2020 Principal Financial Well-Being Index: Businesses rise to the challenge with greater growth, optimism, and flexibility

More businesses say they’re growing compared to only three months ago, and those business owners expanding remote work for employees have been loving the results.

Those are just two of the clearest trends in the second set of data (PDF) from the 2020 Principal Financial Well-Being Index™, our survey of American employers, now in its seventh year.

The business climate continues to shift rapidly in a volatile economy in the following 5 ways.

1. Growth

Just over half of businesses (51%) now say they’re growing and comfortable with their cash flow. Half also are optimistic about the overall economic outlook—up from 39% just three months ago.

2. Recovery

Employers still acknowledge the challenges ahead: A slightly larger slice (17%, up from 11%) worry about bankruptcy, and more now expect full recovery from COVID-19 to take longer. Smaller businesses tend to be less optimistic.

3. Remote work

The 37% of businesses allowing more employees to work remotely give their transition glowing reviews. Every facet of remote work—including impact to company culture, employee productivity, and data security—receives an overwhelmingly positive sentiment, anywhere from 78% to 90%.

4. Flexibility and cybersecurity

Many businesses are allowing employees more flexible time (34%) while some are also boosting investment in IT (21%).

5. Benefits

Businesses recognize the additional stress on employees this year—such as extra family or caregiving responsibilities (57%)—and are more willing than ever to increase benefits to help. Mental health/well-being (32%) and childcare (29%) are the most popular benefits to add or increase.

This year’s Well-Being Index is being researched and released in waves to better track how businesses pivot and adapt throughout the pandemic and its historic economic disruption. Our first survey was fielded in June, followed by this new data gathered September 2–9. The 500 for-profit companies surveyed—none repeated from June—are evenly spread among employers nationwide ranging in size from two to 10,000 employees.

To get more of this timely insight into the business community’s behavior in 2020:

Main themes from the most recent Well-Being Index

Graphic showing that 51% of the business surveyed say they are growing.

Graphic showing that 37% of those surveyed have increased remote work.

Graphic showing that of the businesses surveyed 32% plan to increase mental health/well-being benefits and 29% plan to increase childcare benefits.

Interested in getting deeper insights about the well-being of businesses? Download the full report (PDF).

Insurance products issued by Principal National Life Insurance Co (except in NY) and Principal Life Insurance Co. Securities offered through Principal Securities, Inc., 800-247-1737, Member SIPC Principal National, Principal Life, and Principal Securities are members of the Principal Financial Group®, Des Moines, IA.

Principal, Principal and symbol design and Principal Financial Group are trademarks and service marks of Principal Financial Services, Inc., a member of the Principal Financial Group.