Your employees want financial wellness programs, even if they won’t use them

Employees apparently really like financial wellness programs, according to a survey of 1,000 adults employed at companies with at least 2,000 employees, conducted by Harris Poll for Jellyvision Lab, Inc. Eighty-six percent of respondents whose employers did not offer any kind of financial wellness programs thought that it was either very or somewhat important for employers to offer them. What confused the survey-takers was the finding that, even though 70% of employees whose employers did not offer resources to help employees plan their financial futures thought it was very or at least somewhat important for employers to offer those resources, only 38% of those employees whose companies offer those particular kinds of financial wellness programs actually utilize them.

Adding to the confusion, 60% of employees whose companies did not offer resources to help manage personal finances said they would be very or at least somewhat likely to use them, but, of the employees whose employers actually offered personal finance planning, only 46% use them. Jellyvision had some theories with regard to employees’ apparent reluctance to use financial wellness programs, including the possibility of overestimation among employees who did not currently have access to either of these types of programs.

Lack of awareness. Jellyvision noted that 25% of employees were not even sure if their employers offered a financial wellness program. More specifically, 23% were not sure if their employers offered programs to help an employee plan for his or her financial future, and 27% did not know if their employer offered resources to help manage personal finances.

Lack of knowledge. A full 63% of respondents thought that they should know more about their company’s financial wellness program than they did. This was especially true of younger adults, with 73% stating that they should be better informed about such matters, compared to 51% of coworkers aged 50 or above.

Intimidation. Jellyvision also discovered that more than half of employees whose companies offered financial wellness programs wished that they used friendlier language, and 36% found it intimidating to use the programs. More men (45%) found the programs intimidating than did their female coworkers (23%), and younger workers were more likely to feel intimidated. Forty-seven percent of those aged 18-34 found the programs intimidating, compared to 43% of workers aged 35-49 and 19% aged 50 and older.

Certain words and phrases, says Jellyvision, may alienate employees and prevent them from taking action. For example, the most common phrases that employees said would cause them to tune out were: “spending habits,” “living within your means,” and “estate planning.” Encouraging phrases were “planning for retirement,” “planning for your financial future,” and “maximizing your savings.”

Privacy and stigma. Most respondents (60%) said they did not want their coworkers to now they were participating in a financial wellness program, and 45% did not even want their employers to know they were participating. Part of this could be attributable to the fact that 36% of workers feel there is at least some stigma associated with using an employer financial wellness program. The stigma felt was higher among those feeling financially stressed (45%).


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