Employers Combatting Financial Stress with Education Programs

Financial education programs are the most successful when tailored to the unique concerns of the workforce.
Many employees are struggling with financial issues that affect their job performance, according to a recent report.

The International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans found in a survey, “Financial Education for Today’s Workforce: 2016,” that workers are struggling with debt (66%), saving for retirement (60%), saving or paying for children’s education (51%), covering basic living expenses (48%) and paying for medical expenses (36%). Employers have also noted that the “sandwich generation” is struggling with supporting elderly parents and adult children.

Four out of five employers say their employees’ personal financial issues are somewhat, very or extremely impactful on their job performance. The top areas affected include an increase in stress (76%), the inability to focus at work (60%), and absenteeism and tardiness (34%).

“Nearly half of organizations rate their workforce as only a little bit or not at all financially savvy,” says Julie Stich, CEBS, director of research at the International Foundation. “Employers are also reporting more financial challenges among employees today than five years ago and are seeing these challenges reflected in the day-to-day operations of their workplace.”

To address the problem, nearly half of organizations (49%) offer benefits literacy education. In addition, 45% provide retirement security education, and 23% offer financial literacy education. These programs cover topics including investments, savings, insurance, budgeting, pre-retirement financial planning, retiree health care and more. Two-thirds of organizations offering financial education rate their programs as successful and teach financial principles through free personal consultation services, classes and online resources.

Twenty percent of organizations are currently assessing their participants to decide what topics are most needed, and 47% are considering it for the future. Fourteen percent of employers report having a financial education budget, and 22% are considering it.

“Workplace education programs are the most successful when an organization identifies the unique concerns of their workforce and tailors the message to fit that audience,” Stich says. “Employers should ask their participants what they want and consider what topics would be the best fit.”

The full report is available at www.ifebp.org/FinancialEd2016.