Employees are more satisfied with work, but financial security concerns remain high, according to a Mercer survey
October 30, 2023
United States, New York
- Covering monthly expenses still tops employees’ concerns, followed by the ability to retire
- The number of employees planning to stay with their employer has risen to 68%, though it remains lower than in 2021
- Employees who work from the office four days a week are the most engaged and satisfied
According to Mercer’s 2023-2024 Inside Employees’ Minds© study, US employers’ investments in pay, benefits, and flexibility have resulted in employees having more positive attitudes about work this year. Concurrently, financial stressors remain a top concern across all demographics as many employees are struggling with making ends meet, increased debt and rising healthcare costs.
“This year’s data indicate that we are settling into a new way of working and living – one where people prioritize their well-being amidst uncertainty, and where there is an increasingly stark divide between lower-income employees and the rest of the workforce in terms of the ability to survive and thrive,” said Lauren Mason, Senior Principal in Mercer’s Career Business.
Satisfaction is up amidst total rewards investments
The study found the number of employees who are planning to stay with their employer has increased to 68%, compared to 64% last year – but still remains below 2021 levels of 72%. Pay and benefits continue to be the top reason employees are attracted to an organization – and the top reason they stay.
Over the last year, employers delivered the largest pay increases since the 2008 financial crisis, while also making significant investments in total rewards, which has contributed to higher satisfaction with compensation, benefits, and career opportunities this year, as well as a greater sense of work-life balance and belonging. The study also found pay transparency has benefits – employees who believe they are paid fairly were twice as likely to have been provided with pay data from their employer – and were also 85% more engaged and 62% more committed to their organization.
Still struggling with financial security
Employees are significantly more concerned about personal debt than they were in 2021, and it is the #2 concern of lower-income employees (defined in this report as those making less than $60k per year). Additionally, more than half of employees across all pay levels report reducing their discretionary spending (51%), and another 37% report they have reduced savings or tapped into their current savings due to continued high inflation.
Another financial concern amongst employees involves healthcare affordability. Twenty-five percent of employees say they can’t afford the healthcare they need and that number increases to half (49%) at the lowest income levels (those making less than $30K per year).
Long-term financial security, focused on the ability to retire, remains employees’ #2 concern overall, for two years in a row. Retirement benefits are among the top three reasons employees stay with their organization, behind only pay and healthcare benefits.
Working towards wellness
Outside of financial security, ‘workload and life balance’ is a leading concern for employees. Employees again ranked mental health among their top 5 concerns in this year’s survey. Mental health worries are more pronounced among young employees, LGBTQ+, Black women, people with disabilities, and the lowest earners.
Employees say more flexible and more balanced work will help support their mental health and ease burnout. The top three benefits or actions employees report will help them the most are more time off, reduced workload, and more resources.
Hybrid work pays off
Mixed feelings about AI
Overall, employees are more optimistic than pessimistic about new technologies. More than half (51%) of employees say that new technologies, such as automation, AI, and robotics will help them do their jobs more efficiently and effectively, while only 35% say these technologies will make their jobs more frustrating or difficult.
On average, employees are tied in their concern about new technology’s impact on job security: 41% of employees think their job security will be impacted, 41% don’t.