While 80 per cent of employees said they want some type of financial education in the workplace, just 58 per cent of employers said they offer it and 25 per cent said they plan to offer it in the next two years, according to a new survey by Eckler Ltd.
More than half (54 per cent) of employee respondents said they feel some degree of stress about their finances and 32 per cent said they’d describe it as a high degree of stress. However, a significant percentage of employer respondents said they aren’t convinced a financial education program could be effective at increasing employee productivity (40 per cent) or commitment to the company (37 per cent).
“As employers continue to look to financial wellness programs as the prescription for mitigating both the personal and workplace impacts of financial stress, designing a program that fits the symptoms and is offered with the right treatment plan is the key to success,” noted the survey.
In terms of the reason for offering financial education, 46 per cent of employer respondents cited helping employees understand the value of their benefits. However, among employee respondents, financial education ranked at No. 8 on their list of important topics. The top five financial wellness topics were: pension and retirement planning; retirement income planning; financial planning; registered retirement savings plans and tax-free savings accounts; and company benefits.
For financial education, the survey found session timing, delivery method and who’s delivering the session are critical to ensuring effective programs. The majority (60 per cent) of employees said they’d prefer to participate in education sessions during work hours. Employers, at 61 per cent, were aligned with this sentiment. And around 40 per cent of employees said they’d be willing to use personal time outside of working hours to participate.
The delivery method is equally important. Among all age groups, employees said they prefer live seminars. Breaking it out into generations, 23 per cent of those under age 25 said they prefer this method, following by millennials (32 per cent) and employees age 41 and older (40 per cent). Again, this aligns with employers, as 35 per cent of those that offer financial education do so through live seminars.
And when it comes to who’s delivering the seminar, the vast majority of employee respondents said they want someone who’s unbiased (84 per cent), experienced (85 per cent) and accredited (80 per cent).
The survey also found 24 per cent of employers said they believe financial education is effective at improving employees’ financial well-being and 27 per cent of employees concurred with this belief.
Where employers measure the value of their program, 62 per cent said they rely on satisfaction questionnaires and attendance numbers. Almost half (45 per cent) said they’ve increased communication about their program and 33 per cent said they’re planning to do so. About a third (28 per cent) said they’ve already improved their program offering and 39 per cent said they’d like to do so.
“Employers must begin to draw the connections between their organizational concerns and objectives and the impact of employee financial stress,” noted the survey. “Almost half of working Canadians admit that stress related to personal finances has had an impact on their performance at work. Providing the information, support and encouragement for employees to tackle their personal finances provides immediate and ongoing benefits to the organization.”