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The 1 Important Benefit More Companies Are Finally Thinking About

By Maurie Backman - Dec 15, 2017 at 5:19AM

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Will yours offer it this year?

In recent years, there's been a shift in the way companies focus on their employees' health. Though subsidized insurance has long been the standard, these days, employers are going above and beyond by sponsoring wellness programs as part of their workplace benefits. These offerings include everything from free gym memberships to in-office massages and aromatherapy.

But just as employees need to focus on their physical well-being, so too do they need to tend to their financial well-being. And thankfully, a growing number of companies are finally catching on to that need.

Professionals sitting through a presentation

IMAGE SOURCE: GETTY IMAGES.

In a recent Aon Hewitt report, nearly 60% of employers say they're likely to start focusing on the financial well-being of their workers in a manner that extends past basic retirement planning. Furthermore, 60% of employers feel that financial wellness has become all the more imperative over the past two years, and nearly half of companies are presently developing their own financial wellness tools and strategies.

If your company doesn't have a financial wellness program in place, you may want to rally some colleagues and bring it up at the next available opportunity. It could be the one benefit you never knew you were missing.

Why workers need financial wellness programs

It's no secret that countless workers rely on their employers to get their long-term financial planning in order. An estimated 79% of Americans, for example, have access to company-sponsored 401(k) plans, with the majority of those employers offering matching dollars to boot.

But a true financial wellness program goes well beyond retirement. Rather, it's meant to help workers navigate all aspects of their finances, from establishing emergency savings to buying insurance to determining how much of a mortgage to take on. Some companies go as far as to offer debt counseling and management. And many are also coming to address the one nagging expense that continues to haunt countless Americans: student loans.

Of course, financial wellness programs benefit workers and companies alike -- the more employees learn to get a handle on their finances, the better positioned they'll be to focus on their jobs, rather than see financial worries keep them distracted. The majority of U.S. adults today suffer from financial anxiety, and according to a Bank of America Merrill Lynch report, 43% of employees spend three or more hours per week stressing over financial matters. The result? Productivity, not surprisingly, falls by the wayside, and when that happens, everyone loses out.

And thus the push for programs that support employees and work to alleviate much of the aforementioned anxiety so many fall victim to. In fact, a good 57% of employers feel that by increasing their financial wellness offerings, they'll decrease the amount of time workers spend dealing with financial issues on the job.

But the primary motivator behind employers deciding to support financial wellness stems from the fact that they feel it's simply the right thing to do -- a sentiment expressed by 84% of companies who are creating or expanding such a program this year. Interestingly, however, only 36% of employees are actively asking for financial wellness support, so if your company isn't providing it, it's time to speak up. You have little to lose, and a whole lot of peace of mind to gain.

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