The 8-year study shows employees’ financial stress has dropped faster than the national average.
The burden of saving for our own retirements, paying a larger share of healthcare costs, and coping with higher education and other debt is taking a toll on our overall health, research shows.
The same is true at Prudential, where the company’s partnership with Truven Health Analytics and its IBM Watson technology allowed Prudential for the first time to analyze employee financial stress over the last decade. The results, outlined in Prudential’s new thought leadership paper, Pioneering Workplace Financial Wellness were startling.
In 2008, the first year of the Great Recession, 31 percent of Prudential employees experienced financial problems, higher than WebMD’s national benchmark, which stood at 28 percent. It was even higher the following year at 34 percent, compared with the benchmark 29 percent.
That stress carries into the workplace. Prudential’s research found that employees experiencing financial problems lose a full week of productivity compared with employees who aren’t. Also, diagnosed mental health conditions are more prevalent among those who experience financial problems.
“At Prudential we define health broadly to include financial wellness, because it is critical to overall employee wellbeing and workplace productivity,” explains Dr. Andy Crighton, chief medical officer at Prudential. “Our paper underscores this truth and reinforces the role data plays in tracking employee financial stress over time. It also illustrates how that data can be used to help improve overall employee health and wellbeing.”
This data informed the company’s strategy in developing new tools and services or enhancing existing offerings specifically to help employees address the causes of their financial stress such as child and adult care, budgeting and retirement planning.
The chart plots how these offerings have helped cut employees’ financial stress by half—to levels well below the national benchmark. It’s important to note that an improving economy also contributed to the reduced stress levels.
“As an early pioneer in the financial wellness space, we have made a great deal of progress in addressing and reducing financial stress among our employees and we’ve learned a lot along the way,” notes Vishal Jain, financial wellness officer for Prudential’s Workplace Solutions Group. “We are now using these learnings to inform the design of tools and solutions we offer to our clients. Our goal is to provide them with best practices to help them implement financial wellness programs that deliver business value and boost their workforce’s confidence and financial security.”
Prudential continues to track the effectiveness of its financial wellness program by analyzing metrics such as depression and absenteeism among employees, which will inform the types of future services offered to both its own employees and those of clients.
That ongoing research led the company in 2017 to introduce the Financial Wellness Experience, a digital platform that assists employees in adopting healthy behaviors that result in their ability to manage day-to-day expenses, achieve important financial goals and protect themselves against key financial risks.
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