The New Demographics

Making Workplace Wellness Fit

Why do black and hispanic workers with the highest income face more debt?

A new issue-brief from the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) compares work-life balance challenges compared to similarly paid white workers.Access the survey here.

A new Issue Brief from EBRI and Greenwald Research, “Making Workplace Wellness Programs Fit the Needs of Black and Hispanic Workers: Findings from the 2021 Workplace Wellness Survey,” identifies pronounced differences across Black, Hispanic, and White workers at higher income levels when it comes to perceptions of debt, emergency savings, stress about financial future, confidence regarding employee benefits decisions, work-life balance, and caregiving responsibilities. Learn more about the disparities and how employers can address and improve the financial wellbeing and work-life balance of workers, and of Black and Hispanic workers in particular.

The 2021 Workplace Wellness Survey (WWS) included an oversample of Black and Hispanic workers in order to better understand the unique workplace wellness needs of such workers and to explore and identify potential differences in attitudes, experiences, and behaviors related to workplace wellness. Given economic differences in these segments of workers, this paper takes a closer look at the combination of race/ethnicity and income.

Examining Racial Differences By Income

When race/ethnicity differences are examined by income, most reported differences within the Workplace Wellness Survey between Black, Hispanic, and White workers dissipate at lower income levels — and to some degree at the middle-income level — when it comes to perceptions of debt, stress about financial future, confidence regarding employee benefits decisions, work-life balance, keeping a good balance between work and caregiving responsibilities, and employers’ efforts to improve various aspects of worker well-being. However, at the higher-income level, there remain some pronounced differences:

Debt: Black and Hispanic workers were more likely to consider debt to be a problem for their household than White workers across higher income groups ($75,000 or more). This was also true of middle-income ($35,000–$74,999) workers.

Emergency Savings: Within higher-income groups, Black and Hispanic workers were less likely than White workers to agree that they have enough savings to handle an emergency or sudden large expense. Among higher-income workers, Black and Hispanic workers reported less preparedness to handle a variety of financial complications than White workers, including an unexpected expense of $500 or $5,000.

Stress About Financial Future: Also, among the higher-income group, Hispanic workers were more likely than White workers to agree that thinking about their financial future makes them feel stressed.

Confidence Regarding Employee Benefits Decisions: Black and Hispanic workers were less likely to be satisfied with various aspects of their job. The disparities in satisfaction are correlated with differences in workers’ confidence to make informed decisions about employee benefits. These differences in satisfaction by race/ethnicity were most pronounced within higher income groups, and the variation in confidence regarding employee benefits decisions diminishes when income is factored in.

Work-Life Balance: While workers overall rated work-life balance positively, higher-income Black and Hispanic workers were overall less likely than White workers to say that work-life balance at their company is excellent.

Caregiving: Higher-income Hispanic workers were more likely than White workers to agree that they find it challenging to keep a good balance between work and caregiving responsibilities. This difference is also most clearly visible among middle income levels.

Employer Well-Being Efforts: Higher-income Black and Hispanic workers were less likely than White workers to give top ratings to their employers’ efforts to improve various aspects of worker well-being across physical health, emotional/mental health, and financial dimensions.

 

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