Employees today are increasingly interested in seeking financial counseling and advice, and are looking for those services through the workplace. MetLife’s annual Study of Employee Benefit Trends found that 49% of workers would like to receive financial education through work and 44% are interested in talking with a financial planner. Never has there been a better time to offer your employees access to financial education, counseling and advice. Why the surge in interest in financial planning and education services? A number of reasons explain this trend.
  • The American workforce is aging, and an older workforce will be more focused than their younger counterparts on saving and investing, whether for retirement or their children’s college education.
  • Fewer employees than in the past can count on a company-financed pension, and instead must make sure they’re saving and investing for a secure retirement through a 401(k) plan, individual retirement account or other means.
  • Employees also have increasing responsibility for their health care needs, both today and in retirement, with more focus on consumer-driven plans and fewer employers providing any health care coverage in retirement.
  • Today’s investment environment has grown to become very complex, with volatile stock markets and an ever-changing array of investment and loan products.

The bottom line is that for today’s employees, it’s extraordinarily difficult—and sometimes overwhelming—to plan, budget, save and invest. Headlines about ballooning consumer debt, sinking consumer confidence, inflation concerns and shaky financial institutions can turn uncertainty into fear and inaction, and impact an individual’s health and productivity. As many as a quarter of workers are seriously distressed about their personal financial situation, according to one study, and 80% of workers with financial stress spend time while at work dealing with or worrying about these problems.

The workplace is a logical place for employees to seek financial education. It’s in the workplace that individuals already make some significant financial decisions, such as how much to contribute to a 401(k) retirement plan, which medical plan to select, how to handle tax withholding, what additional voluntary benefits to pay for, etc. Plus, research shows that workplace financial education can indeed yield positive results. One study published in the Journal of Compensation and Benefits found that among employees who participated in workplace financial education workshops, 75% reported making better financial decisions, 75% were more confident in making investment decisions, and 56% felt their financial situation had improved as a result of financial education.

To take the first steps in bringing financial education and advice to employees, consider the following resources—

  • Look to your 401(k) provider for what financial education services it offers. Your provider should make available various online resources (interactive calculators, engaging articles, investment style/strategy questionnaires) to employees.
  • Many employee assistance programs (EAPs) offer debt counseling services. Find out exactly what services your EAP has and publicize these to employees.
  • Check what resources are available in your community (local chambers of commerce, other community organizations) that can affordably be brought into the workplace. These might include speakers or seminars on a variety of financial topics.
  • Check out the Web site of the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards (, Human Resource Professionals link on the left sidebar). They offer a variety of tools and resources for human resources professionals.
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