Stress is an issue bigger than ever for millennials, who are rushing ahead with their worklife, finding little time to enjoy the intricacies of life. They are not only toiling themselves with projects, preparing reports and meeting targets, but also when off the work they busy themselves worrying about their debt, savings and expenditure. India has been, off late, a very volatile economy with companies shutting down production and filtering out chunks of employees. As such millennials are forcing themselves to work in return for poorly paid salaries and unsatisfactory job environments. In most of the cases, they are not able to manage their day-to-day expenses and have to revert to debt; while in other cases are confused about their financial course.
A whopping 76% of Millennials say they are experiencing financial stress, up 23 percentage points from 2018, according to the PwC 2019 Employee Financial Wellness Survey.
Financial stress is the top contributor in affecting employee health and morale followed by their jobs and relationships. Matching your salary with your expenses is only the tip of the iceberg, when cash flow and debt issues add to the worries. Employees are worried that they are not able to save enough and will face or are facing a financial crunch. Let’s look at the major issues hounding today’s millennials in terms of finance:
With higher education becoming more expensive each year, an increasing number of new employees enter the corporate sector already laden with the burden of huge debt in the form of education loans or personal loans. As per Workplace benefits report 2017, 40% of millennials say that they left high school and college unprepared for the real world. As such they look upon their employers for the necessary guidance and help related to a majority of topics around financial wellness. 18% of millennials want more help with their student loans.
In some cases, these debts may be gifted down from one generation to another. A son may have to pay off a home loan or some other debt incurred by his father. These circumstances dilute the finances and millennials find it difficult to lay away the stress.
According to the 2017 Workplace Benefits Report, a significant number of Millennials say they feel unprepared to manage their finances and need help with topics across the financial wellness spectrum, including saving for retirement (43 percent), general savings help (40 percent), paying down or managing debt (34 percent), saving for major expenses (36 percent) and budgeting (31 percent).
Peer pressure, maintaining the status quo and lavish lifestyles often lead millennials to the brink of a financial crisis if they do not plan their finances well in advance. Many are highly ignorant about how to proceed with investments; banks or mutual funds, long term or short term, commodity or shares, and a lot more. About 43% feel that they require more help with investing, 40% wanting more information on how to save taxes and 21% feel that they want to save more. It’s an additional issue when they require funds in a lump sum for unforeseen expenditure or a major purchase. They either trap themselves in instalments or else fall in a debt trap. 63% of Millennials consistently carry balances on their credit cards and two out of five have trouble making minimum monthly credit card payments.
Besides provident fund schemes, gratuity and a few other benefits, employees aren’t assured adequately about their future. They remain concerned about their retirement and pension, their children’s education, medical expenses and a lot more. Pension schemes are offered by insurance firms, but which one is best suited remains a matter of concern. Career opportunities and growth also impact future and present decision making. Not surprising then that employees, especially millennials, find themselves to be dependent on their employers.
Why should employers take up financial wellness programmes?
Financial stress not only impacts an employee on a personal level, but his working capabilities and mental faculties get impacted too. Stress can be behind severe health concerns that may lead to employee absenteeism, employee turnover, and dissatisfaction. The issue of financial health becomes of utmost importance to keep the solubility of the firm intact on one hand and to achieve common organisational goals on the other. As per a survey, an employee spends 12 hours on an average each month stressing about their finances.
Bank of America Merrill Lynch report says that the lack of confidence in financial matters affects Millennials’ workplace behavior. On average, employees spend 3 work hours each week (12 hours per month) dealing with financial stressors.
A well thought of and structured wellness programme may act as a tonic for the employees’ financial health:
#1 Making an in depth study of employee concerns before finalising on the mode the financial programme is critical. Not everyone shares the same crisis, and not everyone will desire third party approvals or advice before taking decisions. A financial assessment is essential before you initiate the program and want it to succeed. This can be an eyeopener for those employees who may have been unaware of the causes of their financial stress and will make them ready to adopt the new financial course.
#2 Educating employees about financial health and other resources should be taken care of as well. This can be one through seminars, online courses, or even lectures and classes conducted by an expert or professional.
#3 The employees must be educated on healthcare costs as well. It doesn’t hurt to take this opportunity to promote healthier lifestyles as well. This can save them a lot in the long run. Group insurance schemes and health insurance schemes should be encouraged as a norm in the organisation.
#4 Financial debt management, especially the management of student loans, is another area of focus. Employers, if possible, could even consider taking it upon themselves to sort out the education loan or debt of the employees as a gesture of goodwill. This can be offered as an employee benefit as well. Executed right, the company can go a long way in earning the reputation of being the best in class when it comes to their employees’ welfare.
#5 Then comes the basic question of managing the current expenses such as installments, deductibles, premiums and other expenses. There are several paradigms involved in financial planning and it can be overwhelming for a millennial who has just been placed on his job.
Encouraging employees to take part in these programmes and letting them get involved through participation, and one on one discussion will assist them in reducing their financial stress. The overall focus of the employee can shift to organisational task boosting his productivity and overall efficiency. At the individual level, it will boost their confidence to manage their current expenses and plan for their future expenses in advance. Financial wellness programmes can, therefore, help in improving employee health and quality of life. A healthy and financially sound human resource can be an unending source of profitability and efficiency for any enterprise.