Understanding employee financial stress and a call to action

Employee financial stress is at an all-time high, with 62% saying they are stressed about their financial situation.1 While increasing financial anxiety is no surprise given the current inflationary climate and uncertainty about the economy, its impact on employees’ overall well-being and success in the workplace demands a closer look. The struggle to pay everyday expenses is limiting employees’ ability to save for long-term needs like retirement. In addition, increased stress is taking a toll on workforce mental and physical health, which can impact morale and productivity.

To better understand the financial challenges faced by employees and ways we can help support them, Bank of America analyzed the financial wellness of 401(k) participants on our recordkept platform through the lens of generation, gender and income. We are sharing the findings of the study in our recently published report, Employee Financial Wellness in America.


of employees live paycheck to paycheck2


of employees do not pay off their credit cards in full every month3


of employees have less than one month of emergency savings4


of employees are on track for retirement5

Estimated $40 billion in lost productivity due to employee financial stress in 2022.6

The study also defines the six dimensions of our Financial Wellness Framework and identifies key behaviors that serve as a roadmap to help employees develop good financial habits. Adopting the behaviors in one dimension can help employees manage short-term financial needs, which can then help them make progress on their long-term goals. Helping employees improve their financial health can lead to less stress—and greater workforce morale and engagement.

Key takeaways

  • Download Employee Financial Wellness in America.
  • Learn more about employee financial wellness through a look at key plan metrics, such as contribution rates, loans and hardship withdrawals, in our inaugural 401(k) Participant Pulse.
  • Discuss the implications of these findings and your plan health data with your Bank of America representative and work together to implement strategies that can help improve your financial wellness programs.

1 Bank of America, Workplace Benefits Report, 2022.

2 Bank of America, Financial Wellness Tracker, 2022.

3 Bank of America Financial Wellness Tracker for the period June 2020 to June 2022. Based on the responses of 316,000 401(k) participants. Calculations by CIO Portfolio Analytics.

4 Findings consistent with the Federal Reserve Board report “The Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households,” May 2022. 32% of American adults wouldn’t be able to cover a $400 emergency that they could quickly pay off.

5 On track for retirement: Current retirement savings as a percent of target retirement savings is greater than 50%. Target retirement savings is how much an employee should have saved to be on track for retirement, given their current age and income. As an employee ages, the target retirement savings increases.

6 Financial Post, “Workers are stressing out over their finances—and it’s costing employers billions,” November 2022.