A recent study from Bank of America shows employees and employers agree that financial wellness programs have positively impacted them and their companies.

The research is in, and employees want financial wellness programs. A recent Bank of America study found that 91 percent of employees who participate in financial wellness programs say those resources have helped them. Similarly, 95 percent of employers who offer those programs agree that these support systems have been effective in reaching their company’s goals.  

Financial wellness programs provide tangible benefits to the businesses that offer them, including greater employee satisfaction, improved productivity, lower turnover rates and potentially decreased company healthcare costs.  

Lisa Margeson, head of retirement client experience and communications at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, said companies are increasingly providing these programs to their employees because they realize it’s the right thing to do. Financial wellness, she said, is becoming more comprehensive.

“Financial wellness is more than just planning for retirement,” Margeson said. “It is really becoming more of a holistic conversation with employers and employees about all of the financial priorities that individuals can benefit from understanding, being educated on and planning for.”

But here’s the problem — less than half of employees are offered financial wellness plans, and when they are, only 31% of those employees participate. Employees don’t take advantage of these resources for a variety of reasons. Some don’t understand how to use or find their programs, desire more personalized help than the platforms offer or are simply too busy to utilize them.  

The best way to increase participation, according to the study, is to offer cash incentives or discounts to participants.

Participation in these programs is key for many members of the workforce, as nearly 40 percent of employees report feeling financially unwell. These workers say they’re prevented from achieving fiscal wellness because they’re afraid of making mistakes, or are uncomfortable thinking about finances, among other barriers.

“Employees who don’t feel they’re financially well are most concerned about short-term goals…like managing their immediate debt or budgeting skills,” Margeson said. “Employees who do feel financially well are most concerned about longer-term goals, so preparing for retirement and good savings habits.”

Employees agree that the most helpful resource in improving financial wellness is advice from a professional, which is included in some programs. But specificity is key. Employees want these programs to address their specific goals, and offer a way to evaluate their unique financial health. Seventy percent say they would be comfortable sharing financial info as a part of an employer-offered financial assessment.

The report recommends offering financial wellness programs as a distinct benefit separate from other benefits such as 401(k) plans and health plans. To drive engagement, it recommends employers provide tangible rewards or incentives for employee participation, establish baseline engagement levels and measure improvement. You can bring financial wellness to your workplace with Best Money Moves. Best Money Moves is a mobile-friendly, online financial wellness platform that offers comprehensive financial education to employees of all ages. Our nationally-certified Money Coaches provide personalized advice to your employees about a myriad of financial situations. We run contests with cash rewards to incentivize your employees to use our system, and offer budgeting tools and calculators to help them manage their financial wellbeing. Click here to learn more about Best Money Moves and whether or not it might be right for your company.