70% employees struggled with bills amid COVID: Financial wellness study

There are multiple factors that impact wellness, starting from bad health to even bad finances. A recent study by professional services network PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) talks about exactly that.

In its comprehensive survey on financial wellness, PwC focusses on how the pandemic-induced mental stress stems not only from isolation and fear of the disease, but also largely from one’s financial situation.

Keys insights of the PwC survey

Conducted online with a group of 1,600 US-based employees from across industries in January 2021, this was PwC’s 10th such survey on financial wellness.

The study reflects how the pandemic deeply impacted these employees’ way of life and altered their stress level, as a substantial portion of the respondents admitted being under significant financial stress.

  • About 30 per cent of the employees noted that they found it difficult to manage their expenses owing to no upward change in their household income in last one year.
  • Meanwhile, as much as 70 per cent of the participant said they had struggled with their expenses due to a dip in their income.

Although governments have extended support to households, the survey revealed that one in every four employees saw reduced income last year.

And the biggest worry of the employees? That their income may not rise to the pre-pandemic levels any time soon.

The struggle of working from home

The PwC survey also noted a bleak finding that employees working from home had a much greater brush with financial stress than others.

The study found that remote working, which many believe is more stress-inducing than the traditional way, was also not mentally and financially rewarding as many experts assume it is.

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A bleak future

Financial stress for near-future expenses was also noted to be high among the respondents. Nearly half the employees believed they would have to dip into their retirement savings to stay afloat.

About 47 per cent felt it will be extremely difficult to meet even basic expenses in the event of a job loss.

What the survey reveals about spending after pandemic struck

The study points that since the pandemic, 43 per cent of the employees have shelved all plans for major purchases, while 53 per cent scaled back on their spending even on essential items.

When asked if they need help in managing their personal finances to reduce financial stress,  a whopping 87 per cent participants of the survey responded affirmatively.

It also revealed that younger employees worry more about daily expenses, while the older people are stressed about the long-term impact of pandemic and volatility in the stock markets.

The silver lining

On a happier note, a different PwC survey, called the Pulse Survey, has found that human resource departments have already made mental health and employees wellbeing their foremost priority.

For employers, the PwC study recommended that they make use of technological solutions to address these issues. It also warns that the productivity and well-being of employees will suffer if their financial stress isn’t tackled.

The survey should ideally hold great importance for employees as financial stress is a common trouble for employees in these times. The sooner the employers pay attention, the quicker they will see a surge in employee productivity and wellbeing.

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