The overwhelming majority of employees interviewed – about 8 in 10 – describe their level of debt as a problem, according to the 2022 Workplace Wellness Survey published by the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) and Greenwald Research. This represents a 15 point increased since 2021 (65%).
Among those with a debt problem, 78% describe their household’s level of credit card debt as a problem. In addition, more than half describe their medical or health-related (57%) and student loan (51%) debt as problems. Health emergencies (47%) are the biggest contributor to medical debt, while funding their own education (64%) is the top source of student loan debt that is considered problematic.
The survey found that about half of employees are concerned about their emotional (50%) and physical (48%) well-being. The 60% of those who say they are at least moderately concerned about their household’s financial well-being represents an increase of 11 points since 2021 (49%).
“Whether it is saving for retirement, paying monthly bills, affording children’s college education, paying back student loans, or caregiving for children or parents, workers are pulled in many directions financially,” said EBRI’s Paul Fronstin, in explaining why so many employees describe their level of debt as problematic.
“Sometimes, workers are so in the weeds that they cannot see their way,” said Fronstin, director of Health Benefits Research for EBRI. “Financial professionals can help workers come up with a plan to address debt and financial challenges at all stages of life.”
The survey found that employees consider the following benefits important:
- Workplace flexibility
- Work-life balance
- Paid time off
- Leave benefits
Most of those surveyed felt that tele-working has positively impacted their well-being.
Only four in ten (39%) described the work-life balance at their companies as excellent or very good, which has decreased significantly since 2021. Another 36% rate it as good, and 25% rate it as fair or poor.
In explaining why these benefits have become so important to employees, Fronstin said that the pandemic has likely changed expectations around workplace flexibility generally.
“It has been proven that remote work works, and workers like the benefits associated with such flexibility,” he said, adding, “It gives time back that they can use productively, such as taking their children to school, exercising, or preparing healthy meals.”