More than half (52 percent) of U.S. employees are most concerned with their financial health in the wake of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, MetLife’s 18th annual U.S. Employee Benefit Trends Study (EBTS) found.
Employees are more concerned about their finances than any other aspect of their well-being, including physical (44 percent), mental (44 percent) and social health (44 percent).
The study, released today and fielded among U.S. employees with full-time positions, measured the impact COVID-19 is having on employees’ financial well-being, revealing that 3 in 10 (29 percent) now earn less as a result of the virus. Meanwhile, nearly 4 in 10 (38 percent) say their employment status has been directly impacted by the pandemic, and an additional 36 percent 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 healthcare. 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.”
Employees’ expectations of employers increase
An analysis of pre-COVID-19 data from late 2019, compared to data from April 2020, shows that employees are now more likely to believe their employers have a responsibility to address their health and well-being (73 percent pre-COVID-19 versus 80 percent during COVID-19), particularly when it comes to their financial well-being (40 percent pre-COVID-19 versus 47 percent during COVID-19). They 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.
According to the study, 41 percent of employees feel their employer is not currently offering benefits or programs that help support or improve their well-being during this challenging time, while 77 percent say there are benefits or programs that, if offered by their employer, would ease their stress and improve their well-being.
To support their workforce during this time, employers should consider a holistic approach to overall well-being. Employees say being offered flexible work hours is a top action 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.
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 percent versus 31 percent), as well as more productive, engaged, valued and appreciated.
“Now more than ever, it’s critical to understand employees’ needs,” said Katz. “In this time of crisis and beyond, providing a mix of benefits and programs can help mitigate stress, improve employees’ holistic well-being and support them when they need it most – which in turn can help bolster engagement and loyalty from the workforce.”
MetLife’s 18th annual U.S. Employee Benefit Trends Study (EBTS) consists of three distinct studies. The first two were conducted in August and September 2019 and the third in early April 2020 – during the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. The 2019 employer survey consists of 2,501 interviews with benefits decision makers and influencers at companies with at least two employees. The 2019 employee survey includes 2,650 interviews with full-time employees, aged 21 and over, at companies with at least two employees. The updated 2020 employee survey consists of 2,367 interviews using the same criteria (full-time employed at time of survey completion). All studies were fielded by Rainmakers CSI – an international strategy, insight and planning consultancy.
About Rainmakers CSI
Rainmakers CSI is a global strategy, insight and planning consultancy. Since its inception in 2007, Rainmakers CSI has worked collaboratively with leading companies to help define opportunities for brands, categories and businesses. Its expertise spans across Financial Services, Food and Drink, Beauty, Healthcare, Telecoms, Technology, Entertainment, and Travel. Rainmakers CSI is headquartered in London and its programs and client relationships span all continents, with 50 percent of its work originating in the US. For more information, visit www.rainmakerscsi.com.
MetLife, Inc. (NYSE: MET), through its subsidiaries and affiliates (“MetLife”), is one of the world’s leading financial services companies, providing insurance, annuities, employee benefits and asset management to help its individual and institutional customers navigate their changing world. Founded in 1868, MetLife has operations in more than 40 countries and holds leading market positions in the United States, Japan, Latin America, Asia, Europe and the Middle East. For more information, visit www.metlife.com.