Modern employers know that employee engagement is key to a productive and stable workplace. A recent Gallup report showed that on average, highly engaged teams are 14% to 18% more productive than less-engaged teams. And effective engagement goes beyond surface level efforts and takes a holistic approach to employee wellbeing, including creating an environment that prioritizes mental health.  

Stress is a huge factor in an individuals’ mental health. It can negatively affect many aspects of daily life, including employee performance and productivity, and can be triggered by many things. Money is a big one. 

According to the American Psychological Association (APA)’s recent Stress in America survey,  65% of all adults noted money as a source of stress. Break it down into the age groups that make up a large portion of the workforce and that percentage goes up. 82% of adults ages 18 to 25 and 81% of adults ages 26 to 43 noted money as a significant source of stress. 

It’s no wonder this is the case. Early adulthood is when many people make some of the largest financial decisions of their lives. They purchase homes, get married, start a family –  or sometimes all three! Not to mention the ever-present debt cloud of student loans, car payments, credit card bills, etc.

Everyone deals with stress. And the workplace isn’t exempt from the influence of everyday stressors, no matter how much traditional corporate culture, or popular TV shows, would have us all pretend that our work life and home life can be kept completely separate. Each employee is a multi-dimensional person doing their best to handle their responsibilities and look for balance (and some joy) along the way. 

So, what if employers acknowledged the stress their employees were dealing with, and sought out ways to alleviate some of the burden?

Left unchecked, stress can exacerbate other health concerns like high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes. Employers do their employees a disservice in more ways than one when the office culture doesn’t address stress or support initiatives that encourage employees to prioritize their mental health. Taking steps to destigmatize mental health in office culture is an important first step. From there, much good can be done. 

One practical way that employers can help is by trying to reduce employees’ financial stress. Offering a vesting bonus as part of a comprehensive compensation strategy can help ease employees’ mental strain – giving them a lump sum of cash, earned over time, that they can use immediately to enhance their financial position. Paying off bills, starting to invest, buying a home – essentially increasing one’s net worth and reducing debt – can all lead to a healthier financial future. And an employer that offers that opportunity to their employees is showing them that they work for a company that cares about their lives beyond the 9-5.