Financial Well-Being Makes Retirement More Accessible

Financial well-being continues to make the list of employer concerns, largely because it is on the minds of employees. Several factors are worrisome for employees, according to their employers, including the rising cost of health care and insufficient retirement savings.

The list of employee financial concerns includes stressful personal situations that distract employees’ attention from the work at hand. Thirty-nine percent of employers say that’s the item of most concern to employees, followed by increasing health care costs at 34% and the expenses and pressures of caring for family members (24%). Lackluster retirement savings come in sixth on the list, with 18% of employers choosing it as either the number one or number two issue for their employees.

Reasons employers offer financial wellness programs

To address these employee concerns, many employers — 70%, in fact — say they offer financial wellness programs. Among them, 36% intend to offer even more support for the coming year. Companies explain their business rationale for offering financial wellness programs as related primarily to employee retention and productivity. Thirty-one percent of employers said these programs help them retain valued employees, and 30% point  to workforce productivity as the primary business reason for the program. In the last two years, 77% of employers have promoted their financial wellness programs to their employees. Interestingly, most employers do not tailor these types of programs based on employee segmentation. Just 7% have designed a program specifically for their hourly employees, 4% for Millennials, and 2% for employees with young children.

Among employers responding to the Financial Well-Being Study from WorldatWork, 90% said they offer a retirement program such as a 401(k) or 403(b) plan with an employer matching contribution, and 89% offer one without a match. Health savings accounts (HSAs) are popular, with 42% offering one funded by the employee and 31% with partial employer funding. In both cases, they are being promoted as a vehicle to provide money in retirement.

Participation hovering around two-thirds of employees

Even with 9 out of 10 employers offering a 401(k)-type retirement plan, employers report an average of 64% active participation.

On average, employees contribute 8% of salary to the plan. To receive the maximum matching contribution, employers commonly say employees must contribute 5% of base salary.
The WorldatWork study, published in November 2019, reveals some encouraging news as well as challenges, when it comes to employee understanding of financial benefits. For example, 43% of employers report their employees understand the necessity of diversifying their assets — a question asked in conjunction with others related to stock purchase programs.

Click here to read more highlights of the Financial Well-Being Study.

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