Financial Wellness Programs Have Measurable Impact on Retirement Readiness

For a company with 50,000 employees, this could lead to a savings of $65 million to $97 million a year, Financial Finesse found.

Financial Finesse’s “Special Report: The ROI of Improving Employee Retirement Readiness” found that financial wellness programs are succeeding in helping people prepare for retirement. When workers are continuously engaged in a financial wellness program, their financial health moves from 4.0 to 6.0 on a 10-point scale. Additionally, they increase their retirement contribution rates by 38%.

The average age at which workers could retire and replace 80% of their income moves from 68.5 to 66.96. For a company with 50,000 employees, that could lead to annual savings of $65 million to $97 million a year. Citing a 2017 study by Prudential, Financial Finesse says that each employee who does not retire costs a company more than $50,000 a year.

Reduction in retirement age occurs across all ages, with employees younger than 35 seeing a reduction of 2.67 years, and older employees seeing a reduction of one year. Even modest improvements in employee financial wellness generate meaningful savings. For instance, if their financial health moves from 4.0 to 5.0, they tend to increase their retirement savings by 17.85%—and this could result in their being able to retire a year earlier. For a company with 50,000 employees, this could result in annual savings of $33 million to $49 million.

“Repeat engagement in financial wellness programs drives improvement in overall financial health, so this isn’t a one-and-done process,” Financial Finesse says. “Improvements are incremental and increase with the number of interactions. Companies that offer financial wellness benefits should focus on creating multiple channels to reach employees and develop techniques that encourage continuing engagement in the program. Retirement plan design practices, such as auto-enrollment and auto-escalation, are foundational, and should be incorporated with an easy-to-use retirement calculator and unlimited access to financial coaching.”

At the current median contribution rates, Financial Finesse estimates that the average age Americans can retire is 68 years and 11 months.

When people engage with a financial wellness coach more than five times, they are more confident about their retirement outlook, with 47% of these people saying that they know they are on target to replace 80% of their income in retirement.  By comparison, only 26% of those who only used an online financial wellness program share this confidence.

“For those companies whose employees have predictable day time work schedules, coaching can be offered in person at the worksite,” Financial Finesse says. “In industries with 24-hour work schedules, financial wellness programs will reach more employees if financial coaching is offered by telephone or computer screen-sharing.”

Financial Finesse’s findings are based on an analysis of 18,148 employees who participated in their workplace financial wellness program between 2011 and 2018.