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5 Ways to Help Clients Relieve Employee Financial Stress

Quick look: Over 80% of U.S. adults are stressed about inflation, and 84% of employers believe offering financial wellness benefits can reduce staff attrition rates. By partnering with a PEO that provides comprehensive benefits and HR services, brokers can improve their clients’ bottom lines and lower employee financial stress.

High inflation, international conflict, and the lasting effects of the pandemic are causing clients and their employees to watch their spending more than before.

As of November 2022, the latest U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data reports a 7.7% year-over-year inflation rate. When you look at just energy commodities and services like gasoline and electricity, that year-over-year figure jumps to 17.6%, and when you consider food costs, it rises to 10.9%.

These price hikes are causing concern. A recent poll from the American Psychological Association found that inflation is a major source of stress for over 80% of U.S. adults. From a business perspective, companies are opting to cut real estate costs, tabling projects, and cutting jobs to soften the economic blow.

Benefits are typically the second largest business expense, and workers look to their plans to pad their short- and long-term financial futures. By offering a comprehensive, tailored benefits package, brokers can reassure clients that they’re experiencing a maximum return on investment, reduce employee financial stress, and increase retention rates. Here are five things to keep in mind as you do that.

1. Offer employee financial education

According to Bank of America’s 12th annual Workplace Benefits Report, approximately 40% of employees want access to an investment professional, and almost two-thirds of employers are offering this (up from 55% in 2021). The research also found that:

  • 84% of employers believe offering financial wellness tools can help reduce employee attrition, and 81% feel these tools help attract higher-quality talent
  • 62% of workers are stressed about their finances, 80% are concerned about inflation, and 71% believe the cost of living is outpacing the growth of their wages
  • In July 2022, 56% of employees felt confident about reaching their retirement goals, down from 69% in February 2022

Brokers can help their clients keep up with these trends by partnering with a professional employer organization (PEO) that provides access to employee financial education, like advisors and training sessions on investing, saving for retirement, and budgeting. Allowing employees to connect one-on-one with an advisor or attend educational sessions can help them plan their finances during every stage of their careers.

2. Don’t forget about voluntary benefits

Other benefits can also be beneficial in relieving employee financial stress—at a low cost for clients.

Voluntary benefits like pet insurance, identity theft protection, hospital indemnity, and accident and illness insurance can provide enormous value to your clients’ staff without putting a dent in their budgets.

These programs also allow your clients’ employees to tailor their benefits packages to their specific needs, something that’s important for today’s multigenerational workforce. For example, younger employees may value family-building support and student loan assistance. Meanwhile, older workers may prioritize supplemental medical coverages, like vision insurance and financial planning services, since many are approaching retirement.

And when accessed through a PEO, voluntary benefits may be available to these workers at a lower cost than if they were to purchase coverage on their own.

3. Focus on frequent communication

Most people enroll in benefits with every intention to use them. Still, between busy schedules and irregular benefits communications, it’s easy to forget or remain unaware of what features are available.

It’s crucial for clients, or their PEO partners, to communicate often about all employee benefits, including financial wellness plans. This could include sharing reminders about financial support available through these programs, keeping workers informed about any new or updated benefit offerings, sending invitations to upcoming training sessions, and more. This outreach can pay off—regular financial communication can help increase plan participation and boost your clients’ employee retention rates.

4. Encourage clients to regularly survey staff

Fundamentally, benefits should align with employees’ needs, and these needs are constantly changing as the market and other trends impact their lives.

To ensure their benefits package reflects their staff’s current demands, clients should consider conducting regular internal surveys. Questions can include which benefits employees find most helpful, plans they don’t find useful, and benefits they wish they could access. Clients can use this feedback to guide decisions as they renew or update their various benefits.

Designing and implementing surveys, as well as analyzing and acting on the data, can be time-consuming. Luckily, a PEO’s HR experts can assist your clients as they develop their survey strategy.

5. Partner with a PEO

Chances are, providing opportunities to relieve employee financial stress and develop their financial wellness is on your clients’ to-do lists. However, their hands are likely full navigating the tight labor market, a growing remote workforce, and more.

Brokers can enable their clients to offer the best benefits, without the headache, by partnering with a PEO. PEOs, like ExtensisHR, can provide:

  • Fortune 500-level benefits, including 401(k) retirement plans and various voluntary benefits like pet insurance, hospital indemnity, and accident and illness insurance
  • Benefits communications services to keep clients and their employees informed about plan updates and reminders, invitations to benefit provider-hosted training, etc.
  • Dedicated HR support to help clients with survey strategies and more
  • A broker-centric business philosophy, where your clients’ success and your business objectives are both prioritized, and resources are available to keep you updated on trends that may impact your clients

Your clients and their employees are likely feeling the squeeze of inflation—and you can help. Contact the professionals at ExtensisHR today to get started.

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