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Financial Literacy and the Workplace: The Perfect Pairing

Phyllis Falotico headshot

By Phyllis Falotico

Head of Worksite Marketing and true believer that good financial health and well-being for today's working Americans begin with their workplace benefits.

Posted on: April 11, 2023

Financial wellness is a critical aspect of our overall well-being, and we often associate it with managing expenses, paying debt, emergency funds, or saving and investing for short-term and long-term goals. But I think we often overlook an important contributing factor and that’s the voluntary benefits at work. In fact, that’s where financial wellness begins and ends for many working Americans.

But financial wellness starts with financial literacy, and it is increasingly becoming an important pillar for many employers who are seeking to improve the welfare and happiness of their employees through more comprehensive packages and programs. While individuals have the primary responsibility for their own fiscal health, the workplace with access to voluntary benefits also plays a valuable role—and it can play a valuable role in your client conversations.

team of six collaborating and presenting on laptop

The workplace is also where individuals spend a significant portion of their time, and it is where they earn their income. Therefore, it provides an ideal platform for promoting financial literacy to inspire confidence and motivate action. Many employers have started recognizing this fact with related offerings. These may come in the form of financial education, budgeting tools, debt management assistance, retirement planning, access to financial professionals, and, of course, protection products.

By providing these resources, employers can help their employees improve their financial literacy, reduce financial stress, and make informed financial decisions. I raise these facts to not only drive awareness during Financial Literacy Month, but to offer reasons why and how benefits producers can be more proactive and add value to their own client relationships.

Financial stress can lead to anxiety, depression, and other health problems, which can result in absenteeism, presenteeism, and turnover. According to the 2022 BrightPlan Wellness Survey, 72% of employees are stressed about finances and costing U.S. employers an estimated $4 billion per week in lost productivity.1 By providing financial literacy resources with access to voluntary benefits, employers can help reduce financial stress among their employees, leading to improved health and productivity.

Here are a few reasons why both financial literacy and wellness start with voluntary benefits at work:

1. Voluntary benefits can be a cost-effective supplement to traditional benefits.
Traditional benefits such as health insurance and retirement plans are essential components of an employee's compensation package, but they may not cover all the financial needs and expenses of employees. Voluntary benefits can supplement traditional benefits and provide employees with additional financial resources. Although voluntary benefits are typically paid for by employees, employers may negotiate group rates that help make them more affordable and accessible for working Americans. Additionally, these benefits are offered on a voluntary basis, so your clients would not likely pay for benefits that employees do not use.

2. Voluntary benefits can be tailored to meet individual needs.
One of the key advantages of voluntary benefits is that they can be tailored to your client’s benefits packages and meet the individual needs of employees. Financial wellness is not a one-size-fits-all solution, and what works for one employer may not work for another. By offering a range of voluntary benefits, employers can provide employees with options that suit their specific financial needs and goals.

3. Voluntary benefits can help attract and retain employees.
Employees are increasingly looking for employers that offer comprehensive benefits packages that include voluntary benefits. It’s not only an opportunity for benefits producers to differentiate themselves, but an opportunity for your clients to differentiate themselves from competitors and attract top talent. Additionally, employees who feel supported in their financial wellness are more likely to be engaged and loyal to their employer, leading to increased retention and better business outcomes.

4. Expanding voluntary benefits can help address economic inequality and promote social responsibility.
Financial wellness programs can provide resources to help employees from disadvantaged backgrounds improve their financial literacy and manage their finances effectively. By doing so, employers can promote social equity and contribute to building stronger communities.

Those are four great reasons to reach out to new and existing clients during Financial Literacy month. What I’m proud of is MassMutual’s commitment to financial literacy and wellness. We have dedicated resources focused on these efforts and we have content online you might wish to share with clients. You can add value to them and their employees with useful information and tips on an array of topics working Americans need such Family Budgeting, College Savings, Retirement Planning, Estate Planning, Financial Recovery — and the library continues to grow!

And speaking of educational resources, you’re one of them. To clients, you’re a pillar of knowledge, experience, and advice when it comes to employee benefits. Help facilitate financial literacy and wellness. Remind employers that by investing in voluntary benefits that support financial wellness, they can create a workplace culture that values and supports employees' financial success. Help us make Worksite Better.

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1 2022 Wellness Barometer Survey Infographic. On behalf of BrightPlan, CITE Research surveyed 1,500 knowledge workers at companies with 1000+ employees in the U.S. between April and May 2022. This included a mix of HR decision-makers and employees in various industries including technology, healthcare, financial services, education, manufacturing and energy.