Financial wellness programs are a growing offering among all employers, but a Cammack Retirement Group study of such programs at health care organizations in the U.S. found an especially high adoption rate.
Eighty-three percent of the organizations surveyed responded that they offer wellness programs to their employees, with another 15% indicating that they are considering doing so. At organizations with more than 1,000 employees, 100% indicated that they either already have a wellness program or are considering offering one.
Most health care employers attempt to integrate their financial wellness programs with other available benefits. Fifty-two percent of survey respondents look to coordinate their educational programs to provide a more cohesive collection of benefits and a more unified message to their employees, while another 13% are considering doing so.
More than 40% of survey respondents indicated that their organization has been offering a financial wellness program for 5 years or more.
For those health care organizations providing a financial wellness program, there are many topics currently offered or being contemplated. Social Security has been receiving the most attention, with 89% of respondents providing education about it.
Beyond Social Security, other topics respondents cited include developing a personal budget, purchasing a home, determining how to finance a college education and protecting one’s identity.
Retirement, pre-retirement and income planning are ever-popular topics with employees and employers alike and give employers an opportunity to highlight their existing retirement benefits. Additionally, there is increasing interest in understanding health savings accounts (HSAs).Student loan debt and measuring financial wellness program success
Wellness topics some respondents consider offering in the future tend to revolve around retirement and related areas. However, others mentioned by respondents include Medicare readiness and health care literacy, reflecting the importance of health care and the uncertainty associated with its future. Other popular topics include improving employees’ credit scores, as well as helping employees save money for college and dealing with student loan debt.
Overall, 42% of respondents said student loan debt is a major concern for a majority of their employees or that it affects a significant portion of them. Another 37% are unsure how big a concern this issue is for their employees. While 21% indicated that only a few employees are affected, no respondents said it is not an issue.
Only 21% of responding health care organizations offer seminars or other programs to assist employees affected by student loan debt. These seminars are more popular with larger organizations, as 28% of respondents with over 1,000 employees provide programs on the topic. Most of that previously mentioned 21% also provide some financial assistance to those burdened with student loan debt; 17% of respondents indicated offering some such support. Forty-four percent consider offering a program where employee contributions to student debt will be matched.
Most employers appear to be delivering their wellness educational programs through multimedia approaches. Health care employers are incorporating printed materials, videos and online information, along with human interaction. Group seminars and one-on-one meetings remain the most popular approach, as more than 85% of respondents offer both of these formats.
While 73% of respondents indicated that their program is either very much appreciated or moderately appreciated, more than one in four said appreciation is less than they had hoped.
Improved retirement readiness is the most popular metric used to indicate the success of a financial wellness program offering, with more than two-thirds of respondents employing that measurement criteria. Use of the wellness tools, and increased savings, are also seen as measurements of a program’s success.One reason organizations cited as to why they decided to offer a wellness program was that the stress caused by financial concerns led to reduced productivity and absenteeism. Yet, according to the survey responses, no organizations are using these metrics to gauge the impact of their program. Cammack says this may be due to difficulties in gathering information on causes, as employees may not want to tell their employer that financial difficulties caused them to take a day off or to be late completing a project.