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Economic Uncertainty & Employee Well-being Take Center Stage in 2022

Marthin De Beer

With the pandemic not quite in the rearview mirror, today’s workforce continues to struggle with a slew of personal and professional challenges, including rising inflation, high market volatility, burnout, and elusive child/elder care support. Nearly two-thirds of employees say they are stressed all or most of the time at work and Willis Towers Watson found that employers’ biggest well-being challenges are rising stress and burnout and higher mental health-related claims. Stress can lead not only to lower workplace productivity and engagement but also adverse health effects, increased missed workdays, and higher healthcare costs.

Amid this workplace environment, 78% of employees are prioritizing work/life balance, 38% are seeking greater mission and purpose, and 25% want to take a break from work, according to BrightPlan’s 2022 Wellness Barometer Survey. This shift in employee priorities is fueling a competitive labor market for employers in search of attracting, retaining and motivating top talent. Employers’ ongoing challenge is to keep a constant pulse on what matters most to their diverse workforce. 


2022: The Year of Financial Wellness

Rising inflation and a looming recession have compounded the stressors employees are already facing. 72% of employees are stressed about their finances, up from 65% last year. Employees are not just asking employers for help with comprehensive financial support, they’re demanding it. 54% of employees named financial wellness as their most desired benefit this year, followed by mental health benefits (33%) and flexible time off (30%).

Mental well-being, physical health and financial wellness are inextricably linked and vital to employee engagement and business success. The same survey reveals the direct connection between financial stress and mental and physical health. Financially stressed employees lose on average 11.4 hours of productivity each week–an amount that translates to more than $4 billion in lost productivity weekly for U.S. employers*. However, not many employees have the resources to take charge of their finances and are looking to their employers for help. Nearly 9 in 10 employees expect their employers to offer financial support and resources.


BrightPlan On The Cutting Edge 

In order to address the needs of today’s workforce and solve the biggest challenges facing business and HR leaders, BrightPlan is committed to driving continuous innovation. By actively listening to our customers’ pain points, in response, this year we rolled out several new capabilities and services to enable them to better support their people. 

We expanded our menu of services to include global support, retirement readiness, and survivor support. These new service offerings enable HR teams to provide empathetic support for critical life events and give employers a competitive edge in attracting, retaining and engaging talent. 

Earlier in the year, we unveiled new capabilities including a Total Rewards Statement for recruiters and candidates and an Equity Compensation Planner. On average, employers spend 30% of an employee’s salary on benefits, yet oftentimes they go underutilized and unappreciated. Benefits are a key component of an employer’s Total Rewards offering and critical for attracting and retaining top talent. Of the employees who left their jobs in 2021, 43% did so in search of a company that offered better benefits. These capabilities demonstrate our commitment to partnering with HR teams to communicate the value of employer provided benefits and ensure employees don't leave much needed benefits on the table. 


Looking Ahead 

After nearly three years of a pandemic and the collective challenges we’ve all experienced in its wake, companies have had to reinvent their culture and work environment to keep employees happy, productive and engaged. The future of successful companies will be defined by how they respond to their employees’ personal and professional needs.

As we move into 2023, ongoing market volatility and the potential for a recession will continue to push financial wellness and employee experience to the forefront. As a result, forward thinking employers are acknowledging the heightened need to address employee wellness in a more holistic manner. This includes their mental, physical, social and financial health. Listening intently to employees’ needs and responding with innovative benefits and support structures can better enable organizations to attract, engage, motivate and retain a happy and productive workforce.

Data will be critical for employers in this quest. Listening to employee pain points and needs, curating the right benefits in response, driving benefits engagement and utilization, and gauging what’s working and what’s not, requires real-time data and insights. The ability to analyze employee behaviors and needs by demographic and location empowers HR leaders to better support their people, demonstrate ROI, drive customization, and improve decision-making.

As another year comes to a close, I’m grateful for our team, customers, clients and partners for their dedication. BrightPlan is a recognized industry leader driving ongoing innovation and we look forward to continuing to anticipate the needs of the market and our customers, and responding with data-driven digital solutions.


I wish you and your families the very best for the holidays and the year ahead. Be safe and healthy.


*Disclosure: Assumes there are 97,983,000 knowledge workers in the U.S. with an hourly wage of $36.68. Source: Federal Reserve Economic Dataset, BrightPlan. For more information, see the full report.