This is a key finding from MetLife's 14th Annual Employee Benefit Trends Study (EBTS) which found that just 46 percent of all employees expect their personal financial situation to get better in the next year, compared to over half (52 percent) in 2014. MetLife's study also found that less than half of employees (44%) feel in control of their finances and the same amount say they feel overwhelmed by financial decisions.
To address these financial concerns, employees are turning to their employers for education and support to achieve financial security. MetLife's study found that the majority of employees (65 percent) said that their employers have a responsibility for the financial well-being of their employees and a third said they want their employer to help them solve their financial concerns.
Employers clearly have a significant opportunity to strengthen their relationships with their employees by empowering and educating them to make more informed decisions that meet their financial needs. A key way to do this is through the implementation of financial wellness programs.
While there may be a common misperception that employees aren't interested in financial wellness, this is far from the truth. Not only do employees want financial wellness programs, but these programs also help employers attract and retain top talent. If done correctly, financial wellness programs meet three key workplace measures:
- They boost productivity. With low productivity leading to poor business results, employers should constantly be thinking about ways to boost worker productivity. One way to do this is by decreasing employee stress. MetLife's study found that a quarter of employees are less productive at work because of financial worries and on top of that, the World Health Organization estimates that stress costs American businesses $300 billion dollars a year[i].
By implementing these programs, employees and employers both come out on top: employees reduce their financial concerns and stress while employers get a more productive workforce.
- They attract top talent. With unemployment rates at record lows, it's more important than ever that companies provide competitive offerings and benefits to attract top talent. Along with key benefits such as medical benefits, prescription drug coverage, and home insurance, employees want financial wellness programs.
In fact, 40% of employees say financial planning and education workshops are important when deciding to accept a job at a new employer, with nearly half (48%) of Millennials saying this is important.
- They engender loyalty. According to MetLife's study, over half of employees say financial education workshops are valuable for helping them to understand their financial needs, yet just over a third of employers offer these. Employees also say they're looking for their employer to provide financial wellness tools and employer incentives to help them manage their personal finances.
Organizations that take note of their employees' financial needs and implement solutions to meet them will be one step ahead of their competitors in driving loyalty and retaining top talent.
While health and wellness programs may have been a key attraction and retention drivers in the past, financial wellness is becoming just as - or more - important to employees. Workplaces that provide solutions to help their employees meet their financials needs will not only boost productivity but ultimately, win the talent war as well.
About the Author
Jeff Tulloch is Vice President of MetLife's PlanSmart organization. In this role, he is responsible for overseeing PlanSmart, MetLife's workplace financial education platform, which provides education and assistance to help meet the diverse financial needs of employees.
More than 200 of the Fortune 500 companies currently rely on PlanSmart to support their financial wellness efforts.[i] World Health Organization: Stress has been called the "health epidemic of the 21st century" by the World Health Organization and is estimated to cost American businesses up to $300 billion a year.