between.

These survey results show that financial stress does not discriminate – all income levels are affected.

  • Almost half of full-time employees in all household income levels said their financial situation was worse in February 2021 than prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • That includes 44% of those making over $75,000 and 41% making over $100,000.

Financial stress has always been a factor in the workplace, affecting employee productivity and impacting their health and healthcare costs for the employer. COVID-19 took it up a notch. It is significant for employers to understand that employees at all income levels are affected by financial stress and to make sure their employee benefits packages provide robust financial wellness benefits that can provide a lifeline during these difficult times.

And employees expect that. Financial well-being benefits do matter, according to the survey:

  • 78% of full-time employees reported that they can tell how much their employer cares about their financial well-being by the benefits they offer.
  • 79% said they would be more likely to stay with their present employer if they offered more financial well-being benefits.

It’s going to take time for employees’ financial situation to improve, and their financial stress in turn impacts the employers’ bottom line through increased healthcare coverage costs, loss of productivity and decreased employee retention rates. Smart companies are finding ways to help, which will ultimately mean increased employee performance and improved retention.

Additional key takeaways and a download of the full survey results are available at The State of Employee Finances: 2021, A Purchasing Power® Report.

Written by: Mike Wilbert, Purchasing Power Chief Revenue Officer

1 The Harris Poll on behalf of Purchasing Power, conducted online within the U.S., February 10-12, 2021, among 917 U.S. adults 18 and older who are employed full-time or have a spouse employed full-time.