More than half (52%) of U.S. employees are most concerned with their financial health in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, MetLife’s 18th annual U.S. Employee Benefit Trends Study found. Employees are more concerned about their finances than any other aspect of their well-being, including physical (44%), mental (44%) and social health (44%).
Workers are looking more to their employers to address their health and well-being now than they did in the pre-pandemic days, the survey showed. Eighty percent of workers said they need their employers to help them with their health and well-being now as opposed to 73% prior to COVID-19. When it comes to financial well-being, 47% of workers said they need their employer’s help now as opposed to 40% prior to the pandemic. Workers point to employer-offered benefits and programs as a crucial way to ease their stress and improve their well-being both now and in the future.
The study revealed that three in 10 workers surveyed (29%) now earn less as a result of the virus. Meanwhile, nearly four in 10 (38%) say their employment status has been directly impacted by the pandemic, and an additional 36% expect to be impacted in the future.
“The coronavirus is clearly contributing to employees’ overall stress, especially as it relates to their financial well-being,” said Todd Katz, executive vice president, Group Benefits, MetLife. “It should come as no surprise that this is particularly true among those with incomes below $50,000, and those in health care. Across industries, employers have an opportunity to be a source of support for employees facing unprecedented challenges by offering tools and resources to address their immediate concerns.”
According to the study, 41% of employees feel their employer is not currently offering benefits or programs that help support or improve their well-being during this challenging time. Meanwhile, 77% say there are benefits or programs that, if offered by their employer, would ease their stress and improve their well-being.
Offering flexible work hours is a top action that workers said their employers can take to help alleviate their stress and increase their well-being. In terms of benefits, employees say mental wellness programs (such as an Employee Assistance Program), life insurance and insurance benefits that offer lump sum or cash payments, such as hospital indemnity or critical illness insurance, would help to ease their stress, if offered by their employer.
Roughly a third of employees are experiencing stress and/or burnout during the pandemic, which could lead to lower productivity, engagement and loyalty, as well as increased absenteeism. Employees said their top sources of current stress are:
- Contracting the virus.
- A friend or family member contracting the virus.
- Social distancing.
Workers who make less than $50,000 annually are feeling more stressed than higher wage earners over the pandemic. The survey found 70% of those earning less than $50,000 a year were feeling stressed, compared with 66% of those earning between $50,000 and $100,000, and 62% of those earning more than $100,000.
The COVID-19 pandemic has required employers to show heightened support for their employees, and those who do are seen more favorably, the study found. Respondents who felt their employers are “doing enough” or going “above and beyond expectations” related to support during the pandemic feel more holistically well than those who say their employers have not done anything nor indicate any plans to start (58% versus 31%), as well as more productive, engaged, valued and appreciated.