Employees whose personal lives are in order are better able to focus on being productive at the office. This is one reason employers are starting to add personal financial wellness to their benefits offerings. As a result, brokers are in an excellent position to provide these services, and it’s an area where many can expect to see growth.
“By the end of the year, 77 percent of large and mid-size companies will offer at least one such financial wellness program, and 52 percent will offer them in three or more categories,” writes Kelli B. Grant for CNBC, citing research from Aon Hewitt. “Personalized initiatives are becoming more popular, like solo sessions with a financial planner, for example, or education and incentives tailored to worker concerns.”
Along with helping employers add to their offerings, brokers should also provide a plan for communicating such benefits to employees in order to raise participation rates. “As of 2015, nearly half of large companies had a financial wellness program in place,” writes Paula Aven Gladych for Employee Benefit News, citing Bank of America’s research. “In this year’s survey, only 36 percent of respondents say their employers offer a financial wellness program.”
Brokers might especially consider helping employers offer programs in these areas:
Managing Debt and Everyday Finances
“Poor financial literacy and ineffective day-to-day money management habits trigger financial stress for employees,” writes Tim O’Connor for BenefitsPro. Stressed employees may have a hard time focusing on their work or have poor attendance. Brokers and employers might offer online financial planning tools and learning centers to help employees better manage their money.
Another sore point: student loan debt. Millennials “are saddled with $25,000 of student debt on average,” O’Connor writes. Companies might consider adding loan repayment programs to the list of benefits they offer.
Investing and Retirement Planning
Employees are often out of touch with how much they need to save for retirement and whether they’re on track. “Fifty-six percent of respondents said they have less than $10,000 saved, and more than one-third reported having no retirement savings at all,” O’Connor writes, citing research from GoBanking Rates. “Whatever the reason for this, employers still should transition employees into the appropriate financial planning program and provide the information to help them make wise investments.”
Health Care Expenses
Health care has always been complicated and is now loaded with new regulations and choices, like health savings accounts. Employers should especially be teaching employees about short and long-term uses of the latter, Gladych writes. “The use of health savings accounts is growing, so making sure employees know the benefits of these plans is something employers need to work at,” she writes.
Employers and brokers can also work together to make sure employees are choosing the right plans, O’Connor writes. “Employees often don’t fully understand their health care-related options and become frustrated and unsure about their selection of benefits,” he writes. “Employers who engage employees from the start and provide continued communications can direct their employees to the most appropriate benefits plan based on their individual needs.”