Should firms do more for workers’ financial wellness?

by HCA04 Feb 2014
When the 2008 market downturn began to instill panic in employees at manufacturing group Leviton, the company’s management noticed that 401k contributions were plummeting. Employees were fearful, and human resources grew concerned that many weren’t saving enough for their retirements. Immediately, says vice president of human resources Fran Ruderman, the HR department began to educate staff on the benefits of 401k savings through professional financial advisors.

The company is not alone in stepping up to assist employees in what might have previously been thought to have been a fiercely personal matter. Studies from Aon Hewitt and Bank of America Merrill Lynch both indicate an upward trend in employers offering financial strategy support in some way or another.
  • 58% of employees say they need financial planning guidance
  • 81% of employers feel responsible for their employees’ overall financial wellness
  • 48% of large companies and 43% of medium companies either have a financial wellness strategy for employees or plan to add one by 2015
  • 70% of employers offer staff access to financial advisors, up from 56% in 2012
The advice may well be necessary, since a Gallup survey recently showed only a third of Americans prepare a detailed household budget.

Many 401(k) providers now offer financial advisory services to employees of companies that use them, at no extra cost, said Ruderman. “I see companies being hesitant to offer advice and I find that pretty amazing considering that it’s available and that the individual has the option to choose to pursue or not,” she said. “It doesn’t make any sense to me.”

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