Employee awareness of financial wellness programs still low
Compared to 2013, American workers’ stress about their finances is on the rise, and to make matters worse, confidence in their financial futures is going in the other direction, according to a recent survey.
While the latest Bank of America Merrill Lynch Workplace Benefits Report found that employers continue deploy financial wellness programs as a potential strategy to halt those negative trends, 83% of employees today cite workplace financial benefits as critical to their financial security.
- The survey also found that three in five employees feel stressed about their financial futures (up from 50% in 2013); 55% admit to needing help managing their finances, including saving for retirement and managing debt; 69% have experienced a healthcare cost rise over the past two years and 59% want help understanding how workplace financial benefits can aid their financial security.
Among workers who have experienced an increase in healthcare costs, 77% indicate that they are saving less for retirement as a result, and 23% report saving “significantly less.”
Also in response to higher medical costs, 46% of employees have started contributing or increased their contributions to health savings accounts (HSAs) and flexible spending accounts (FSAs). The percentage of employees participating in an HSA also grew by nearly 50% since 2013.
Unfortunately, HSAs are difficult to understand, as 53% employees with an HSA view it as a short-term vehicle to cover near-term healthcare expenses, as opposed to a long-term savings vehicle. And 55% usually spend their entire HSA balance within a given year.
The survey found that employees are overwhelmingly looking to their employers to help manage their financial lives, with 59% saying they need further help understanding how those benefits can work for them.
Kim Kasin, financial guidance executive at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, explained that "one area of life can naturally spill over into another," so it’s wise for employers to offer guidance and solutions that address their employees’ complete financial picture.
- Bank of America Merrill Lynch 2016 Workplace Benefits Report: Empowering and Encouraging employees to plan for their financial future
- Benefits News Financial wellness programs growing, yet employee awareness remains low