Workplace Trends for 2016

a compass with a green arrow pointing to the word 'TREND'

Employee Benefit News (EBN) recently published a slideshow entitled the “8 benefit trends to watch for in 2016.”  The first trend is financial wellness, and rightly so, considering that it can ensure success with all the other trends filtering through the workplace.

Take a look at this year’s hot topics according to EBN, and why they require your attention.

Trend #1:  Financial Wellness

All over the nation, employees are looking to their employer to help them pay the bills, get rid of debt, and save for retirement.  Many employers are incorporating financial wellness programs as the solution because they now recognize that dismissing money issues hurts both employer and employee, and in turn, addressing the need means everyone wins.

More so than relieving financial stress, it’s about helping people thrive.  Every employee has financial hurdles and goals regardless of status.  That’s why a holistic financial wellness program offers help for every age, status, job title, demographic, salary, topic and/or life event.

Trend #2:  Balancing Work and Life

Imagine your employees holding their work and career in one hand and their family and health in the other.  When there’s tension on either side, everything gets off kilter.  Over a third of employees miss major life events because of work responsibilities.1  In response, employers are considering more flexible plans for paid time off.

If you really look at the heart of the issue, you will find money problems.

  • Almost half of those who have high financial stress lose patience with friends,2 and have negative interactions with their spouse or partner.3
  • Nearly 1 in 5 employees say stress negatively influences the way they interact with coworkers.3

A financial wellness program fosters financial stability, thereby relieving the tension and making it easier for employees to balance work and life.

Trend #3:  Wellness Program Participation

Employers are trying to get their employees more involved in wellness programs, and they hope incentives will boost utilization.  3 in 4 employers are changing program incentives to be more like rewards rather than punishments.4  Of course, the end goal is to cultivate better health.

Incentives may push employees to work on their well-being, but a financial wellness program will actually help them improve their well-being.  78% of employers are incorporating financial wellness into their well-being programs,4 and over half of employers (53%) saw an improvement in overall well-being due to their financial wellness programs.5

Trend #4:  Closing the Retirement Gap

Employers recognize that 4 out of 5 of their employees won’t be able to retire at age 65,6 so they plan on making it easier for employees to save money for retirement, whether through automatic enrollment, matching contributions to 401(k)s, or the like.

Financial wellness boosts the success of this trend because it gets to the root of the problem.  While automatic enrollment sure makes it easier to plug an employee into the retirement savings plan, it doesn’t mean he or she will be financially successful.  Why?  Employees could end up robbing Peter to pay Paul in the sense that automatically taking part of their paycheck for retirement savings could mean taking money they need for their mortgage.

The fact of the matter is that many employees may not be saving for retirement because they either don’t know how much they need or they don’t feel like they have enough to set aside while still meeting current financial responsibilities.  A financial wellness program teaches employees how much they need to save for retirement, how to save that money while still paying the bills, and how to make the most of their funds when they finally reach retirement.

Trend #5:  Assessments for New Employees

Employers want to incorporate more in-depth assessments for determining an employee’s work performance.  Plenty of statistics show that financial woes affect performance and productivity:

  • 83% of employers find that personal financial issues are impacting their employees’ productivity.7
  • 97% of employees concede to working on or thinking about personal finances during their work day.8

Because finances affect every part of life – even how an employee acts and performs at work, financial wellness assessments can give insight into how an employee is doing.

Trend #6:  Easy Retirement Planning

The financial requirements behind retirement (e.g. saving and investing) prove challenging for many employees, so employers are trying to simplify the process with tools and resources like professional advice.

Companies are also recognizing that goals for retirement plans should correspond with goals for overall financial wellness.9  A well-rounded financial wellness program would have retirement assessment tools and plans, as well as guidance for investments and savings, so employees can get all the answers in one place.

Trend #7:  Helping with Healthcare Costs

Almost half (46%) of people are worried that their household income won’t be able to keep up with increasing healthcare costs, and they’re worried that healthcare costs will keep them from saving up enough for college and retirement.10

In 2016, employers plan to offer more high-deductible health plans in order to lower costs.

Because financial wellness is about employees feeling confident with their finances, a well-rounded financial wellness program would help employees understand the healthcare options available to them, help them figure out which plan makes the most sense for their situation, and show them how to meet healthcare costs while still saving enough for college and retirement.

Trend #8:  Rewards for Good Performance

Employers are considering incorporating variable pay in order to reward employees with great work performance and to encourage other employees to do the same.  Centering this change around financial wellness will give employees the opportunity to learn how to best use the extra cash.

Considering that financial wellness involves learning best practices with money, an employee who is involved in a financial wellness program and receives a monetary reward for good performance may be more likely to contribute the money to his/her 401(k) or Flexible Spending Account.

You could even skip the incentives and just focus on financial wellness.  Employers say overall financial wellness for their workplace means higher levels of satisfaction (76%), loyalty (66%), engagement (65%) and productivity (55%).11

Bottom Line

Out of all the trends considered to influence the workforce this year, financial wellness deserves the attention.  According to Aon Hewitt, 77% of employers will have a financial wellness program by the end of the year,12 and 87% of employers offering financial wellness benefits think the benefit is “…important to their entire benefits program.”5

For decades, the My Secure Advantage (MSA) Financial Wellness program – provided to millions of employees as an employer-funded benefit – has been improving and maintaining financial wellness, and general well-being, through the multi-faceted approach of education, coaching and on-going support for all financial topics both challenge and goal oriented.  For information on how you can bring this program to your employees, call a MSA Customer Success Manager at 888-724-2326.

 

1Dewan, Akankasha.  “Your Work Emails are Ruining Family Dinners.”  humanresourcesonline.net.  Human Resources, 2015.  Web.  18 Sep. 2015.

2“AICPA Survey: Money Stress Taking Toll on Many Americans’ Waistlines, Friendships, Sleep.”  aicpa.org.  New York: AICPA, 23 Apr. 2013.  Web.  11 Jun. 2015.

3Stress in America™: Paying With Our Health.  APA, 4 Feb. 2015.  Web.  16 Feb. 2015.  PDF.

4Moore, Rebecca.  “More Employers Using Holistic Wellness Programs.”  plansponsor.com.  PLANSPONSOR, 1 Jun. 2015.  Web.  21 Oct. 2015.

5Paycheck Direct, SourceMedia Research and Employee Benefits News.  Promoting Financial Wellness in the Workplace.  n.p.  2013.  Web.  15 Oct. 2013.  PDF.

6“8 benefit trends to watch for in 2016.”  ebn.benefitnews.com.  EBN, n.d.  Web.  21 Jan. 2016.

7SHRM Research Spotlight: Financial Education Initiatives in the Workplace.  SHRM, Jan. 2012.  Web.  10 Jul. 2013.

8Financial Wellness Landscape Analysis: An Overview of the Need for Workplace-Based Financial Wellness Programs.  ING Employee Benefits, 2013.  PDF.

9Atchison, Amy and Rob Austin, FSA, EA.  2014 Hot Topics in Retirement: Building a Strategic Focus.  Aon Hewitt, 2014.  PDF.

10“2014 Benchmark Research Study: Health & Financial Well-being: How Strong is the Link?”  newsroom.cigna.com.  Cigna, 2014.  Web.  1 Oct. 2015.  PDF.

11“Financial Literacy Begins at the Office.”  PFEEF Newsletter.  19 Dec. 2013.  Email.

12Otto, Nick.  “Will 2016 be the year of financial well-being?”  ebn.benefitnews.com.  EBN, 7 Jan. 2016.  Web.  13 Jan. 2016.