A recent survey finds a growing interest in financial wellness programs—and a strong sense that access to a financial professional is the most useful aspect of those programs.
According to the Principal Financial Well-Being Index, there is broad agreement among employers that investing in financial wellness programs is key to business recovery. About 70% of employers agree with the positives of financial wellness programs, ranging from improving employee long-term financial planning to helping attract and retain talent. On the other hand, fewer than two-thirds 62%) of businesses currently offer financial wellness benefit programs.
However, 45% of businesses see access to a financial professional as the most useful financial wellness offering for employees (out of 25 options in the survey), followed by tax preparation services (35%), identity theft protection (34%), and savings programs for higher education (34%).
Employers also acknowledged the importance of retirement plans to their workforce. Over 80% of businesses see retirement plan offerings as essential in the attraction and retention of talent, and 74% of employers feel it is their role to help employees prepare for retirement.
Among a list of 18 benefits tracked by the survey—everything from retirement savings to pet insurance—made gains. A greater percentage of businesses plan to increase telehealth (42%), health care benefits (41%) and mental health/well-being services (38%) in the next 12 months.
The survey found that most businesses are unaware of new legislative incentives for these programs. Of employers with less than 500 employees, a little under half are aware of the Securing a Strong Retirement Act (SECURE 2.0) in Congress that could help them implement or expand retirement offerings. In contrast, 90% of businesses with 500 to 10,000 employees know about the proposed legislation.
The pulse survey of 500 employers from companies with two to 10,000 employees spans a diverse array of industries, with more than half of the employers falling within finance/insurance, professional/scientific/technical, construction, manufacturing, and information management. Data shows that almost 70% of surveyed businesses have improved financials, compared to this time last year, and 84% are comfortable with their cash flow despite the continuing impact of the pandemic.
Sixty-three percent of businesses reported being fully operational, driving the need for additions to their workforce (up from 40% in March), and more businesses say they’re hiring, from fewer than one-third in March to nearly half in June.
The focused efforts to increase benefits are accompanied by changes to the way businesses are presenting them to their workforce. Sixty-five percent of businesses are improving digital access to benefits for employees, while only 14% lack any digital options. According to those surveyed, this digitalization addresses the need to help employees better understand their benefits (71%), onboarding employees online (62%), and the need of reducing paper (40%).