Skip to content

The link between health, wealth and wellbeing


By Colin Brennan
Share

It’s a common story: An employee gets sick, triggering unexpected medical bills. Scrambling to cover the expense, they take money out of their 401(k) or fall into debt. Now, they have money worries in addition to their health concerns. The resulting mental and physical anxiety affects their on-the-job performance and how they present themselves to their customers and colleagues.

Physical, emotional, and financial health are intricately intertwined. When our physical health is good, we feel more in control of our lives. This positive outlook motivates us to adopt healthy habits, like regular exercise, healthy eating and making sound financial decisions. That creates an overall sense of wellbeing and a reduced risk for diabetes, hypertension, heart disease and other chronic ailments.

Poor physical health, on the other hand, often leads to depression and anxiety, which causes even more health problems, including gastrointestinal issues, insomnia, obesityand a weakened immune system. There’s also a heightened risk of alcoholism, drug abuse and emotional spending.

According to a study by the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute (MMHPI), the vast majority of people (93%) admit to spending more money when they’re depressed. Chronic stress spending – or even one major, overly extravagant purchase – can cause significant financial difficulties, which in turn leads to more anxiety and depression and a decline in physical health.

So, how can employers drive employees to engage with the benefits that will support their overall health, financial wellness and wellbeing? Personalization holds the key.

Personalized, high-touch assistance goes a long way when employees are dealing with stressful medical matters.

The power of personalization

Employees give little thought to their benefit options, except during open enrollment or when they encounter a situation involving their physical or financial health. When they do engage, employees may have to navigate 30 (or more) programs, platforms or systems. The majority of people don’t have the time, patience or insights to determine which options make the most sense for the coming year, let alone in a moment of crisis.

Advances in technology have given employers the ability to help each employee make proactive and confident health and wealth decisions in all situations – whether they are managing a crisis or recovering afterward. Much like Spotify offers music suggestions based on someone’s listening history, artificial intelligence (AI) uses health and financial data to anticipate an employee’s health, wealth and wellbeing needs and provides personalized recommendations.

Studies have shown employees are increasingly willing to share health and wealth data with their employers to enhance their experience. According to the 2022 Alight International Workforce and Wellbeing Mindset Study:

72%

would be willing to share health information in exchange for personalized guidance.

68%

would be comfortable sharing financial information in exchange for personalized assistance with financial planning.

75%

would be comfortable receiving personalized outreach from a qualified nurse following a medical diagnosis.

Technology plays a major role in delivering targeted and timely information. However, personalized, high-touch assistance goes a long way when employees are dealing with stressful medical matters.

Here at Alight, for example, one of our employees received the devastating news that her son had cancer. The doctor who made the diagnosis recommended an invasive, risky, costly treatment. Fortunately, she was able to receive a second opinion through our navigation services, which includes the opportunity to consult with qualified physicians at no cost. Through this resource, she received the recommendation of an equally effective, less costly, less invasive procedure for her son.

The link between physical, emotional and financial wellbeing is strong. When people feel positive about their wellbeing, they thrive – at work and in their personal lives. Through personalized guidance and resources, employers can empower employees to make confident decisions that improve their wellbeing and enable them to live their best lives.

Colin Brennan (US)
Colin Brennan (US)
By Colin Brennan

In his role as chief product strategy and services officer, Colin Brennan leads Alight’s value engineering capabilities, strategic advisory and global human capital and business solutions. Colin and his team partner with clients to design and implement solutions that drive better outcomes for their people and organizations. Bringing together data and analytics capabilities across the full suite of Alight’s solutions, they derive critical insights and help clients take action to respond in the present and prepare for the future.

Related reads


Driving wellbeing with a personalized life stage-based approach

Data and technology enable companies to personalize benefits based on employee life stages, promoting a healthier, more financially secure workforce.

Let’s get personal: tailoring employee benefits to individuals

Many leading companies are seeking to avoid the big quit by improving the employee experience.

Let’s get personal: tailoring employee benefits to individuals

Many leading companies are seeking to avoid the big quit by improving the employee experience.