​Communication Efforts Are Expanding to Help Employees Increase Their Financial Security

For Immediate Release
April 28, 2016

Brookfield, Wisconsin—During a recent meeting of board and committee members, the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans polled a group of 150 U.S. and Canadian benefit industry leaders, asking: What is the single largest influencer when it comes to your workers' financial decisions? Seventy-four percent responded that employees are most influenced by family members, friends, co-workers or peers. With this in mind, employers are adapting their financial education efforts to better fit the needs of their workforce.

Based on poll responses from the meeting, the top two reasons organizations provide  financial/retirement education programs are to ensure workers can securely retire and, secondly, to reduce financial distress so workers are more productive and engaged on the job. Nineteen percent of employers provide financial education simply because "it's the right thing to do."

Organizations have been getting more creative with financial education delivery methods, finds a recent International Foundation report, Financial Education for Today's Workforce: 2016 Survey Results. Two-thirds of employers surveyed offer financial education, and they are finding ways to reach those most influential to their employees.

For example, that same report found 40% of employers provide financial education to spouses/partners. In addition, 41% provide financial education opportunities before or after normal working time, and 20% offer education on the weekends so spouses/partners can attend.

Noting that direct communications coming from the organization itself often fall flat, another International Foundation report, Benefits Communication Survey Results, found that 63% of employers are leveraging word-of-mouth communication through workplace "champions" so employees hear about benefits (like financial education) from a more impactful influence, their peers.

"In our focus groups, surveys and case study work, we've seen the importance of workplace champions," said Julie Stich, CEBS, research director at the International Foundation. "Champions are passionate about the benefit in question—in this case, financial education. Often they'll embrace the education they receive from their employer and pursue more information on their own. They'll adopt the benefit in their own life and eagerly talk with their co-workers about it as well. Their enthusiasm, knowledge and 'peer' status grabs their co-workers' attention and trust."

Stich said that the International Foundation's Benefits Communication report showed that, among employers using a champion approach, 75% reported success with this method.

By influencing a new audience, employers are taking that extra step to secure a successful financial future for their employees.

Polling results are from 150 U.S. and Canadian industry leaders who attended the Financial Education for Retirement Security: Four Approaches presentation at the International Foundation's board and committee meeting in conjunction with National Employee Benefits Day. To learn more about what's working in financial education and view case study video presentations, visit www.ifebp.org/benefitsday.