Rising uncertainty is driving worries about job and financial security and damaging employees’ performance at work, research for MetLife’s latest UK Employee Benefits Trends Study 2017 shows.
The concern about a lack of financial control is having a major impact – one in three employees say they are distracted at work by financial concerns, rising to 54% among the 18 to 30-year-old group. Almost a third of employees say they have had to take time off due to financial worries in the past year – up from just 3% in 2013.
MetLife is urging employers to use the power of their employee benefits to help tackle rising uncertainty among staff, with a focus on financial wellness programmes in the workplace to support staff suffering from growing levels of financial insecurity.
The study, which is now in its third edition, found around six out of 10 employees are worried about job security and concerned about the potential impact on their family. The numbers worried about job security has increased to 60% from 54% in 2015.
Concern about family financial security as a result of the sudden death of a main provider is up significantly to 57% from 43% in 2015, while worries about financial security if the wage earner is unable to work due to illness or disability has increased to 57% from 47%.
Employers have embraced physical wellness as a workplace issue, the study found, with 35% of firms introducing schemes and 87% of employees saying wellness programmes they’ve been involved in have helped them improve their health. However the study recommends expanding the focus to give financial wellness the same prominence in the workplace.
The Employee Benefits Trends Study 2017 outlines how employers can help build financial wellness on to existing programmes to support employees, including providing flexible working conditions, a good work-life balance, stress management programmes and financial counselling. Research shows financial wellness schemes will be popular with staff – around 53% would be interested in financial counselling.
Tom Gaynor, Employee Benefits Director at MetLife UK, said: “We know that less stressed employees are more productive and creative and the business case to improve employees’ financial wellness is more than just a simple act of benevolence.
“Done right, it’s an opportunity to help employees become more focused at work and more engaged with their employers. There is a clear link between employees feeling in control of their finances and engaged at work, which is a real opportunity to demonstrate the power of benefits in driving productivity.”
“Employee benefits can help employers build stronger businesses as well as provide real value to the employees that work for them. Employees will choose to stay with companies which help them to manage their lives better.”
Results also show that the challenges of meeting day-to-day financial obligations are becoming harder, with almost four out of ten (39%) of workers saying they are living from payday to payday compared with 24% in 2015.
Part of that may be explained by a sharp rise in the number of workers concerned about credit card debt – up from just over a quarter (27%) in 2015 to 42% in 2017. Family costs are rising too – 41% of employees are worried about the education of children compared to 24% in 2015.