- Most of the employers — 8 in 10 — surveyed in MassMutual's 2019 Workplace Financial Wellness Study, released Dec. 3, said they believe their employees are struggling financially. Among other things, employers worry that workers are having trouble saving for retirement, paying off debts and dealing with medical costs.
- Employers said they've heard employees talking about these struggles, although retirement plan participation and knowledge of those who have second jobs also informed that statement.
- Many plan sponsors (57%) said they believe employees look to employers for help managing their finances. "MassMutual is hearing from employers that sponsor retirement plans that employees not only need help but want assistance from their employer" Ken Verzella, the company's head of financial wellness, said in a statement.
Employers may be on the right track: Roughly a third of respondents in a National Business Group on Health poll said they want help with financial health and planning from their employers.
Perhaps sensing that need, employers are increasingly offering financial wellness programs as a workplace benefit, but use and knowledge gaps remain. A report from Bank of America showed that 53% of employers surveyed said they offer financial wellness benefits, compared to 24% four years ago. Meanwhile, only 55% of employees consider their financial wellness good or excellent, down from 61% last year.
Addressing those use and knowledge gaps can aid employers in various ways. For one, financial worries affect worker productivity. According to a 2017 paper from the Center for Financial Services Innovation, 1 in 3 workers says that a personal money problem distracts them from their work and results in health problems. A 2018 report from Fidelity Investments showed that workers with the most debt reported twice the absenteeism of those with the least debt.
And although student loan repayment ranked fairly low in the MassMutual survey, it showed up much higher on the radars of companies with large millennial workforce participation and other studies have revealed a substantial interest from workers. To attract those just entering the workforce, some employers have prioritized financial wellness benefits and even student loan repayment matches — a benefit the IRS has approved.