The last 15 months have been a challenging time for retirement savers. Many have seen their savings shrink, while their stress levels have risen.
Employers know financial stress can creep into the workplace—creating distraction, raising doubts and lowering morale and productivity.
April is National Financial Capability Month, and employers can take this moment to help their employees become more confident in their finances and take steps toward a better and stronger financial future.
One key to energizing more employees to get their finances on track is making financial wellness a central element in workplace retirement plans.
We see financial wellness as a feeling of confidence and strength that employees can have in their finances today and for the future. It can serve as an antidote to today’s uncertain and stressful time.
In this article, I outline three steps we are taking with plan sponsors to help improve financial wellness—understanding, engaging and taking action.
First, we must understand the financial journey for each employee. General demographic information isn’t enough. Every employee is unique—with their own goals and aspirations, as well as their own emotions, preferences and behaviors.
We are working with many employers to help them understand what their employees want and need from financial wellness programming. The focus for a young, newly hired employee can start with plan enrollment, but student loan debt, budgeting and goal-planning could also be important topics. For a pre-retiree, engagement around retirement milestones is a natural framework, but there is opportunity to build in communications about catch-up contributions and retirement income.
Today, nearly everyone has become accustomed to, and even expects, personalized experiences. Information can play a role in providing plan sponsors with the understanding they need to create content and programs that best match the needs of their employees. Financial wellness programs are often most effective when they emphasize personalization.
The next contributor to a successful financial wellness program is how we are engaging with employees.
Like every other industry in the digital age, we must engage our customers whenever and wherever they prefer. Multi-channel delivery is essential—mobile apps, webinars, workshops, emails, texts and on-demand content.
The resources provided by employers can span the full spectrum of the personal finance journey. For some employees, the priority might be budgeting and savings; for others it could be income planning.
Design is a key contributor as well, and financial wellness programs should be intuitive and interactive. Ideally, the experiences include digestible content and make it easy for the participant to engage. Tone can sometimes be as important as content, and we have found that our most successful programs are encouraging and upbeat.
As an example, Corebridge offers employers an online tool with which employees can take a self-assessment with simple-to-answer questions that don’t require a calculator. From there, they receive a personalized action plan that is easy to implement and focuses on the fundamentals of financial wellness: saving and spending; debt management; and meeting future needs.
For employees to move forward on their financial wellness journey, we believe action is everything.
What taking action means will depend, of course, on the individual employee. Some want to do everything on their own, others want help sometimes and others want someone to do as much for them as possible. So taking action could be signing up for a webinar, raising contribution dollars or connecting with a financial professional.
On that last point, connecting with a financial professional might not be the first thing an employee considers when it comes to saving for retirement, but building this kind of relationship can be very helpful. Financial professionals can help employees create a financial plan that includes near-term goals and long-term objectives, as well as a road map with actionable steps, milestones and reminders.
In times of uncertainty, employees will often look to their employers for guidance and support. During National Financial Capability Month, we are working with employers to make sure their financial wellness programs emphasize understanding, engagement and action.
Even if employees take only one small step tomorrow, it can build confidence and encourage them to keep moving toward their future goals.
Terri Fiedler is president, retirement services, for Corebridge Financial
This material is general in nature, was developed for educational use only, and is not intended to provide financial, legal, fiduciary, accounting or tax advice, nor is it intended to make any recommendations. Applicable laws and regulations are complex and subject to change. Please consult with your financial professional regarding your situation. For legal, accounting or tax advice consult the appropriate professional.
Corebridge Financial, Inc. and its subsidiaries provide a wide range of life insurance, retirement solutions, and other financial services.