Employers Put Greater Focus on Worker Finances, BofA Study Finds

Employers are broadening the ways they support their workers’ current and future financial needs, according to a new study from Bank of America Corp.

About 95% of employers now report feeling a sense of responsibility for the financial wellness for their workers, up from 81% in 2015. A greater number of employers are offering financial-wellness programs to staffers, with 46% now doing so, up from 40% last year, according to the study, released Wednesday

More companies are offering benefits to “cover all aspects of an employee’s life for the long term,” including physical, mental and financial health, Kevin Crain, head of thought leadership for retirement and personal wealth solutions at Bank of America, said in an interview. Almost 1,400 employees and 834 firms nationwide were interviewed from late December through early February for the study.

“Financial wellness is no longer just a phrase, it’s a reality,” Crain said. Education is a large part of the push, with more than two in five employers now offering access to financial advisers and other programs for developing good financial habits, the survey results show.

While benefits were already being enhanced before Covid-19, the pandemic accelerated companies’ efforts to provide employees immediate access to emergency funds, Crain said. During the health crisis, workers began withdrawing funds from their 401(k) retirement accounts in numbers not previously seen, pushing employers to offer alternatives, he said.

“The role of workplace benefits and wellness programs in improving employees’ quality of life is more important than ever, and it’s encouraging to see higher reported well-being among employees amid the pandemic,” Lorna Sabbia, head of retirement and personal wealth solutions for Charlotte, North Carolina-based Bank of America, said in a statement.

Areas now covered by employers’ financial-wellness programs include saving for college, managing debt and planning for health-care costs, according to the study.