Recently, the Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association (TIAA) performed a comprehensive survey about employees’ participation in financial wellness plans through their employers. Perceptions about such plans may be helpful to sponsors who have a financial wellness plan in place for their employees, or to those who are considering implementing them. The survey was conducted online from October 22 to November 3, 2021 and collected responses from 3,000+ Americans ages 18 and older on a broad range of financial management issues and topics.
Results from the survey indicate varying definitions of “financial wellness” from employees. Responses included:
- Having the means to take care of your family and others (53 percent).
- Not worrying about money or debts (51 percent).
- Feeling protected financially from life’s unexpected events (51 percent).
- Retirement financial security (36 percent).
When asked about their current priorities for securing financial wellness, their responses included:
- Having a reliable source of income (38 percent).
- The ability to pay monthly bills without difficulty (38 percent).
- Being on track with retirement savings (16 percent).
Retirement Planning and Financial Wellness Programs
An interesting finding from the survey indicated that most don’t consider retirement planning as part of their financial wellness. It’s difficult to focus on retirement, they said, when they’re facing more immediate and pressing financial needs. In fact, 57 percent expressed interest in learning more about it through a financial wellness program provided by their employer. That bodes well for plan sponsors, and according to Snezana Zlatar, senior managing director and head of financial wellness advice and innovation at TIAA, financial wellness programs that make the most impact are those that address both short-term and long-term goals, which are inherently linked.
Results indicate that impact, too. Employees who have participated in a financial wellness program are more confident about their progress towards retirement in the following areas:
- Being able to retire when they want to (54 percent vs. 32 percent).
- Being able to afford the retirement lifestyle they want (54 percent vs. 29 percent).
- Being able to live comfortably in retirement without running out of money (50 percent vs.29 percent).
Employees who choose not to participate in a financial wellness program through their employee expressed the following concerns:
- Worries about hidden costs or fees (27 percent).
- Not wanting to disclose finances/issues to employer (25 percent).
- Belief that programs wouldn’t be as effective as offerings they could find on their own (20 percent).
- Not thinking offerings would make a difference (17 percent).
Financial Wellness Programs: What Employers Can Do
TIAA recommends that employers can get ahead of these concerns with ongoing education about financial wellness program benefits, providing confidentiality of financial information, explicit cost reporting and recognizing the diversity of their employee population.
Says Zlatar, “Whether employees are interested in guaranteed income for life or help managing their federal student loans, we’ve seen that increased flexibility in benefits, more financial education and personalized advice ultimately lead to better outcomes and increased feelings of financial wellness.”
Interested in the financial wellness of your employers? Contact Carnegie Investment Counsel for a corporate retirement plan management consultation.
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