With employee financial stress on the rise, more employers are realizing that they need to take action.
Half of America’s employees are stressed out about dealing with their financial situation, according to the 2017 PwC Employee Financial Wellness Survey. Further, 77% of employees say their stress levels have increased over the past 12 months. Because employees’ financial worries often affects an organization’s productivity, employers should take a deeper dive into providing financial benefits in 2018.
Doing so will be beneficial for both employees and employers: Employees experience a better financial well-being, while employers get workers who are more productive, engaged and empowered.
So what can we expect in 2018 with financial benefits? Here are five trends I foresee occurring in the new year.
More employers will add financial education benefits. Employees overwhelmingly say they will participate in financial education programs, but many employers haven’t jumped on the bandwagon. In 2017, 48% of employers were offering some kind of counseling or instruction about money, according to reports from the Society for Human Resource Management and the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans. Look for that to increase in 2018 as further research in the past year confirms the impact employee financial stress has on a company’s bottom line including lower productivity, higher absenteeism and more healthcare claims. Employers are realizing it’s to everyone’s benefit to provide some type of financial education offerings.
Financial benefits will become more holistic. Financial benefits should be more than planning for retirement and having access to supplemental medical benefits. In 2018, we’ll see employers taking a more holistic approach to providing a financial wellbeing program. That includes not only financial education tools and resources, but voluntary benefits that are designed to address both physical and emotional struggles while working to help employees with short-term financial needs.
More student loan repayment benefits will become available. In 2017, more Americans were burdened by student loan debt than ever before. And it’s a major concern of today’s millennials, the largest generation in today’s workforce. In 2018 we will see more student loan repayment benefits appear including programs in which employers are making contributions to loan balances or providing methods for employees to refinance their debt.
Increased attention will be given to helping employees with short-term financial issues. Employees are struggling financially. Statistics show the alarming number of employees that continue to live paycheck-to-paycheck and do not have even $1,000 in savings for emergency needs. While financial education benefits can help employees with budgeting and debt reduction needs, employers will adopt additional voluntary benefits that provide employees some financial assistance in the short-term. In 2018, look for employers to add voluntary benefits such as employee purchase programs and low-interest installment loans and credit that help employees avoid payday loans and cash advances from credit cards when they have emergency needs such as a broken refrigerator or unexpected out-of-pocket medical expenses.
Employers will begin to look for ways to provide financial education to future generations. Helping today’s employees overcome their financial challenges is only a part of the solution. Employers should look for ways to provide an element of family-focused financial education — either directly with their employees or in their communities. Employees need to be raising financially-responsible children and grandchildren. Incorporating a few age-appropriate financial education lessons into financial education resources and opportunities can start to pave the way for future generations.
Employers also can look to support financial education for today’s youth within their communities. Here in Atlanta, for example, more than 30,000 middle school students visit the Junior Achievement Chick-fil-A Foundation Discovery Center each year. There, through experiential learning, they work directly with business leaders to learn about money and real-life financial situations.
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