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View Research Findings: Mind, Body, and Wallet

Mind, Body, and Wallet – The Impact to Employee Well-Being

This research brief from Guardian's 4th Annual Workplace Benefit Study reveals that working Americans' sense of their overall health and well-being is declining. This finding is based on Guardian's new Workforce Well-Being IndexTM (WWBI), which measures consumer attitudes in three core areas: financial wellness, physical wellness, and emotional wellness.


Americans are not feeling so well

The average WWBI is only 3.26 out of 5 — barely a passing grade. What brings the number down is the financial wellness index, which accounts for 40% of the total WWBI score. And scored on its own, financial wellness was the weakest of the three indices, getting only 3.19 out of 5. Working Americans are worried about money — and their concern is growing.

A climate of financial anxiety prevails  

American workers feel less confident about achieving their financial goals than they did two years ago. In fact, success self-ratings have worsened by nearly 15%-30% on key measures such as:

  • Saving for college education (-27%)
  • Replacing income if seriously ill or injured (-24%)
  • Saving for retirement (-20%)
  • Protecting family with adequate life insurance (-17%)

Financial and health concerns are leading causes of emotional stress  

Working Americans cite money as their #1 worry, followed by family health (#3) and personal health (#5). Yet few indicate healthy habits: only 26% eat well; just 26% exercise; and only 10% participate in employee assistance programs (EAPs) designed to help with emotional wellness and work-life balance.

Nevertheless, a higher overall employee well-being index is attainable

Employers are finding that they can achieve better results by taking a more holistic approach to managing workforce well-being, one that includes a strong financial foundation. Opportunities include:

  • Supporting financial wellness with a variety of efforts including broad insurance benefit options for more adequate protection, college tuition savings plans, financial education, and benefits enrollment support
  • Supporting emotional wellness with EAPs and work-life balance initiatives like tele-commuting, flexible work schedules, and paid family leave
  • Supporting physical wellness with incentive programs, on-site medical centers, and return-to-work accommodations

To be effective, these efforts must be supported by clear, consistent communications that raise awareness and encourage employee participation.


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