Two-thirds (63 per cent) of North American employers offer financial education to their staff and a further 19 per cent are considering doing so, according to a new survey by the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans.

The survey, which queried 448 organizations from Canada and the United States, found that, among employers that do offer financial education, more than half (57 per cent) consider it successful, while six per cent said it isn’t. Two in five reported an increased demand for the benefit from employees over the past two years.

Read: 40% of Canadian workers trust employer for financial information, advice

A quarter (24 per cent) of respondents have a financial education budget in 2018, which is significantly higher than the 14 per cent that said the same in 2016. Among employers with a financial education budget, 20 per cent are measuring the return on investment of their initiatives, while 29 per cent are considering measuring ROI in the future.

“Employers are stepping up their commitment to providing financial education to their employees,”said Julie Stich, associate vice-president of content at the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans, in a news release. “More employers are devoting a budget for this type of education. They’re also going the extra mile to assess the concerns and needs of their unique workforce and the type of education that would be effective.”

Looking at the most popular types of financial education, 90 per cent of survey participants offer voluntary classes and workshops, followed by free personal consultation services (63 per cent), retirement income calculators (59 per cent), links to informational websites (58 per cent) and projected account balance or pension statements (53 per cent).

Read: Financial well-being affecting work performance, stress levels

Among survey participants offering financial education, 39 per cent also offer it to employees’ spouses, 35 per cent have asked employees what topics they’re interested in, 30 per cent offer it in languages other than English and 25 per cent tailor the education to each generation.

When it comes to the top financial challenges facing their employees, 70 per cent of employers cited credit card and other debt, followed by saving for retirement, paying for their children’s education and covering of basic living expenses.

The impacts of these financial factors on the workplace, according to the survey, include stress (79 per cent), difficulty focusing (64 per cent), physical health problems (36 per cent) and absenteeism (34 per cent).

“An employee’s personal financial stress — whether it’s long term like saving for retirement or immediate like paying the rent — can have a direct impact on their performance at work,” said Stich. “Employers are offering financial education to help employees manage their money, understand their workplace benefits and improve their investment decisions.”

Read: Financial woes distracting Canadians at work: survey

Copyright © 2019 Transcontinental Media G.P. Originally published on benefitscanada.com

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