Coming out of the recession, employers in the United States are feeling an increased sense of responsibility towards the financial future of employees, according to a survey by Bank of America Merrill Lynch. Fifty-nine per cent said they feel a greater responsibility to help employees meet their financial goals and 53 per cent are providing financial benefit plans as well as access to financial education and advice.
Since the recession began, 47 per cent of employers have seen prospective employees asking more often about the financial benefit plans offered by their company. There have also been behavioural shifts, found the survey of 650 650 C-level executives, HR and benefit plan leaders:
• 58 per cent of employers find employees approaching retirement are taking a more active, hands-on approach to their financial benefit plans.
• 36 per cent find younger employees are enrolling earlier into financial benefit plans.
• 26 per cent find employees are contributing enough to receive their full company match at an earlier age.
• 19 per cent find employees are maxing out contributions at an earlier age.
Many employers offer access to advice and services that help employees prepare for retirement (61 per cent), pay for health care (51 per cent), understand investments (41 per cent) as well as stock options or an equity plan (27 per cent), manage day-to-day budgeting and spending (17 per cent) and monitor progress toward meeting financial goals (27 per cent), found the Workplace Benefits Report.
Employers also offer a range of tools to assist employees, including research or literature on investments, financial advisors, online tools and financial seminars. However, 59 per cent of the survey respondents said less than one-half of employees take advantage of the financial education and advice made available to them. When asked why, 54 per cent of employers believe employees do not view it as relevant to them and 54 feel employees perceive them as too complicated (54 per cent). Forty-six per cent said employees may be too busy and 23 per cent may not know these resources exist.
"With a diverse workforce, it becomes increasingly important to provide employees with financial education and advice tailored to their unique needs and life stage," said Kevin Crain, head of institutional client relationships at Bank of America Merrill Lynch. "Employers that make financial benefit plans more personalized and easy to engage with, and who consistently communicate the broader value of these plans, can distinguish themselves in the market, potentially increase employee loyalty and empower their workforce to take advantage of the resources available to them."
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