Bank of America survey highlights the necessity of financial wellness benefits

Workers are faced with a variety of challenges arising from the COVID-19 pandemic and they want their employers to help them more than ever.

Bank of America released its annual Company Achievement Report, in which the bank surveyed employers and employees to assess how companies are contributing to the general well-being of workers and how benefits are performing to improve employee well-being.

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Sixty percent of workers say their mental, physical (54%) and financial (46%) health significantly affects their overall wellbeing, but only a third of employers communicate, according to the Bank of. America survey on these topics more than twice a year.

Employees want more from their employers and companies are feeling the pressure: 95% of companies surveyed told Bank of America they feel responsible for the financial wellbeing of their employees, which now includes a greater focus on helping the whole person, Kevin says Crain, Head of Workplace Solutions Integration at Bank of America.

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“Now employers are saying, ‘I have a far greater responsibility here than just offering retirement plans,” says Crain. “Employers are responsible for making savings in healthcare and for delivering more immediate education and programs to help employees in a holistic way.”

Crain reached out to Employee Benefit News to discuss employers’ financial wellness strategies and ways employers can contribute to the holistic wellbeing of their employees.

Are employers effectively communicating the value of the wellness benefits they offer?
A big problem we found in the study is that employers don’t communicate. Ten percent of the employers surveyed even stated that they did not really communicate, but only talked about the advantages of new hires. It’s not enough, and employees tell employers that. Employers are doing things right by developing more effective programs, but what they haven’t done as well as they should is communicating more often with their employees about how to take advantage of those benefits.

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But what in my opinion is the answer to this problem is the steady advancement of financial wellness communication through digital integration. Right now, through digital integration, I can see everything in my life: I can go online and look at my mental wellbeing app, I can access my banking, accounting and mortgage information, I can see my retirement program. Employers need to take advantage of digitization to address employee needs and even go beyond what employees ask of them.

How do employers react to how financial stress affects employee wellbeing?
When you have financial uncertainties and they are severe, I can almost guarantee that you will have emotional stress and then I can almost guarantee that you will have physical problems. You can’t solve these three things and you see how employers react when they organize the HR department.

HR has traditionally been organized in silos: the 401 (k) Group, the Executive Compensation Group, the Healthcare Group, etc. Now HR is organized around wellness.

What actionable steps can employers take to help workers improve their financial situation?
The first thing they need to do is understand that the employee goes through various stages in their financial life during their time with the employer. Basic education is important; You can’t assume that employees know how to bank, budget, or save right away. Bank of America offers Better Money Habits to partner with employers to help people achieve financial security.

For example, things like healthcare savings accounts can help meet an immediate financial need. There are long-term pension programs. Employers need to take a step back and look at the full wellness screen and make sure they meet each of these needs.

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