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What a few of the biggest US employers are seeing when it comes to financial wellness

Key Takeaways from the Salary Finance SHRM Panel Session featuring PwC, Accenture, and Salesforce


Last week, Salary Finance sponsored the 2019 SHRM Annual Conference and Expo in Las Vegas. We were joined by over 17,000 HR professionals from around the world for three days of impactful keynotes and innovative discussions. In a session titled: Financial Wellness Benefits Your Employees Want and Need, Salary Finance Inc CEO Dan Macklin and industry thought-leaders from PwC, Salesforce, and Accenture sat down for a panel discussion moderated by a former Bloomberg financial journalist. Together, they discussed the biggest financial challenges facing today’s employees and the ways in which employers can help.


The session opened with a presentation from Dan Macklin. He began with a real life example of how an employee’s financial worries can affect their work performance in a massive way, and went on to prove that this is not an isolated occurrence using the findings of the survey Salary Finance conducted last year of 10,484 US-based employees. The survey found that 48% of employees are stressed about money and 34% are living paycheck-to-paycheck, and that financial worries negatively affect employees at home and work. This ultimately creates a cost of 11-14% of annual payroll in lost productivity and increased employee turnover. 


The panel moderator, Peter Barnes, then opened the discussion to the panelists by asking “is financial wellness an issue that employers should be engaged with?”. The panelists all agreed that employers can help employees improve their finances and get out of crippling debt.


Here are the key takeaways:


  1. The biggest contributor to financial stress is not having enough emergency savings. PwC has their own financial wellness survey, and 8 years in a row they’ve found that the biggest contributor to financial stress is lack of savings.
  2. Modern technology is making it easier for employers to help employees with financial wellness. Wendy Cambor, Managing Director and Regional HR Lead at Accenture, says the role of the employer has changed, and although we’re starting to see buy-in from some employers, there’s still a disconnect. Modern technology is helping make that easier.
  3. It is important for employees to be able to bring their happiest, healthiest, and most innovative selves to work. Felicia Cheng, Wellbeing Benefits Program Manager at Salesforce, focuses on all aspects of health, including financial wellness, for Salesforce’s employees. In a recent financial wellness survey she conducted, employees expressed gratitude that Salesforce cared enough to ask and acknowledge this issue, even though it can be considered taboo. Felicia says she plans to leverage the data from Salary Finance, PwC, and her employees to prove the need for a financial wellness solution, then measure the impact and ROI on pilot programs and initiatives to further prove that it works.
  4. People cannot easily ignore financial issues the same way they often ignore health issues. Kent Allison, Partner & National Leader of Employee Financial Education & Wellness at PwC, said that once an organization starts to offer financial wellness services, people will be more willing to accept help. He also noted that if you can justify physical wellness in the workplace, then eventually you’ll be able to justify financial wellness.
  5. People will do anything for their families — even if that means going into debt. Wendy used the example of women, who are often under more financial stress than men. Working moms used to be the focus, but now “working daughters” should be because they are what’s been called the “sandwich generation”: they have children to take care of as well as aging parents. This is just one example of how to think about supporting diverse needs across an organization.
  6. Millennials are more transparent and open about what they want and need from their employers. Accenture has nearly 500,000 employees, who are mostly Gen Z or Millennials, and they’re finding that these employees are more transparent and open about what they want and need from their employers — versus previous generations who tend to be more private about money.


Interested in learning more? Visit or download the Employer’s Guide to Financial Wellness 2019 for a step by step guide to building a financial wellness strategy.

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