Financial Wellness Programs May Not Be Right for All Companies

Among employers that do not offer a financial wellness program, reasons cited in a survey were: have not thought about it, need more resources to execute, need to focus on other organization priorities, do not perceive any financial benefits, and do not want to get involved in employees’ personal finances.

Just over half of employers are familiar with the topics that a financial wellness program should cover, Strategic Benefit Services learned in a survey of employers conducted in February.

While they are growing in popularity, financial wellness programs may not be the right fit for all companies, the provider of retirement services to health care and other not-for-profit organizations says. There may be a moral imperative that drives commitment for some, while others require a business imperative to justify the investment. Regardless of the rationale, a logical starting point would be for an organization to survey its employees and assess the need.

Finally, the firm says, it is challenging to calculate the return on investment from financial wellness programs.

Asked what types of assistance they offer their employees, 88% of respondents said help with retirement planning; 25%, investing programs; 18%, savings programs; 15%, debt management programs; 13%, budgeting programs; 13%, planning for education; and 3%, other.

Fifty-nine percent said they currently offer (19%) financial wellness programs or plan to do so in 2018 or beyond (40%). Among those that do not offer a financial wellness program, 50% said they have not thought about it, 22% said they need more resources to execute, 22% said they need to focus on other organization priorities, 17% said they do not perceive any financial benefits, and 17% said they do not want to get involved in employees’ personal finances.

Among those offering a financial wellness program, 77% plan to continue offering it. Forty-six percent said their employees are stressed by personal financial concerns. Forty-one percent said these concerns are a distraction for their workforce. Twenty-four percent said they are negatively impacting employees’ health, and 22% said their employees take time off from work to deal with these concerns.

Asked what financial concerns they think their workforce has, the following were cited in this order: managing monthly expenses, paying down debt, saving for retirement, saving for an emergency and having money for education expenses.

Strategic Benefit Services says there are a wide variety of financial wellness programs. Millennials may be more interested in paying down student loan debt or establishing a budget, while older employees might better appreciate saving for retirement and a child’s education.

Employers with a financial wellness program say it covers the following topics: retirement planning (88%), debt management (68%), budgeting (68%), savings (64%), investing (64%), mental wellness (45%), voluntary benefits (36%) and physical wellness (32%). Employers without a financial wellness program virtually said that if they had one, it would cover those topics.

Seventy percent of employers with a financial wellness program promote it online, 65% use group or one-on-one meetings, 44% do it in percent, and 30% tailor the message to different demographic groups.

Among those with a financial wellness program, asked why, on a scale of one to five, they said because it is the right thing to do (4.6), to improve employee productivity (3.7), to recruit and retain top talent (3.5%), to reduce absenteeism (3.2), due to employees’ request (2.8%) and to decrease costs (2.%)

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