The so-called Great Resignation has created a seller’s
market for jobseekers.
Nearly four-and-a-half million Americans quit their jobs in
November, continuing an ongoing trend, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor
Statistics. As a result, employees have more leverage than ever to demand
better benefits packages from their employers.
Employees are navigating such issues as health care costs,
mountains of student debt and uncertainty around retirement and the future of
Social Security. Many workers are looking for more financial stability and
Betterment’s 401(k) business recently researched the state
of employee financial wellness by surveying 1,000 fulltime workers.
“Our research shows that employees are still hurting
financially from the economic impacts of the last 18 months, with many having
had to tap into their emergency funds since the start of the pandemic,” according
to the survey report.
“While most employees did not leave their jobs voluntarily
over the past year and a half, they do desire additional support from their
employers to avoid being enticed to look elsewhere. Financial benefits are now
their top priority, above in-office perks and even vacation time, and employees
are looking for particular help with retirement planning and student loan
Among the highlights of the survey:
1. State of the workforce. Despite the high turnover
rates facing many industries, the vast majority of full-time employees surveyed
(94 percent) didn’t voluntarily quit their jobs in the past 12 months. However,
28 percent currently are in the process of looking for a new job.
“We see the impacts of COVID-19 across a number of responses
— burnout, isolation and leaving the workforce to take care of personal issues
were all highly cited factors,” the report said.
“With the portion of people who left for a job that was
better suited to them nearly equivalent to the portion of those who left for
better benefits or pay, it’s clear that the pandemic has made workers
reevaluate what they need to be satisfied with their jobs. Ideally, it should
be both financially and emotionally fulfilling.”
2. Employee expectations. Amid the financial
challenges of the pandemic and the ongoing competition for talent, employees
are demanding more support from employers than ever before. Seventy-eight
percent said it’s important that their employer offer financial wellness
benefits, and 71 percent said these benefits are even more important now than
they were pre-pandemic. Nearly 70 percent rank having better financial wellness
benefits above an extra week of vacation.
When asked to prioritize financial wellness benefits,
employees ranked access to a high-quality 401(k) and 401(k) matching program as
most important, followed by a wellness stipend and flexible spending account or
health savings accounts.
An employer-sponsored emergency fund ranked fifth. This
benefit has come into the spotlight more since the start of the pandemic, and
it shows an employee appetite for employers to help them accumulate emergency
3. Retention implications. Three-fourths of workers
likely would leave their job for an employer that offered better financial benefits.
This is especially true among younger generations. Employees indicated that the
top three most enticing benefits are a high-quality 401(k), a 401(k) matching
program and a flexible spending account or health savings account.
One-third said their employer has begun offering new
financial wellness benefits over the past year, with the most common being a
401(k), wellness stipend and 401(k) matching program, which aligns with what
employees indicated they want from their employers.
4. Student loan debt. More than one-third of
respondents are responsible for student loan debt, either their own or someone
else’s. Despite this debt, people with student loans are doing a good job of
stashing away money: 63 percent of student loan borrowers have an emergency
fund, compared to 67 percent of those without loans.
“It’s clear that employees want greater support with
financial wellness,” the report concluded. “This means helping them take
advantage of the great benefits your business currently offers, as well as
rethinking benefits offerings to adjust to their current needs. If your company
is still working remotely, maybe it’s time to consider redirecting the old
coffee-and-snacks budget toward a more flexible wellness stipend that employees
can use to support their current needs while working from home.
“Your benefits package can’t — and doesn’t need to — meet
every employee’s every need. However, there are simple, cost-effective ways to
provide them with a holistic financial wellness solution that can offer
retirement benefits, emergency funds, investing, access to financial advisors
and other planning tools. Great benefits packages don’t need to be expensive or
time-consuming anymore, regardless of whether your business has two employees
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