UK employers are showing a disconnect between diverse employee demands for financial wellness schemes and their ability to provide

dissatisfied

New research has found that despite 65% of employees citing financial wellness in the workplace as important to them, only 7% of employers are providing any sort of retirement planning support. According to the report by Thomsons Online Benefits, UK employers are struggling to cater for and support a multi-generational workforce’s complex and varied financial needs.

This is at a time when household debt has reached a record high of £1.5 trillion and younger generations have less money in real terms than in the 1950s.

There appears to be a major disparity between employee expectations and what employers are offering to support financial wellness in the workplace. Over half of UK employers are not providing their employees with relevant financial benefits, and only 15% of UK employers have a financial education programme.

Additionally, Thomsons’ research shows that the largest single factor influencing employees’ perception of benefits is convenience. Over two thirds of employees (68%) want a single place to access all their benefits, yet only 16% of employers currently offer this. Over half of people (54%) want access to benefits from their mobile device, yet only 28% of UK companies offer this and 52% want single sign on access to their benefits but only 27% of employers offer this.

The provision of financial wellness services and education needs to be delivered in a way which is as convenient and as accessible as possible to employees. Those employees with access to benefits via a mobile app are six times more likely to be very engaged with their organisation and much more engaged with their benefits (34% compared to 21% if an app isn’t being used).

However, the situation is set to improve though. The research revealed that 47% of UK employers report they are considering implementing a financial wellness programme in 2017. Those already adopting a financial education programme are reaping the rewards with employees twice as likely to be very or extremely engaged in their organisation (38% vs 19%). HR and reward professionals are also twice as likely to be very effective at meeting their benefits objectives.

David Dodd, consulting director at Thomsons Online Benefits commented: “Employers have a responsibility to improve employee financial wellness not just as a duty of care, but to optimise employee engagement and business productivity. Only offering a pension and life assurance won’t cut it with a multi-generational workforce who need broader financial support beyond retirement options.

“The good news is that the market is responding with new types of financial products to meet employee demand at different life stages. Now employers must listen to their people, understand their needs and tailor financial wellness programmes with relevant solutions for different demographic groups. Employers who prioritize employee wellness now have the tools available to meet these complex needs and support their people to make sound financial decisions, giving them access to expert advice from FS providers and online tools.”