Employers Fight Stress Through Financial Education

Employees provided with financial education programs are less stressed, more prepared for retirement, and have better understanding of their finances, according to a report from the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans.

Of the 397 organizations surveyed for the foundation’s new report, “A Closer Look: What’s Working in Workplace Financial Education,” 270 say they offer financial education programs to employees. Of those offering financial education, one-third report their workforce is somewhat or very highly stressed about financial issues, compared with 43% of those that do not offer financial education. More than two-thirds of employers currently offering financial education state their initiatives are somewhat to very successful for their employees.

Not surprisingly, the report shows employers with more advanced financial education strategies are more likely to say they are successful at promoting employee financial wellness compared with organizations with basic programs. For example, while 50% of financial wellness programs rated as successful by the sponsoring employer provide financial education to participants’ spouses, only 31% of financial wellness programs deemed to be unsuccessful do so. And while 35% of successful financial wellness offerings shape and adjust their curriculum based on employees’ input, only 8% of unsuccessful programs do the same. 

“The survey found that while the benefits of financial education may take a few years to emerge as employees learn about their positions, the rewards are long-term,” says Julie Stich, certified employee benefit specialist and director of research at the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans. “Over time the staff becomes smarter about their future and more focused during work.”

The survey also collected data on why employers provide financial education to employees. Sixty-one percent of employers with successful programs simply say it is important to improve participant/employee retirement investment decisions. Forty-five percent of these employers believe it is the organization’s ethical responsibility to educate staff on benefit options, encourage retirement savings, and improve employees’ money management.

The report reveals that organizations with successful financial education programs cover more topics on average, at seven topics, than organizations with unsuccessful programs, which cover only four topics. Organizations with successful programs also use a wider variety of educational methods and pathways on average, the report finds.

“To increase a program’s impact, it’s critical to reach as many employees as possible,” Stich explains. “Organizations with programs they consider to be successful experience double the average participation rate in initiatives compared with organizations with unsuccessful programs.”

The full survey results are available here.