Employers Place Greater Emphasis on Retirement and Financial Wellness Benefits

Mar 18, 2019
| Michael Altiero
Employers offering better retirement benefits

Enhancing employee benefits is one of the biggest trends for employers as worker expectations continue to increase.

Many businesses, including small employers, are actively seeking ways to make their benefits more appealing in order to retain and attract talent. Besides adding voluntary benefits and improving health insurance, employers are also putting a greater focus on retirement and financial wellness benefits.

A recent report from Alight Solutions explored some of the latest trends with financial wellness programs and retirement benefits. Let’s take a closer look at some of the data!

Employers Want to Enhance Financial Wellness Efforts

With today’s workers placing a bigger priority on financial wellbeing, employers are starting to take notice and addressing this trend.

According to the report, 64% of business leaders said that financial wellness has become more important at their company over the last 2 years.

To add on to that statistic, almost 65% of employers said they are taking steps this year to focus more on employee financial wellness beyond just retirement benefits. This is up drastically from 2014, when only 30% responded the same.

Employers are doing this by helping employees navigate four stages of financial wellbeing: security, foundation, growth, and freedom. Of these, the foundation stage was the one that organizations focused on the most (56%) followed by security (35%).

Organizations Today Believe They Should Help Employees Plan for Retirement

In addition to improving the financial wellness of their workforce, employers believe they should help their employees with retirement saving and other traditional financial programs.

83% of business leaders agreed that employers should definitely help employees plan and save for retirement. Also, 72% said they should help employees obtain disability insurance and 70% responded the same about life insurance.

However, most employers feel differently about some non-traditional financial programs. Here’s the percentage of employers who responded that a program would nice to help with, but not necessary:
  • Identity theft protection – 63%
  • Establishing an emergency fund – 67%
  • Budgeting for personal expenses – 72%
  • Education savings – 72%
  • Saving for short-term needs – 69%
  • Debt management assistance – 70%
  • Student loan assistance – 76%

These types of financial wellness benefits could be extremely valuable for employers to explore to enhance their offerings and be more attractive to potential job seekers.

Despite these results, 67% of employers said that they view financial wellness as a key component of a wellbeing program that includes other areas of wellness such as physical, emotional, and social. This is up from 52% in 2018.

Why Do Employers Offer Financial Wellness Programs?

An important topic the survey explores is why employers offer financial wellness benefits to their workforce. There are eight results listed in the survey with three being the most popular:
  • Enhance the employee experience – 84%
  • It’s the right thing to do – 82%
  • Increase employee engagement – 72%
  • Make the company more attractive to job seekers – 53%
  • Decrease time employees spend on addressing financial issues – 49%
  • Improve retirement statistics – 49%
  • Employees ask for these benefits – 43%
  • Decrease medical costs – 28%

The results show that employers’ main reasons for offering financial wellbeing benefits are to improve the employee experience and employee engagement. These are critically important today for employers because they influence employee happiness and play a significant role in retention.

With recruiting and retention more challenging than ever before, taking steps to improve these will help companies (especially smaller employers) overcome some of their HR issues.

Employee Wellness is Growing in Importance

As employers look to improve their recruiting and retention strategies in an extremely competitive job market, many are turning to their benefit offerings to differentiate themselves to candidates.

And since some of the most sought-after benefits for candidates address financial wellness, it’s no surprise that employers are making these more of a priority.

However, there is still a lot of room for improvement especially as more non-traditional financial wellbeing benefits, like student loan assistance, grow in demand.

Employers of all sizes will need to monitor trends in these kinds of benefits and seek ways to enhance plans from year to year in order to attract and retain employees.

One area of HR is becoming increasingly more difficult for small employers to properly handle — maintaining compliance with employment laws. Download our eBook, Guide to Employment Law: Topics Employers Must Know to Stay Compliant, to learn more about some of the biggest trends and topics in employment law.

Guide to Employment Law eBook