In the December 17 issue of BenefitsPro Daily, staff writer Paula Aven Gladych reports that the majority of employers and human resources professionals feel at least somewhat responsible for their employees’ financial wellness, according to a survey by Bank of America Merrill Lynch. This is a good message for Purchasing Power brokers who offer employee purchase programs as a voluntary benefit.

To help improve financial well-being and peace of mind for their employees, many companies now offer various forms of education related to saving for retirement (70 percent), planning for health care costs (38 percent), debt management and budgeting (15 percent).

According to the article, the economic, regulatory and public policy environment of the past couple of years has caused corporate benefits leaders to review the retirement and health care benefits they offer to employees. The majority of HR professionals, 73 percent, report having to develop greater expertise across various retirement and health care-related topics to do their jobs effectively.

The study further proved that providing financial education and other resources is not only beneficial to workers but also to their company’s bottom line. For instance, employers believe that overall financial wellness leads to a more satisfied (76 percent), loyal (66 percent), engaged (65 percent) and productive (55 percent) workforce.

In the past year, employers have stepped up their efforts to provide employees with personalized financial advice and guidance. Seventy percent of employers now offer employees access to a one-on-one relationship with a financial professional, compared to just 56 percent in 2012; 55 percent offer tools to help employees see their full financial picture; and 49 percent offer online resources and education.

Sixty-nine percent of employers also offer employees relevant research and literature to help with important financial decisions; 43 percent target communications to employees specific to their life stage; and one-third offer financial seminars in the workplace segmented by their employees’ age.

Nearly half of employers provide at least some advice or guidance to pre-retirees to help them transition into retirement. Forty percent of companies feel they need to start offering greater guidance to those employees preparing to retire or to improve advice and resources currently in place. The percentages go up when looking at the nation’s largest companies.

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