Financial Wellness and Productivity: How are Your Employees Affected?
Employees worried about their personal finances are less productive, more distracted and are easier targets for poachers. While none of that is a revelation, a recent nationwide survey showed just how pervasive financial insecurity is in the workforce and how large the losses and potential risks are for employers at every level. When asked what they feel stress about, 59 percent of respondents said personal finances were their number one concern. Other familiar stressors paled in comparison — “my job” at 15 percent, “relationships” at 12 percent and “health” at just 10 percent.
If you have a retirement planning professional who works with your employees, that’s a good start, but the study shows the problem — and effective solutions — go much deeper.
Who’s at Risk?
Not surprisingly, younger, lower-earning employees feel stressed about their finances. But that concern extends all the way up the income ladder and across all generations. In fact, 38 percent of Millennials reported feeling financial stress, compared to 34 percent of Gen X and 25 percent of Baby Boomers.
|Effect||Those Who Say They're Stressed||Those Who Say They Aren't Stressed|
|Finances have been a distraction at work||47%||10%|
|Spend three hours or more at work each week thinking about or dealing with personal finance issues*||49%||30%|
|Health has been impacted by financial worries**||26%||18%|
|Relationships at home have been impacted by financial worries***||38%||18%|
For companies concerned about a stressed workforce, financial wellness goes beyond having a retirement plan advisor inform employees about their options and basic financial literacy. Formal coaching on handling personal finances can lower stress, boost productivity and increase retention. Employees who participated in a formal financial wellness plan at work say that it helped them prepare for retirement (47 percent), pay off debt (29 percent), save for their goals (29 percent) and control their spending (29 percent). Demonstrating concern for employees’ financial health could also reduce the allure of jumping ship if they feel your company cares and is taking steps to help them.
Changes, and Not Just in Attitudes
Organizations using retirement plan advisors that offer robust financial wellness programs aren’t just engaging in self-interested risk-abatement — they’re signaling to employees that they understand our economic system is undergoing rapid and significant change. The 20th century paradigm of locking into a lifetime profession has been replaced by seismic shifts and massive uncertainty. Companies that offer employees effective help in navigating the new economy stand to benefit from a workforce that is not only more productive, but one that’s more loyal and committed as well.
*Asked of those who say finances have been a distraction at work
** As noted on page 19 of the study, employees could choose as many answers as applicable to the question, “Which of the following have been impacted by your financial worries?”
Why CFOs Should Consider Partnering with a Retirement Plan Advisor
Many companies are outsourcing more and more activities, mainly because outsourcing can provide cost savings and increase productivity. Outsourcing allows companies to focus more on their core businesses, rather than spending time on areas outside their expertise. For retirement plan sponsors, outsourcing services makes sense for these reasons as well as others.
As a plan sponsor, you and your company are plan fiduciaries and can be held legally responsible for the plan’s administration and performance. Many sponsors outsource some or most responsibility. A 3(21) investment fiduciary assumes part of the risk, functioning as a co-fiduciary that provides prudent and objective advice. A 3(38) investment fiduciary accepts total responsibility and the lion’s share of potential liability for selecting, monitoring and replacing investment options, which helps the plan sponsor manage the risk of legal action concerning investment decisions. A true 3(16) outsourcing of the plan administrator role means offloading not only the day-to-day mechanics of plan administration, but the ultimate fiduciary responsibilities attendant thereto. That said, when plan sponsors contemplate outsourced 3(16) services, they need to dive deep into contract review to understand what is actually being outsourced and what might remain in their hands.
Independent third-party plan administration and fiduciary services help your retirement plan by managing conflicts of interest, biases or self-interest. As set out in the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA), both 3(21) and 3(38) investment fiduciaries, as well as 3(16) plan administrators, are required to act solely in the interest of plan participants and must act prudently when making decisions about, or administering, the plan. These actions provide plan sponsors and plan participants with a greater level of risk management and confidence in the retirement plan.
Increased Service Level
Typically, a third-party plan administrator or fiduciary can devote much more time and attention to the support of your retirement plan than can employees. Employees often "squeeze in" plan-related tasks around their regular duties, and may lack the skills, training and resources that an outsourced provider offers.
Improve Your Retirement Plan by Encouraging Employees to Join
Many organizations face the problem of increasing employee participation in their retirement plans. Participation is crucial to the success of the plan, and it improves employee retention and overall job satisfaction — but how can plan sponsors improve participation rates?
- Design: Your plan needs to meet the needs of your employees and your company. Employee matching contributions, waiting periods for new employees, loan or hardship withdrawal options, investment options and more should be structured to make it easy for employees to join and feel confident they can control their assets. A qualified consultant can help you understand design features that meet your company and employee goals.
- Communication: Investing and financial markets are confusing for most people, and confusion doesn’t inspire confidence or trust. One way to improve confidence and trust in your plan is to regularly supply plan information and investment education. Communication to employees helps your plan advisors demonstrate their competence and expertise. Consider setting up dedicated meetings, targeted communications, one-on-one sessions, emails, webinars and more! These are just a few ways to communicate the value of your retirement plan to employees and help them prepare for retirement.
Securities offered through Kestra Investment Services, LLC (Kestra IS), member FINRA/SIPC. Investment advisory services offered through Kestra Advisory Services, LLC (Kestra AS) an affiliate of Kestra IS. Kestra IS and Kestra AS are not affiliated with Higginbotham.
The “Retirement Times” is published monthly by Retirement Plan Advisory Group’s marketing team. This material is intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice and is not intended to replace the advice of a qualified attorney, tax adviser, investment professional or insurance agent. (c) 2018. Retirement Plan Advisory Group.