Survey reveals employees’ major financial stressors, millennials’ interest in gig work
MetLife’s 17th Annual US Employee Benefit Trends Study 2019 reveals that we are now seeing additional trends redefining why we work and what work means to people. According to the study, “[a]s employees leverage work to gain more fulfillment, pursue their goals, and align their values and experiences more authentically, they’re looking to employers to help them manage this new work-life world.”
The study revealed that employees’ number one source of stress is personal finances. “Regardless of age or life-stage, a focus on finances tops the list as the biggest concern employees have day to day.”
Some of employees’ stress about finances stems from short-term concerns, like staying on top of bills or paying for urgent health needs. Others stem from long-term goals — in fact, 3 of employees’ top 5 financial concerns directly relate to retirement, even among those who are relatively confident in their finances.
What are employees’ top 5 sources of financial stress?
Being able to afford the cost of healthcare in retirement – 72%
Outliving my retirement savings – 68%
Having money to pay bills if someone loses their job – 67%
Having money to cover out-of-pocket medical costs – 67%
Ability to rely on Social Security/Medicare in retirement – 66%
Employees say that solutions that help address financial stress are what they need most to thrive in the workplace and at home. Nearly 6 in 10 employees say an appropriate salary is one of the most important elements to successfully navigating and thriving in the workplace, the study states.
“Yet, a moderate salary increase can only help so much when dealing with an unexpected expense, whether it’s a broken bone or a flooded basement. That’s why financial support in the form of financial wellness programs, retirement plans, and a broad set of benefits can play such a crucial role in helping employees manage the unexpected and plan for the future. And employees realize this too — roughly 5 in 10 employees say better benefits are key to thriving.”
The gig economy can be a challenge and an opportunity for employers
The same technologies and evolving expectations that have driven flexibility and the need for new skills have also driven the ability to blend work and life. For instance, the evolution of mobile infrastructure has made part-time work accessible at the tap of a finger. These technologies are introducing an entirely new way of working: the gig economy, characterized by work that is often based on a fixed-term contract or paid per project via a third party or online marketplace.
As employees shift their expectations and needs for fulfillment inside and outside of work, the gig economy offers a unique solution, as it provides employees a useful outlet to gain more short- and long-term flexibility, control their schedules and projects, and earn extra cash.
While interest in the gig economy tends to skew towards younger generations, it’s appealing to older workers, as well. 1 in 2 Gen Z or Millennials, 3 in 10 Gen X, and almost 1 in 4 Boomers are interested in gig work. And gig work is appealing to workers for a variety of reasons.
What are the top 3 reasons full-time workers are interested in gig work? 1) flexible schedule – 31%; 2) ability to work where they want – 29%; and 3) ability to take on multiple different projects – 22%
But ultimately, employees want to ensure that joining the gig workforce doesn’t come at a loss of financial stability — their primary source of stress.
The Study states that employers can use unique levers to cater to employees’ desires for financial security and stability. “Certainly, this means considering salary increases, but also creating benefits packages that most gig opportunities simply can’t compete with. Additionally, creating policies and experiences within the workplace that offer the same gig-like diversity of exposure and flexibility can satisfy employees’ interests in this new type of work.”