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Are Financial Wellness Programs Entering the Mainstream?

As employers increasingly determine that financial wellness programs can help improve employee productivity and reduce financial stress, it would seem that such programs are no longer in their pilot program days.

The findings of NEPC’s Defined Contribution Financial Wellness Survey reveal that virtually all (94%) recordkeepers have a financial wellness offering. Conducted in September with 17 recordkeeper respondents, the online survey also finds that the vast majority bundle service and do not charge additional fees.

In addition, NEPC found that more than half of DC plans offer a financial wellness program, but it would appear that the usage level still has some room for improvement. According to the results, when a financial wellness program is offered, 66% of plans have a participation rate of over 20%.

And while programs offer a broad range of solutions — emergency savings, retirement, budgeting, debt management and financial planning — 90% of recordkeepers report that retirement-based programs have the highest usage.

Other findings show that technology is a central component of the delivery process and programs are available through a variety of technology-based platforms, but human interaction is available about half the time.

Meanwhile, measuring program success still seems to be a challenge. NEPC explains that the metrics may not actually measure effectiveness, as measuring success appears to be focused on usage, which is not gauging the true return on investment, as opposed to fewer sick days, less stress and better engagement.