My Secure Advantage

Improving Health Outcomes Through Financial Wellness

Wellness programs have become a popular benefit package for companies across the globe. But can financial wellness improve health outcomes in an equally significant way?
By MSA Staff

Wellness programs have become a popular benefit package for companies across the globe. But can financial wellness improve health outcomes in an equally significant way? Mental health has gained greater importance for employers as they recognize the damaging effects stress can take on their operations.

According to the American Psychological Association, finances continue to be a part of the top stressors reported by those surveyed. Worse, this type of stress can become chronic, leading to fatigue and burnout. According to a study by Purdue University, financial stress is unique and manifests itself differently than stress related to relationships, health, or worries about the future. This is partly because financial stressors can be difficult to erase without outside assistance. Money that might be used towards eliminating financial stress is sometimes put towards unproductive and expensive stress relievers or towards unhealthy coping mechanisms such as binge shopping, overeating, and alcohol and drug use.

Financial wellness programs can help address the source of financial stress by providing myriad strategies for dealing with the cause of the issues. What is financial stress, and what can a financial wellness program do to alleviate it?

How Financial Stress Manifests in Employees

Financial stress means different things to different people. For many young working professionals, it begins with student loans. Fresh out of college, graduates find themselves saddled with payments that stunt the acquisition of savings. Rent payments, mortgages, and other bills follow. Finally, family planning and retirement savings add yet another layer of financial stress. With so many moving parts, financial stress invariably enters our lives and may have a tangible impact on our health and well-being.

When financial stress isn’t resolved, it may cascade into a variety of symptoms. A common symptom is sleep loss. When people don’t get enough sleep, they become less productive and more prone to distraction and illness, directly influencing their performance in the workplace. Our survey suggests that the average employee experiencing financial stress loses up to 4.8 hours of productive work per week to financial stress.¹

The workplace impact on personal financial stress becomes more acute when considering the underlying impact symptoms can have on overall health. Compounded with sleep loss, symptoms such as anxiety, migraines, weakened immune systems, digestive issues, high blood pressure, arrhythmia, depression, and muscle tension can contribute to more serious ailments. While many of these symptoms are mild, they can contribute to serious chronic negative health outcomes over a long period of time.

An employee with an immune system weakened by stress can be more likely to take time off work and may be more prone to absenteeism. Whether viewed from the perspective of employee health or employee productivity, financial stress negatively influences lives in a variety of ways.

While financial stress isn’t always easy to quickly eliminate, financial coaching can be one of the best ways for employees to regain some control of their finances.

Improving Health Outcomes Through Financial Wellness Can Eliminate Stress, Improve Work Ethic

Offering financial wellness education for employees provides your team with options for making healthy choices around the way they work and live. As employees make educated decisions about their financial choices, they can positively impact their own health and lives.

A report by SHRM suggests that nearly 7 in 10 employees say improving their financial wellness is their most important goal. With the percentage of people reporting good or excellent financial wellness declining each year since 2018, employees are seeking programs that can help alleviate the burden of managing their finances alone. With programs like My Secure Advantage (MSA), employees can be empowered to take control of their retirement, loans, family planning, and more.

MSA offers financial wellness programs that guide employees through all sorts of financial issues, including those related to health. Another one of our surveys indicated that employees who use financial wellness programs have improved HSA and FSA participation, a 40% decrease in healthcare spending, and stay more focused throughout the work day. Through financial coaching, employees’ stress about personal finances can be identified and corrected at the source, giving them education on how they spend money as well as the tools they need to invest in their future.

¹My Secure Advantage, Inc., January 2023. Based on MSA member self-reported data, when working with a coach on this specific issue, from 1/1/21 – 12/31/22.

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