Not unlike doctors who get asked by strangers for on-the-spot diagnoses in elevators and Starbucks lines, those of you in the upper echelons of HR likely spend a lot of time being cornered by relatives and acquaintances, hungry for your nuanced advice on their retirement plan, or how I should best deal with this whole ACA thing. Youve probably learned to keep your mouth shut and talk about the weather instead.
It probably comes as no surprise that the employees of one of the worlds biggest financial management companies might get put up to the same standard of assumed expertise though many of them dont have any direct dealings with handling other peoples money, and are just as hit-or-miss on overseeing their own 401(k) account or doing the weird predictive math required for handling an HSA.
As we profile in this months feature story, the 5,800 U.S. employees of BlackRock, Inc. do get a nice side benefit to their companys vast reputation for financial management: They have a holistic financial wellness program that most of us could only dream about. Rather than simply being given an email full of 1-800 numbers and the quickly forgotten pile of product flyers at open enrollment season, BlackRock has taken great pains to craft an engaging and effective system of interactive seminars, first-person education and even a single-point-of-entry online portal, tying everything from 401(k) to voluntary benefits into one simple package.
Whats more, by partnering with Merrill Lynch, employees also have a free source of rudimentary financial advice for the many questions generated by their new retirement and health-savings knowledge. Their employer also sweetened the pot with some generous 401(k) stretch matches and some seed money for the HSAs, just to keep its workers a little more excited about the offerings.
BlackRock is not the only company to do this, of course other financial giants such as Vanguard are also taking care of their own employees by practicing what they preach to their external clients. Its a great way of taking those easily overlooked workplace benefits and putting them into action, rather than languishing in an envelope in a drawer. Maybe thats an approach we all can take.
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