Rise with the Raise

Providing Simple Savings Options Is Key to Reducing Lower-wage Employee Financial Stress and Boosting Productivity

Commonwealth Research surveys lower-wage employees and highlights the critical role of employer savings benefits on financial security

New Rise with the Raise study from Commonwealth finds that 3/4 of workers earning less than $60k/yr believe that if their companies offered workplace savings programs when they get a raise, they’d be less stressed and more confident about their finances.

July 09, 2019 — BOSTON–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Boosting employee productivity and reducing staff turnover doesn’t need to be complicated or expensive. A few simple, inexpensive steps by employers can bring about these results by helping employees save and meet financial challenges, according to a new study by Commonwealth, a national nonprofit that builds solutions to improve financial security and opportunity.

And these savings interventions can mean that a dollar-per-hour raise can indeed make a meaningful difference in an employee’s life. As reported in Rise with the Raise: The Promise of Straightforward Employer Benefits for Building Lower-Wage Employee Financial Security, a nationwide survey of over 1000 employees making under $60,000 per year, helping employees navigate financial insecurity can help employers, too, with improved productivity, retention, and loyalty.

Rise with the Raise studied the potential effects of programs such as split direct-deposit paychecks, low-interest loans, and even the impact of simply having a savings account, as well as analyzing employees’ financial stress in relation to their financial situation.

Savings Optons

The study found that three quarters of employees believe that if their employers offered savings options at the time of their raise, they would be less stressed and more confident about their finances.

And these initiatives needn’t be expensive or complicated. Simply providing employees tools and opportunities to save often results in better outcomes, according to the data.

Among employees surveyed who have savings, 43 percent said they had less than $400 set aside. The probability of employees being able to save increases by 2 percent for every additional dollar earned up to the wage of $20 per hour, Commonwealth analysts found.

Leveraging the ‘moment of a raise’

“The moment of a raise is a unique opportunity to build employees’ financial security, with benefits for workers and firms alike,” said Timothy Flacke, Executive Director, Commonwealth. “Employers that offer sensible tools and incentives to help employees save can both bolster worker financial security, and realize the benefits of employees being less impacted by financial anxiety and ultimately more productive.”

The moment of a raise is a unique opportunity to build employees’ financial security, with benefits for workers and firms alike...

Rise with the Raise found that employees would greatly welcome help saving:

  • 65 percent of lower-wage employees surveyed indicated they were struggling or just getting by
  • 74 percent of employees said employer benefits offered at the time of a raise would reduce stress.
  • 63 percent of employees surveyed expressed interest in the opportunity to use split direct deposit between checking and savings

Increased wage moments, in particular, provide a unique opportunity for employers to provide low-cost, high-value, and easy to implement interventions, Commonwealth’s Rise with the Raise report concludes. Employees believe that savings tools provided by their employers would lead them to be happier, more productive employees. And the research bears this out: individuals with more in savings were less likely to have financial worries than those with little savings.

Through high-value, surprisingly straightforward interventions, employers can play a large part in increasing the financial security of their lower-wage employees — a result that benefits not only the individual, but also provides significant business value. As a result, employers will share the rewards of their employees’ increased financial security.

The Rise with the Raise survey asked a nationally representative sample of employees making under $60,000 per year about current employment, savings and debt, financial concerns, behaviors at the time of wage increases, and interest in employer-offered financial tools that assist with savings and debt relief. A total of 1,309 participants provided valid survey data. Additional information on survey methodology and demographics is available in the report.

Commonwealth strengthens the financial opportunity and security of financially vulnerable people by discovering ideas, piloting solutions and driving innovations to scale. Our work has enabled more than 750,000 Americans to save over $2 billion. We collaborate with employers, consumers, the financial services industry, policy makers, fintechs, and mission-driven organizations to build solutions that make people financially secure. Learn more at www.buildcommonwealth.org.