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Buzzing about employee wellness

A financial wellness program can boost employee satisfaction – and the bottom line

In the last four years, the percentage of plans offering a comprehensive financial wellness program has grown from 16% to 23%. What are the most common employee concerns addressed by financial wellness programs?[1]

  • Getting spending under control: 41%
  • Preparing for retirement: 39%
  • Paying off debt: 31%
  • Saving more for major goals, such as homes, education: 27%
  • Better management of my investments/asset allocation: 23%
  • Better management of healthcare expenses/saving for future healthcare expenses: 12%

The Employee Benefits Research Institute (EBRI)[2] found an overwhelming majority of workers thought the following financial wellness programs would be either very or somewhat helpful: Help calculating how much to save for a secure retirement (75%), help calculating how much to anticipate spending each month in retirement (72%), planning for health care expenses in retirement (72%) and help with comprehensive financial planning (68%).

Other financial well-being programs scored lower when it came to perceived helpfulness. Fewer than half of workers thought debt counseling or budgeting help would be helpful. Notably, fewer than 4 in 10 (39%) of workers thought student loan debt assistance programs would be helpful in preparing for retirement. However, younger workers were much more likely to perceive these programs as being helpful than older workers.

The goal of financial education is achieving financial well-being. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) conducted a five-year study on consumer financial education, which culminated in a 2017 report in which it identified five principles of financial education that make the biggest difference between financial success and failure:[3]

Principle 1: Tailor information to the specific circumstances, challenges, goals, and situational factors of the individuals served. Avoid a one-size-fits-all approach.

Principle 2: Provide timely information that is relevant and actionable to a specific situation or goal, so that information and skills are more likely to be retained.

Principle 3: Improve key financial skills.

Principle 4: Help people build qualities that strengthen and reinforce their determination to take specific steps to achieve their financial goals.

Principle 5: Help create habits and systems so that it’s easy to follow through on decisions.

The CFPB has a resource guide available on how to launch a workplace financial wellness program by following eight basic steps:

  1. Focus on your human resources (HR) strategy
  2. Identify possible internal challenges
  3. Understand your workforce’s unique needs
  4. Decide which financial topics to highlight
  5. Leverage existing employee benefits
  6. Expand your employee offerings with more financial education resources
  7. Use existing or new channels and opportunities to deliver resources
  8. Establish metrics for success for your financial wellness program

Many of the most important financial decisions individuals make occur at the workplace. Initially, employers thought a “financial wellness program” meant providing financial education in conjunction with the firm’s 401(k) plan, but successful programs go beyond mere education. While a business’s retirement plan is a solid place to start, employee financial wellness programs help workers reduce financial stress in all aspects of their lives. These programs promote employee satisfaction and productivity, which in turn help owners build more resilient and successful companies.

This material is for informational and educational purposes only and is not intended to provide, and should not be construed as, or relied upon for, tax, legal, investment or accounting advice. You should consult your own tax, legal and accounting advisors before engaging in any transaction, including, for example, establishing a retirement plan for your company or retaining a service provider for your company’s retirement plan. 

[1] PwC 2018 Employee Financial Wellness Survey

[2] EBRI, Issue Brief, August 20, 2018