As employers continue to shift health care costs to their employees, benefit brokers say theyre seeing an uptick in the number of employers looking to implement financial wellness programs as a way to help their workers better manage their short and long-term financial needs and goals.
A recent survey of life and health insurance brokers reveals that employers are concerned their existing benefit packages are not adequately meeting employees most critical needs and that employers are exploring additional benefits beyond traditional health coverage, including financial wellness programs.
The findings also show employers are concerned their employees are less satisfied with benefit packages due to limited options for health insurance plans that require higher deductibles and premiums.
David Kilby, president of FinFit, the Virginia Beach-based company that conducted the survey of brokers and agents, says the benefits industry is recognizing the pressing need for financial wellness programs in the workplace that help people better manage difficult financial circumstances and get back on track quickly.
Tony Franchimone, a principal with Retirement Benefits Group agrees, saying the increase in health care costs and employee concerns about that have driven employers to take a more parental approach toward employees and how they want to teach or educate them to be financially well.
Nearly half of brokers say their employer clients have expressed interest in a benefit that could offer short-term loans to help employees cover unexpected emergencies and health care expenses, FinFit said.
The survey also found:
- 60% of brokers have noticed greater concern among employers about the financial well-being of employees.
- 68% of advisers strongly believe the employers they work with would be interested in participating in programs that help employees cover the cost of health care coverage premiums and/or deductibles.
- 47% of respondents have noticed that employers are offering a wider range of benefits aimed at helping employees improve their financial literacy and economic stability.
Education and tools
While many financial wellness programs utilize tools such as auto-enrollment and auto-escalation features to engage employees in retirement and other financial savings programs, Franchimone says its important for advisers to go beyond those tools and focus on education.
Through the use of continued education, employers can help employees better understand how to use their retirement and other financial savings benefits, understand the importance of using them, and better appreciate the benefit offerings their employer is providing, says Franchimone.
The more comfortable people are with their understanding of their financial benefits, the more comfortable they are going to feel that they are on the right path and the more satisfied they are going to be with their work experience, Franchimone says.
According to the FinFit survey, 71% of employees reported an increase in financial knowledge and wellbeing as a direct result of participation in a financial wellness program. Two-thirds of employees also said theyve been able to increase their monthly savings, while 85% of employers reported employees became more productive at work after using a financial wellness program to resolve a personal challenge.
Franchimone says along with group meetings to educate employees, theyve started to further enhance their employer programs by offering topical webinars for employees. He says a lot of clients are now also offering a sort of finance 101 class to teach the basics of finance, including what a 401(k) is, learning about mutual funds and estate planning, etc.
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