Financial stress can affect employee productivity and while many employees say they understand the importance of saving for retirement, some say they can’t afford to save or lack understanding about where or how to save.

Aon Hewitt's recent 2015 Financial Mindset survey found that 68% of U.S. employees say they regularly save for retirement, though a third does not.

Also see: Financial education the foundation for improved employee productivity

Despite most employees saying they understand the importance of saving, 37% of those surveyed said they can't afford to save — the most highly cited barrier to saving, Aon Hewitt said in its report. Others barriers include concerns over not being able to access savings when needed, not understanding where or how to save and not having a need to save at present.

Although 73% of employees say they feel in control of finances, 58% say they are “just getting by,” the report notes.

“Employees want someone to tell them how they’re doing and what they should do to get on track for retirement, as well as to help them manage their day-to-day financial situations,” according to the report. “Employees are looking for guidance and reassurance, and they are motivated by wanting to do the right thing. There is a strong willingness to accept help from their employers. They are looking for their employers to make it as easy as possible to make the right decisions about all aspects of their finances.”

Also see: What really matters to employees?

But a gap remains in employees’ desire for employer-sponsored financial wellness programs and their perceptions of how often these programs are offered, according to research from Jellyvision, a software company that makes interactive benefits communication products for employers. While the majority of employees (86%) say it’s important for employers to offer financial wellness programs, fewer than half (46%) say their companies offer them and 25% or employees say they’re not sure if a program is offered or not, the company found in a recent survey of 1,000 benefits-eligible employees.

In its study, Aon identified six different savings attitudes, each with its own unique characteristics that go beyond the historical demographics such as age, gender and income. Understanding the various savings attitudes can help employers better target their financial wellness and retirement communications, says Aon. The categories include:

  • Show me the way – employees with below average income with a valued interest in retirement.
  • All I can do – employees with below average income who don’t see an avenue to increase savings.
  • Very hopeful – average income, older employees with good savings habits who value advice.
  • I’ll get there – young, educated and financially unsophisticated employees.
  • Nearing the finish – knowledgeable, higher-income employees looking to retire early.
  • Getting ready – employees with above-average incomes and good savings habits looking to continue the trend.

Despite strides being made in employers’ understanding of the need for financial wellness programs, some employees may never be comfortable receiving financial help from employers. Nearly one-in-five employees surveyed by Jellyvision say they aren’t comfortable with getting financial help from their employers at all.

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