Public-Sector Employees Need More Financial Education

Nearly two-thirds believe it is important to have a financial literacy program offered by their employer, and they listed the topics they would like discussed.

Less than half of public-sector employees (43%) feel very/extremely confident making financial decisions on their own, according to preliminary results of a study by the Center for State and Local Government Excellence (SLGE).

Fifty-four percent worry about finances while at work, and only 29% rate themselves as very/extremely knowledgeable about finances in general.

SLGE found nearly two-thirds (65%) of public-sector employees believe it is important to have a financial literacy program offered by their employer. However, only three in 10 reported being offered one. Seven in 10 said they would participate in one if offered.

The study compared topics that are covered by financial literacy programs offered by employers with the topics employees say they want information about. Employees want information about planning for retirement, investments and budgeting and planning, and these topics are being offered by employers that have a financial literacy program. However, employees also want information about estate planning and debt, but SLGE found these are not top of list topics covered in programs currently being offered by employers.

In a report earlier this year, “Financial Literacy Programs for Local Government Employees,” SLGE said employers told them the benefits they witness from financial literacy programs are: workers increase their contributions to supplemental savings plans (51%), workers become more engaged with compensation issues (43%), and cost savings for the jurisdiction that at least partially offsets the expense of offering the program (41%).

SLGE recommends that local governments first conduct a formal, or informal, needs assessment to find out what topics their workers would like to be covered in a financial literacy program, as well as how they would like it to be delivered.