Companies are getting serious about financial wellness

Large employers have the resources to help employees with a financial wellness program, according to a new study. (Photo: iStock)

Companies are getting serious about financial wellness among employees. This comes amidst increasing awareness of the role that employers can play in educating their workers about how to better safeguard the wages they earn.

A new survey by Norwalk, Connecticut-based business services company Xerox of 500 benefit managers from large employers found that just over half are either planning on putting in place a financial well-being program for employees or are already in the process of implementing one.

Thirty-eight percent of employers already have a financial wellness program in place, such as financial health assessments, workshops, or presentations on financial planning or retirement planning calculators.

More than three-quarters of employers surveyed viewed such benefits as very effective in helping employees achieve financial stability.

Five ways employee needs are sharpening the focus on finances in wellness programs.

Employers view financial planning assistance as a way to help employees reduce stress and keep them focused on their jobs. Past studies have highlighted the amount of work time lost by employees who are preoccupied with financial problems. Calculating the productivity lost from money-related worries is near-impossible, but clearly employers have determined that it’s a problem big enough to do something about.

“It’s safe to say finances are a major concern for the modern-day workforce and employers can help alleviate the entire gamut of stress by providing a more robust voluntary benefits package that addresses an employee’s overall well being,” says Tom Kelly, principal of Xerox HR Services, in a press release announcing the study results.

Decades after beginning to shift away defined-benefit pensions towards 401(k)s, employers have also belatedly realized that many of their employees are woefully ill-equipped to deal with the complexities of retirement planning. What is the good of offering employees a generous 401(k) if they don’t understand how much they should be putting away for retirement and how they should invest it?

While large employers have the resources to bring in expert advisers to take employees through the steps of responsible retirement planning, financial wellness initiatives will likely continue to be rare among midsize or small employers.


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