A Mismatch Between Financial Benefits and Help

Employees could use more financial guidance from the source that offers financial benefits.

The mismatch between the sources of employees’ financial benefits and the sources of financial guidance means that many employees do not know how to use these programs effectively, according to HelloWallet, a subsidiary of Morningstar

The results of a survey conducted by HelloWallet in late 2014 found employees are not confident in their ability to manage their benefits. Fewer than 50% of the people surveyed were extremely or very confident they could optimize the value of their employer-sponsored benefits.

Employees with lower incomes are much less likely to feel confident than higher-income employees; however, only 60% of people with household incomes of $125,000 or more expressed any confidence. In short, many American employees are confused by their benefits, and all employees (even those with higher incomes) would benefit from more guidance, HelloWallet says.

And, while employers provide financial benefits, they aren’t teaching their employees about personal finance. Only about half of employees reported that their employers are providing them with guidance to make good financial decisions, according to the survey. Only about one-quarter of respondents said they had learned about personal finance from their employers. Employees were more likely to have learned about personal finance from family members or while studying at school. While employees with household incomes at or more than $125,000 were more likely than employees who earn less to get financial guidance from their employers, still only 41% of high-income employees learned about personal finance from their employers.  

In addition, when American employees actively seek financial guidance, they generally look to other sources than their employers. Among lower-income individuals, less than 5% seek guidance from their employers, and among employees with household incomes of $125,000 or more, 17% seek financial advice from their employers.

NEXT: Employees’ financial concerns

n addition to lacking confidence in their ability to maximize employer-sponsored benefits, American employees are worried about their personal finances more generally, the HelloWallet survey found. Forty-five percent of people surveyed said worrying about personal finances kept them up at night.

These respondents worried about personal finances more than any other issue, including concerns related to their jobs, health, and relationships. And, the results are fairly consistent across income ranges—even among the respondents with household incomes of $125,000 or more, 38% worried about personal finances.

Specifically, American employees need guidance on how much to save for emergencies, how to reduce their debt, and how to manage their cash flow. For example, just 38% of survey respondents described their emergency savings as sufficient. More than half carry a credit card balance, and 19% identified debt as an impediment to achieving financial goals.

The survey also found American employees have trouble with cash-flow management. Nearly one-quarter of respondents indicated they had denied themselves basic necessities such as groceries or medical care because of financial difficulties.

The survey report, “Employees Are Not Listening: Financial Guidance and Employees’ Habits,” can be downloaded from here.