Making your financial wellness benefits work for every employee

The war for talents is raging just as violently as the COVID-19 pandemic. As employers seek recovery and workers grapple with the financial uncertainty of the past 18 months, adopting a unified financial performance strategy can harm both the company and its employees.

But the time has come for companies to invest in programs that are better tailored to the individual needs of employees in the company, especially if they want to attract and retain talent.

“Our research shows that 52% of working Americans are either looking for a job or are considering getting a job in the next few months,” said Trent Burner, vice president of research for the Society for Human Resource Management. “What’s important to working Americans is shifting, and if employers don’t keep reviewing their service portfolios, they’re at a disadvantage.”

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When it comes to designing an improved financial wellness program, employers should consider incorporating extensive financial education resources, digital tools such as sample spreadsheets and retirement calculators, and access to coaching and financial planning programs.

No two groups of employees are affected by COVID-19 in the same way. Financial well-being varies widely by gender, generation, employment status, race, and ethnicity – and some communities have reported greater hardship than others.

Thirty-five percent of working women say their financial health has suffered from COVID-19, compared to just 23% of working men who say the same, according to joint research by SHRM and Morgan Stanley at Work. In addition, 40% of working women are more likely to experience financial anxiety than 23% of working men.

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“Regardless of employment status, women were more likely than their male counterparts to report that their financial health had suffered due to COVID-19,” said Ragan Decker, SHRM senior researcher. “We attribute some of this to the ‘you session’. But even before the pandemic, women tended to have poor financial well-being compared to men because they have less confidence in their ability to make financial decisions and in their financial literacy. “

Across generations, only 15% of baby boomers say they experienced a financial upturn during the pandemic, and only 28% of millennials said the same, according to the study. Almost all generations surveyed said they care about personal financial advice, especially Generation Z, where 65% say they crave this type of education.

Across races, 63% of black workers, 61% of Hispanic or Latin American workers, and 65% of employees who identify as other races and races are more likely to say they care about personalizing financial coaching, compared to 48 % of white employees.

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Holistically, the workforce longs for an expansion of financial welfare benefits, in particular for perks that offer a personal approach or personal advice. For employers struggling to recruit talent in a competitive marketplace, access to financial advisors, student loan support, and care coverage can all help make a compelling case for job seekers.

“In our survey, we found that 35% of companies offer financial planning, compared to 89% who offer other benefits such as life and disability insurance,” says Burner. “Now is a good time to reconsider the financial wellbeing offerings you are offering your employees, and see whether they are using them as they should and whether you, the employer, are providing what they need to meet their needs have changed.”

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