Fortune 500 HR execs share the top employee benefits to offer amid financial instability

Workplace illustration
Financial well-being has emerged as a key benefit focus.
Illustration by Studio Muti

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There are two types of employee benefits—those that attract employees and those that retain employees. As talk of a recession continues, more employers are shifting resources to benefits that will help keep talent amid an ever-tight labor market.

This pivot means more benefits to help relieve everyday stressors, like finances, and learning resources to support a long and sustained career at a given company. In interviews with nine Fortune 500 people executives, one recurring benefit emerged: financial wellness. That’s not entirely surprising, given the broader economic climate. Meanwhile, flashy offerings like catered lunches, monthly book subsidies, and remote work stipends have fallen by the wayside—many of which were pandemic-era holdovers.

Younger workers especially feel that their paychecks are stretched thin. Thirty-nine percent of Gen Z and 34% of millennial workers report that finances are a leading cause of stress, according to a recent survey by Cigna. Companies are responding in kind. Citi is providing employees with additional financial literacy programs and has hired financial counselors to support workers.

“If colleagues are stressed about their financial health, they will not be at their best at work,” Citi’s head of human resources, Sara Wechter, tells Fortune. The bank offers a virtual agent that helps staff members find the most cost-effective benefits plan to suit their needs and saw its highest utilization rate in the past year.

Learning and development and mental health benefits also received honorable mentions from HR heads who spoke with Fortune. Charter Communications nearly doubled its tuition reimbursement to $10,000 annually and upped its investments in skills training.

As for mental wellness, AbbVie expanded its well-being offerings, increasing caregiver leave, and the number of mental health sessions and services employees can access.

“We’re focusing resources on understanding and acting on what makes our best talent want to stay,” says AbbVie’s chief human resources officer, Tim Richmond.

Amber Burton

Check out the latest Fortune @ Work playbook to learn more about how HR heads are leading in a time of economic uncertainty. The Fortune @ Work playbook is a quarterly must-read guide for executives, featuring case studies, data, and insights on how leaders are tackling the thorniest people issues while driving business innovation.

Reporter's Notebook

The most compelling data, quotes, and insights from the field.

The number of companies disclosing workforce demographic data, including race, ethnicity, and gender, tripled from 2021 to 2022, from 11% to 34%, according to JUST Capital's annual EEO-1 analysis. And companies that do reap the benefits. 

“Companies that disclose EEO-1 or similar intersectional data outperform those that don’t by 7.9% over the trailing one-year period ending in 2022,” writes the report’s authors.

Around the Table

A round-up of the most important HR headlines, studies, podcasts, and long-reads.

- Google reportedly plans to cut medical leave for laid-off employees after saying it would honor those commitments. CNBC

- Women faced increased workplace violence between 2011 and 2020, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data. Washington Post

- Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg told employees he's considering updating its remote work policy, although he won’t eliminate it entirely. Insider

- Delta started an in-house training program to teach employees data analytics skills. It received 750 applications for just 12 spots. Listen time: 26 min. MIT Sloan Management Review


Everything you need to know from Fortune.

Wage inequality narrows. The pandemic reduced wage inequality in the U.S. by about a quarter, reversing a 40-year trend. —Geoff Colvin

Moms and mental health. Forty-two percent of working mothers were diagnosed with anxiety or depression in 2022 compared with 28% of the general population, according to a Harris Poll survey commissioned by CVS Health. —L’Oreal Thompson Payton  

$100k club. A six-figure salary seems like a lot of money, but that might depend on where you live. In New York, it’s the equivalent of $35,791. —Chloe Berger

Googlers unite. About 1,400 Alphabet employees signed a petition criticizing the company’s treatment of staff during January layoffs.—Olivia Solon

This is the web version of CHRO Daily, a newsletter focusing on helping HR executives navigate the needs of the workplace. Today’s edition was curated by Paolo Confino. Sign up to get it delivered free to your inbox.

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