Yet another study has shown how fond employers are becoming of financial wellness programs, envisioning them as a means of boosting satisfaction among employees with their benefit programs.
Prudential’s Workplace Solutions Group survey, Benefits and Beyond: Employer Perspectives on Financial Wellness, finds that the percentage of employers offering financial wellness programs rose to 83 percent, up from 20 percent in the survey two years ago. And if that’s not enough, another 14 percent say they plan to offer these programs in the next one or two years.
They also say that big data could help measure results, customize programs and fill remaining gaps—although that’s not likely to be all that popular with employees concerned over privacy issues. In fact, 61 percent of large employers say that data sharing is employees’ biggest barrier to participation in financial wellness programs, citing “privacy concerns” and “putting together all the data and information.”
But when it comes to the plans themselves, employers who offer financial wellness are more satisfied with their total benefits program (61 percent) than those who don’t provide such an offering (44 percent). Larger employers were more satisfied, at 72 percent, with their financial wellness offerings than either medium (54 percent) or small employers (50 percent).
And while employers overall turn to retirement plan and benefit providers as the preferred providers of financial wellness, they choose financial wellness providers on the basis of cost, ease of implementation and expertise. Still, a third of employers say they should be responsible for paying for all the costs of the employee benefits they offer.
A paternalistic attitude toward providing benefits drives employer choices, with 60 percent of bosses saying they should provide benefits and just 15 percent saying employees need to be responsible for their own financial well-being and future. But what employers want out of benefits plans is that such plans help to attract and retain talent, improve employee productivity and assure employees that they care about their financial well-being.
In fact, 64 percent of employers think their employees are highly satisfied with their overall benefits package (other surveys find that employees disagree); that’s up from 41 percent in the previous survey. But considering that employers primarily rely on employees to tell them what types of financial wellness programs they need and how to measure the success of the programs, it’s clear that employees need to be more outspoken if they’re not getting what they need.