News, Syndicated Studies

Survey: Majority of Workers Worry About Household Finances and Debt

Majorities Also Concerned about Workplace Well-Being, Reduced Hours, and Layoffs

Washington, DC (October 5, 2023) – The majority of American workers are concerned about their household’s financial well-being and more than three out of four say their debt level is a problem, according to the just-published Workplace Wellness Survey.

Major findings from the 2023 Workplace Wellness Survey, a joint project of Greenwald Research and the Employee Benefit Research Institute,  identify the major financial stressors as having enough savings for an emergency, paying monthly bills, saving enough for retirement, debt, and job or income security.

The challenge for employers extends beyond workers’ financial concerns. “A third of workers report concern about their emotional well-being or mental health, and half say they often or always feel stressed – and that impacts their performance at work,” says Greenwald Research CEO Lisa Greenwald. “But workers are torn on how well their employer communicates about mental health and work-life balance. Only 37% rate their employer’s communication as excellent or very good, while a nearly equal number – 35% — rate it as fair or poor.”

The fourth Workplace Wellness Survey examines worker attitudes toward employment-based benefits as well as financial well-being, health insurance and retirement benefits issues. Major findings from this year’s survey include:

  • More than half of survey respondents (52%) expressed moderate to high concern over their household’s financial well-being, down from 60% last year, perhaps due to improvements in the overall economy. But majorities say they continue to be concerned about inflation, a possible recession, and rising housing costs. They also worry about the possibility that employers will reduce hours and benefits, cut wages, and lay workers off. More than half of workers (57%) do not feel financially prepared for reduced hours or temporary unemployment.
  • A large majority of workers (76%) consider their level of debt a problem, with majorities specifically citing credit card debt and medical or health-related debt. Nearly half (46%) say a health emergency has contributed to their debt.
  • Just over half (51%) of workers are satisfied with their current jobs, down from 59% last year. A similar number say they are likely to stay with their current employer for the next two years.
  • Nearly eight in 10 workers are at least somewhat satisfied with their employee benefits package, similar to last year. More than half of employees (54%) say a greater financial contribution from their employer would be a valuable improvement to benefits programs – up markedly from 42% last year.
  • Health insurance and retirement plans are cited as the most important benefits, followed by paid time off, dental or vision insurance, and flexible work (hybrid or remote) arrangements.
  • Company culture is cited by 61% of respondents as having the greatest negative impact on their overall well-being. Only 22% say it has a positive impact. Family – cited by 85% – has the greatest positive impact.
  • One in four American workers is an unpaid caregiver to a family member, devoting an average of 21 hours per week to caregiving duties. Of that group, 44% have spent their own money on caregiving expenses, 25% have reduced their work hours, 20% have taken on additional debt, and 18% have reduced the amount they contribute to their retirement savings plan.
  • Nearly seven in 10 workers (68%) agree that their employer has a responsibility to ensure their employees are financially secure and well. An even higher number (79%) believe their employer has a responsibility to make sure employees are mentally healthy and emotionally well, while 74% say that responsibility extends to physical health.
  • Only 44% of workers say their employer offers a financial wellness program, down from 56% last year. Nearly half (47%) say their employers offer health wellness programs. Nearly six in 10 workers rate their employer’s efforts to help their financial well-being as at least good, down slightly from 2022. Regarding employer efforts to help improve emotional and mental well-being, 63% say those efforts are good or better this year, compared to 72% in 2022. Sixty-nine percent rated employer efforts to improve physical well-being as good or better, comparable to last year.

A short report of detailed findings of the 2023 Workplace Wellness Survey are available online. The survey was conducted with the financial support of AARP, Bank of America, Cigna, Fidelity Investments, Mercer, Morgan Stanley, NRECA, OneAmerica, Voya Financial, Merck, New York Life, and Unum.

About the Survey

Greenwald Research conducted online interviews with 1,505 full-time and part-time workers ages 21-64, including 753 caregiver workers, from July 8 through August 1, 2023. The margin of error (at the 95% confidence level) is plus or minus 2.6 percentage points.

Greenwald Research is a leading independent custom research firm and consulting partner to the health and wealth industries that applies creative quantitative and qualitative methods to produce knowledge that helps companies stay competitive and navigate industry change. By leveraging deep subject matter expertise and a trusted consultative approach, Greenwald offers comprehensive services for weaving rich research stories that answer strategic business questions.

The Employee Benefit Research Institute is a non-profit, independent, and unbiased resource organization that provides the most authoritative and objective information about critical issues relating employee benefit programs in the United States.  For more information, visit

Herb Perone