Prioritizing Financial Wellness Benefits

Amid pandemic challenges, workers are reevaluating what they need when it comes to benefits and perks

A new survey from Betterment’s 401(k) business found that financial benefits are now a top priority for employees, above in-office perks and vacation time.

NEW YORK, Dec. 15, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — Across the nation, thousands of businesses are experiencing “The Great Resignation” as employees leave their jobs in unprecedented droves. Many workers have been seeking greater financial stability and support during the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly as they face rising healthcare costs, towering student debt, and uncertainty around retirement and the future of Social Security. As a result, employees are reconsidering which benefits are most important as they evaluate their financial needs.

A new report from Betterment’s 401(k) business, entitled The Impact of The Great Resignation on Benefits Needs and Expectations, polled 1,000 full-time U.S. employees to better understand their current financial situations, how they prioritize various types of financial wellness benefits, and what impact these benefits may have on talent acquisition and employee retention.

Key findings of the report include:

  • More than a year and a half into the pandemic, workers’ financial situations have yet to fully recover.

54% are more stressed about their finances than they were before the pandemic — and the youngest generations (Millennials and Gen Z) are feeling this the most.

The gender gap emerges: just 37% of women rated themselves as financially stable, compared to 61% of men. 13% more men have emergency funds than women.

43% have had to tap their emergency funds since the start of the pandemic, with the top reason being paying for medical expenses, home/car repairs, and rent or bills.

  • Against this backdrop, financial wellness offerings have become more coveted.

75% say that even if/when they return to the office full-time, they will still prioritize financial wellness benefits above in-office perks like snacks and ping-pong tables — and 68% would prioritize them above an extra week of vacation.

401(k)s and matching programs remain the most highly sought-after financial benefits, but employees are also seeking benefits like a wellness stipend, employer-sponsored emergency fund, and student loan repayment programs.

57% believe that employers should be responsible for helping employees with their student loan debt — either through repayment programs or direct contributions.

  • Expectations are rising — and it’s a critical moment for employers to take stock of their benefits packages and how they communicate them to employees.

74% would be likely to leave their job for an employer that offered better financial benefits — a number that jumps to 85% for student loan borrowers.

Faced with new realities and shifting work environments, it's time that employers rethink traditional perks and consider what might provide greater value to their employees...

36% aren’t sure what financial wellness benefits their employer currently offers, and 30% either haven’t gotten around to signing up for them or don’t know how to do so.

Better Financial Wellness Benefits: Better For Everyone

“The last couple of years have been financially challenging for workers and business owners alike. Faced with new realities and shifting work environments, it’s time that employers rethink traditional perks and consider what might provide greater value to their employees,” said Kristen Carlisle, General Manager of Betterment’s 401(k) business. “For example, the interest in student loan repayment benefits, which is something we expect to pick up even more as the moratorium on student debt repayments ends on January 31.

“What’s helpful is that great financial wellness benefits don’t need to break the bank, and can pay dividends towards employee retention and talent acquisition. Moreover, taking the time to help your employees understand how to take advantage of the benefits that you’re currently offering can go a long way towards boosting happiness and morale,” Carlisle added.

Read or download the full report here.




An online survey was conducted with a population of potential respondents from September 15, 2021 to September 20, 2021. Betterment for Business engaged Market Cube, a research panel company, to broadly disseminate the survey to its population. The sample population was completed by a total of 1,000 respondents who are 18 years and older, and full-time employees across industries. All respondents were invited to take the survey via an email invitation. Survey respondents were incentivized to participate via Market Cube’s established points program, regardless of positive or negative responses. Survey respondents were not required to be Betterment for Business clients to participate.
Findings and analysis are presented for informational purposes only and are not intended to be investment advice, nor is this indicative of any client sentiment or experience.
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About Betterment’s 401(k) business
Betterment’s 401(k) platform is built from the ground up with the needs of the modern employee in mind. It’s selected by employers who want to offer their employees tailored and smart financial advice that will help them create a more secure future. Betterment’s 401(k) platform is powered by Betterment’s proprietary, smart technology that automates and optimizes asset allocation to enhance financial wellness. As a fiduciary that is independent of the funds it invests in, Betterment believes that everyone has the fundamental right to expert financial advice. Headquartered in New York City and created by the largest independent robo-advisor, Betterment’s 401(k) platform is used by leading employers like Casper and Boxed. For more information, visit