Building on Benefits

Research Agenda

The Building on Benefits research agenda examines ways to improve employer benefits so these benefits promote financial stability for low- to moderate-income (LMI) workers and their families. This research agenda began with a study of Dependent Care Flexible Spending Accounts, discovering that these accounts are not a very helpful benefit for LMI workers and their families

Recently, we partnered with the Paraprofessional Healthcare Institute (PHI) to survey 1,600 frontline, entry-level healthcare workers (e.g., home health aides) to understand workers’ access to and use of employer benefits such as paid sick leave, which benefits they value most and which they wish they had, and how benefits and working conditions relate to their financial security.

We also surveyed a sample of 400 nurses and mid-level practitioners for a comparison study and interviewed 60 of these workers to take a deeper dive into benefits and working conditions and the financial health of workers.

While other research has examined healthcare workers’ emotional stress, access to personal protective equipment (PPE), and working conditions during the COVID-19 pandemic, research has not focused on workers’ financial stability.

This research is made possible through a grant from the Prudential Foundation and was completed in 2022. You can find the results of the study in this report on the financial well-being of frontline workers.

Also, through the Socioeconomic Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic survey project, we are also examining changes in employment status during the pandemic, differences in the financial stability of workers who did and did not have access to paid sick leave during the pandemic, and 401k plan hardship withdrawals during the pandemic.

Workforce Financial Stability Initiative