New survey reveals disconnect between C-suite and employees about financial wellness, growing demand for financial support tools and services

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – February 23, 2021 – Immediate, a financial wellness company, today announced findings from new surveys of 1,250 hourly and salaried workers and 200 CEOs and human resources leaders across five industries. Employee respondents overwhelmingly expressed concern about their current and future financial wellness, and a desire for more financial wellness benefits from employers. Meanwhile, employers revealed an overestimation of their employees’ financial security.

The latest report from Immediate, The unseen costs of financial stress in the workforce, probes workers’ financial pain points and how they’re coping with them today, while assessing the extent to which employers are supporting their teams’ financial wellness.

Key findings include:

Employers overestimate the financial health of their employees, though they admit that requests for pay advances have increased, particularly for higher-income workers

  • The majority (87%) of employers characterize their employees’ financial wellness as good or excellent in the midst of the pandemic, though only 62% of employees would say the same.
  • Almost half (46%) of employers report an increase in requests for pay advances since the start of the pandemic. 84% of employees who have asked for a pay advance at least once say they have needed to do so more frequently since that start of COVID-19.
  • Employees with household incomes of $75k+ report asking for multiple pay advances at a higher rate than those who make less than 50k. 
  • 24% of those making $75-$100k, and 26% of those making $100k+ have requested pay advances six or more times.
  • Despite this, more than a third of employers do not offer pay advances, or lack a standard process for offering them.
  • Just under half (40%) of employers offer no employee benefits for financial wellness.

Unexpected financial needs are the norm for employees

  • More than 80% of employees surveyed say that they have experienced at least one unexpected financial need in the past 12 months. About half of employees faced this six times or more in the same time period—or about once every other month.
  • Three-quarters (75%) of employees surveyed feel concerned about their financial stability this year; 36% of salaried workers say they are very concerned.
  • Nearly 60% of employees who say they are very concerned with their financial stability in 2021 are part of households that make over $75,000 a year.

Financial stress negatively impacts employees’ physical and mental health, affects job performance

  • More than 75% of employees report that financial struggles negatively impact their physical health, while 80% say these negatively impact their mental health.
  • The large majority (93%) of employees say financial concerns impact their job performance, with 55% who say it does so often or very often.
  • More than half (54%) of healthcare employees said financial stress impacts their attention at work with about a third (34%) saying this is often or very often the case; 63% of healthcare workers say financial stress affects their on-the-job performance.
  • More than a quarter of workers would delay medical care if faced with an unexpected healthcare cost, with salaried employees slightly more likely to delay treatment than hourly workers.

About 4 in 5 say an earned wage access (EWA) solution would help alleviate their financial stress

  • A majority of employees (77%) say that an EWA solution would help alleviate their financial stress, and 68% are willing to pay for this benefit themselves.
  • For those who currently have access to EWA, 89% say they take advantage of the benefit, and 67% do so at least once a month.
  • Most of the employees surveyed (80%) say they would prioritize an employer that offers an EWA solution over one that does not.
  • Meanwhile, almost half (46%) of HR leaders said offering competitive benefits will continue to be one of their top three challenges in 2021.

“In a pandemic, it’s shocking that so many CEOs and HR leaders think their employees are in excellent financial health,” said Matt Pierce, Immediate founder and CEO. “They have a much bigger problem than they’re aware of, when 9 in 10 employees are saying financial stress impacts their job performance. You know that’s going to hit a business’ bottom line, or worse, in the healthcare industry, cause a negative patient outcome. With resources like earned wage access available, which cost a company nothing, there is no reason this should happen, especially when they can make such a significant positive impact on employees’ lives.”

“These unprecedented times are producing vulnerable employees that need help,” said Mason Beard, chief strategy officer at Immediate. “It’s an opportunity for employers—by answering that call, they will create gratitude which strengthens employee loyalty. Loyal employees help optimize business performance.”



In November 2020, Immediate commissioned research and strategy firm Sage Growth Partners to conduct two surveys: one of 1,250 employees across the country and another of 200 employers, including CEOs and HR leaders. Respondents represented a range of company sizes and industries, including healthcare, retail, hospitality, and manufacturing. For more details on methodology, please download the full report here.