Prudential’s 10th annual Benefits and Beyond: Employer Perspectives on Financial Wellness survey finds that the number of US employers offering financial wellbeing benefits has grown exponentially in the past two years. This year’s study, data for which was collected in September-October 2017, finds that 83 percent of employers are offering these programs, compared to just 20 percent in the last study, conducted in June-July 2015.
In fact, Prudential’s data show that more employers offer this benefit today than the combined total of those who said they already offered it, planned to offer it, and would like to offer it in 2015. An additional 14 percent say they plan to offer financial wellbeing benefits in the next one to two years, indicating that these programs will soon be nearly universal among US employers.
Employers are also offering a wider variety of financial wellbeing programs, Prudential found: seven, on average. The most common of these include digital portals, tools and calculators to help employees measure their financial health, retirement planning assistance, and access to financial advice or advisors—though recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show that only about 20 percent of US employees have access to financial advising services through their employer. Employers told Prudential that they were measuring the success of these initiatives along several metrics, including employee satisfaction, retirement plan participation, productivity gains, and ROI.
“Our survey reveals that employers and employees report higher satisfaction with their benefit plans when financial wellness programs are offered,” Vishal Jain, financial wellness officer for Prudential’s Workplace Solutions Group, said in a statement. “Employees increasingly look to their employers to help them achieve financial security, and employers are seeking data and insights on how to respond and influence better outcomes.”
Prudential is not the first to find benefits leaders focusing more on financial wellbeing; another survey last year from Fidelity Investments and the National Business Group on Health found a very similar percentage of employers offering these benefits. These programs are part of a broader trend in the benefits space of addressing emotional and financial wellbeing, as well as physical and mental health. This in turn reflects a growing understanding among employers, also captured in Prudential’s survey, of the impact financial security or insecurity can have on employees’ stress levels, mental health, job satisfaction, and performance.
Our research at CEB, now Gartner, has looked into how employers can design a wellbeing program that delivers a strong benefit to both the organization and its employees. The most effective wellbeing offerings, we find, are holistic, addressing every major aspect of wellbeing (physical, emotional, and financial). That doesn’t mean, however, that more is always better: Offering an expansive set of the newest and trendiest wellbeing benefits doesn’t have an impact on employee engagement. What really matters is making sure that your wellbeing offerings are clearly communicated, easy to use, and attuned to your employees’ needs and concerns.