Employees are under financial stress — big time. In fact, 56percent of them are stressed about their financial situation, andmore than half of them say it’s taking a toll on both their abilityto focus and their productivity on the job.

|

That’s according to the latest Bank of America Merrill Lynch Workplace Benefits Report, whichfinds that not only are 53 percent of stressed employees havingtrouble concentrating on their work, the cost of health care is abig shadow cast over workers’ financial situations. And that’s already anissue, with 43 percent of employees owning up to spending 3 or morehours a week while at the office dealing with personal financialmatters.

|

As more employees find themselves shelling out more from theirown pockets to pay health care bills — 69 percent of workers saidso in 2015, but 79 percent said so in 2016 — it’s no surprise tohear that health care costs are up 10 percent since 2015. No wonderthey’re stressed; salaries certainly haven’t risen to match.

|

Those rising health care costs are taking a bite out of mostemployees’ other financial goals — among workers who haveexperienced increasing health care costs, 56 percent are having tosave less toward other objectives.

|

Women in particular are abandoning more discretionary spendingand debt management to cover health care costs than men, with 72percent chucking spending on recreation or entertainment, comparedwith 59 percent of men; 63 percent saving less for retirement,compared with 62 percent of men; and 50 percent paying down lessdebt, compared with 46 percent of men.

|

And the more expensive health care becomes, the more employeesappear to appreciate employer-provided health coverage — withworkers ranking health benefits as their top employer benefit (40percent), followed by their 401(k) plan (31 percent).

|

Even among employees who class themselves as optimists abouttheir financial futures, worries about health care and its cost areweighing them down. And as might be expected, money woes weigh moreon women than men, even — or perhaps especially — when it comes tohealth care. While 52 percent of men say that becoming seriouslyill and unable to work is a major concern (even larger for men thanhaving to work longer than they planned), 58 percent of women fearillness and subsequent absence from the workplace.

|

And more than half of employees say that financial stress isnegatively affecting their physical health. Different generationsfeel the effects more, with 51 percent of boomers, 56 percent ofGen Xers and 68 percent of millennials saying money worries areliterally making them sick. Employers need to be aware of this andtake steps to deal with it, particularly since it translates into atoll not just on workers but on the employer’s bottom line — viahigher absenteeism rates and higher health care costs.

Complete your profile to continue reading and get FREE access to BenefitsPRO, part of your ALM digital membership.

  • Critical BenefitsPRO information including cutting edge post-reform success strategies, access to educational webcasts and videos, resources from industry leaders, and informative Newsletters.
  • Exclusive discounts on ALM, BenefitsPRO magazine and BenefitsPRO.com events
  • Access to other award-winning ALM websites including ThinkAdvisor.com and Law.com
NOT FOR REPRINT

© 2024 ALM Global, LLC, All Rights Reserved. Request academic re-use from www.copyright.com. All other uses, submit a request to [email protected]. For more information visit Asset & Logo Licensing.