By Ted Fowler and Mary Gibbons, Key@Work Relationship Managers, Capital Region, KeyBank
[dropcap color=”#888″ type=”square”]F[/dropcap]or years, businesses of all sizes have realized the value of workplace wellness and employee benefits programs. In fact, according to Wellable, 79 percent of employees cite a competitive benefits plan as an influencer in their career choices. Also, a Deloitte survey of business leaders showed that 79 percent of employers consider employee well-being important.
However, when people talk about traditional employee benefits, they talk about health insurance, employee assistance programs and ensuring healthy snacks in the vending machine. These are important benefits to be sure, but today’s employers are also taking stock of employee financial wellness—the ability of those who work for them to make confident financial choices that enable them to avoid stress today and provide for secure financial futures tomorrow.
At KeyBank, we know clients across the economic spectrum aren’t confident they have the insight and tools to make confident financial choices.
For employers, the biggest learning lesson is that employees’ financial stress can’t always be cured with a regular paycheck. The other important lesson is the understanding that employees’ financial stress impacts their personal wellbeing and their workplace contributions.
Here are some sobering findings from a 2018 PwC Employee Financial Wellness Survey:
• Regardless of age—Millennial, GenX or Baby Boomer—employees surveyed stated that financial challenges and money matters create the most stress in their lives.
• Despite a steadily improving economy and strong job market, nearly half (47 percent) of employees report they are stressed dealing with their financial situation, and 41 percent say their stress level related to financial issues increased over the past 12 months.
A positive takeaway from this is that employer awareness is rising, as is the recognition among employers that employees who are stressed about their finances are in worse financial shape compared with employees who are not stressed about their finances. For example, 37 percent of those feeling financial stress struggle to make minimum credit card payments each month, compared with 6 percent of employees not coping with financial stress.
Research shows that, at times, employees resort to taking time off from work to deal with financial concerns. Other times, employees may be present at work but their attention is focused on resolving their financial problems. Willis Towers Watson research showed employees with financial worries lost 12.4 days to “presenteeism”—being present but significantly distracted—nearly four times the days lost to actual absences.
Workplace financial wellness programs are one solution to this ongoing problem, and this is why more employers are offering financial wellness programs that provide the following services:
• Onsite sessions where employees can learn about financial wellness and best practices for understanding their personal finances and how to take control of their finances;
• Online resources that enable employees to track their spending, set budgets and document their progress toward specific financial goals;
• Personalized advice that is tailored to employees’ individual financial concerns;
• Banking products that support financial wellness.
Research shows workplace financial wellness programs make a difference. PwC reports 65 percent of employees who have workplace financial wellness programs tap those programs to get spending under control, prepare for retirement and pay off debt.
A worksite financial wellness program can make a tangible difference for employees. Case in point: after a recent Key@Work session, we were able to help five employees start the home buying process because they realized it required less of a down payment than they thought.
Workplace financial wellness programs also let employers demonstrate how much they value their employees, providing real-life and tangible support that helps employees be more financially fit.
We know how much managers care about their team. We know business owners consider their employees their most important asset. And we know that in a tightening labor market, workplace financial wellness programs can help employers retain valued employees and attract high-quality new talent, so business can remain competitive.
About the author: Ted Fowler and Mary Gibbons are Key@Work relationship managers for KeyBank in the Capital Region. Ted may be reached at either 518-580-2763 or [email protected]. Mary may be reached at 518-265-4259 at [email protected].
5 Company Benefits to Consider Before Accepting a New Job
Benefits are a vital part of any job offer. For example, an employer-sponsored health plan is generally much less expensive than any private health insurance you could find. Benefits are hugely important, not only for your compensation package but for your life. Here are five important ones to look out for:
A 401(k) Plan
Retirement planning is important, and businesses know this. According to a The Transamerica Institute, 74 percent of businesses offer a 401(k) or similar plan. The most common plans now offer a dollar-for-dollar match for those who save 6 percent. However, employers aren’t required to match funds—or to have a plan. Be sure to ask during the interview. Also ask about enrollment, which is not always automatic.
Company health care plans can be all over the map. Companies with fewer than 50 employees aren’t required to offer health benefits, while there are large companies that cover everything at 100 percent. Most businesses fall somewhere in between. Consider the needs of your entire family when researching health benefits. If you’re already on a spouse’s plan, you may want to skip your company’s plan and try to negotiate a higher salary instead. It’s not a common negotiation tactic, but health plans are expensive and businesses are always looking for ways to save, so it’s in your best interest to give it a shot.
A Workplace Trends study found 75 percent of employees ranked workplace flexibility as a top benefit. If the company you’re interested in doesn’t offer flextime, or if you’d like to tailor it to your own needs, negotiate. Workplace flexibility can save employers money and improve employee productivity and mental and physical health.
About 70 percent of companies offer relocation expense assistance, according to Fox Business. Smaller companies are less likely to have a relocation budget, but if they really want you, you may be able to work something out on an individual basis. You also might be able to deduct some of your moving expenses on your tax return.
Many companies will pay for education that provides job skills. If your company doesn’t offer tuition reimbursement, ask if they will cover expenses for professional memberships and conference attendance, which boosts their visibility and builds your credibility.