Employees suffering from financial stress benefit from multi-channel education: report

With financial worries swirling through the minds of many employees as the economic impacts of the pandemic rage, some segments of employee populations may be feeling worse about their finances than others and it’s important for employers to be able to discern who’s struggling the most, according to a new report from U.S.-based think tank Financial Finesse.

The report outlined five categories in which an employee may find themselves: suffering, struggling, stabilizing, sustaining and secure. It suggested employers think about the specific needs of these segments and focus on helping those enduring the harshest financial stress.

“As the pandemic persists, we expect to see a shift toward lower levels of financial health across the global workforce,” the report said. “Given the strong relationship between financial health and employment cost, we encourage employers to focus their COVID-19 efforts on providing financial resources and support to their most financially stressed employees.”

Read: A third of working Canadians worry about job security during pandemic: survey

A number of factors correlate with where an employee falls on this spectrum. Those labelled as secure are more likely to be married, own their home, be older, have higher incomes and are least likely to have young children. Those in the suffering segment demonstrate the opposite on all fronts.

The report examined those in the suffering category as they received support from their employers in the form of a financial education and coaching program. Through the program, employees engaged in online learning, in-person group sessions and one-on-one discussions. Those in the suffering and struggling categories who engaged in all three forms over a five-year period saw a 2.96 and 2.22 point improvement on a 10-point scale. While using just one channel was usually quite effective, using all three produced the best overall results.

During the pandemic, employees’ concerns over protecting their wealth are on the rise, the report found, with those aged 55 and older (45 per cent) the most keenly concerned. After the pandemic was officially declared, more (60 per cent, up from 45 per cent) employees cited concern over the U.S. stock market. And more (48 per cent, up from 44 per cent) said they’re worried about not being able to meet their financial goals.

Read: Mental and emotional health spilling over to financial stress: study