Paid Sick Leave Heading into COVID-19

Paid sick leave is vital for controlling the spread of illness in the workplace and an invaluable public health tool, but too few workers have access to it. In this brief, we examine the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic to assess paid sick leave coverage with a focus on the social and economic characteristics of […]

Vaccine hesitance during COVID-19

As rates of vaccination have slowed, concerns are growing about how to increase vaccine uptake among those who are vaccine hesitant, particularly with the emergence of new and contagious variants such as Delta. Using our national Socioeconomic Impacts of COVID-19 Survey, we examine the predictors of vaccine hesitance in the U.S. and report on findings […]

Use of Public Benefits Over the First Year of Pandemic

In response to the economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. federal government enacted initiatives designed to help households weather the pandemic’s effects. These initiatives included expansions of existing programs, such as unemployment insurance, as well as new programs like the economic impact payments. In this brief, we investigate the extent to which […]

Impact of COVID-19 on Households with Children

The COVID-19 pandemic caused major disruptions in employment, child care and education. As a result, both parents and children experienced a variety of hardships in their work and education. While these hardships had reverberating effects throughout households, they were not equally distributed across families with children. In this brief, we explore the effects of COVID-19 […]

Employment Changes During COVID-19

Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, U.S. unemployment peaked at 14.4%. While some workers have returned to payrolls, others have been left behind. This brief examines the nuances of employment changes over the course of the pandemic and the impact of those changes on household financial well-being. Our study finds that the proportion of employees who […]

Housing Hardships During COVID-19

Even prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, U.S. households were burdened by the cost of rental and mortgage payments, burdens which disproportionately fell on Black and Hispanic families. Using a 5-wave survey, we examined whether disparities in housing cost burden continued throughout the pandemic and trends in how households fell behind on rent and mortgage payments. […]

The Socioeconomic Impacts of COVID-19 Study: Survey Methodology Report

When COVID-19 was declared a pandemic, and economic shutdowns began in March 2020, households across the United States were faced with an unprecedented crisis that would affect their health, financial security and overall well-being for an unforeseeable amount of time. In order to examine and track the wide-ranging impacts of the pandemic on households, as […]

Fintech as a Solution for Employee Financial Health: Findings from Five Exploratory Studies

The financial technology (fintech) sector has grown rapidly in recent years. Awareness and use of fintech has grown as companies in this sector have increased their user-friendly design, convenience, and accessibility. A unique fintech niche that has developed rapidly alongside the overall industry is known as “employer-channel fintech.” Offered by employers, these solutions or benefits […]

Saving for a Rainy Day: Making it Easier for Employees to Build Emergency Savings

In this study, we examined Onward, an employer-based mobile app that enables workers to save via payroll deduction and receive financial education and coaching as a means to address financial challenges such as difficulty paying bills on time, managing debt, and accruing savings. An important feature of Onward is that employees can save automatically through […]

Financing Workers’ Health Care Cash Flow Needs: A Pilot Study

MedPut offers a way for employees to pay their out-of-pocket health care expenses through payroll deducted or Health Savings Account (HSA) payments capped at 5% of gross pay. Employees that use MedPut are much more likely to report having problems paying medical bills and to report putting off health care due to cost concerns. Nearly […]

Don’t Cash Out or Leave Them Behind: A Pilot Study of a 401k Plan Transfer Digital Platform

In this study, we examined Manifest, a digital platform that makes it easier for employees to transfer 401k retirement accounts when they change jobs. Transferring accounts reduces the likelihood employees cash out and helps them consolidate their retirement savings. We examined 401k plan activity among nearly 15,000 employees of a private university over a four-year […]

From Financial Struggle to Short-Term Financial Relief – An Exploratory Study on Small-Dollar Lending for Low-and Moderate-Income Employees

In this study, we examined HoneyBee, a service company that provides access to 0% APR loans and financial coaching through the workplace. HoneyBee aims to offer employees in need a more affordable credit alternative to payday and auto title loans and therefore help addressing significant cash flow emergencies. Data for this exploratory study included 65 […]

Employer-Sponsored Financial Planning: A Study of the Brightside Platform

In this report, we explore employee usage trends of Brightside, an employee financial health platform that is designed to improve the financial health of working families. Using this platform, employees can open “cases” to address a financial need or goal they have. Brightside connects these employees with financial assistants who, in turn, connect the employees […]

Nudging Parents to Improve Children’s Oral Health: A Field Study

This research brief is part of a series by the Social Impact Nudgeathon initiative. This initiative incorporated insights from behavioral economics into the design and delivery of social welfare programs. Developed through a partnership between the Joint Distribution Committee in Israel (JDC-Israel) and the Social Policy Institute (SPI) at Washington University in St. Louis, this initiative is among the first of its kind to launch in Israel. […]

Increasing Successful Completion of Practical Engineering Diploma Programs

This research brief is part of a series by the Social Impact Nudgeathon initiative. This initiative incorporated insights from behavioral economics into the design and delivery of social welfare programs. Developed through a partnership between the Joint Distribution Committee in Israel (JDC-Israel) and the Social Policy Institute (SPI) at Washington University in St. Louis, this initiative is among the first of its kind to launch in Israel. […]

Employee Financial Wellness Programs: tips for providers

There are several types of Employee Financial Wellness Programs (EFWPs), such as workplace financial counseling, workplace credit building, and employer-sponsored small dollar loans. Each program benefits the company and its employees in different ways.

The Social Policy Institute at Washington University in St. Louis, with generous support from the W. K. Kellogg Foundation, studied the implementation of EFWPs at several diverse organizations, including a nonprofit in the Midwest and several supply chain locations of a national retailer, to understand the impact. As a result, we’ve identified five ways in which providers can maximize the benefits of EFWPs and avoid pitfalls along the way.

Employee Financial Wellness Programs: tips for employers

There are several types of Employee Financial Wellness Programs (EFWPs), such as workplace financial counseling, workplace credit building, and employer-sponsored small dollar loans. Each program benefits the company and its employees in different ways.

The Social Policy Institute at Washington University in St. Louis, with generous support from the W. K. Kellogg Foundation, studied the implementation of EFWPs at several diverse organizations, including a nonprofit in the Midwest and several supply chain locations of a national retailer, to understand the impact. As a result, we’ve identified four ways in which organizations can maximize the benefits of EFWPs and avoid pitfalls along the way.

Improving Educational and Career Opportunities for Youth with Disabilities in the Future Trend Program

This research brief is part of a series by the Social Impact Nudgeathon initiative. This initiative incorporated insights from behavioral economics into the design and delivery of social welfare programs. Developed through a partnership between the Joint Distribution Committee in Israel (JDC-Israel) and the Social Policy Institute (SPI) at Washington University in St. Louis, this initiative is among the first of its kind to launch in Israel. […]

Improving the Take-Up of Homecare Services Among Holocaust Survivors in a Jewish Charitable Organization

This research brief is part of a series by the Social Impact Nudgeathon initiative. This initiative incorporated insights from behavioral economics into the design and delivery of social welfare programs. Developed through a partnership between the Joint Distribution Committee in Israel (JDC-Israel) and the Social Policy Institute (SPI) at Washington University in St. Louis, this initiative is among the first of its kind to launch in Israel. […]

How Do the Lives of Participants in a Housing Mobility Program Change after They Move? A Case Study of the Mobility Connection Program

This brief outlines the results of an assessment of Mobility Connection, a housing mobility program in St. Louis, Missouri. Mobility Connection is administered through Ascend STL and this assessment was conducted in partnership with the Social Policy Institute at Washington University in St. Louis. Our research focused on answering the following questions: How do Mobility […]

Credit-building services for employees: An assessment of engagement and outcomes

This is one research brief in a series of five completed through the Employee Financial Wellness Programs Project. In this study, we examine administrative data for national nonprofit Working Credit’s employee benefit, which combines credit building education, one-on-one counseling, and access to financial products to help workers establish good credit. Working Credit offers credit-building services […]

Workplace credit-building counseling at a Midwest employer: An assessment of take-up, engagement, and outcomes

This is one research brief in a series of five completed through the Employee Financial Wellness Programs Project. In this study, we focus on a workplace credit-building counseling program. This service is offered by a non-profit service provider that combines credit-building education, one-on-one counseling, and access to financial products to help low-income workers establish good […]

Financial counseling for low- and moderate-income home health care employees: An assessment of take-up, engagement, and outcomes

This is one research brief in a series of five completed through the Employee Financial Wellness Programs Project. In this study, we analyze administrative data and interviews regarding Trusted Advisor, a workplace financial wellness benefit offering one-on-one counseling linked to vetted financial tools. The purpose of this study was to examine take-up, engagement, and financial […]

Employer-sponsored small-dollar loans: An assessment of take-up, engagement, and outcomes

This is one research brief in a series of five completed through the Employee Financial Wellness Programs Project. In this study, we focus on an employer-sponsored small-dollar loan (ESSDL) product, TrueConnect loans, aimed at providing employees an affordable credit alternative to payday, auto title, and other high-cost loans. We present and discuss results of our […]

Financial counseling for low- and moderate-income employees: An assessment of engagement and outcomes

This is one research brief in a series of five completed through the Employee Financial Wellness Programs Project supported by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. In this study, we focus on the results of analyses of administrative data for Trusted Advisor, a workplace financial wellness benefit offering one-on-one counseling linked to vetted financial tools. This service […]

Employee financial wellness programs: Differences in reach by financial circumstances

Workplace-based Employee Financial Wellness Programs (EFWPs) aim to strengthen employees’ financial well-being through services such as financial coaching, payroll advances and short term installment loans, credit counseling, debt management, and online financial management tools. Although EFWPs are a fast-growing part of employee benefit packages, offerings vary widely in service type and delivery method across employers, […]

Employee financial wellness programs: Differences in reach by race and ethnicity

Employee Financial Wellness Programs (EFWPs) consist of a wide array of workplace-based services and benefits that aim to enhance employees’ financial well-being, such as in-person financial coaching, online financial management tools, and payroll advances or short-term loans. EFWP provision varies across employers with few organizations offering the same set of services. The recently released Employee […]

Home delinquency rates are lower among ACA Marketplace households: Evidence from a natural experiment

This brief uses administrative income tax data coupled with survey responses from roughly 5,000 households living near the poverty line to estimate how access to the Affordable Care Act’s health insurance Marketplaces have affected households’ experiences of extreme illiquidity, which is measured by delinquencies on home payments. To estimate this relationship, we exploit a natural […]

Coping with a crisis: Financial resources available to low- and moderate-income households in emergencies

Using data from tax records and a longitudinal survey, this brief investigates the choices low- and moderate-income households make about their tax withholding and their preferences for withholding. The relationship between withholding preferences and the use of the tax refund, measures of material hardship, and the use of alternative financial services is also explored. We […]

Characteristics and hardships associated with bank account ownership among Refund to Savings participants

Having a bank account is one important way for households to securely accumulate savings, build credit, and earn interest on assets. Nationally, 7.7% of households are unbanked—lacking both a checking and a savings account. One proposed step toward financial inclusion is to encourage unbanked households to open accounts and deposit refunds into savings at tax […]

The role of health insurance in the financial lives of low- and moderate-income households

Health insurance is an important resource for enabling access to and use of medical care, and is associated with reduced risk for mortality and poor health outcomes. Health insurance also protects households from incurring major medical expenses and unmanageable levels of medical debt. About a quarter of a sample of low- and moderate-income (LMI) tax […]

Financial anxiety in low- and moderate-income households: Findings from the Household Financial Survey

Despite significant gains in the U.S. economy following the Great Recession, finances remain a common source of stress for many American households. In 2016, 52% of U.S. workers reported that their financial position made them stressed, and research reveals that stress and anxiety associated with finances are particularly common among low-income Americans. In this brief, […]

Use of alternative financial services in low- and moderate-income households: Evidence from Refund to Savings

Unable to conduct everyday financial transactions without a bank account or in need of flexible, shortterm credit, many low- and moderate-income (LMI) households turn to alternative financial services (AFSs). This brief summarizes research on AFS use among LMI tax filers participating in the Refund to Savings (R2S) Initiative. We make an important contribution to AFS […]