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Commitment to financial wellness pays dividends

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Financial wellness programs are starting to get more attention from carriers and benefits designers, as studies continue to support their inclusion in a strong benefits package.

Now, a report released by the International Foundation of Employee Benefits Plans offers evidence that companies that offer such help to employees are reaping the rewards.

The study, “A Closer Look: What’s Working in Workplace Financial Education,” found that employees who’ve participated in a financial wellness program feel better about their financial situation and worry less about retirement.

The survey retrieved data from 397 organizations; 31 percent said they didn’t offer any financial wellness support to their employees. But among the 69 percent (270 respondents) that did, two-thirds said their employees responded positively to the assistance. And anything that can take a worker’s mind off financial problems improves focus on the work at hand.

To take the math one step further, 170 respondents reported positive results from their programs. Asked to identify what is and is not working when it comes to financial education programs for employees, here’s what the researchers were told:

  • 84 percent offer education during normal work (81 percent of those who said their programs weren’t doing well also offered the program during normal hours);
  • 50 percent provide financial education to participants’ spouses (compared with 31 percent of those who said their programs weren’t doing well);
  • 35 percent have assessed which financial education topics are most needed (compared with 8 percent of those who said their programs weren’t doing well);
  • 32 percent provide services to retirees (compared with 18 percent of those who said their programs weren’t doing well);
  • 32 percent have a budget devoted to financial education (compared with 9 percent of those who said their programs weren’t doing well).

“Organizations with successful programs cover more topics in their financial education programs than organizations with unsuccessful programs, on average seven versus four,” the IFEBP said in a release. Among the topics they offered:

  • Retirement plan benefits;
  • Budgeting/spending plans;
  • Employment after retirement;
  • Annuities, wills and estate planning;
  • Life insurance.

“Likewise, employers with successful programs also use a wider variety of educational methods than employers with unsuccessful programs, seven versus five,” IFEBP noted. Among these: voluntary classes, newsletters, email, workbooks, online resources and courses, retirement income calculators and free personal consultations


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