2018 Predictions: 5 Trends in Financial Wellness Benefits

January is financial wellness month and while many Americans are likely making financial-related New Year’s resolutions, employers should focus some attention on financial wellness benefits.

“Employees’ financial stress and how it affects an organization’s productivity and bottom line are certainly on the radar for most employers today,” says Elizabeth Halkos, Purchasing Power COO. “It’s a significant concern because half (52%) of America’s hard-working employees are stressed out about dealing with their financial situation, according to the 2017 PwC Employee Financial Wellness Survey. Accordingly, 77% of stressed employees say their stress levels have increased over the past 12 months. So employers are going to have to take a deeper dive into providing financial wellness benefits in 2018.”

Halkos offers five predictions for 2018 financial wellness benefits.

  1. More employers will add financial wellness benefits. In 2017, 48% of U.S. employers were offering some kind of counseling or instruction about money, according to SHRM and IFEBP surveys. Look for that to increase in 2018 as further research in the past year confirms the impact employee financial stress has on a company’s bottom line including lower productivity, higher absenteeism and more health care claims.
  2. Financial wellness benefits will become more holistic. That includes not only financial education tools and resources but voluntary benefits that are designed to address both physical and emotional struggles while working to help employees with short-term financial needs.
  3. More student loan repayment benefits will become available. In 2018, we will see more student loan repayment benefits appear including programs in which employers are making contributions to loan balances or providing methods for employees to refinance their debt.
  4. More attention will be given to helping employees with short-term financial issues. In 2018 look for employers to add voluntary benefits such as employee purchase programs and low interest installment loans and credit that help employees avoid payday loans and cash advances from credit cards when they have emergency needs such as a broken refrigerator or unexpected out-of-pocket medical expenses.
  5. Employers will begin to look for ways to provide financial education to future generations. Employers should look for ways to provide an element of family-focused financial education. Incorporating a few age-appropriate financial education lessons into financial education resources and opportunities can start to pave the way for future generations.