Recruiting and retaining top talent remains a priority for companies of all sizes, and employers from all sectors are turning to non-traditional employee benefits — including financial wellness benefits — as a talent incentive. Earlier this year, PNC conducted a Financial Wellness in the Workplace Study that surveyed 500 organizations with revenue of at least $5 million and 1,000 of their employees to better understand how financial wellness is being prioritized and addressed in the workplace. Here are some of the key findings that emerged:

From an employee point of view:

  • 90% of employees surveyed say they are negatively affected by inflation;
  • 80% say they would stay longer with an employer that offered more financial wellness benefits;
  • 45% feel unprepared for the future, but most have no plan to fix it; and
  • Only 22% worked with a financial professional in the last three years.

From an employer point of view:

  • 75% of those surveyed say workers’ financial stress negatively impacts business;
  • 96% say financial wellness benefits improve retention; and
  • 75% are worried about a recession in the near future.

These findings underscore that both employers and employees are concerned about the impacts of inflation and a potential recession and provide important insights and direction to business leaders about how to address the repercussions of financial stress in their business.

Here are a few key takeaways for businesses to consider: 

While 75% of surveyed employers are worried about recession, they say they have been planning ahead, with half saying their fiscal situation is better than it was a year ago.

Stephanie Novosel, head of PNC Commercial Banking, notes that while business leaders might be worried about the macroeconomic environment, the upside is that this environment can be a catalyst for good planning. “Common topics of discussion with PNC clients right now focus on reviewing margins and expenses, evaluating growth goals and timing of special projects, streamlining and automating processes, supporting employees with benefits and resources, and staying informed about the landscape in order to stay ahead of the curve,” she says.

On the positive side, survey results show that employers remain focused on supporting their employees, with 94% of employers placing a great deal or some responsibility on themselves to offer financial wellness benefits.

Novosel believes the tight labor market is a contributor to this finding, given the importance of attracting and retaining talent. The challenge many surveyed employers conveyed is that they are unsure of best practices in what to offer employees that will have a meaningful impact, since finances are very personal and specific to individual situations. “Employers might feel that they are not directly responsible for how employees manage their personal finances, but an employer can stand out and show they care by offering expert resources to help employees with their financial wellness,” says Novosel.

The survey found that 8 in 10 employers believe their employees are at least somewhat financially prepared for the future — compared to just 5 in 10 employees who say they feel prepared. What might account for this disparity between employers and employees?

Novosel believes this disconnect may stem from the subjectivity of what “prepared” means to different people. In employers’ minds, being financially prepared may mean sitting down with a professional financial planner and creating a plan, but many employees may feel like this option is not accessible to them. They may be more interested in access to self-service educational resources on different ways to invest, or what options exist for things like student debt repayment. “Employers can help by providing resources that go beyond traditional financial planning,” Novosel offers.

In terms of being prepared, most employees (68%) cited “saving enough” as their biggest financial concern. From a macroeconomic perspective, how does this correlate with the U.S. personal savings rate and where might consumers be struggling the most?

According to Amanda Agati, Chief Investment Officer for PNC’s Asset Management Group, savings rates, as a percentage of disposable income, are up compared to last year, but they have come down compared to the peak in 2020 and are well below the long-term 30-year average, as consumers contend with higher inflation and interest rates. Savings can certainly have an impact for potential buyers looking to purchase a home, as interest rates are also greatly affecting housing affordability. Many homeowners took advantage of lower rates over the last few years to refinance, and this has helped keep consumers financially healthy in this late stage of the current economic cycle. However, Agati points out, as rates have gone up, many would-be homebuyers may be priced out of the market, and this is likely to have a longer-term effect on consumer spending and a multiplier effect on home ownership and family formation.

Survey results showed that 96% of employers believe additional financial wellness benefits would positively impact satisfaction and retention, and 80% of employees say they would stay longer with an employer that offered more financial wellness benefits.

Financial wellness benefits are a critical component to helping empower employees to feel more financially secure and helping employers retain and attract talent. While there is no one-size-fits-all approach to implementing a financial wellness program, Kaley Keeley, head of PNC Organizational Financial Wellness, cites five priorities that can help employers make an impact and bridge the divide between what employees need and what employers offer:

  • Financial education and counseling;
  • Emergency savings accounts;
  • Debt consolidation;
  • Equity compensation; and
  • Retirement fund matching.

Learn more about the results and information gathered from the 2023 Financial Wellness in the Workplace Webinar: What U.S. Employees Want (And Need).

Ready to Help

Through PNC Organizational Financial Wellness, employers can offer meaningful options that help attract, retain, and motivate talent, including bank-at-work programs, health savings accounts, student debt assistance, online financial education, retirement plan services, and personalized guidance for employees with complex banking needs. For more information, visit