IBM aims to tackle employees’ financial stress
Having great benefits isn’t just about having a good healthcare program or 401(k) plan anymore, says Ellen Exum, vice president of global health and wellness strategy at IBM. It’s also about providing employees perks that will promote well-being and help ease their financial stress.
That’s why IBM hired Welltok, a software as a service provider that helps companies provide multi-channel engagement services, resources, rewards and predictive analytics, for various health and financial wellness benefits.
Many companies think of financial well-being as having a 401(k), investment opportunities or stock purchase programs. IBM offers all of those benefits, but its main priority is the support it can offer for its employees — based on what individuals need — to help them fulfill their financial wellness needs, Exum says.
I“It’s not about how much you have in your bank account but understanding how much you have, how much you need and how to get from point A to point B,” she says. “[Financial wellness efforts] also help support [employees] in what they are going to spend their money on and how frequently they will spend it.”
The company’s IBM Money Smart program offers financial education and planning to help employees with financial decision-making on a range of issues, including retirement and estate planning, debt management, college savings, tax and investment strategies and other topics. It is offered at no cost to all IBM U.S. regular employees and is provided through The Ayco Company, a Goldman Sachs company, and Fidelity Investments.
Retirement offerings play a big role, too. Employees are eligible to participate in IBM’s 401(k) plan on the date they are hired. They are automatically enrolled at 5% of their pre-tax eligible earnings about one month after receiving their enrollment package if no action is taken.
After one year of service, the company will contribute 1% to each employee’s pre-tax account regardless of their savings pattern and match 100% of the first 5% of employee’s pre-tax or Roth contributions.
A recent study by PriceWaterhouseCoopers found that more than half of people are stressed out about their finances, which translates into lost time at work and diminished presenteeism. In other words, workers are in their seats at work but they’re not really focused on their jobs.
“You don’t need necessarily a whole host of different programs but you do want things that are multi-modal and things that can be personalized to the individual,” Exum says. “One size does not fit all, particularly in financial wellness.”