73% of Americans say their finances are the No. 1 cause of stress in their lives.  In addition to the damage done by the pandemic, the costs of housing, education, and health care continue to eat away at wages and keep most Americans on the edge of financial disaster, with 69% having less than $1,000 in a savings account.

Employers can help in ways no one else can.  In the same way that medical insurance and retirement plans can be more accessible and less expensive than when purchased on the individual market, employers hold the keys to a plethora of solutions that leverage dollars for their people (and their bottom line).

Group disability, life, dental and vision insurance are all made possible by the employer’s economy of scale—offering plans to a group of people instead of insurance companies having to approach individuals.  Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs), Health Savings Accounts (HSAs), and Dependent Care Accounts (DCAs) are other examples of benefits that create massive potential savings.  Lesser-known options like Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) help provide counseling in times of crisis, discount programs can save people thousands of dollars per year on stuff they would buy anyway, health wellness education and incentives can drive better outcomes.

And the benefits industry continues to innovate.  Programs that offer couples’ counseling, telehealth for mental and physical issues, personal and professional development, and access to earned wages at extremely low cost are all proliferating.

What all of these perks and benefits have in common is that individuals either cannot access them at all, can only acquire them through commissioned salespeople, or must pay a premium for a similar product.

Employers represent economies of scale that create efficiencies for vendors, allowing them to provide opportunities that are unavailable to individuals.  The good news is that employers have both the incentive (to foster engaged, loyal workers) and the resources to help their people achieve significant outcomes at a discount.  The challenge is that there are a dizzying number of these programs and each requires attention and education to in order to extract its value.

But the bottom line is this: if employers do not provide these options for their people, they cannot get them anywhere else.  It is time for employers to embrace this responsibility and opportunity to invest in their workforce and create better outcomes for their people, organizations, and communities.