When we meet someone for the first time, the first question we often ask is, "What do you do for a living?" This is often followed by, "Where do you live?" or "Do you have kids?" These two aspects of our lives—our jobs and the personal side—have always been central to how we define ourselves. And they used to exist in very separate worlds. But as we all well know, the technology that allows us instant access to information anytime, anywhere, has radically redefined the boundaries between the two worlds.
Today, it feels as if our two worlds have merged into one. We check our work emails at night after putting the kids to bed and we shop online at our desks while quickly eating a sandwich at lunchtime. It's the fast-paced reality of doing business in the 24/7 global economy that we're all eager to manage.
"We're hearing more and more from HR managers about the importance of work-life balance among the workforce," says Douglas Choo, vice president of National Accounts Strategy at MetLife. "But it's much more like a work-life blend. As people's work and personal lives continue to blend, it becomes increasingly important for HR managers to support the personal aspect of their employees' lives to ensure they feel the support they need to be focused and successful at work."
Understanding how companies can help their employees in their personal lives is a key strategy for helping them manage work-life blend. Benefits, in particular, can play a significant role, especially given that employees across industries say their top concern is financial well-being. According to MetLife's 14th Annual Employee Benefit Trends Study, 41% of all employees live paycheck-to-paycheck and one in three families report having no emergency savings.
Younger workers are especially anxious about finances. The study also shows that 40% of Millennials—the demographic equal to more than one-third of today's American workforce—lie awake at night worrying about money. No doubt the burden of substantial student loans also weighs heavily on their minds. The Wall Street Journal reports that the average amount of debt owed by the class of 2015 is a staggering $35,000,1 an average that's greater than that of any graduating class before them.
These financial anxieties can have a disruptive impact on worker productivity and can contribute to an imbalance in the work-life relationship. Coincidentally, they also provide companies with a unique opportunity to offer much-needed stability and protection to their employees. With 71% of employees looking to their jobs as the foundation for financial security,2 offering benefits can help fulfill this need and potentially reduce the stress and anxiety that is often part of the work-life blend.
One way employers can respond is by offering a variety of benefits that employees can choose from to meet their individual needs and help them successfully manage unexpected financial situations. Half of employees strongly agree that the benefits they receive at work help them worry less about unexpected health and financial issues.3 Consider these scenarios:
Douglas Choo says that HR managers who engage effectively with their employees see higher returns from the benefits programs they offer. To that end, Choo recommends acknowledging the financial concerns of your workforce and providing them access to the appropriate employee benefits they need to feel financially secure. By offering a variety, employers can cultivate an environment where employees will have a sense of stability and feel loyal to the company. In fact, in companies where the number of benefits offered is higher, employee appreciation is also higher—including intent to stay and likelihood of employees recommending their organizations as great places to work.4
However, companies must think beyond just offering the right benefits and must shift their focus to understanding how to communicate to their employees so they understand the value and relevance their benefits have in their lives. Tracking participation then becomes a key measure for success, so that you know your employees are protected appropriately and have the stability they need. Communication and engagement have become central to unlocking the value of the benefits for both employees and employers.
73% agree having benefits customized to meet their needs increases their loyalty to their employer.
12% increase (from 39% to 51%) in understanding of medical benefits.
84% of employees consider financial wellness programs a must have/nice to have benefit.
60% of employees in 2018
83% would be willing to take a small pay cut in order to have a better choice of benefits from their employer.
11% increase (from 34% to 45%) in understanding of non-medical benefits.
18% of employers are currently offering a financial wellness program.
52% of employees in 2017
Source: 2018 MetLife Employee Benefit Trends Study
Source: Open Enrollment Simulation
Source: 2018 MetLife Employee Benefit Trends Study
2018 MetLife Employee Benefit Trends Study