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During the coronavirus pandemic, employers and employees have seen major changes to their group retirement plans.

For example, many employees who were able to continue working during the pandemic have seen employer contributions reduced or fully suspended. And some employees have seen this in addition to a pay cut or reduced hours.

Of course, financial wellness has been a topic growing in popularity over the last few years. However, these changes have pushed the landscape for employee education topics. Now, more than ever, the lessons are extremely important for employees. The day-to-day stresses of financial concern are greater than ever.

Employers can assist employees by reaching out to their plan provider or consultant and asking about education opportunities around financial wellness. Most insurers have some type of financial wellness education modules and presentations, while many group retirement consultants also offer these types of sessions.

Read: Webinar: 2020 CAP Member Survey: Retirement savings, financial well-being in the era of coronavirus

Classic retirement education sessions are typically about years in the future. As a result, younger employees have difficulty seeing that far when they’re having a tough time paying today’s bills. Financial wellness education focuses on the present and how to get a financial house in order. These presentations offer tips on how to reduce current household costs, record spending, change spending habits and examine the root cause of overspending.

These sessions are typically offered face to face, but in current times we’ve seen more of a shift to webinars or recorded offerings, making it easier to participate. We’ve also found employees prefer being able to access the education sessions on their own time, rather than sitting in a live presentation set at a specified time in a specified place.

There are several ways that employers and employees will benefit from these education sessions. For employees, they”l receive help with planning in times of reduced income. When people feel like they’re in control and have a plan in place, the financial stress factor decreases. Employees will also appreciate that employers are offering informational assistance during tough times. For employers, they’ll have fewer financially stressed employees.

Read: Should early access to retirement funds be allowed due to coronavirus?

There’s an almost infinite amount of studies illustrating the cost of financial stress to employers. For instance, many employees use company time to juggle their finances, leading to less engaged employees. Sick days increase as employee stress rises and financial stress can end up leading to health issues. The provision of education sessions can help reduce company costs, engage employees and show them the company is a good corporate steward that cares about them.

Although there’s plenty of bad news for employees during this pandemic and the likely economic reality that will follow, employers offering financial wellness sessions allow employees to implement practices that will reduce the financial hardship they may be feeling.

Including financial wellness education sessions as part of overall assistance to employees is also likely to increase morale in a time when it needs a boost. It could be very timely to implement some of these education sessions now, especially if it hasn’t been part of a company’s programs in the past. 

Scott Anderson is regional vice-president of employee benefits at Hub International. The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of Benefits Canada.
Copyright © 2020 Transcontinental Media G.P. Originally published on benefitscanada.com

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