Workplace financial wellbeing interventions for young workers

A review of the evidence and analysis of Britain's Healthiest Workplace (BHW) and Asia's Healthiest Workplace (AHW) surveys

by Jennifer Bousfield, William D. Phillips, Camilla d'Angelo, Christian Van Stolk

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Research Questions

  1. What is the likely or proven impact of workplace financial wellbeing interventions on preventing and/or addressing anxiety and depression in young workers?
  2. Which groups of workers are most likely to benefit from WFWI?

Financial wellbeing is defined as the ability to meet current and ongoing financial obligations, feel secure in one's financial future and make choices that allow enjoyment of life. The proportion of young workers globally with financial concerns is high, and the link between financial concerns and mental health is well known. Workplace financial wellbeing interventions (WFWI) are a potentially promising approach to prevent and address mental health problems in young workers. There is, however, a lack of consolidated learning about their effectiveness on the mental health of this group of workers. In this report, we present analysis of Britain's Healthiest Workplace (BHW) and Asia's Healthiest Workplace (AHW) survey data and the findings of a literature review (including a Rapid Evidence Assessment). Our analysis of the survey data showed that participation in WFWI is associated with better mental health. In addition, we found that participation is associated more strongly with better mental health amongst certain subgroups (such as 18–24-year olds and those with low incomes), although some of these findings do differ according to whether the UK or Asian sample is concerned. Literature on existing studies in this area suggests that these interventions have a positive impact on mental health. It is, however, important to acknowledge the small number of relevant studies identified, and the risk of bias in these. From our findings we produce recommendations for employers and highlight this as an important area for further research.

Key Findings

Participation in workplace financial wellbeing interventions is associated with better mental health, based on our analysis of survey data

  • Our analysis of BHW and AHW survey data shows that participation in WFWI is associated with better mental health. The total sample for our analysis of survey data to explore the effectiveness of WFWI was 51,384 employees from 242 companies in BHW and 35,589 employees from 444 companies in AHW.

Some groups are more likely to benefit from workplace financial wellbeing interventions than others and the most appropriate type of intervention may depend on the socio-demographic characteristics of workers

  • We found that participation is associated more strongly with better mental health amongst certain subgroups, such as 18–24-year olds, those with low incomes, workers who do not have a university degree, are from an ethnic minority background, or believe there is discrimination in the workplace. Some of these findings, however, differ according to whether the UK or Asian sample is concerned. A one-size-fits-all or generic approach to WFWI for young employees is not appropriate and interventions may be more effective if tailored to the needs and characteristics of employees.

These early findings suggest WFWI are a promising approach, but further research is needed

  • Our findings suggest that WFWI are a potentially promising approach, but overall, evidence of the effectiveness of WFWI on the mental health of young workers is lacking and there is a pressing need for further evidence.

Recommendations

  • Evidence suggests that WFWI are a promising approach for preventing and addressing mental health problems in young workers and these should be considered by employers.
  • WFWI may gain improved outcomes by delivering personalised and culturally appropriate approaches.
  • Employers should offer a range of WIFI, create educational content suitable for young workers and make attempts to increase awareness and tackle barriers to participation in their workforce.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One

    Executive summary

  • Chapter Two

    Introduction and background

  • Chapter Three

    Evidence of the effectiveness of WFWI

  • Chapter Four

    Discussion and key messages for employers

Research conducted by

This research was funded by Wellcome and conducted by RAND Europe.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation Research report series. RAND reports present research findings and objective analysis that address the challenges facing the public and private sectors. All RAND reports undergo rigorous peer review to ensure high standards for research quality and objectivity.

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