When employers educate their workers and help them make maximum use of their benefits, employees are likely to be more productive and engaged, according to two recent surveys. For example, in a recent survey conducted by Unum, 82% of employees who rated their benefits education highly also rated their employer as an excellent or a good place to work.* Similarly, when the Personal Finance Employee Education Foundation and Employee Benefit News spoke with employers for their perspective, 83% believed that basic financial education was extremely important to their organization's overall level of productivity.2 Despite these beliefs, a significant number of employers are reducing the amount of education provided to employees. According to the survey co-sponsored by the foundation and Employee Benefit News, the percentage of employers that provided the required investment/retirement education associated with a retirement plan declined from 88% in 2010 to 82% in 2012. A much smaller percentage, 52%, provided workplace financial education on topics such as budgeting, debt reduction, and credit management. However, it is worth mentioning that the percentage covering these topics increased significantly from 28% in 2010.**
When the foundation and Employee Benefit News asked employers about barriers to providing financial education in the workplace, 70% of employers mentioned too many higher priorities, 55% indicated high costs, and 49% said interference with employee work time. In addition, approximately half were not sure that upper management would support financial education in the workplace.
Unum's study revealed similar trends:
- Just one half of employees received a printed brochure about their benefits in 2011, down from 70% in 2008.
- Slightly more than one third of employees were offered an opportunity to attend a question-and-answer session about their benefits in 2011, down from 52% in 2008.
- Just 29% of employees had access to a toll-free number to speak with a benefits professional in 2011, a deep decline from 47% in 2008.
As employers prepare for the fourth-quarter benefits enrollment period, they may want to ask whether their financial education efforts need a boost given the needs of the workforce and their organizational goals.
To schedule an individual workshop or to register for a Workplace Wellness series of workshops, contact CCFS Director Brian Tramontano.