May 21, 2014
Stacy Van Alstyne
International Foundation Survey Finds Employers Increasing Education Opportunities to Help Employees Face Financial Challenges
More Programs in Place to Help Meet Growing Demand for Financial Education
Brookfield, Wisconsin—A new survey from the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans found that more than three in five employers believe their employees face more personal financial challenges today than they did five years ago. To respond to these challenges, employers are offering financial education programs to their workforce to increase their ability to manage their income and plan for retirement. Additionally, employers are recognizing the value of customizing their educational offerings to meet the unique needs of their workforce.
While traditional programs such as retirement planning benefits, investments and savings are the most common offerings, the findings show that employers are beginning to move beyond these typical offerings to better reach their participants.
"Employers are finding that successful education depends on customization," explained Julie Stich, Director of Research at the International Foundation. "Offering education in multiple languages, to spouses, or based on specific criteria such as age, income or life events will increase interest and increase the number of employees who benefit."
The report, Financial Education for Today's Workforce: 2014 Survey Results, also found that most employers would rate the financial savviness of their workforce as medium to poor and their workers ill-prepared for retirement. Employers also recognized how employee financial issues can have a significant negative impact on job performance, particularly affecting employee stress levels and the ability to focus in the workplace. Accordingly, nearly two in five employers say they feel a responsibility to educate their employees on financial issues and help them become financially literate managers of their money.
"Financial stressors weigh heavily on employees, and have a direct impact on work performance. Employees are looking to employers for assistance with budgeting, planning for retirement and understanding their benefits," said Stich. "Employers are using a variety of resources aimed at improving the physical, mental and financial wellness of their employees. We hope to see continued growth in these areas as financial education becomes more vital for today's workplace and employee well-being."
Additional findings from the survey included:
- Half of all organizations have experienced an increase in demand from participants for financial education in the past five years.
- More than one-third of organizations offering financial education have just started offering this education in the past five years.
- The two most commonly cited financial challenges affecting employees were trouble saving for retirement and credit card/other debt.
"By providing a variety of resources, employers have opened doors for employees who want to become better educated about their finances, benefits and retirement security," said Michael Wilson, CEO of the International Foundation. "We are encouraged that so many of our members are establishing financial education programs in their workplace, and we hope that employees not only take advantage of these benefits, but also use what they learn to better prepare themselves for their financial future."
In February 2014, the International Foundation surveyed member organizations across the United States and Canada on the various types of retirement and financial education offerings they provide to their employees and participants. In total, 397 responses were received (310 from the United States and 87 from Canada). Nearly half of the respondents represent corporations, nearly one-third represent multiemployer trust funds, and about one in five represents public employers/governmental entities. A wide cross-section of industries, fund sizes and regions/provinces were represented.
For complete results and more information on the Financial Education for Today's Workforce: 2014 Survey Results, please visit: www.ifebp.org/financialeducation.
About the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans
The International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans is a nonprofit organization, dedicated to being a leading objective and independent global source of employee benefits and compensation education and information. Total membership includes 33,000 individuals representing multiemployer trust funds, corporations, public employer groups and professional advisory firms throughout the United States and Canada. Each year, the International Foundation offers over 100 educational programs, including conferences and e-learning courses. Membership provides access to personalized research services and daily news delivery. The International Foundation sponsors the Certified Employee Benefit Specialist® (CEBS®) program in conjunction with the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and Dalhousie University in Canada.