Employees Looking for Assistance with Financial Wellness, Study Finds

Employees have expressed a need for help with managing a variety of financial matters and are open to help from financial professionals, 401(k) providers and their employers, according to Bank of America Merrill Lynch’s annual Workplace Benefits Report.

The 2017 report shows that while employees are optimistic about their financial future, they still have widespread financial concerns. Among these are working longer than anticipated, not being able to work due to illness, and paying for their children’s education.

An indirect result of these financial concerns is that employees are bringing their worries to work while “on the clock.” Forty-three percent of respondents indicated they spend more than three hours a week on personal financial matters. The report further shows that younger employees devote even more time per week on personal financial matters, with 60% spending an average of four hours — twice as much as Generation X and four times as much as Baby Boomers.

These concerns are spilling over to other areas of the workplace as well, with nearly 6 in 10 respondents reporting that financial concerns have a negative impact on their health, leading to increased health care costs, absenteeism and lost productivity.

Increased health care costs, in turn, are affecting employees’ ability to save and pay down debt. Seventy-nine percent of employees indicated that they experienced an increase in health care costs in 2016, with 56% reporting that they are spending less or contributing less to their financial goals as a result.

While health care edges out retirement as the top employee benefit, help with saving for retirement ranks at the top in terms of managing a range of financial matters, with 50% saying they want assistance. In addition, 86% of employees indicated they would participate in a financial education program provided by their employer, suggesting that employers are viewed as a trusted source for help.

The report’s findings strongly suggest that there is an opportunity for employers and other industry stakeholders to help employees address financial concerns through financial wellness programs, putting them on a “path towards retirement success.”

The online survey was conducted by Boston Research Technologies on behalf of Bank of America Merrill Lynch from Sept. 22, 2016 to Oct. 7, 2016, with a national sample of 1,242 employees.

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